Staff Constrution

MathGwyson

Artisan
Couldn't find a thread on this (except a semi-related one about double-blades) so I figured I'd start a new one to ask;

Are there any simple & direct guides or how-tos involving making a boffer staff? The suggestions in the book have 'general weapon' and then a few other points of note for staff specific, but I'm having trouble reasoning through it to come up with what I need all together at the end. (It doesn't help that I don't really know what 'PVC' means or the difference between 'open' and 'closed' cell foam, other than some basic context at our local work days etc)

I need one for this weekend and I'm worried the one I ordered from Epic Armoury won't get here in time :(.

I'm a very ideas/theoretical person, not a hands-on craftsman type, so this might be common sense to some people, but I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it.
* There is a note on p82 that 1/2 inch PVC is not to be used for weapons over 32 inches total length, but it does not say what *should* be used (thinner, or thicker?) on page 85 the instructions say "3/4 or 1/2 inch pvc pipe", so I'm guessing 3/4 inch is what I would use for a staff?
* The middle 6 inches must be covered with a minimum of 1/2 inch of pipe insulation (which I interpret from other areas is 'closed cell foam') - I presume this directly superceeds the general rule of 5/8th of an inch padding? I presume the 5/8th of an inch is used for the rest of the weapon beyond the 6 inches? The oddity here is that I can handle it within the middle 3 feet, not just the thinner 6 inch section - I'll probably mark the 3 feet somehow so I know where I'm allowed to handle it.
* The 'Grip Max' said 9"x2 - which is 18 inches. How does this 'grip' value different from the 'middle 6 inches must be covered with a minimum of 1/2 inches of pipe insulation'?
* The 'tip min' confuses me a little. Even though a staff can't be used for thrusting, it still has a thrusting tip? I suppose it's there for accidents? In any event, does this mean that my PVC core should only be a total of 68 inches, because the 4 inches for the thrusting tip do not have a core, correct?

It was suggested to me that since this is for temporary use only that I just get a water noodle and stick a PVC pipe in for a core and then wrap it in duct tape - is this reasonable? (I would like to make a more 'proper' one so that I could at least donate it to the LARP when my latex staff actually arrives, but this seems very complicated to wrap my head around, but is probably easier than it seems.)
 

stonegolem

Scholar
Marshal
-Yes, use 3/4" PVC for your staff. Because of the way staves must be held to be used offensively (both hands in the center), whip is less of a concern than with a 2h blunt, 2h sword or polearm, but nonetheless it is more likely for a larger weapon to pass a marshal's inspection if it is made with a thicker core. Your mileage may vary, of course.

-Strict interpretation of the ARB's text indicates that you may use 1/2" inch padding instead of 5/8" padding for the middle of your weapon, but since you're already purchasing and cutting 5/8" pipe insulation, you might as well use that for the center of your staff. Every staff I have ever seen (not latex) has used the same thickness of padding in the center as on its striking surfaces, and I assume it is for that very reason.

-The 9" x 2 grip maximum indicates that you must have two grips - one on either side of the padding in the center of the staff - and that the maximum amount of grip you can have is nine inches long on each grip. So, assuming you use the minimum amount of central padding, and the maximum amount of grip, your weapon will be: [ striking surface ](grip 9")[padding 6"](grip 9")[ striking surface ]

Note that you are not required to have exactly six inches of padding in the center - you may have more. If you prefer a wider two-handed grip on your staff, you may place those two grips anywhere within the middle three feet of your staff. However, those two grips can still only be up to nine inches long, which means that all of the space in between must be padded.

-You are correct. There has been some discussion on these boards regarding the necessity of thrusting tips on a staff, but until a change is voted on and made by the owners, you must have a 1" overhang of coreless closed-cell foam* and then 2" of , open-cell foam on either end of your staff, which means no more than 66" of core. I recommend cutting slightly less core, because the difference to your effectiveness between 71" and 72" is negligible, but 72.1" is illegal.

-Water noodle + PVC pipe COULD be doable, but taking the time and effort to purchase the correct size of pipe insulation will give you a much greater assurance of having your weapon passed. Remember that you have to measure the inner diameter of your insulation as well, because if your foam compresses from the inside out due to a wider pipe than the inner hole, you are likely not going to have the full 5/8" of padding, and your weapon won't pass.

No chapter will accept a donated rep that doesn't pass a marshal's examination.

*edited per below. Thanks for the catch!
 
Woah, important point here:

If you're trying to make a maximum length staff (72 inches), the longest your core can be is 66 inches. You must have a 1 inch overhang on both ends of coreless pipe foam (closed cell foam), then 2 inches of open cell (squishy) foam. This is true of all weapons, no core should ever be longer than 6 inches shorter than max (with the exception of people who don't want waylay tips on some weapons, then they can get those last couple back). Boffer staves are required to have thrusties on both ends. (See also p.85, that's where most of my standard advice lives.)


