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I need some 16ft (5 meter) long 3 inch diameter ash poles that will be used for re-enactment pike shafts. They will eventually be tapered to 1.5 inches at one end.

For practical purposes however - mainly storage, transportation, cost and availability, a better option would be poles of half the length that can be joined together.

The join should be good enough to not cause an excessive bend when held horizontally, and not be too obvious if possible.

I can do basic to intermediate woodwork jobs so hopefully I’ll be able to do it, when I find out how!

What would be a good way to do this?

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    Have you ever seen how they do this with tent poles? You'll need something slightly more rugged, but the basic idea still works.
    – Mast
    Mar 13, 2020 at 11:45
  • Is this for actual use (pikes being used as pikes), or just for "ceremony" and looks? Something like LARP? Also, if the pikes are to be used, are they to be used as typical 5 meter pikes (i.e. stop charging cavalry), or in a more "creative" way where force acts in a non-fiber-aligned direction? This has huge implications on whether there exists a non-WTF solution at all, and on what it is. For anything like "swing around", any solution including the one by Willk would be "WTF, don't do that". For anything ceremonial, a japanese wooden joint would look great and would work. Etc. etc.
    – Damon
    Mar 13, 2020 at 12:07
  • @Damon Something like LARP but not as soft and spongy. It'll be waved around and may meet other pikes in light impact but won't face charging cavalry. Mar 13, 2020 at 13:07

6 Answers 6

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I'd use heavy studding, perhaps M20, M22 or even M24 (3/4-1" if you don't do metric). In one piece, insert it as far as you can drill (at least 20 cm I reckon), glued for the whole length with epoxy. The drilled hole should be a snug fit.

The matching threaded inserts are much too short to be of any use. Instead you'll need to make one: Buy tube and tap it out as long tap as deep as you can, then drill out the other end as you can. For M22 the tapping drill is 19.5mm, and the internal diameter of 25.4×3.2mm (1"×10SWG) tube is 19mm, so you would need to open it out a touch for tapping, then drill out the other end to 22mm (or maybe a touch over), before tapping as deep as you possibly can. Check the lengths first. It should be possible to hand tap aluminium tube up to this size, with plenty of cutting fluid, though I haven't done anything quite this big. If you're really lucky you may be able to find threaded tube in that size, but I can't.

This means buying: studding (aka threaded rod), tube, a tap, and drills for wood (2 sizes: for the studding and for the tube) and metal (also 2 sizes: pilot and snug clearance). Many of these will need to be ordered as they're rather specialised.

If you're doing anything to the poles, even just stripping bark, wait until after you've made the joint. Before you cut, mark opposite faces clearly across the cut, parallel to the length of the pole, then after cutting draw between the marks and mark the centre. Squaring up to the faces will be critical.

If you can handle the effect on the appearance, cross-drilling and pinning the studding and tube as well as glueing it would be a big help. In the case of the tube you'd need to leave a bit of length into which the studding doesn't reach, or screw only into the wall, but that wouldn't be as strong as pinning right through.

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    This looks like the best option. Going to give it a go. Thanks! Mar 13, 2020 at 11:59
  • You could also use multiple threaded inserts in each side, which might be easier to install than trying to thread a pipe. You'd just need to make sure the threads match up on the inserts as you install them, so you can thread in the piece when it's done. And if you use a metal insert, you can use thread locker on one side to keep it in place, instead of glue. Mar 13, 2020 at 18:04
  • @computercarguy if you get them without a flange that sits on the surface, that might be an option, but you would need to use glue-in ones with studding as a jig. That seems like more trouble than tapping out a tube, but maybe I'm more used to light metalwork
    – Chris H
    Mar 13, 2020 at 20:27
  • @ChrisH, you could easily be right, but as a hobbyist, I have a hard time finding a tap that is longer than about 3", or even a drive extension I can use for a longer/deeper hole. Maybe that won't be a problem for this large of a diameter tap. Mar 13, 2020 at 20:32
  • @computercarguy that's why I think the way to go is to tap as much as possible, then support the rest with a snug clearance hole. My favourite supplier of unusual drills, taps etc. doesn't have extension bars, but I could get them without much effort
    – Chris H
    Mar 15, 2020 at 8:47
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If you are going to be swinging this 2-part pike around like a weapon, there will be a lot of stress at the join. It would be good to spread that stress out.

  1. Obtain pipe the diameter of the 2 poles. Iron pipe would be strong but harder to work. PVC would be light and easy to work but less strong. Copper is expensive but strong enough, easy to drill and looks cool.

  2. Cut a length of pipe approx. 30 cm.

  3. Slide pike shafts in top and bottom of pipe so they meet in the middle.

  4. Tape shafts in place so they stay put when you drill.

  5. Drill hole thru and thru pipe and shaft. In one side and out the other. You could actually make 4 holes in the pipe so each pike shaft has 2.

