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Slug's original dart guide

there have been many improvements, but this is the original.

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#1 CaptainSlug


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Posted 28 October 2006 - 01:52 PM

Well, I've already gotten a dozen PMs concerning my dartsmithing method so I'm going to repeat everything I've had to answer already.

I make my stefans with liquid nails, #8 steel washers, and adhesive-backed felt discs.
THE cheapest source for these materials is http://www.mcmaster.com
The liquid nails adhesive is part# 7534A57
The felt disc stickers are part# 8771K22 but they are available in 3 other colors (green, brown, and black)
The washers are part# 91083A009 and come in a 1-pound box of 585 pieces for $4.37
They weigh roughly .8 grams each (1 pound = 454 grams. So 454g \ 585 = 0.8g)
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The size 7 fishing weights that seem to be the generally accepted standard weight by comparison are heavier than these washers. Size 7 split-shot tin fishing sinkers are 1.16g (See this chart), these washers are .8g dry, and 1.2g with the felt disc attached. The resulting dart weighs exactly the same, unless you accidentally purchased lead fishing weights, which weigh 0.6g more than the tin fishing weights.

Weight is not the reason I chose washers. It will become quite obvious why washers are preferable in a second.

Here's how I make felt-tip stefans

1. Cut foam to length (2" generally)
2. Straighten foam using a pillowcase and hair dryer
3. Squeeze liquid nails tube to get a small bead of glue then rub/spin the dart tip on the tip of the liquid nails tube to apply a thin layer of glue. You don't need very much of it to keep the washer secured to the foam.
4. Attach washer to dart making sure to center it.
5. Apply adhesive-back felt disc to washer
6. Use finger to remove any excess glue from the edges of the dart, then wipe glue on a paper towel.
7. Place new dart face down and continue with the next dart

Liquid Nails sets after 5 minutes and cures completely after 20-minutes to an hour (depending on room temperature). While workable it has a consistency of peanut butter, but after 5-minutes of drying becomes the consistency of chewing gum. After an hour of curing it should be as hard as a pencil eraser.
As long as you keep the liquid nails tube tip clean and don't allow it to dry out you should be able to make them as quickly or faster than you would darts with hot glue.
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Here are several questions that have been asked already.

1. Do these darts put dents in walls? (is suitable for indoor wars?) If the dart flies funny and goes to the side, will the washer cut into the wall from the side?
2. How many darts can you make with a tube of liquid nails?
3. Are they better than regular stefans?
4. Are the washers and disks that you use thin enough to fit into cpvc?
5. How accurate are they?

1. They are 1/16" smaller in OD than the felt tips and upon impact the felt deforms around the outer edge of the washer. The darts made with this method do not weigh enough to damage drywall, and I have confirmed this by making test shots of darts that lack the felt tips. The felt tips are there to cushion the front of the dart so that they hurt less and don't have the risk of scratching wood furniture or chipping glassware.
2. I've made over 200 darts with this method and have yet to noticably deplete the 4-oz tube of liquid nails. You really won't be applying much glue to each dart.
3. Better in performance? Not in an appreciable way I've been able to notice since they have basically the same range. Their advantages are practical ones since these darts are cheaper and easier to make in bulk.
4. The washers are 3/16" Id, 7/16" Od, .036" Thk. The felt discs are exactly 1/2" OD. Therefore both parts have a smaller OD than any kind of 1/2" foam backer rod.
5. They're just as accurate as meticulously crafted stefans, but are much MUCH easier to make with more consistency.

- Significantly lower cost per dart. If purchased through mcmaster, the washers are $0.0074 each, and the felt discs are $0.01 each. The liquid nails cost is too low per-dart to calculate.
Fishing weights, even if purchased as low as $1 per bag of thirty, cost twice that amount ($0.03). And that cost is not including the hot glue you would need to attach them.
- Much easier to make with high consistency.
- Higher foward-loading since the weight is distributed even closer to the tip of the dart
- More unique and visually appealing. Felt discs are available in white, black, green, and brown.
- Does not require the application of hot glue
- Tips can dry in any orientation without affecting shape/performance of finished dart
- They hurt less. The felt is a much softer tip than hot glue, and personally I think these hurt less than streamline or dart tagger darts which tend to leave hickey marks because they deform on impact.

