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How to make better Slug darts

#1 User is offline   Ryan201821 

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 12:43 PM

How to make better Slug darts

Supplies: (all part numbers searchable through McMaster.com)

-8771K12 - Adhesive-Back Felt Bumper 1/2" Diameter, 1/8" Height, Green
-90126A007 - #6 Zinc-plated washers (they don't rust)
-Miter box and hacksaw
-Box cutter/razor blade
-Piece of wood, cardboard, etc. for cutting board
-Hot glue gun/glue OR Goop/E-6000
-"Airgun" barrel material appropriate for your foam of choice
-1/2" diameter foam of your choice

Cutting blanks:

There is one very simple way to make perfect, square cuts every time. Get a piece of tubing that has a loose fit on your darts. You want to be able to feed your foam through it. Cut a slit in the tubing the goes almost all the way through. Use your miter box and hacksaw to get the cut as square as possible. You want to use something that has rather thick walls so your template doesn't fall apart. If you don't cut the slit deep enough, your foam won't be cut all the way. An easy way to check this is to put the razor blade through your slit, hold it up to the light and see if it passes all the way through. Cut the slit however long you want your darts to be from the end of the tube. Use a generous amount of tubing for the template so you have a place to put you're hand when cutting. De-burr the inside of the blank template with some sandpaper wrapped around something that will fit inside the blank template. Now that you're template is done, feed the foam into the end of the pipe furthest away from the slit. Feed until it's flush with the other end of the tube. With a razor blade, cut through the slit. You want to make sure the razor blade is sharp, so the cuts are clean. Feed the foam through again and repeat.

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Most effective modification I've done to this method is simply taping the template on your leg. Another idea is to cut multiple slits your template.

Dart Tips:

Now that you're blanks are cut, it's time to make the heads. The most effective way I've found doing this is making the tips before you apply any glue. Peel off one of your felt discs (grabbing towards the edge), and stick it to one of the washers. Make this as centered as possible. After you do a million of these, it becomes pretty easy. Lay your tips felt side down, rinse, and repeat.

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Gluing your tips:

After you're tired doing that, you can start gluing the tips on the foam. Now this is where most people fail at making slugs, and generally why they fall apart for most people. It is absolutely critical you burn a hole or cavity in the foam for your glue to sit. All the poorly made slugs I've seen don't have this hole. Most people will just apply whatever glue they're using to the top of the foam, and then put on the tip. These won't last long.

Easiest way to burn holes is with the hot glue gun. Burn your hole as centered as possible, about 3/8” deep by 3/8” wide. You want the entire washer to sit inside the glue cavity after it’s applied. This way you can be sure there isn’t any exposed metal on either side of the dart. Now at this point you can decide whether you want to use hot glue or Plumber's Goop/E-6000.

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I'm sure there are more, I just can't think of them. I usually use hot glue because of the ease of use, and I can make way more than using Goop/E-6000. When choosing your hot glue gun, it depends on the density of your foam. When we used to use the gray McMaster foam, they had to be made with a mini-low temp glue gun. The dual-temp or high temp glue guns would melt the foam too fast and deform the sides of the hole or cavity. After getting the hot pink foam, we switched to using a dual-temp glue gun on high. The lower temp glue guns just don’t burn the foam enough to make a good hole. You may need to do a little experimenting here to see what glue gun will work best. I always use the “mini” ones as the larger ones are too hard to burn holes, and dispense too much glue on one pull. Normally I’ll aim for almost one full pull of glue for each dart.

Now, it’s time for the actual gluing. Take your glue of choice and squirt it into the cavity. Turn the blank upside down and smash it into one of your washer + felt tips. You may have to adjust the tip a bit to make sure it’s centered and secured to the foam. Make sure your glue covers the entire washer. With hot glue, fill the hole until it's over the hole by about 1/8". The hot glue will seep in a bit. After that, set it to the side and repeat until you’ve either ran out of tips, or you’re bored out of your mind.

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Remember when I told you it's critical you burn a hole?

Here's a couple darts, some of them made with the hole, and some of them while just applying glue on the top.

Good:
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Bad:
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After dissecting them, you can see the difference.
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The darts with holes burned are much more difficult to pull apart with your hands. The other darts on the right, with glue applied only on the top, easily break. Also, the darts with holes burned have no exposed metal, compared to the other darts.

