How to Make a Rope Dart from a Rail Road Spike
Rope darts are awesome. What is it? 1/2 to 1 lb of hard steel attatched to eight to twenty feet of cord. It is swung, and by principles of leverage, can attain massive velocities - when released it flies straight (through its target). Check this out for an awesome video!
Cool Stuff: 1)There are stories of these passing through solid oak doors. 2) The blunt side can be used as a meteor hammer. 3) The cord can be used to entangle and bind. 4)With skill, the dart can change directions mid-flight, appearing eratic to the opponent. 5) It is small.
This is not necessarily the traditional method (which varies greatly in and of itself) of formng a rope dart (there are four sides, and no metal rings are used to link the dart to the cord, etc.) but it is absolutely able to get the job done. This was basically a feasability test, my next will look cool, too.
STEP 1Take a trip to some RR tracks and go for a walk. Pick up spikes which are laying loose on the ground. This may be illegal, so be warned. I take no responsibility for your actions. Try to select the straightest, least corroded, spikes. They can also be bought from the internet. Don't worry about rust, it will come off...
Take a hacksaw / sawzall / laser / oxy-acetylene torch / or -my personal favorite - angle grinder with cutting disc out. Cut off the head of the spike to the first point at which the thickness is uniform. Then, take up an angle grinder, sander, belt grinder, bench grinder, sand paper, or file. Remove the oxide coat on the spike. Beware, it may be thick.
At this point, round off the corners of the side if you so choose or implement any other sort of design you like.
Drill a hole at the back of the dart (where you just cut off the top of the spike). Use a drill bit large enough to accomodate paracord, climbing accessory line, or a heavy-duty metal split ring. We are drilling this hole first because in case it is off-center, we can re-center as we shape the dart.
If you are annoyed by my lack of numbers and measurements, think of this: I don't know optimum numbers. Look at the pictures to have an idea of what I did, then guess and improve as you like. I taught this to myself, so my way is not the 'right way'; your guess is as good as mine.
Now the fun part! Shaping.
Using a grinder or file, begin to shape the dart. The front should taper to a (sharp) point. It can have any number of sides greater than three (as you approach infinity, the shape becomes conical). Mine has four. Experiment and see what you like. You can taper the dart along its length one way or another if you like, and add in any sort of design which pleases you. At the back of the dart, I put in angled cuts to prevent the dart from catching on the cord as it pivots.
BE CREATIVE!! My design is UGLY and UTILITARIAN because it was a TEST (will make a nice one, eventually). This can be your test too, so make it look nice.
Here's some food for though: Engrave or Etch :)
STEP 6 Get a rope about 3/8" in diameter and ten to twenty feet long. The thicker the rope, the slower your dart will be; the thinner it is, the more it will cut into your hand.
WARNING: DO NOT USE NYLON OR OTHER "DYNAMIC" ROPES. THEY HAVE ELASTIC PROPERTIES WHICH COULD CAUSE THE DART TO RETURN TO YOU UNPREDICTABLY WITH GREAT FORCE.
Get a short piece of narrow, strong cord (like climbing accessory cord) which will fit through the hole you drilled. Alternatively, you could use a metal ring, several, or some sort of chain. (I'll be using a type of chain for my next.)
Again, be creative.
I used the Zeppelin Bend to form a loop from the spike, then a bowline to secure the rope to the loop. At this step you could attatch a brightly colored bandana or other sort of tail. This would help you track the dart as it moves at very high speed, looks nice, and confuses opponents.
How tall are you? Multiply by two. This is how long your rope and dart should be once all of the knots are done. This is a very general guideline, which should be altered according to your preferences through experimentation. My rope is currently 12 feet long.
Tie a prusik knot or taut-line hitch at the end of the rope to form a loop. This loop can now be slid to adjust to the size of your wrist. (see first photo)
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