Introduction: Cheap & Safe Three Section Staff

Make a cheap and safe three section staff that you can use for practice or sparring!

The number one reason I made this is to be able to practice three section staff moves fairly safely against a resisting opponet.

Some of my primary concerns were
1) that it would be safe and absorb impacts
2) it must be strong and durable
3) it must be easy to repair.
4) it must be inexpensive

Step 1: The Materials: ▼

+ Dremel Tool or other Small Drill
+ Hacksaw or other tool for cutting PVC pipe
+ Knife or Scissors
+ Lighter

Suggested Materials:
+ 10' length of generic 1/2" PVC pipe - had to bend it to get it into the Geo Metro
+ 2 lengths of 6' Split Foam Insulation for 1/2" pipe - If you can find unsplit, it's probably better. (0.97$ each)
+ 6 of 1/2" PVC Endcaps - Just bought a ten pack myself. Maybe I'll use the other ones for another project.
+ Electrical Tape (really cheap - you probably have some laying around.)
+ Nylon String - I used some generic-but-strong nylon string I had laying around.

+Measuring Tape
+PVC Glue
+Thin Bit of Stick or Wire

Step 2: Measure and Cut PVC Pipe: ▼

You will be making three equal-length sections of pipe which will be the "skeleton" for the three section staff. One will be the middle-section and the other two will be for the two end-sections.

There are three different ways you can measure the length at which to cut the PVC sections.

1) Compare to a real three section staff.
This is how I did it.

2) Compare to the length of your arm.
The ideal length of a section is from the tips of your outstretched fingers to the center of your armpit where it meets your body.

3) Measure with your optional measuring tape.
My three section staff has lengths of 1/16" less than 26".

You might want to cut a bit short. Having an endcap on each end will add about 2/8" to the length of each section.

I marked my measurements with a little nick from the hacksaw.

Remember the addage, "Measure twice, Cut once."
Be absolutely sure it is how you want it before you cut so you don't waste materials.

Step 3: Drilling Holes: ▼

Choose a drill bit that will drill holes about twice the width of your string.

Drill Holes in Endcaps:
-Drill through the middle of the top of 4 of your 6 endcaps.

Drill Holes in Two Pipes which will be the End-Sections:
-Drill a hole about 3/4" down from one end of the pipe. Drill all the way through the center so you end up with two holes on opposite sides of the pipe.

Drill Holes in the One Pipe which will be the Middle-Section:
-Same as the End-Sections except on both ends of the pipe section, so you have two sets of holes. You will have two holes on both ends of the pipe.

These holes will be where the string passes through and anchors the sections together.

Step 4: Measure and "Cut" String: ▼

The two flexible parts of my real three section staff are 4 and 1/2" long, so the string will have to be more than twice that. The wrapping around the PVC might take about an inch or two of string on each side and you still need enough string to tie a few knots.
I "cut" both of these more than 2' long just to be safe.

The way I cut the string is with fire.

Bend the nylon string in a loop and heat it over the lighter flame until it melts.
Now pull the two ends of the string away from each other till they separate.
This finishes the ends of the string and cuts them in two quick and simple steps.

I didn't prepare all the string at once, but you can if you'd like.

Also get a bit of scrap string that will help you pull the string through the holes in the PVC parts. 7" should be plenty.

Step 5: Thread String Through Pipe: ▼

Here you will be threading a long string (cut during the previous step) through the holes you drilled on one End-Section of pipe.

Each end of the string should be going in from the outside of the tube through one of the holes you drilled in that end. The tips should then be going out of that end of the pipe. See pictures for clarification.

You can use the scrap string or stick to pull the strings out through the pipe.

Step 6: Pull Through Endcap: ▼

Use the scrap to thread the newly connected string through the endcap. See pictures for clarification.

Step 7: Knots & Endcaps: ▼

Tie figure eight knots next to the endcaps you just put on and tighten it down as close and tight as possible. This will help keep everything in place.

A figure eight is a nice, easy, bulky knot to keep the rope from somehow going back through the hole in the endcap.

Now tie another knot 4 and 1/2" down the string from the first on each End-Section.
I actually tied mine a little short because with use, all the parts of the three section staff will tighten down and stretch out a bit.

