Introduction: How to Make Fire Poi (Full Performance Set)

Picture of How to Make Fire Poi (Full Performance Set)

Basically, how to use a lot of things out of Harbor Freight to make a working set of Fire Poi. Poi are part of object manipulation art: they are two balls of material spun in intricate designs around the body. One can do them with flags, socks and tennis balls, glowsticks and shoestrings, and in this case, tight masses of material and chains that are set on fire.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need

You can get everything in this Instructable from Harbor Freight Tools:
-5' x 5' bag of welding blanket........$12.00
-Scotch Tape
-Pair of 26" dog chains...$1.86 per dog chain at Walmart
-Eye bolts, along with 4 washers that are atleast an inch thick and fit around the eyebolts...something like $1.00 per eye bolt, and 25 cents for each washer
-2 stainless steel quicklinks...should be about $3.00 even for a package of two of them at Walmart
-a power drill, with a drill bit that measures the same diameter as your helps when your roommate is a carpenter/construction worker

Step 2: Making the Poi Heads - the Welding Blanket

Picture of Making the Poi Heads - the Welding Blanket

Well, first thing to do is to cut the welding blanket into long strips, keeping it at about 2 inches thick - any thicker, and your poi will become very heavy when they are weighed down with fuel.

I chose to cut off the 2 inch border, due to it being double the thickness of the rest of the material, so you kind of have to cut out these steel loops along the sides.

Once you've got your assortment of strips, lay one of them down, and another one perpendicular to it. You then move one flap over, then bring the other flap over, and continue this cycle until you have enough material layering up in a tight little sandwich that is a little smaller than the length of your eyebolt.

With everything together, squeeze it together very hard, and place a long piece of scotch tape all the way around one side, and then another piece of tape placed perpendicular to that one. I don't use duct tape because when it's on fire and hits you, it is a sticky flaming mess.

Step 3: Making the Poi Heads - Drilling and Eye Bolts

Picture of Making the Poi Heads - Drilling and Eye Bolts

Yep, so make sure your drill bit measures up to your eyebolt; though eyeing it up works for some, there's numbers on the side that should equal each other i.e. 3/16.

When you drill, drill right through the middle, standing on top of the poi head to keep it tight (shoes may be a good idea if you've never handled a drill before - my excuse is that my shoes were upstairs, and I didn't quite feel like going to get them).

When the drill gets all the way through, pull it back and forth a couple of times to ensure the hole has no obstructions in it.

When you start to screw your eyebolt down the hole on the poi head, make sure you have one of the washers on it in advance. When it comes through the other side, place another washer on, then place a nut on the tip of the eyebolt. From here, tighten the nut a little bit with a needle nose pliers, just to get it in the grooves. From there, use the pliers to hold the eye part of the eyebolt in place, and use a wrench to tighten the nut at the bottom of the eyebolt.

Step 4: Assembling Your Poi, Then Going Out to Spin

Picture of Assembling Your Poi, Then Going Out to Spin

Attach the eye part of the eyebolt to a pair of 26 inch long dog chains (which you can get from Walmart) by using a stainless steel quicklink (Harbor Freight Tools) to join them.

And voila! They are ready to careful, now. With all the exposed metal, it's very easy for it all to get hot and cauterize the skin, so I would suggest getting kevlar arm wraps and gloves for those who scar easily.

Beyond that, probably soak the heads in Kerosene, as it has a high flash point, light em up and have fun. Just remember to be safe, bring someone with you that has a safety towel soaked in water to put out the fire poi...or you, if necessary. Also, due to heat expansion, the nut on the bottom gets loose every time you spin, so bring a wrench with you, wait till it cools down, then tighten her up.

Check out my group's fire spinning down in Peoria sometime

-David M. Van Roeyen


BrokenArsenal (author)2012-05-17

What do you use for handles?

ahmed kw (author)BrokenArsenal2016-12-16

their is several kind of handles you can use leather double loop for two fingers or one cotton handle loop - or simply one ball for handle easy to let go .

I don't. I have tough hands, just stick my fingers through the loops of steel.

MegV3 made it! (author)2016-06-16

I used a heat shield rather than a welding blanket. But it should work just as well! And the finger loops made of an old high school medal necklace. Thank you! :D

TheRealSamChaney (author)2015-04-24

Dude, are you holding that with your FEET while you drill it?

That's actually pretty inventive!

I just made a pair with kevlar wick but I feel like I tightened them too much and I'm worried they won't absorb fuel that well. Got any tips on how tight the wicks should be when they're done?

