How to Make Fire Poi (Full Performance Set)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 People Made This Project!


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41 Discussions

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.

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?

1 reply

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.

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

2 replies

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.

2 replies

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.

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?

1 reply

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.


2 years ago

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

1 reply

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.

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

4 replies

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.

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 :)

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.

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