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Button slugs

Just experimenting!

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#1 Buffdaddy

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:27 PM

I had an idea earlier today, while I was in Walmart. We've been experimenting with alternative dart production methods, namely trying to eliminate metal, hot glue, etc. So I went to the craft section, got a bag of buttons, and came home to make darts.

Note I grabbed 3/4" foam to make the first test darts. I'll need smaller buttons for 1/2" foam.

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Take your blank, and use your hot glue gun to make a hole. The usual, except you're aiming for a cylindrical hole, with a ring of foam on the outside.

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Place your button(s) inside the hole. The topmost one, attach to your felt pad first. Then take a needle and thread, and weave some magic.

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The end result? You're sewn the dart together. after you've pulled the thread tight so there's no slack, pull a little more. it will slightly pinch the foam on booth ends, more so in the rear, but it will help keep everything together. Use scissors/exacto knife to cut off the thread at either end of the dart, and you're done!

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Firing out of my 4B, these were a few feet short of my normal slugs. Just means I need to use more that 2 buttons.

I'll try micros another day, once I get a bag of smaller buttons. I can then see if it's cost effective. It IS more labor intensive, although being good with a needle helps a lot.

Questions/comments/flames?
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#2 JordanGuy

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:30 PM

But since buttons are a solid (Basically) plastic, wouldn't hot glue be safer?
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#3 Ambience 327

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:39 PM

Hot glue melts on hot days, allowing darts to come apart easier. Sewing the button into the dart definitely avoids this issue.

I'm more concerned about whether the plastic buttons would break into sharp shards of plastic.

In any case, this is an awesome idea and bears further development. If we could locate some slightly softer and less brittle buttons (do they make them in rubber or anything?) this could really go somewhere.
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#4 Buffdaddy

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:43 PM

Hot glue melts on hot days, allowing darts to come apart easier. Sewing the button into the dart definitely avoids this issue.

I'm more concerned about whether the plastic buttons would break into sharp shards of plastic.

In any case, this is an awesome idea and bears further development. If we could locate some slightly softer and less brittle buttons (do they make them in rubber or anything?) this could really go somewhere.


Thanks. The issue here was not needing any adhesive. Beyond the back of the felt pads, anyhow. That's how you buy them from McMaster, haha.

In any case, if you've done it correctly, the buttons are fully encased. I'll be taking my 4B and shooting these at the side of the house for 10-20 times tomorrow, then tear apart to see if the plastic holds up.

In any case, it still feels like a slug when it hits you.
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#5 BiwinningPanda

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:44 PM

Hot glue melts on hot days, allowing darts to come apart easier. Sewing the button into the dart definitely avoids this issue.

I'm more concerned about whether the plastic buttons would break into sharp shards of plastic.

In any case, this is an awesome idea and bears further development. If we could locate some slightly softer and less brittle buttons (do they make them in rubber or anything?) this could really go somewhere.

Something like this but smaller would probably be great.
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#6 BOSS9

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:53 PM

Sewn-together darts? Awesome! Did you even use any glue? Does the thread cut into the foam much? I'm interested in how durable these are.
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#7 proplus

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:55 PM

Hot glue melts on hot days, allowing darts to come apart easier.


By that you mean 180 degree weather right?
I've never had that happen.
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#8 Buffdaddy

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:55 PM

Sewn-together darts? Awesome! Did you even use any glue? Does the thread cut into the foam much? I'm interested in how durable these are.


No glue whatsoever. The thread does cut into the foam a bit, not unexpected. But you only need to pull it taut, then a bit extra, so that slight "bite" helps hold things together. With enough loops running through the dart, it's highly unlikely the thread would come unraveled.

Yep, gonna be abusing these tomorrow. For science, of course.

Another note: for quick research, I found 1500 packs of 3/8" 2-hole buttons on Ebay, for about $18. That comes to a little over $.01 per button, and I'm guessing you'll need 3 of them for any decent performance. So ~$0.04 weight per dart? Not sure what thread goes for, but it has to be a hell of a lot less.

Edited by Buffdaddy, 13 July 2012 - 08:58 PM.

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#9 cheyner

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 09:19 PM

By that you mean 180 degree weather right?
I've never had that happen.


Then you have never nerfed on a hot sunny day. Even in Canada hot glue domes will melt and stick to the ground and any crap they come in contact with, I have experienced this on several occasions.


As for rubber buttons, they use them for Rugby shirts, so they are out there, just don't know how easy they would be to find.
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#10 Draconis

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 12:59 AM

Why not try sewing on just circles of rubber? Like punch out bits of inner tube?
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#11 abowden

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 10:32 AM

because that would be very time consuming and inconsistant.
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#12 Schwaggy

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 11:01 AM

because that would be very time consuming and inconsistant.


As opposed to this very quick process? Props for experimenting and trying something else but I cant see why you didn't just use hot glue. I tried the other day to sew a button onto a piece of FBR and I could make 5 with hot glue in the time it takes to make one of these.
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#13 Buffdaddy

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 11:19 AM

As opposed to this very quick process? Props for experimenting and trying something else but I cant see why you didn't just use hot glue. I tried the other day to sew a button onto a piece of FBR and I could make 5 with hot glue in the time it takes to make one of these.


The purpose of the experiment was not using metal OR adhesive. In case you haven't been browsing the dartmaking sections, there has been a push to find a "safe" dart not using metal or hot glue. Yes, hot glue works for most purposes (aka almost all my dart), but I think you're missing the point.
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#14 proplus

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 02:56 PM

Then you have never nerfed on a hot sunny day. Even in Canada hot glue domes will melt and stick to the ground and any crap they come in contact with, I have experienced this on several occasions.