I ensure the bottom of the nuts are flush with the bottom of the eye bolt, then squirt jb weld to keep the pressure there. If your heads are too tight, you'll know by the length of time that they stay lit for a spin. Experiment.

gareth.vaughan.904 (author)2014-12-12

Add a second nut to each and tighten up against the first to «lock» each pair of nuts in place

Or just use in weld on the first nut.

Sorry, jb weld. (author)2015-03-23

VERY IMPORTANT Please doon't make the same mistake as me and try to do this with a fiberglass welding blanket. There must be several materials that those things are made of, because as soon as I cut into my fiberglass one and fold it up as instructed, It started coming out in individual strands. I spent $20 on my blanket which is now in shreds that are itchy as hell, nearly impossible to clean up, and can't even use it for it's original purpose without getting fiberglass splinters. Author please make a note of this in your article. Otherwise, the rest of the construction is very solid.

I had to do that once for a show, don't know when Harbor Freight made the changeover, but obvious note to anyone that works with fiberglass - wear gloves.

That is unfortunate, yes welding blankets are woven from various materials including fiberglass, kevlar and other aramid fibers, even blending with cotton sometimes. However, you should save the fiberglass you have leftover as you can use it as "stuffing" for a hybrid fire spinning tool. Usually this is stuffed into a kevlar tube so that the fibers don't get out. The fiberglass adds absorption which will make the heads burn brighter and/or longer.

TheRealSamChaney (author)2015-03-26

Would you recommend using 3" wide strips? I'm buying 3" wide kevlar wick strips now for a fire staff but I'd like to make poi as well. Do you think the flame from 3" cubes would be too hot for poi?

Not really. I used 6 inch strips when I used to make my own poi. Ended up buying Gorilla poi and thy were the perfect weight to me. Yeah, the flame will be hotter, but it's all about how you move that you design your poi.

JpP6 (author)2016-02-16

wait, in making that poi it should be a chain or is there other one?

EagleScout316 (author)JpP62016-02-16

If what you're asking if there should be chains, yes, when you are finished, each chain is attached to its own dog chain and spun separate of the other poi head.

georginaw123 made it! (author)2015-07-26

Managed it! I actually ended up using metal wire doubled and twisted around the chain as I couldn't seem to find bolts that would do the job - excited to try them out :)

IA310 (author)2009-09-18

Aa.. I see. Thanks. What is the best way to put out the fire after the spin for you?

EagleScout316 (author)IA3102009-09-18

Use a wet towel (a.k.a. a dip rag). Place one poi head down on the towel and have your safety completely supress the poi head all at once (don't pat it, that just boosts the flame). You want to remove all oxygen that runs to the flame to tear down part of the fire triangle. Watch out for the hot metal with this design.

IA310 (author)EagleScout3162009-09-20

Oo. Okay. you use kerosene right? what if diesel? and i dont think it is wise to mix up kerosene and diesel right? sorry for the silly question :)

eruannu (author)IA3102011-11-22

kerosene and diesel are two grades of the same thing Diesel is always a lower grade, kerosene can be any number of grades, lamp oil or liquid paraffin is always a higher grade than diesel but it varies quite a bit too.
White gas scares me for this application. i think it looks nice but is very very dangerous. it flashes lower than kerosene and atomises very easily. I would avoid it if possible. I do understand instances where it might be best.

EagleScout316 (author)IA3102009-09-23

Also, please keep comments about the fire poi themselves, not just questions about fire spinning.

EagleScout316 (author)IA3102009-09-23

Yeah, I would primarily stick with one fuel, unless you knew something about the chemical makeup of the fuel you were using. Sometimes we use Kerosene, sometimes we use white gas. it depends on what you're wanting to do for a show.

jmandango (author)2011-10-14

wat is nice 'ible? n thick cotton works the best if u go w/ cotton

pdee-1 (author)2011-06-16

Cheap dog collars aren't welded, welded links are far more stable and don't require constant checking before shows.

firejunkie (author)2011-04-17

I've been making all my fire grear myself for the last 4 years and have always tried to improve some bits like the swivels and the screws i use for the wicks but i would cutting the top link of the chain and welding on the heavy duty swivel directly on the loops rather than using split rings! I must say though, i always buy my kevlar fire wick and all other Practice Poi, LED Light up Glow Poi & Sock Poi from Flames 'N Games Juggling & Fire Spinning Shop they are brilliant!

moxdrill (author)2011-02-28

i lucked out due to a error at the register i got a 5x5 blanket that was priced at 20 for around 4 bucks... i wasnt about to correct them lol

Alt-Horizon (author)2010-10-19

Nice 'ible. I would recommend though that one uses an eyehook cut to size and a flat head endbolt secured with loc-tite or JB weld and that you place that underneath the bottom layer of wicking and then stitching that layer to the others with kevlar thread. I myself would probably have stitched all the layers to avoid debris.

