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The Lglf Official Guide To Stefan Making


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#1 Langley

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 11:58 PM

The Impact of 1930's Stefan Making on the Great Depression and Domestic New Deal Policy
(or, The LGLF Official Guide to Stefan Making).


by Langley, A.S. and The Fred, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., MD, Ed.D

Many people have come up to us while at wars and asked us some interesting questions about the way we make our Stefans. We've tried to answer these questions as best as we can, but now we've decided to take our process and post it on the web for all to see. This is really the way we do it -- we've kept no secrets to ourselves. If you think our method sucks, you're welcome to make your darts any way you want, but we think that our process consistently makes Stefans that shoot straight and far... just like your mom.

In this article, we are going to address the production of mega Stefans, but nearly all of the following steps can be applied to 1/2" Foam Backer Rod (FBR) as well as for the 5/8" FBR used for megas.

Posted Image

Step 1. Purchase Your Shit.

The first step to making kickass Stefans is to buy, and buy wisely. We've learned through trial and error what kind of foam backer rod NOT to buy (especially that black crap from LogHelp.com). There are many brands of FBR available, and what works well with us here in New Jersey might not be useful or even available where you may be, so you won't get a recommendation from us. What you should do is try different brands of FBR and use the brand that works best with the 1/2" PVC available to you. Eventually, you will come across something that works well and want to stick with it. (Note: Many people, including the hourly-paid peons who work at Home Depot, don't know what FBR is. It is useful in these situations to ask for directions to the Foam Weather Stripping section, and as another note, FBR is also sometimes known as "Caulk Saver.")

As you probably know, each stefan must be glued with a small weight inside of it. For mega Stefans, we use Size 7 fishing weights, or "sinkers" (available at your local sporting goods store's fishing supplies section). For minis, we use Size BB fishing weights. We can only procure them in 30 ct. sizes, but you may be able to buy them in bigger packages.

You will also need to purchase at least one glue gun, but we prefer to use two for different uses. The glue gun should be of either a high- or variable-temperature variety (they are not expensive to buy if you go to a local hardware or crafts store). We use a hacksaw for cutting our templates and FBR, and to use the saw properly we also have a miter box. All of these things will be explained further in detail as our lesson progresses.

Step 2. Foam Preparation.

Okay, you're back from the hardware store and you're eager and ready to get started. If you want darts that resemble the shape of curly fries, start now. If you want to make them straight, you're going to have to leave them outside for a while.

We generally straighten our stefans out on the groove on the side of a metal ladder for a good two or three weeks. As the FBR is naturally curled up in a roll, we have to tape each end down to the ladder side in order to make sure that the foam straightens the way we want it to. If you're strapped for time, after taping the FBR to the ladder (or whatever device you've ingeniously chosen to use), you can quickly apply a blowdryer on High setting to the foam to straighten it quicker. Using quick side-to-side motions, in order to keep the foam from melting under the heat, you should be able to soften the foam. Leave it out on your straightening device to cool, and the foam will be less likey to curl back up on it's own.

Step 3. Cutting Stefans.

After your FBR is straightened to your taste, you will proceed to cutting your stefans. In order to get a nice straight cut, you will want to cut your stefans through a PVC template. You will start by cutting a length of PVC approximately 1/2" longer than you want your stefan to be, using your saw and miter box. We make our stefans aproximately 2" long, and therefore make our templates 2 1/2" long. After this, de-burr the PVC using a rasp, Dremel, sandpaper, or even your fingernail.

Next, determine how long you want your stefans to be (once again, this is a matter of taste, but our stefans are usually around 2" - 2 1/4" in length) and make a mark that distance away from one end of your PVC using pencil, pen, or the blood of a virgin. Using the miter box and hacksaw, cut PARTIALLY through the PVC at this mark, cutting through until the saw has almost severed the entire inside of the PVC. You can test this by holding the PVC up to a light with the hacksaw inside of it. Optimally, you should only see a small point of light through the saw-PVC gap. Once again, de-burr the inside of the PVC. We've found that the best way to do this is to wrap a piece of sandpaper around a screwdriver and rub it around the inside. (See our upcoming article "How to Please a Woman: The LGLF Way" for more insight as to this procedure.)