Now, using the techniques discussed in step 6, thread the strings of each End-Section through another endcap-with-a-hole. The large openings of the endcaps should be facing away from the knots as demonstrated below.

Figure Eight Knot

Step 8: Attatching to Middle-Section (Threading): ▼

You are going to start attatching the end section to the Middle-Section.

This step can be broken down into three sub-steps:
First, you will thread the free ends of the strings on the End-Section through another endcap-with-hole. As shown.
Next, you will push some loops of scrap string into the holes you drilled into the Middle-section and use those loops to pull the free ends from the End-Section out of the PVC pipe, through the holes, from inside.
Finally, you are going to pop the encap on to the end of the Middle-Section and take up the slack in the strings.

Step 9: Attatching to Middle-Section (Knotting): ▼

Now, it is time to finish attatching the End-Section to the Middle-Section.
You will be knotting up the free ends so they don't move. For this, I have selected the Reef Knot because it is easy to tie and is very secure.

Reef Knot a.k.a. Square Knot

Be very sure that you don't tie a granny knot because, though it is very similar, it is not very secure. You don't want your Three Section Staff flying apart!

Difference Between a Reef (Square) Knot and a Granny Knot.

I will Be tying three of these Reef Knots. One on one side, on the opposite side, then on the same side again. That way, it should stay nice and tight and not slip.

After the knots are tied, it is probably a good idea to wrap them in electrical tape for a little extra assurance.

My original design had one reef knot on each side and no electrical tape, and though it held well under a lot of force, after a lot of use it may have shown some signs of slipping just a little. Still not bad, but I wanted to be sure.

Step 10: Insulation for Middle-Section: ▼

Measure a length of insulation about an inch longer than the final measurement of the completed Mid-Section. Approximations are fine. The idea is to have a bit that will fold over and cushion the ends of the section. I just went ahead and marked and cut mine at 27 and 1/2".

Go ahead and cut two more lengths like that for the end sections. They will also need to be covered eventually, but not yet. Right now we're just focusing on the Middle-Section.

Now just slip that bit over the Middle-Section.

Step 11: Attatch the Other End: ▼

Connect the other End-Section to the other side of the Middle-Section as you did for the first end section. The only difference is that now, you will have to push the foam out of the way to attatch the End-Section.

Step 12: Put on Some More Foam: ▼

Slide the other lengths of foam on.

Step 13: Glue on Final Endcaps: ▼

I called the PVC glue optional because when I finally took the Staff apart again, the caps all over were hammered tightly on through use of the Three Section Staff. On top of that, there will be foam taped all around these ends in the final product, so it is not likely to come off.

Still, my ends are glued, and its probably not a bad idea to glue yours on too.

Step 14: Tape It Up: ▼

First, tape just below the endcaps.
Then, tape a few rounds at intervals down the length of the staff.

The purpose of this taping is multiple. It is to:
+secure the foam in place and keep it from shifting
+prevent the split in the pre-slit foam from ripping
+add strength to the foam
+prevent the foam in general from stress rips.

Next, you will be taping up the foam on the ends.
You want the ends covered in foam and the string to remain coming from the center of the of the sections.
Tape in a star pattern over the top while pushing the foam down to the ends.
Don't tape too tightly or there will be less protection at the ends.
Pull enough to stretch the tape and keep it from wrinkling.
Continuously attatch the tape as you move it around the tip.
Use slow arcs to change direction to avoid folding the tape.

Tape the tip up thouroughly. Otherwise, the string may degrade the foam as it swings around.

Step 15: You're Done!

If you've been following along and have made it, congratulations, you're done! Give it a good final inspection and enjoy!

For good policy, if a person is going to use it, make sure that person uses appropriate saftey gear based on his or her skill level. If you spar with it, post up some videos and link to them in the comments section!

It's designed to be as safe as can be and is probably much safer than the commercial foam covered ones. And cheaper too. I might even make you some if you make the right offer. ;)

Step 16: Disclaimer:

This instructable is for entertainment and information only. Should you decide to build the item in this instructable, you assume all risk and liability. Should you build this item, you and anyone you use this item with are obligated to educate themselves and to have full knowledge and understanding of the risks of using both the item and the information contained in this instructable.

Be responsible. Be safe.

Craftsman Workshop of the Future Contest

Participated in the
Craftsman Workshop of the Future Contest