I am more of a staff kind of guy anyway but I like seeing how others make their stuff since I tend to be the one making the gear for our performance group.

the ragdoll princess (author)2010-08-13

fyi... the welding blankets now run about $20... and what length should the eye bolts be? thanks )'(

Depends on the size of Poi head you want. If there's too much exposed metal at the end, you can just dremel it off. I usually get between 2-3 inches long, though. But nowadays, I've moved on to professionally made gorilla Poi.

GwydTUnusual (author)2010-03-11

 Quick question- Dog chains- Are we talking about a choke collar with the loops on both ends or leash?
Brilliant move using the fire blanket for the wicks. I usually use cotton belt webbing, but I imagine the blanket would soak up more fuel.
Good 'ible!

More along the lines of leashes, they have a steel O-ring at each end and are $1.86 at most Wal-Marts.

Welding blanket is good and cheap to practice with, but when you start up with doing performances, make sure to get some professional grade kevlar.  ;)

I have been performing as a poi/staff spinner for over 5 years now! I make all of my tools by hand. Love the dog chain idea. Welded links and o rings made to take a good tugging. Not a fan of kevlar- Doesn't soak up enough fluid. As long as you put them out before they go dry cotton burns longer and lasts almost as long. 
And at the price of cotton, I can replace spent wicks without taking a big wallet hit.
Thanks for the response!

IA310 (author)2009-09-17

do i have to totally soak the head? until it fully absorbs it or somthing? do i have to dry it then? im not sure tho. i didnt soak it before, i just put few drops. the blanket hardly burn and some debris hits me

EagleScout316 (author)IA3102009-09-18

Well, when you spin, you're not trying to burn the welding blanket, you're trying to burn the accelerant (liquid you're dipping the poi in). So, not only should you totally soak the head, you should let it soak for 5 minutes, then spin it a couple times to get excess fuel off, and finally, light it on fire. Make sure you have a proper safety with you.

EagleScout316 (author)2009-08-17

New bit of info, if you use an old pain can as a dip can with fire spinning, apparrently, using a key to your house is a bad option (snapped that sucker in two). However, the steel O-Ring on the tail end of your dog chains used for fire poi is great for prying the lid off - this on the basis that you don't store your fire poi in your dip can, of course - I don't, probably because i don't like any fuel residue getting on the chains' handles.

Miss Twist (author)2009-07-24

That was a wonderful on behalf of all the fire spinners in the south of Ireland, thank you for saving us so much money :)

EagleScout316 (author)Miss Twist2009-07-30

Thank you very much, I might just have to take a trip up there and spin with you all sometime. =)

mike1982 (author)2009-06-16

you can make round heads the same way you make a staff.(Im new so havent figured out how to add the link) just leave about 1/2 an inch of aluminum tube above the wick and use a vice to squeeze it together and make it flat. Drill a hole through it and link your quick link through that.

EagleScout316 (author)mike19822009-06-23

Yep, we all actually started off with something similar to that effect, utilizing round heads, but for some reason or another, cathedral heads seem to last longer with welding blanket. Another thing I forgot to mention, small heads are used for more tricks, and large heads are used for more exotic flames. Either way, remember that though your poi aren't too heavy when they are just made, they become exponentially heavier after sitting in an accelerant for 5 minutes. I hurt my back from from spinning two fire machetes this past weekend...they started off at 5 lbs. each, but after soaking them in kerosene, then some camping fuel, they felt closer to 15 lbs. each, and now my back is paying for it.

frollard (author)2009-06-02

nice ible - never would have thought to use welding blanket.

EagleScout316 (author)frollard2009-06-08

Yeah, they surpisingly last a good 6 months before you have to consider using new heads. The only downside is you have to make sure before each burn that the heads are tight, due to the nuts loosening from heat expansion.

frollard (author)EagleScout3162009-06-08

Good deal! I've only ever seen the 'official' kevlar stuff.

About This Instructable




Bio: Training 3 different styles of martial arts, teach self defense to children, working on becoming a police officer - that sums it all up
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