As stated, pool noodle will will work if you get the right thickness that has a good hole down the middle that you can fit pipe through, though it will tend to be much shorter lived.

PVC is polyvinyl chloride, but most people don't know that. It's the standard white plumbing pipe. Thinner is weaker, thicker is stronger. The rating (36 PSI, 72 PSI, etc) is also an indicator of strength; higher pressure means stronger, but also more weight. Short weapons can be ok with thinner PVC, but longer ones are better with thicker. Stronger generally reduces whippiness, also.

You said "wrap it in duct tape," which worries me. Make sure that you don't spiral wrap the staff, do strips along the length.
 

MathGwyson

Artisan
Thanks for the replies! Good clarification for me, thanks for the 1 inch end-cap - I wouldn't have clued in to that. (@orc - I did catch that spiral-wrapping isn't safe because it adds extra weight and can compress the foam so it winds up being harder. Thanks for pointing it out though, because it's true I might have missed that :) )

Of course, I wouldn't donate it if it doesn't pass inspection, that would just be silly. It was the weapon & armour marshal who suggested using a water noodle (since it would only be the one weekend, since I DO have a latex staff on order) that would not be something I would donate, that would be just a cheapie. However if I made something 'better' I would like to donate it. That's where I was going with that wording (my mind is chaotic and tangeantal, and does not always come across right when put into text)

The 9" x 2 grip maximum indicates that you must have two grips - one on either side of the padding in the center of the staff - and that the maximum amount of grip you can have is nine inches long on each grip.
Okay, so the grips here are just like a grip for any other weapon? I had the idea that it was more or less uniform all the way down, I just was grabbing the 5/8" padded portions, and I could play around with and adjust my grip until I found something comfortable.

(looking at the rules now) I see here that it says "Weapons with cores may only ever be wielded by the grip" - I missed that. So the 2 grips are left unpadded, but taped? And they effectively have to be at least 6 inches apart (since the middle 6 inches has to be covered in 1/2 inch foam or more)

Now, since I'm not used to fighting with a staff - given that I'm about 5'10" tall (shorter in the legs than average for height, mostly in upper body, so arms are slightly longer than average for 5'10") do you have any suggestions for grip placements? Should I go with less than max length for any reason?

Since I do not own my own hacksaw, I'll probably get the staff at the store to cut the pvc to 65 inches, that gives me some margin for error.

EDIT: It's interesting that the minimum requirements don't add up. 24" weapon surface or head, 9" of grip and 3" of 'centre' (on the one side) add up to 36.. doubled for 72", which is the MAXIMUM overal length. It seems to me the only way you can get the 'minimum' length is to have a 3" grip on each side? Or does the 6 inches of padding count for "Weapon Surface or Head"? Even then, the smallest staff would only be able to sport a 6" grip on each side in order to maintain the head requirements. (Given that the head is 'x2' also, I assume it does NOT count the centre bit)

EDIT2: Looking at it from the other side, 30" for the head, 3" for the centre, and 9 " for the handle is 36.. half of 72", so yeah the centre must not count as part of the 'head'
 

KyleSchmelz

Fighter
I've found 3/4" PVC to work just fine. I don't know if this would help, but here's a small diagram I put together a little while back.



This was specifically for a 60" core, so you'd have to either use 25.5" of foam on each end instead of 23" or just extend the grip sections to 7.5" if you're going to use a 65" core. With the 1" gap and 2" crush tips on each end, that should put you just under max length.

And yeah, the staff specs are kinda weird. No argument there.
 

MathGwyson

Artisan
SkollWolfrun said:
Uh.. yeah. If I can't pick it up at my local Rona, then there's no point. I DO have a Latex staff on order, and I need the rep for this weekend. The only reason I'm making my own is 'cause I don't know if the one I ordered will arrive in time.

So, too flexible or not, PVC is my only option (unless they carry the fiberglass or graphite)

Kyle - thanks for the diagram - that helps. That's close to what I figured out due to this thread, but the image is a bonus!

Since the rules say a 24" head, and it's not clear weather the tips count, I'll probably do 24" of head, plus the 2" tips, which will make the grips 6.5 inches. I think that's the best overall to fit any interpretation of the rules. (Unless the 23" you have there doesn't include the overhang, in which case it would be 7.5 inch handles, which gives me more room to adjust based on how it feels.)

So I need;
1 - 3/4" PVC core - 65" long
2 - open-cell 2" pads for the tips
2 - closed cell pipe insulation 24" long total, with a 1" 'cap' on each end.
1 - closed cell pipe insulation 6" long, with no end caps (for the centre)

Can I get the pipe insulation with the caps already in place, or do I buy them separately and attach them to the end as a separate piece?
 