Interesting, I think it's because I might be using high temp glue sticks or you're using low temp glue sticks because live in california were it's always sunny.
Anyhow high temp hot glue might provoke the problem.
you might find some here www.glu-stix.com
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#15 Schwaggy

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 03:19 PM

The purpose of the experiment was not using metal OR adhesive. In case you haven't been browsing the dartmaking sections, there has been a push to find a "safe" dart not using metal or hot glue. Yes, hot glue works for most purposes (aka almost all my dart), but I think you're missing the point.


Forgive me if I'm being ignorant, but how much negative impact can a tiny dab between the foam and the button(s) be? I wouldn't think it would make any noticeable difference if a dab of hot glue was sandwiched between the pieces.

Interesting, I think it's because I might be using high temp glue sticks or you're using low temp glue sticks because live in california were it's always sunny.
Anyhow high temp hot glue might provoke the problem.
you might find some here www.glu-stix.com


I live in Arizona and it's ~115 degrees, never had a problem.
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#16 Briguy52

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 03:36 PM

Forgive me if I'm being ignorant, but how much negative impact can a tiny dab between the foam and the button(s) be? I wouldn't think it would make any noticeable difference if a dab of hot glue was sandwiched between the pieces.


When it comes to any notable difference between hot glue and the thread, I would say that all you would be doing is trading some durability for convenience.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Buffdaddy's main goal was to create homemade darts entirely free of any adhesive material. So from a practical standpoint, since the actual impact surface is the normal 1/8" thick felt padding, backed by X number of buttons, whether or not you use thread is entirely up to you as both bond/hold pretty well between foam + plastic buttons (probably rubber as well).

On a side note, you might have to lengthen the blanks a tad if you plan on using up to 4 buttons to avoid the center of mass problem that (normal) streamlines have.
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#17 Buffdaddy

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 04:53 PM

Well, I've fired these slugs at the side of my house multiple times. Looks promising!

First, none of the buttons appear to be cracked, chipped or damaged. That's a plus.

Second, The thread did better than expected holding the materials together. Repeated close shots to a hard surface (aka a piece of sheet metal propped up on the side of the house) caused the thread to loosen; I did not see this effect merely doing repeated range shots. Squeezing everything back together allowed you to shoot again, and the darts held together through flight. Eventually, though, it was obvious the dart was falling apart. Which was ok, because all you're left with is a blank.

The coming apart, I believe, is the result of the way I sewed the buttons on. For purposes of initial testing, I did not bother to tie off the ends of the thread; I just cut the thread. Doing an actual knot at the front of the dart should help a lot.
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#18 Buffdaddy

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 11:03 PM

Double post with updated information!

I tried a few other dart/button arrangements, and I believe I've found one with good properties. For my 3/4" stefans, I am putting 3 1/2" buttons under the felt pad, while a slightly smaller one sits at the butt of the dart. After sewing, the foam doesn't get bitten by string, and the dart stays together without loosening (I make a knot at the back of the dart. In addition, the center of gravity still sits forward, so the dart isn't acing strangely in flight. These are now matching the performance of my regular slugs!

After repeated firings and point blank shots into various surfaces, the dart is still holding together extremely well. These will take longer to make (although practice makes it faster), but they just might be durable enough to not need replaced for a while. Assuming I sweep for my darts, I see a bright future using these!

EDIT: I'm looking at various places selling bulk buttons, in particular buttons with 10mm / 3/8" diameter, so that I can construct proper micro stefans. Will update later :)

Edited by Buffdaddy, 16 July 2012 - 11:28 PM.

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#19 KaneTheMediocre

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 07:38 PM

I'm not a fan of hard plastic, but sewing on your heads certainly solves a lot of problems. Have you tried sewing on a blob of rubber? I know very little about sewing buttons, I assumed that some sort of voodoo ritual was involved--Do you really need the hole pattern if the material was soft enough to pierce with the needle?
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#20 Buffdaddy

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 08:40 PM

I'm not a fan of hard plastic, but sewing on your heads certainly solves a lot of problems. Have you tried sewing on a blob of rubber? I know very little about sewing buttons, I assumed that some sort of voodoo ritual was involved--Do you really need the hole pattern if the material was soft enough to pierce with the needle?


The sewing really seems to hold up; it figures that a good solution is also a crazy one. I have yet to try a blob of rubber. There is still enough slack for the buttons at the head to slide a bit, so that might be enough to lessen angled impact. It's still plastic, though.

Could you be a bit more clear as to what you're thinking? I think the holes are important, personally. Yes, you have a hole in the blank, and the buttons go in essentially centered, but my issue is the sewing - it's NEVER going to be perfectly centered. At least with a pattern, you're spreading the force out some.

To be clear, I have yet to make some micros by this method - I have 36 3/4" slugs made like this. Some of the random buttons should be the right size for micros, though. I'll make a few and see if the pattern prevents the dart from deforming or anything.
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#21 Solscud007

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 09:32 AM

great idea. I love avoiding glue whenever possible. Really outside the box thinking.
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#22 Buffdaddy

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 09:27 PM

Today's war results: these work exceptionally well when the blaster is singled. However, things start flying apart when it''s feeding through a hopper; namely, the button in the rear. Perhaps that one really isn't necessary. Back to the drawing board...
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