I'd also like to note you can make these with #8 washers instead. I highly recommend against it though for a couple of reasons. If you use CPVC, the washers may be too large to fit through your barrels. Second, there is inherently exposed metal unless you have super thick foam and larger felt pads. It's just not possible for the metal to not be seen from the outside of the dart. I'd honestly like to see #8's go away completely.

Happy dart-making.

This post has been edited by Ryan201821: 26 July 2012 - 01:02 PM

 VACC, on 13 May 2011 - 07:30 AM, said:

Consider it a bottled universe under the magnanimous control of Ryan McNumbers. Trying to redefine the foundation of said universe will ultimately result in the cessation of your existence within it.
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#2 User is offline   WicketTheModder619 

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 01:01 PM

Great job on the tutorial Ryan! I have been making my slugs like this for a little over a year now. I still have some of the darts from my first batch that will not break. I am going to make the switch over to a mini hot glue gun for a more controlled glue flow though. You mentioned using a dual-temperature glue gun on high to burn the holes, but what are the advantages of using low temperature and high temperature to dispense the glue?
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#3 User is offline   Buffdaddy 

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 02:07 PM

AFter I started doing this, slugs worked much better. However, I still need to get an actual low-temp glue gun. For some odd reason, I never have, and I end up losing a quarter of an inch off darts in the process just from melting.

Yeah, fail.

Point is, this method does indeed work. you dudes don't have an excuse anymore for bad darts.

#4 User is offline   Curly 

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 03:21 PM

View PostBuffdaddy, on 09 July 2011 - 02:07 PM, said:

I end up losing a quarter of an inch off darts in the process just from melting.


I got my dual-temp mini for $11 at Canadian tire, so they're not that pricy. I don't buy the dual temp sticks though, hotglue is hotglue or as is my understanding.

Now that we have a full blown writeup with part #s(thank you, I couldn't find #6s) rookies have no excuse to do a good job. Perhaps this will make slugs look less like contraband to Canadian war hosts :lol:
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#5 User is offline   KaneTheMediocre 

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 03:52 PM

Finally, somewhere to point when people ask about slugs and how to make them. As you can see, it's not that complicated. Tragically, the original inventor of slugs (Captain Slug, same guy that invented the +bow) used "Liquid Nails" for the adhesive and #8 washers, which inspired many nerfers to make terrible darts.

One note about silicone based glues (like Goop): I'm not sure they will stick well to the (relatively) smooth melted surface of a glue-gun burned hole. We made some prototype darts with it that seemed pretty tough, but those had drilled holes with a rough surface to hook on. If for this or any other reason you want to drill holes in your darts, you'll need some sort of centering jig, and brad-point (sometimes called guided point) drill bit.

As for the Canadian war host, I doubt that better slugs would change anything. Maybe if the felt was replaced by something that doesn't provide any padding, they would have the minimum safety hazard that is required up there.

edit:

As for low temp / high temp, it's just a matter of how much it melts the foam. Not all "high temp"s are created equal, that's why we use a mini-sized dual temp hot glue gun--It's not as hot as the dedicated high-temp glue guns. You want the glue to form a weld with the foam, which requires a little bit more heat with denser foams like the pink stuff we sell at MHA. If you use Ace foam or mcmaster foam, then a high temp glue gun will melt the foam too much--even if you don't burn a hole with the tip, the hot glue will go all China syndrome on your blank.

This post has been edited by KaneTheMediocre: 09 July 2011 - 03:58 PM

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#6 User is offline   aj1234119 

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:09 PM

This is a great writeup. Unfortunately, I have 1500 #8 washers left from the that I bought about half a year ago before I knew to buy #6's, and if I try to melt a hole for the #8's to sit in the foam is too thin, so I'm stuck with 1500 more bad slugs or 1500 useless washers.
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#7 User is offline   Carbon 

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:13 PM

The benefit of melting even a smaller hole is that you increase the surface area for the glue to adhere to, so they'll be less likely to explode...not as safe as #6 washers, but still better than poorly glued slugs.

This post has been edited by Carbon: 09 July 2011 - 05:18 PM

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#8 User is offline   Curly 

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 07:35 PM

View PostKaneTheMediocre, on 09 July 2011 - 03:52 PM, said:

As for the Canadian war host, I doubt that better slugs would change anything. Maybe if the felt was replaced by something that doesn't provide any padding, they would have the minimum safety hazard that is required up there.

Hey were not that bad...homemade air guns and super soakers are still banned. K9Turret gets to play with some pretty scary stuff though, but he uses proper power regulation.