MathGwyson said:
SkollWolfrun said:
Sites/companies that I have used here : viewtopic.php?f=161&t=9060
Uh.. yeah. If I can't pick it up at my local Rona, then there's no point. I DO have a Latex staff on order, and I need the rep for this weekend. The only reason I'm making my own is 'cause I don't know if the one I ordered will arrive in time.

So, too flexible or not, PVC is my only option (unless they carry the fiberglass or graphite)

Kyle - thanks for the diagram - that helps. That's close to what I figured out due to this thread, but the image is a bonus!
You could dial up IPP, they might have it. http://www.ippnet.com/calgary.html But if you already have a nice rep on order just hold off until you get it and that passes weapon marshal. No point in tossing another $25-30 if you don't need to.
 

MathGwyson

Artisan
Thanks Sean,
I just edited my reply, so might want to double check the materials I listed.

That business you linked is just within walking distance, and actually I'm headed out that way today (on my way to an Archery range, since there's a tournament for this weekend's event and one of the events is archery and *someone* on my team needs to practice - I seem to be the only one inclined to.)

The only problem is - I don't know the rep I ordered will be here in time. I know that as of July 1st the order still wasn't placed, so IDK if it will all get here in time. I'm skeptical that the order can be placed & delivered in under two weeks, but I don't know their turn-around time, other than the fact that their north american distribution centre is in eastern canada (quebec) and I'm in western canada. (I'd be somewhat akin to shipping from North Carolina to Idaho) That's why I'm making the boffer one for just in case! Plus it gives me a backup in case something happens to my latex one - and just good overall practice (I learned a few things about using a staff from reading some of the threads ken linked to - especially about choaking and using it similar to a bat, as long as your hands are in the middle 3 feet)
 
if you don't mind me asking, who did you order through? I got stuff from Medieval Collectibles and Museum Replicas in a week.
 
MathGwyson said:
Can I get the pipe insulation with the caps already in place, or do I buy them separately and attach them to the end as a separate piece?
A closed cell foam 'cap' isn't really a thing (that you can buy, it's just a chunk of foam). The picture above instruction number 2 on p.85 is what we're talking about. In fact, you can follow those directions pretty much straight through, except you'll basically be making two 'blade' ends and no pommel end, and before you put on the second 'blade' you'll want to slide on and secure the center bit.
 

Inaryn

Knight
Listen to Matt (obcidian). Those are his hands in the pictures in that section of the book.
 

MathGwyson

Artisan
SkollWolfrun said:
if you don't mind me asking, who did you order through? I got stuff from Medieval Collectibles and Museum Replicas in a week.
Epic Armoury Canada via Myth Games (mythic, our chapter owner, also owns that store). If a week turn around time isn't unreasonable, then maybe I'll call and check in, otherwise I'll start making a staff. The only other thing I absoloutly need on that order (the black robe with gold trimming) someone else on my team is bringing one for me (part of the tournament, we have coloured 'uniforms' for each team.)

Just part of my obsessiveness. When there's an unknown factor I have no control over, I tend to obsess and have a back-up.

EDIT: Just called - order has not yet been shipped from Quebec, but I was prepared to make a staff so it's all good :)

A closed cell foam 'cap' isn't really a thing
It occurs to me that's why you call it an 'overhang'. It doesn't actually need to be closed off, just no pipe in it, right? The open cell thrusting tip essentially 'covers' it.

The book instructions actually confuse me =Z However, now that I understand this better through this thread it might make more sense. I'm not at home at the moment, so I can't look at the book, but it might not be so confusing now that I understand the concept better.
 
MathGwyson said:
A closed cell foam 'cap' isn't really a thing
It occurs to me that's why you call it an 'overhang'. It doesn't actually need to be closed off, just no pipe in it, right? The open cell thrusting tip essentially 'covers' it.
Yeah, kinda. The best thing to do is to leave the 1 inch of overhang, then take an approximately 1 inch piece of pipe foam (just hack it off an end of leftover that you're not using) so that you have a little foam doughnut, then cut that in thirds so that you have a little wedge, then wrap that in on itself so it makes a tight little cylinder about the same diameter of the pipe. Stuff that into the overhang space where there is no pipe, then tape it down. Then add your open cell. This little 'cap' will make it so that the foam just doesn't compress and the pipe won't just slide into the thrusting tip. It will also make it significantly stronger.