Now, take your straightened FBR and insert it into the template (it is best to twist the template, not the FBR, in order to minimize tangling of the foam). Nip a small amount of foam from the template, so that your first stefan is uniform on both ends. Make sure the foam is inserted in the proper side of the template (that is, the side opposite the length you have previously marked off with your virgin), and the lead end of it is flush with the other end. You need only swipe your hacksaw lightly to cut your stefans; after a little while, you'll get the hang of the proper amount of pressure to use. Over time, your template will begin to wear down with use, no matter how careful you are with your cutting. When this happens, simply start again with a new template (this means it's a good idea to make more than one template at the very beginning). Use your first template to mark off the lengths for your other templates to ensure uniformity.

Step 4. Drill Calibration.

There are many different ways to drill holes into your stefans. Some like to twist a drinking straw into one end of the stefan and then remove the loose inside piece with pliers; some prefer to use a soldering iron. The LGLF uses a drill press to make our holes, and our way is better, bitch. We've found that the proper drill bit to use for our mega Stefans is 7/32" (although for practicality's sake, 1/4" will work just as well). To hold the stefans while drilling, you're going to want a small length of PVC that has a coupling attached to it. The coupling provides for stability.

Now we calibrate our drill press. Assuming that the stefans you have cut are approximately 2" in length, you will want the hole in your stefan to be about 1 1/2", leaving 1/2" undrilled. To calibrate the drill press, you will want to lower the drill bit as far down as it will go and hold it there, while adjusting the base. Keeping in mind that you will be putting the undrilled stefans into the dart-holder so that they are flush with the top, move the base so that only about 3/8" to 1/2" of stefan will not be drilled. Also keep in mind that later on you will be making a hole in the tip of the dart for the weight, and if you make the initial hole too deep, they will meet in the middle of the dart. This is unacceptable. Note: Some drills have a nifty doodad wich allows you to fine tune how far down the drill can be lowered. If you have one, this is the ideal time to use it.

Step 5. Drilling.

Proceed to drill all your un-drilled stefans by twisting the dart into the dart holder so that the top of the dart is flush with the top of the holder, and lower the drill untill it can drill no further. Pull any loose strings of foam out of the hole, and put the drilled dart in a container to be glued later on. Be sure to drill as close to the center of the dart as possible; this is crucial to make sure that your darts have maximum uniformity.

Step 6. Glue-on-her-dart.com

Before you begin to glue your darts, cut several short lengths of PVC so they are a little longer than your dart length using the hack saw and miter box. Ten or twelve should be enough. Now you can begin to glue your darts.

First, you want to prepare your dart for glueing. Do this by twisting the dart into one of your PVC holders and poking a small hole into the tip of the dart. We do this using our smaller glue gun. Make sure the hole is deep enough that the weight does not protrude from the hole; if you don't believe this is important, get hit with one of the darts you made this way. It will HURT. After you have done this three or four times, make sure you swap the melted foam off the tip of the glue gun.

Now you may cover the weight with a small glob of glue. The optimal size of the glob will varry depending on the foam, glue gun, and glue. Keep in mind that the glob will flatten out and spread over the dart. Ideally, you want the weight and the tip of the dart almost completly covered with glue. However, if you insert the dart into PVC, you don't want any glue to touch the inside of the PVC, so be sure not to put so much glue on the dart that it drips over the sides. If a bubble forms in the glue, poke it with the tip of the glue gun to pop it.

Let the dart sit in it's holder and dry and move on to the next dart. By the time you run out of holders, the first dart you glued should be dry, and you can start this process over again.


Conclusion

If you've followed these steps religiously (and by this, we really mean that you've built two life-size religious shrines of Langley and The Fred), you will notice that your latest batch of stefans is more durable, more uniform, and consistently get more range than any darts you have encountered before. On the other hand, if you notice any flaws or errata in the article, please feel free to email us at lawngnomeliberationfront@yahoo.com. If we've messed up, we'll be glad to fix it; if we didn't mess up and you're a stupid asshole, we'll be glad to show up at your front door and kick your ass in front of your little sister.

