December 30, 2011


I had a request a while back to post a dartsmithing guide. For those of you who don't know, dartsmithing is the process of making your own darts. Typically, these homemade darts are cheaper and more accurate than stock darts, but your range might drop. I was able to find everything I needed to make these darts at my local hardware store. I also found the same items at Lowe's. Full list of necessary items, and the dartsmithing guide after the split.

(R)=Required, (O)=Optional.

Hardware (Tools, reusable items)
(R)Hot Glue Gun (I like to have a low temp and a high temp/multi-temp gun. You will need a low temp gun, the high temp is not required)
(R)Hairdryer and small (Clean) trash can or other container of similar size
Pillowcase and dryer (As in a clothes dryer)
Lots of time.

(O)A few feet of pipe that fits your foam. (I used 1/2'' CPVC)
(O)Drill with drill bit that fits your pipe well. (I used a 1/2'' Bit)

Software (Expendable material, will likely need to buy again later. All of these items are required unless otherwise noted)

A bag of 1/2'' Foam Caulk Saver (Called Foam Backer Rod in Europe, Used around windows to reduce the amount of sealant needed to make a good seal. My bag came with 20', that's enough for 120 2'' darts)
Enough #6 washers that you have one for each dart you make. I recommend a box of at least 100. Zinc plated washers will work nicely as they won't rust.
Hot Glue
3/8'' Adhesive backed felt pads (Like these:LINK. White ones are nice because you can dye them so you know which darts are yours, but other colors work too)
(O) Dye

Step one: Determine what length of dart you want. 7 cm is the length of stock darts, 2'' is the typical length used for homemade darts.

Step two: Once you know the size you want, cut a slot in your pipe the same distance from the end of the pipe as the length of dart you want.

Step three: Feed the foam through the end furthest away from the slot you just cut. Then, when the foam reaches the end of the pipe, run your knife through the slot you made. Repeat until you are out of foam. This will make all the darts the exact same size.

Step four: Straighten your foam. There are many ways to do this, I personally like to drop all of my "Blanks" (Foam without weight) into a metal trash can. Then I heat the foam with a hairdryer. This melts the foam slightly, causing it to straighten. Langley of NerfHaven has a thread about dartsmithing, in one of his posts in that thread, he quoted the following methods of straightening darts:

"There's always the tried and true method of leaving your foam out so it's straight and held in place by the groove of an aluminum ladder, some lumber, or whatever you've got lying around. It won't perfectly straighten your foam so it never curls up again, but it won't mess up the diameter of your foam or wear it out like other heat-based, friction-based, or tension-based methods.

I cut my foam into 7' sections and hang them from the rafters in my garage with weights on the end. Not heavy weights, just enough to hold them straight and stretch them a bit. If the weather is warm, a few days is sufficient. 

A miniature dryer setup from a cardboard box and hair dryer at high heat is sufficient for all my straightening needs. Yeah, it expands on first heating, probably due to the heated air, but as it cools in its straightened form, it seems to shrink back to its original size.
Zero Talent

I make my darts 1.5" long, so I cutt 6' lots of foam that would make 48 total darts unstreched. I then wrap a 1/2" of duct tape around each end. I then tuse a push pin and tack one end to the very end of a 6'6" peace of wood. Then I stretch the other to the very opposite end. I can fit up to 10 of these one the peave of wood so I can straiten large amounts at once. Depending on time constraints I leave these sit for about 3 weeks. If I need them sooner Ill use a hair dryer. After the 3 weeks I unstack both sides and let them sit for a day. Then I go back and cut my 1.5" darts and should end up with exactly 50 darts per lot.

- Almost 100% consistant darts.
- Increase or decrease in stretch can allow for the same foam to fit different barrel materials ( Thinner for CPVC, thicker for PVC )

- Wait time of 3 weeks if left natural.
- Trial and error needed to find out your exact stretching length.
- Needs to be adjusted if you get different brands of foam. 

Straighten it by putting it in 1/2" PVC for a couple weeks, buy 3 or 4 10 foot tubes and fill them with foam and in a week or 2 you will have a bunch of foam ready to be made into some good darts. 
[note from Langley- this method is used with 1/2" foam, which is actually much smaller than the inside of 1/2" PVC. If you're making megas with 5/8" foam, it's impossible to get more than a couple feet of foam into 1/2"PVC before it jams up.]"

The more time consuming methods tend to make more consistent darts, but I personally don't think it's worth the time. If you want to use a fast method, but you don't have the items needed for the hairdryer method, throw all the blanks into a pillowcase, then throw that in the dryer (Yes, I do mean the large machine in you laundry room) on low heat for a few minutes.

Step five: Attach a felt pad to a washer. Try to center the washer on the pad. It can take some practice to get used to it.

Step six: Use the high temp gun (If you don't have one, low temp works. It's just slower) to burn a hole in your blank. The hole should be wide enough that your washer can fit in, with the pad facing outward. I recommend making the hole about as deep as it is wide. But make sure you are consistent or else your darts won't be as accurate.

Step seven: Fill the hole with hot glue from your low temp gun (Low temp so it doesn't melt the foam. If you only have a high temp gun, don't let it get to full heat. Unplug it and let it cool a little if it starts melting foam) Leave enough room for your washer to sit in the hole.

Step eight: Place your washer (That is already attached to a pad) and place it on the glue. Let it dry and voila! You made your first dart. Repeat steps five through eight until you are out of blanks. Questions? Comment or email me at

Additional pictures of items below.

From left to right: Washer box (Box of 100), White felt pads (75 in box), Green felt pads (28 on sheet) 

Face of washer box. 

Picture of washers in box.


  1. Nice guide for making Slugs! Good explainations and pics. How much did the foam pads cost?-Awesomeness

  2. When I purchased them I believe the sheet of 28 green pads cost around a buck whereas the white pack of 75 cost $4. If you do the math, the green pads sound like a better deal, right? Well I forgot to mention that the green pads were "Light duty" and the white were "Medium Duty". I think the white ones pad better. Also, white pads can be dyed as I mentioned at the start of the guide.

  3. I've been wanting to make slugs for a while now.
    QUESTION: Where do you buy your washers and your felt tips?
    I've been looking for somewhere local that sells them in that amount

  4. As I said in my supplies list, I found everything I needed at my local True Value hardware store. My local hardware store is small, but I love it because they carry brass, CPVC and most other parts I use for modding/nerfing. Lowe's carries the washers and pads too. When buying from lowes, check the prices. For me it was cheaper to buy 4 bags of 30 washers than it was to buy a box of 100. )