- Supplies not as easy to obtain in a cost effective way on a local basis (but that's true of most things). Unless of course you can manage to find a hardware store that sells washers by the box full and felt bumper dots in quantities higher than 20.

Edited by CaptainSlug, 28 October 2006 - 01:53 PM.

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The little critters of nature, they don't know that they're ugly. That's very funny, a fly marrying a bumble bee. I told you I'd shoot, but you didn't believe me. Why didn't you believe me?

#2 CaptainSlug


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Posted 12 June 2007 - 02:34 PM

Part #2 of my Dart-Smithing guide. For part 1 see post #108


+ The felt disc stickers - part# 8771K22 = 500 pieces for $5.89 Also available in green, brown, and black
+ #8-32 washers - part# 91083A009 = 585 pieces for $4.59
+ A ton of foam backer rod in the size you prefer (mcmaster part# 93295K43 for 250 feet of 1/2" OD)
+ Carpenter's Square or Two rulers
+ Painter's Tape
+ SHARP Box Cutter (Utility Knife)
+ Slab of wood or a cutting board
+ Hair Dryer
+ Pillow Case
+ Two waste baskets or buckets
+ Hot Glue Gun or Liquid Nails

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1. Tape the carpenter's square or rulers to the cutting surface that that you have a perpendicular measure setup at whatever length you intend to cut your darts to.
2. Line one of the waste baskets with the pillow case.
3. Squarely cut the very end of your roll of foam using the Utility Knife.
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4. Squarely cut the foam to the dart length desired using the Utility Knife while the foam is squared properly using the rulers.
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5. Drop the blank into the pillow case
6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until you run out of foam, or the pillowcase is half full, or you die of boredom. Whichever comes first.
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7. Fold up the open end of the pillowcase onto the hair dryer and turn it on low.
8. Smack the bottom of the pillowcase repeatedly so that you can mix the darts around so that they heat evenly.
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9. After doing the above for 30 seconds to 1 minute check the dart blanks to see if their texture and sheen are uniform and that they are all straightened. If they are uneven or there are still a few curved blanks repeat steps 7 & 8 until they are consistent.
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10. Empty the pillow case into the wastebasket. If you still have more foam left and are not tired of cutting blanks you can repeat steps 4 through 10.

11. Plug in your hot glue gun or get out your tube of liquid nails. Darts made with liquid nails have slightly lower durability compared to darts made with hot glue. But it does depend on what kind of guns you are using. Air powered guns tend to destroy the darts made with liquid nails after a month or two of use.
Hot glue holds better because it's melting the foam directly onto the washers rather than simply adhering the two.

12. Peel an adhesive-backed felt dot off of the roll and attach a #8-32 washer to the center of it.
13. Fill the center of the washer with hot glue, or coat the end of a foam blank with a thin layer of liquid nails.
14. Slowly mate the dart blank with the felt-dot and washer.
15. Clean any excess glue off of the edges using your finger.
16. Place the new dart face-down in the empty waste basket.
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17. Repeat steps 12 through 16 until you run out of supplies or (again) die of boredom.

I've made close to a thousand darts using washers and felt dots and have only had 3 or 4 of them perform crappily. The rest fly "laser-straight" because the ruler setup and sharp utility knife help me make completely squared cuts. This allows the washer and felt tip to be added to a perfectly flat surface making for an aero-dynamically uniform profile. The washers are also very easy to center so that the weight is balanced properly.

Edited by CaptainSlug, 04 August 2008 - 04:22 PM.

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The little critters of nature, they don't know that they're ugly. That's very funny, a fly marrying a bumble bee. I told you I'd shoot, but you didn't believe me. Why didn't you believe me?

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