This is one of my favorite PVC build projects! It’s fun to make and can be made with “attachment” pieces for a multitude of different options. The design example I will be using for this article is more basic than some of my very intricate designs. However, I feel this is the most “user friendly” PVC staff build I can explain. There are more “parts” to this piece of survival equipment than the previous projects. If this seems to be too much and you want a simpler design, you may choose to eliminate some of the components. The “base” of the staff will remain the same.
There is some question of the validity of having a blow gun as a piece of gear in your survival selection. Okay, it’s fair to assume you aren’t a ninja who will be poison darting anybody any time soon. However, there is plenty of information as well as photos and films available referring to the blowgun as a viable survival tool. There are tribes spread across the world who have relied on this weapon for collecting a portion of their food source. Also, truthfully, it’s fun to use. On the other hand, if you really don’t find it useful, that’s okay. Instead, substitute a small survival kit, fishing kit, extra paracord, or whatever you’d like in the empty space. The adage, “I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”, comes to mind. That is true of the most important “redundancy items” for survival. Also note that I make a variance of this staff called the Tracker Survival Staff, which includes an inlaid metal ruler and some other cool tidbits that are extremely useful to those who embark on tracking adventures.
- 1/2” Diameter Schedule 40 PVC pipe, 5 foot length
- 3/4” Diameter Schedule 40 PVC pipe, 5 foot length
- 1 cork (1/2” diameter), wine bottle type
- Drill and bit (1/16”)
- Heat source
- Pot holder or hand towel
- Frog gig tines(You need three individual tines. If you cannot find them separately, you can cut them off of a frog gig, which can be found for as low as 3-4 dollars.)
- Measuring tape
- Paracord (approximately 50 feet)
- A rag
- Cold water
- Take the five-foot long 1/2“ diameter pipe and measure 3’3” from the end of it, and mark it. Do the same on the 3/4” diameter pipe. Cut each pipe on the mark you made, and set the smaller cut off pieces to the side. (You will need them later, so don’t lose track of these small pieces.) At this point, you should have two pieces of pipe, each 3’3” long.
- Measure 3” from one end of the 1/2” pipe and mark. This mark is a stopping point as you slip the 3/4” pipe over the 1/2” pipe. Now, mark 3” from one end of the 3/4” pipe. This mark will serve as a stop point when you are heating this pipe. Next, holding the 3” section of the 3/4” pipe in your hand; thoroughly heat (but do not burn) the longer section of the 3/4” pipe. In other words, heat the pipe from the 3” mark all the way down to the farther end of the pipe (3′ in length) and around the entire diameter the whole way. You want the pipe to be nice and soft and flexible, but do not burn it. Once the 3/4” piece is fully heated, you want to slip it over the 1/2” diameter piece and slide it all the way down to the 3” mark on the 1/2” pipe. (The mark should be closer to the floor if you are standing the 1/2” pipe upright, which I suggest for this as it makes it easier to drive the 3/4” pipe over the 1/2” pipe.) Use a cool, wet rag or towel to cool the pipe faster so there is little chance of it warping or changing the overall shape of the pipes. When you are done with this step, you should have a single length of the two pieces combined that equals 3’6” overall with a 3” piece of pipe extending at each end. (One end will have the 1/2” pipe protruding; the other end will have the 3/4” pipe extending.) The purpose of this doubling up of pipe is for reinforcement and durability while walking or otherwise using the piece in a somewhat aggressive fashion. This first finished piece we will call the MAIN section of your staff.
*QUICK TIP: You may find it helpful to round over the edge of the 1/2” pipe with a file as well as bevel the inside edge of the 3/4” pipe so that the sliding of one over the other becomes easier. It is not necessary, however, it does help.
- Now, it’s time to get to those cut-off pieces, but first I suggest that you round over and bevel the 3/4” end of your MAIN section. By preparing the pipe in this way, it will look nicer in the end and it makes it easier than trying to file the pieces after they are all connected. Any of the rounding or beveling is optional, but it does make for a nicer finished product; the joints will also look smoother and more natural. Take the cut-off section of 1/2” pipe and mark 5” from one end. Cut the 5” section off and set the rest aside. Round over one end of the 5” piece. Next, heat the 3” of 3/4” pipe that extends at the end of your MAIN section. ONLY HEAT UP THE 3/4” PIPE!! (You do NOT want to heat the 1/2” pipe inside of the 3/4” piece.) It is better to not heat all 3” than it is to heat too far down and risk misshaping the pipe. When the 3” section is properly heated (the full diameter), drive the 5” length of 1/2” diameter pipe as far into the 3/4” pipe as you can. Take your time, do it smoothly, and keep it as straight as you can. You can always reheat it if it didn’t work out the exact way you want. Pushing too fast may result in tears in the PVC, if you have overheated it. Use a cool, wet rag to cool the piece you just finished.
*QUICK TIP: Using petroleum jelly on a piece of pipe that you are inserting in another pipe will make it work much easier. It also makes it easier to pull the piece back out.
- Take the cut-off portion of 3/4” pipe and mark 6” from one end. Cut off the 6” section and set aside the rest. Round and bevel both ends of the 6” length. Next, grab that cut-off 1/2” diameter piece that’s left, and mark 9” from one end. Cut on the mark, keeping the 9” section and setting aside the excess. Round and bevel both ends of this 9” piece as well. Now, what you want to do is similar to what you did with the MAIN section. On the 6” length of 3/4” pipe, measure and mark 3” from one end. This should be as close to exactly middle as you can get it. After that, on the 9” section of 1/2” diameter pipe, mark 3” from one end. This mark will serve as your stop point for combining the 9” length and 6” length sections. Heat the 3/4” diameter piece you marked from the end to the 3” mark, around the full diameter of the pipe. Heat until soft and flexible. Once it is ready, insert the 6” length of 1/2” diameter pipe into it. Stop when you get to the 3” mark. (Let me be clear; only 3” of the 1/2” pipe should be driven into the 3/4” pipe.) Use a cool, damp rag to cool the pipe(s). If you have done this correctly, you will have a section with a combined overall length of 12” with one end having a 3/4” diameter section extending at one end and a 1/2” diameter section protruding at the other.
- Using the cut-off piece of 3/4” diameter that you set aside. Mark 3” from one end and cut on the mark. Keep the 3” section and set aside what’s left. On the 1/2” diameter portion of the combined piece we made in the previous step, mark 2” from the end. This will be the stop mark for the 3” length of 3/4” diameter we will be putting on. Next, heat about 2” of the 3” length of 3/4” pipe. Once properly heated, drive this section onto the 1/2” protruding pipe, up to the 2” stop mark. Use a cool damp rag to cool the pipe. Now, you should have a piece that is a combined overall length of 13” with each end having a section of 3/4” diameter pipe. This section will contain your frog gig tines and the cork to hold them.
(Instructions for this project will be continued in tomorrow’s SurvivalBlog post.)