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Arm Rod Quandary & Such

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by PukkaPukka, Dec 12, 2003.

  1. PukkaPukka

    PukkaPukka Member

    Hey all!

    I just wanted to asK a question that has been nagging at me for some time. I recently finished my first puppet, Wotsit (you may or may not be familiar with him), and I have given up on creating really good arm rods for one reason or another, and just gone ahead and stitched the hands to the arms and that's the end of it. My question is, as I'm working on my next puppet (this one's for a telly programme here - Wotsit was kind of a 'thing,' just for fun), Polar (a white fur seal), I wanted to know both, a good way of designing an arm-rod structure, and implementing it properly. I would also like to know what materials everyone has used. I've personally tried coat hanger wire (good, but not malleable enough, btw, it was the THICK stuff, not the thin wire), and I wanted to know if any of you here had any good ideas...I could try to form the hands from a wireframe, and fit the arm wire onto the wrist, but I'm totally clueless here. Please help me! I'm not necessarily to the point of doing the arms yet, but I'd like some input before I get there...Thanks a lot!


    FISH'N'WOLFE New Member

    For rods I use the flexible rods that are meant for holding insulation in between floor joists. They come pre-cut in 24" & 16" lengths I believe, in boxes of something like 50 or 100. Also, they cost only about $16 per box, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. They are very sturdy and do not bend the way coat hangers do, however they can be bent easily enough if need be. Just go to your local Home Depot and ask someone and they will know what you're talking about. Hope this helps. :)

  3. PukkaPukka

    PukkaPukka Member

    Kevin, I went to Home Depot, and I inquired about those rods in-box, and they had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, but strangely enough, they did have a guy that built puppets in his spare time that they knew about (odd coincidence, huh - not to mention he'd heard of MC, small world!), and he took me over to spools of rebar wire (thin-ish wire that is extremely bendable, but it retains its shape excellently, and it won't collapse on you easily at all. Not to burst your bubble, but you didn't (exactly) need to spend $15 or $16 bucks on a box of a hundred. One spool of this wire is hundreds of feet long, and a single spool is $1.87 (I stocked up...hee hee hee). Hmm...I'd be interested to see a pic of exactly what you meant though. This kinda works GREAT for now, minus the fact that you have to scrub the wire before putting it in - not a problem though. Oh well, just thought you'd like to know how I made out man. Catch ya later!


    FISH'N'WOLFE New Member

    Hey that's great Adam, that you were able to find something that works, though that's very odd that they didn't know about the insulation supports. Oh well, I love when new materials are discovered for building puppets. Such as the support rods for example I discovered entirely by accident. Anyways as soon as I get a chance I'll send you a pic of the insulation rods.

    :) Kevin
  5. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I had a really cool tutorial about this online - unfortunately my site went down last month because of a billing screw-up and I've been sick and too busy/tired to get it back up the past few weeks. The good news is it ~should~ be (finally) back online Tuesday or Wednesday.

    Check out this link later in the week - http://www.bear-town.com/backstage_pages/tumbles_pg4.htm
  6. Phantom

    Phantom New Member

    I like to use stainless steel welding rods (for TiG welding). They are 3/32" and come in 3' lengths. They are sold by the pound and run about $.50 per rod which makes a pair of arm rods. They are hard to bend but very durable.
  7. DPuppets

    DPuppets Member

    There are a bunch of ways to do rods. And from what I have seen it is a matter of what you prefer. I use the wire like used in welding too. I use a torch to give it the bind that I need. I make a goat's hook at the end that slides into the hand mech. The hand mech. is made from brass rectangle tube. I cut a 2" piece and glue that to a piece of gasket rubber. Then I use a small tie wrap to give it extra strength. I take the foam I have cut for my hands (2 Pieces) and I take and put glue onto both pieces of the foam hand and I sandwich the rod mech into the palm part of the hand leaving a 1/8" sticking out. I cover hand with fleece and cut a small hole into it to let brass tube come out and there is where I stick my rod in.
  8. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    In the past year or so I have become a big fan of using copper and brass a lot in puppet construction, mainly because they can be soldered (aluminium and alloys like steel can't be).

    FISH'N'WOLFE New Member

    Actually, both steel and aluminum CAN be soldered. The rods I use are in fact steel alloy, and I clean the rod end with flux, slide a square brass tube on the end and solder it on by letting the solder run in between the tube and rod. Also it should be noted that only a propane torch should be used for this , since a soldering gun is useless for this type of soldering. The square tube slides into a smaller square tube mounted in the arm. Thus making the rods removable. I'ts practically the same method mentioned by DPuppets and works great. But also aluminum can be soldered, it's simply a different type of solder that's used.

    :) Kevin
  10. Phantom

    Phantom New Member

    I've looked for brass tubing and can't find a local source. I was thinking Grainger or McMaster-Carr (industrial supply houses) may have it. Can you offer another source?


    FISH'N'WOLFE New Member

    Well, I go to Rocky's ACE Hardware to get the tubing. I went everywhere initially trying to find it, and believe me you won't find it in any large warehouse Home Depot type places. Now Rocky's is only in the New England area, but you should have a ACE hardware store somewhere near you and also True Value hardware stores carry it. If not, then here is a great site that carries it: http://www.lewisbrass.com/square.htm

    Also here's the Rocky's link: http://www.rockys.com/massachusetts.html

    :D Kevin
  12. Phantom

    Phantom New Member

    Thanks. Yeah, we've got Ace and True Value, but I hadn't even thought about them.
  13. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    This link is now back up and running. (yea!)

    FISH'N'WOLFE New Member

    I actually meant to say into a LARGER square tube in the arm. Anyways, Buck's got the method listed on his site, so check it out.

    :D Kevin
  15. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    That's true...I meant that steel and aluminum can't be easily soldered. :p

    I used steel rods for a long time (there was a big metal supply place down the street from my old studio where I could buy them cheap) and I was very resistant to using copper wire at first, but I've fell in love with using it because it's more flexible and easier to work with than steel, but to each his own. :)

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