Introduction: Practice Contact Saber
Contact staff and contact sword are magical seeming art forms wherein the performer rolls the staff or specially balanced sword across arms, torso, legs and so on. I make LED powered performance sabers, but this art takes a lot of practice, and while learning, drops are common, and hitting yourself with a polycarbonate prop can hurt, so this instructable is for people who want a light, cheap prop to practice with.
Step 1: Step 1: Materials
This prop will cost $20-30 to make, and requires minimal tools, skills or special materials unless you really want to decorate it up and get fancy!
1) Stick - I used a 48"x 7/8" dowel to mimic the size of the LED sabers I typically make. $5 from Home Depot.
2) Washers - These are used to counterweight the prop so it's balanced how you want it. These are 5/16 fender washers. A box of 50 is about $10 and you'll need around 20.
3) Padding - This is technically optional, but it's nice to have some give when you whack yourself. This also slows down the prop's movement, making learning a bit easier. For this prop I used 1/2" pipe insulation from Home Depot - $2.
4) Grip - I like tennis racket grip. Should be able to find this at any sports outlet for around $7
5) 5/16x3" lag bolt to hold the washers - around $1
6) Duct tape - this foam insulation is a little on the small side to fit this dowel and so I used tape over top to hold it together. It's also a nice UV reactive orange.
7) Not Pictured is a scrap of an old yoga mat I use later to pad the counterweight and fill some gaps. I also used some 5 minute epoxy to secure the lag bolt in place, but this may not be necessary.
Mark your stick - I like the balance point to be about 10" from the butt end of the stick, and my LED props have a 30" blade, so I marked these points on the stick right from the start so there's a point of reference.
Step 3: Step 3: Pad the Stick
It's important to do this step here so you can set the balance correctly. This isn't very difficult - just put the insulation over the dowel, peel off the adhesive liner on the insulation and press the edges together. In my case, the insulation was a bit small so I had to stretch it and force it together. I then covered the insulation with duct tape to hold it in place.
For the tip, I just cut a little piece of the foam insulation and rolled it up to fill the end.
Step 4: Step 4: Set Your Balance
First you need to carefully drill a hole slightly smaller than 5/16 in the end of your dowel so the lag screw will screw in relatively easily. It's much easier to get the hole centered properly if you start with a small (1/8" or less) drill bit and work up.
Then there's a bit of trial and error - put a bunch of washers on your lag screw and screw it in a bit and check the balance. Add or subtract washers as needed until your prop is balanced where you've marked the balance point you want. I needed around 20 washers.
For this prop, after finding the right number of washers, I applied 5 minute epoxy to each washer and to the threads of the bolt, and then screwed it in. The epoxy might not be necessary but it's cheap insurance against the bolt and washers coming loose and rattling around.
Step 5: Step 5: Apply Your Grip
This grip is self adhesive; just peel the protective tape off the back of it and stick it on the dowel, overlapping the edges by about 3/16". I started my grip a couple inches below the bottom of the padding because I wanted to add a transition of foam between the two diameters to make it look smooth.
Step 6: Step 6: Add Some More Padding
This is really optional - you can use more duct tape if you don't have materials laying around for this. An old towel cut into strips would work for this as well - the material I'm using is an old 1/4" yoga mat I've been cutting away at for years now. I just cut the pieces to the shape I want and tape them in place with electrical tape.
Step 7: Step 7: Go and Practice Fearlessly!
This prop is a bit on the light side, and if I make another one I think I will add some weight to the blade, but it works well and for $20 in materials plus about half an hour of your time you can have one too!
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