Material - Tubing
Tubing should be aluminum or titanium. Wooden dowels will work, and have the advantage of low heat transfer (i.e. you won't get burned by touching near the wick) but run the risk of warping or breaking. Copper or steel pipe will be heavy and will become bent easily.
Titanium is widely considered best due to its high ratio of strength to weight. (A lighter staff of titanium can still be as strong as a heavier staff of aluminum). Titanium is difficult to source however in specific diameters, and can be quite expensive.
Aluminum is often the core of flow prop projects. Whether it is Staff, Levi Wand or something theatrical.
The three relevant measurements for tubing are length, Outer Diameter (OD) and wall thickness.
Length is, of course, changes depending on your uses, but the longer the tubing the more force will needed to start spinning and also stop spinning your prop. Longer, heavier tubing will allow create more fluid and consistent motions, while shorter, lighter tubing allows for spinners to practice longer and more easily manipulate the prop. Lighter props can also allow for more precise starting and stopping movements.
The OD of the tubing will affect the roll of your prop, especially for props like Dragon and Contact Staffs.
With Aluminum there are numerous Alloys, some of which will flex more, some stronger than others. Alloys that are recommended for Flow Arts are:
- 6061 - Common, Strong with little flex
- 6463 - Similar to 6061, but flexes more
- 2024 - Strong very little flex
- 7075 - Expensive, Twice as strong as 6061, almost no flex
What you end up choosing is your own preference and for getting started don't worry too much about it.
If you are cutting your own aluminum pipes or tubes, it is recommended using a deburring tool on the end. They can easily be found at hardware stores and allow you to clean up the inside and outside of your aluminum shafts quickly.