Best of luck to you,
Langley and The Fred
© February 2004

Edited by Langley, 03 January 2012 - 04:38 PM.

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#2 Warlock

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 05:39 PM

How to Please a Woman: The LGLF Way

I would read that article but two questions...
  • How much alcohol did your test subjects ingest in order for you to "please them the LGLF way"?
  • What if you don't like going to Star Wars/Star Trek/any other dorky convention to meet chicks?
(Oh I love ripping the LGLF)
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#3 sporkboyofjustice

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 05:55 PM

Dorky conventions aren't good places to meet chicks as the hot ones are always with their boyfriends. This is doubly true for the ones in chain mail bikinis.

Good article though, I like the template idea, I'll definately start using that one right away.
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#4 cxwq

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 06:00 PM

Yeah, I liked that too. I use a hobby knife to cut my micro stefans so my template should last forever. It's a drag always having to be so careful to get the cuts straight when you're doing it by hand.
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#5 leftnut

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 04:02 PM

That picture of The Fred is scaring me.
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#6 The Fred

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 09:44 PM

Warlock,

Langley can speak for himself, but don't knock every member of the LGLF's sauce-making capabilities before you learn their stories. Women flock to a man with a big gun. (That's why Langley can speak for himself)

The Fred
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#7 Zero Talent

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Posted 27 February 2004 - 10:46 PM

"Keeping in mind that you will be putting the undrilled stefans into the dart-holder so that they are flush with the top, move the base so that only about 3/8" to 1/2" of stefan will not be drilled."

I wasn't really reading for grammar, but this stuck out at me. Not only is the sentence really unsteady, but I should hope more than 3/8" to 1/2" of Stefan will not be drilled! Unless he's into that kind of stuff...

Great template use. Now someone just has to make an AC unit that can automatically turn out at least 50 darts within a 5 minute period. Shouldn't be too hard to do, just annoying to align. Biggest issue I can see, beyond alignment, would be construction of a higher-volume hotglue gun for that much use. And perhaps a use for all that otherwise melted tail foam from hole drilling/melting (...tailings? :w00t: ). And perhaps a handbook of dinosaur jokes that those of us who are still adept at manual Stefan construction can throw at the new industrialized generation (Gotta look ahead, make sure you're not the embarrasment in the home).

The Fred makes me feel like a Mail-Order Bride. The really cheap kind.

Edited by Zero Talent, 27 February 2004 - 10:46 PM.

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#8 Langley

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Posted 28 February 2004 - 03:21 AM

I was going to edit that Stefan being drilled thing, but I think the article is better as is. Anyway, if you don't get it from that sentence, then the diagram pretty much explains it.
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#9 MAC

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 06:18 PM

Instead of straighing your stefans for 2-3 weeks, why dont you just put them into the dryer for 4 minuts. That works for me.
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#10 cxwq

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 06:49 PM

Instead of straighing your stefans for 2-3 weeks, why dont you just put them into the dryer for 4 minuts. That works for me.

In my experience, the foam first gets a bit larger, then begins to melt and shrinks. It's tough to get the timing right so that you have straight darts instead of ruined darts.

I cut my foam into 7' sections and hang them from the rafters in my garage with weights on the end. Not heavy weights, just enough to hold them straight and stretch them a bit. If the weather is warm, a few days is sufficient.
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#11 Zero Talent

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 09:41 PM

Crazy kids. I'm using RCR Foam Backer Rod (Possibly from the same STORE as Stefan! ***Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!*** /), using about 4-6cm long stock for each dart, and a miniature dryer setup from a cardboard box and hair dryer at high heat is sufficient for all my straightening needs. Yeah, it expands on first heating, probably due to the heated air, but as it cools in its straightened form, it seems to shrink back to its original size.

I wanted to make sure this was true of my foam backer rod, so I took a pair of calipers to about three test samples of foam backer rod, all from the same roll (two from my freshest batch of darts, one from the roll). That's a low number, but I just wanted to see the accuracy within 1/128". That's about the average tolerance of my foam backer rod, so anything equal or less than that difference would be negligible. Anyways, suspended the .5cm long foam bits in the calipers, opened them very slowly until they lost normal friction and dropped. There was a difference just larger than 1/128". There are no markers past increments of 1/64" on my calipers, so the difference is dependent on line-of-sight estimate. Cheez, really, how accurate does it have to be?