Has anybody found a place to make slugs in bulk sans Mcmaster? A $10 pack of springs costs me $30, so I try to avoid them if at all possible.
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#9 User is offline   Ryan201821 

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 10:29 PM

View PostCurly, on 09 July 2011 - 07:35 PM, said:

Has anybody found a place to make slugs in bulk sans Mcmaster? A $10 pack of springs costs me $30, so I try to avoid them if at all possible.

McMaster is the cheapest place I've found to sell washers, at least in the states. They usually have pretty cheap hardware. You should be able to get them at a local hardware store, although I don't know how price efficient this is compared to ordering from McMaster. I know at my local Ace's and Home Depots, the quantities are no more than a 100 and usually cost about $5.

As far as the felt goes, I haven't really seen a replacement for the McMaster pads. Most felt pads that can be purchased at a hardware store are usually way too thin.

This place sells what seems to be exactly the same as McMaster felt discs, but I haven't purchased them. Their site claims they'll ship anywhere in the world, but I can't imagine it'll be much better than shipping from McMaster. Good thing is these pads are actually cheaper than McMaster anyway, so you might want to check them out. ...Yeah, these aren't thick enough

I also wanted to add that 2-3mm foam is definitely not enough padding. When you glue the washer to the craft foam, it compresses probably 50% of it's original thickness. You could try using thicker craft foam than that, but personally it doesn't seem soft enough to me. It also may give you problems in hoppers.

This post has been edited by Ryan201821: 10 July 2011 - 02:59 PM

 VACC, on 13 May 2011 - 07:30 AM, said:

Consider it a bottled universe under the magnanimous control of Ryan McNumbers. Trying to redefine the foundation of said universe will ultimately result in the cessation of your existence within it.
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#10 User is offline   taerKitty 

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 06:16 AM

I don't think they're the same. The NationalArtCraft.com felt pads are 3/64" thick, which are less than half the 1/8" thickness McMaster lists.

On the other hand, maybe the bumpers will work...
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#11 User is offline   Ryan201821 

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:54 AM

View PosttaerKitty, on 10 July 2011 - 06:16 AM, said:

I don't think they're the same. The NationalArtCraft.com felt pads are 3/64" thick, which are less than half the 1/8" thickness McMaster lists.

On the other hand, maybe the bumpers will work...

Oh wow, didn't realize that. I thought they were 3/32" thick for some reason. So yeah, don't buy those.

 VACC, on 13 May 2011 - 07:30 AM, said:

Consider it a bottled universe under the magnanimous control of Ryan McNumbers. Trying to redefine the foundation of said universe will ultimately result in the cessation of your existence within it.
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#12 User is offline   b1g13en 

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 10:25 PM

Are all the 4 colors from mcmaster the same in quality or certain colors are better?
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#13 User is offline   Curly 

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 07:02 PM

View Postb1g13en, on 23 July 2011 - 10:25 PM, said:

Are all the 4 colors from mcmaster the same in quality or certain colors are better?

They're just dyed different. You should choose which color to use based on average war conditions and what other people near you use. If you play on a grassy field and green tips are common, buying green would be a very poor decision. White seems to be the most common color, but it can be colored with most markers easily to get a full range of colors and patterns.
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#14 User is offline   diamondbacknf1626 

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 07:10 PM

View PostCurly, on 03 August 2011 - 07:02 PM, said:

They're just dyed different. You should choose which color to use based on average war conditions and what other people near you use. If you play on a grassy field and green tips are common, buying green would be a very poor decision. White seems to be the most common color, but it can be colored with most markers easily to get a full range of colors and patterns.


This is actually not the case. From what I've noticed anyway, different color felt pads vary significantly in firmness. The other three colors (Other than green), are more "floofy," make worse darts, and are much more difficult to make darts with. I don't really know which of them is worse than the others, only that green is the best of the four in that respect. Also, heads don't really distinguish darts well, or make them any easier to find, being that darts sit in the grass head down.

Also, fantastic guide, Ryan, as I've already told you. Everyone should make darts this way until the MHA guys mass produce revolutionized darts. I've already pumped a few of mine through my hoppered blasters hundreds of times each, and they still qualify for my good dart pile.

This post has been edited by diamondbacknf1626: 03 August 2011 - 07:11 PM

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#15 User is offline   taerKitty 

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 06:07 AM

One other tip - do not paint the felt. I'm not sure about dying them, but painting them significantly decreases their value as padding.
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