MathGwyson said:
The book instructions actually confuse me =Z However, now that I understand this better through this thread it might make more sense. I'm not at home at the moment, so I can't look at the book, but it might not be so confusing now that I understand the concept better.
I'd like to know what you find confusing. I wrote that section of the book, and if something could be made more clear I'd like to make it more accessible. If you're still stumped, I've got some free time today and parts of this week, I could give you some pointers via Google+Hangout or Skype or something.
 
personally, I also like to cap the ends of the pipe using either a coin or washer of the same size of the pipe. I had a sword that initially was only capped with duct tape and during a spar session the foam went right down the pipe. Doubt it would happen again, but I rather over-engineer things. :)
 

MathGwyson

Artisan
obcidian_bandit said:
I'd like to know what you find confusing. I wrote that section of the book, and if something could be made more clear I'd like to make it more accessible. If you're still stumped, I've got some free time today and parts of this week, I could give you some pointers via Google+Hangout or Skype or something.
Actually, I just re-read it yesterday, I think it was because I had no idea what I was doing, but this thread made the 'final vision' a lot clearer, and therefore the instructions made more sense.

I still don't get the 'fold it unto itself like a donought until it ... fits in the hole' or whatever you said, but I think that's something that I won't understand until I have the materials in front of me. I'm going out in a bit to pick them up.
 

MathGwyson

Artisan
Okay - Just got the materials (and it's an hour before I have to leave, so I'll probably have to finish this there - I hope I can get a reply to this before I leave :( )

Does the 5/8 " refer to the diameter of the hole, or the actual amount of padding? The hardware store I was at only had 3/4" and 1 inch pipe insulation, and the padding on those is a standard ~1/2". One of the guys I talked to suggested maybe putting a 3/4" padding on and then splitting a 1" one down one side and putting it on overtop, which would be a full inch of padding, except on the one side where the split was, and then I would make sure to hold that side closest to me. That's about the only thing I can do with the materials available.

I suppose I could split another one and cut it to fit the 'gap' on the one side, now that I think of it, so it would be 1 inch padding all around.

EDIT: Just checked the rules, 5/8" of padding. Craptastic, this is gonna look ugly, but w/e. It'll suffice for today.
 
MathGwyson said:
Okay - Just got the materials (and it's an hour before I have to leave, so I'll probably have to finish this there - I hope I can get a reply to this before I leave :( )

Does the 5/8 " refer to the diameter of the hole, or the actual amount of padding? The hardware store I was at only had 3/4" and 1 inch pipe insulation, and the padding on those is a standard ~1/2". One of the guys I talked to suggested maybe putting a 3/4" padding on and then splitting a 1" one down one side and putting it on overtop, which would be a full inch of padding, except on the one side where the split was, and then I would make sure to hold that side closest to me. That's about the only thing I can do with the materials available.

I suppose I could split another one and cut it to fit the 'gap' on the one side, now that I think of it, so it would be 1 inch padding all around.

EDIT: Just checked the rules, 5/8" of padding. Craptastic, this is gonna look ugly, but w/e. It'll suffice for today.
Sorry I missed you. There can't be a gap, so you would need to do the 2 layers and fill the gap. Most stores don't carry the 5/8" or 1" pipe foam anymore, I had to order until a local shop started carrying it because I ordered so much.
 

MathGwyson

Artisan
Thanks! The staff got approved for the weekend

I had to redo the thrusting tips. Applying the tape directly to the foam prevents the foam from expanding properly, even with the perforations. The suggestion was to put a plastic bag over the foam tips and then apply the tape to the bag. This causes the tape to stick to the bag without preventing the foam tips to expand. I don't recall that instruction in the book (although I may have missed it). If it is not in the book, may be a good suggestion next revision?

There will probably be a picture of the staff uploaded by our photographer. I almost always had it with me.
 
MathGwyson said:
Applying the tape directly to the foam prevents the foam from expanding properly, even with the perforations. The suggestion was to put a plastic bag over the foam tips and then apply the tape to the bag. This causes the tape to stick to the bag without preventing the foam tips to expand. I don't recall that instruction in the book (although I may have missed it). If it is not in the book, may be a good suggestion next revision?
Long story short, no, I would recommend against that method and not put it in the book. It's called 'condom tipping' and is significantly more likely to break over the life of the weapon. I quit using that method 7 or 8 years ago because of the failure issue and because it's easier to do using a much simpler and lighter way. The nice thing to the condom tip method is that you can do it so that it looks very good on a 'duct tape' weapon, but very few 'high end' boffer weapons are covered with duct tape any more. If you're stuck with duct tape, I recommend the method that's in the book, then using an absolutely minimal amount of tape on the tips to cover up the ends if you're married to the idea of not showing any thrusting tip foam. You won't have a problem with the foam expansion issue if you cut down on tape (and make sure you're using the right kind of tape).

Fear not, most peoples' (95%+) first weapon fails inspection the first time, but most (~70%) can be fixed on site because most have thrusting tip issues. It's one of the hardest things to get right.
 
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