Even so, I'm sure hanging Foam Backer Rod makes for a very interesting decoration.

You use the closed cell stuff from loghelp.com, right Cx? It may be a property unique to specific types of Foam Backer Rod.

Edited by Zero Talent, 01 March 2004 - 09:43 PM.

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#12 Langley

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Posted 02 March 2004 - 02:18 PM

Yeah, it occored to me that the foam the LGLF uses is much less dense and also thinner than the Loghelp.com stuff. So it should be considered that anything reguarding the stefan making process may be effected by that.
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#13 Iceman17

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 05:07 PM

What brands FBR does everyone use? I keep getting my stefans stuck in my PETG barrels and sometimes my brass barrels.
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#14 Langley

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:32 PM

There are many brands of FBR available, and what works well with us here in New Jersey might not be useful or even available where you may be, so you won't get a recommendation from us. What you should do is try different brands of FBR and use the brand that works best with the 1/2" PVC available to you. Eventually, you will come across something that works well and want to stick with it.

While I do comment that the stuff from loghelp.com is crap in my article, it is what cxwq and a few other west coast nerfers use, and they all use PETG over there, so you may want to try that. Other than that, just try and find every available brand and bring some of your barrel material with you to see how it fits. If you tear a hole just big enough for the foam in the bag, none of the clerks are going to give you a hard time about it.

Edited by Langley, 04 April 2004 - 07:34 PM.

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#15 Stefan

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Posted 10 April 2004 - 09:54 PM

You guys use a saw and mitre box to cut FBR? Holy crap. All this time I was sitting in front of the TV with a razor blade and a piece of shelf on my lap!

Addendum you may want to make about drilling (yes, it's the best way):
Use a brad-point drill bit. It's a special drill bit used to cut holes for dowels, so you don't get a "U" shaped hole, but rather a perfectly squared-off one. It cuts into the FBR totally cleanly and evenly. I found my normal wood/metal bits would very rarely grab the FBR and spin it around (though funny as hell, it was a waste), and quite often would tear chunks out of the inside could cause balance problems in flight.

I always made my weight holes at the tip by poking the dart onto a hot glue gun and melting in - never even considered you could make a hole in a less messy (and probably carcinogenic) way. Nice.

Well, on my way out to go to Rona at Park and Tilford.. WHERE I BOUGHT ALL MY FBR!
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#16 rawray7

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Posted 10 April 2004 - 10:10 PM

While I do comment that the stuff from loghelp.com is crap in my article, it is what cxwq and a few other west coast nerfers use, and they all use PETG over there, so you may want to try that. Other than that, just try and find every available brand and bring some of your barrel material with you to see how it fits. If you tear a hole just big enough for the foam in the bag, none of the clerks are going to give you a hard time about it.

yeah loghelp is really inconsistent in sizes, even amongst socal kids it varies greatly in size.
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#17 Ash

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 01:21 AM

AH HA! Stefan finally revealed his secret to drilling darts..

I tried the drill, and for years I had dizzy FBR instead of darts.

At last... the power!
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#18 THIRST

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 10:22 AM

Right, be we still havn't determined if cutting holes in darts do work. Everyone comes up with different results. Glad to see you back Stefan and Ash.

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#19 canuck

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:41 PM

Personaly I prefer Angel's method, [thanks youtube!] but this is the probably one first post of this type out in the NIC community, if not the best quality. Keep up the good work guys!
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#20 Talio

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:48 PM

Canuck has been banned for 6 months because of this.
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#21 black inferno

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 07:12 PM

Dude, I had this ingenious idea yesterday. What if you used something besides fishing weights that were attracted to a magnet? Fishing weights are are made of lead, which does not attract to a magnet, so they won't work. But if you used something magnetizeabel, like, for example, steel or iron, it would make picking up darts easier, prevent lost darts, and (with a magnet on the end of a stick) make it easier to get them from behind the couch.


Here. I posted a thread about it, just though i'd note it on this tutorial:

http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=17899
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