  6. Thread bolt thru each hole and fix on far side with a nut.

This will be robust for swinging around in your re-enactments because the pipe spreads stress over a large section of shaft. It will be easy to break down.

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    This is the proper answer to this question. I do suggest that 30cm length (i.e. 11.8 inches) is probably a bit short considering the diameter and length of the poles. I would go for the sleeve pipe to be more on the order of 90cm in length.
    – Michael Karas
    Mar 13, 2020 at 1:58
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    While this would work great, and I think look great (for some cases), it doesn't meet a major part of the question which is for it to be not too obvious.
    – Ack
    Mar 13, 2020 at 3:40
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I think you need a threaded coupling that can be screwed into each end of the shaft. It's similar to what Ack recommends for pool cues but unfortunately cue joints won't have a 3" diameter.
You can find this at your Home Center store and they're inexpensive and easy to install. Just drill the proper size hole in the end of each shaft and screw them in. The only tricky part is making sure that the drill bores are perfectly centered.
enter image description here

They will also sell the threaded shafts with the correct pitch.

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    16' three inch diameter......not even a beginning solution.
    – Michael Karas
    Mar 13, 2020 at 1:53
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    @Michael Karas I think you're correct and I gave Willk +1. Although I've used these fasteners before and they have surprising tensile strength if properly installed and then completely screwed down tight they're not the best solution here.
    – HoneyDo
    Mar 13, 2020 at 2:51
  • Image source? Size?
    – Mazura
    Mar 14, 2020 at 1:20
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I would think that pool cue connectors would work great for this. Here is an example: https://www.aliexpress.com/i/4000427299129.html

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    that would need to be scaled up a bit for the 3" diameter of the pike shaft.
    – Jasen
    Mar 13, 2020 at 8:53
  • 2.25" at the joint?
    – Ack
    Mar 14, 2020 at 1:11
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    knock down connector +1. Hard to find in 3" (which sounds excessive anyway for something you're supposed to hold), probably because something that's 3" shouldn't be. - Use (at)me when you're trying to talk to someone, e.g., @Ack
    – Mazura
    Mar 14, 2020 at 1:25
  • @Jasen, above I commented on your comment
    – Ack
    Mar 14, 2020 at 1:28
  • A pool cue is much shorter and lighter than this pike. Even if reduced to a more easily handled diameter the forces in the pike at the join will be much greater.
    – Jasen
    Mar 14, 2020 at 1:34
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For a strong, practical answer, see Willk's answer.

For a better looking answer, don't join on the outside, join on the inside. Get a 1 foot rod of metal which is thin but resists bending. It will be light compared to the wooden pole, so don't worry about that. Drill a 6-and-a-small-bit inch hole into each of the wooden rods, almost exactly the diameter of the metal rod. Be careful to run down the middle of the wooden pole. Insert the rod, check that it works, remove the rod. Apply glue everywhere and insert the rod for good.

The main failure mode will be the wood cracking near the join. A well-drilled hole of the right diameter helps. You could tape at the join, but I'm hoping for a better look by not needing that step. The longer the metal rod the better, but personally I'd be limited by the length of my drill bits.

Good luck!

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  • Drilling exactly in line for both halves is very difficult. I'd also be putting brass or copper ferrules on the ends of each join, maybe an inch or two wide.
    – Tim
    Mar 13, 2020 at 8:39
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    If you have a lathe with a 3" throat it's not difficult. but 6" into each end seems kind of short .
    – Jasen
    Mar 13, 2020 at 9:00
  • Instead of tape at the joint, spend a few minutes binding it with twine or fancy ribbon. Little strength would be offered, but helps the wielder find half-way by touch.
    – Criggie
    Mar 15, 2020 at 0:22
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I don't see why you need to tap the wooden shaft. Get some threaded rod, maybe 24" by M10. Drill 12" into each end of the shaft, snug fit but not threaded. Get some 20mm steel rod to go sideways through the shaft, two sections 2.5" long. Drill through the shafts sideways, maybe 9" from the join. Thread the short bars side to side to accommodate the M10 rod. Screw the two parts of the shaft together through the cross-pieces. Plug the four ends with matching wood plugs.

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  • Thanks, although I'm not quite sure what you mean. Should the cross-pieces be drilled and tapped (at 90 degrees to their length) to accept the M10? Mar 16, 2020 at 12:00
  • Yes. I stole the idea from how Ikea put wooden bed frames together. The idea is to use tension in the M10 to make the two flat ends of the wood butt tightly together, while the threaded rod keeps them centred (but does not directly pull on the wood grain). Additional hint would be to hacksaw a slot in one end of the cross-pieces, in alignment with the hole, so you can orient it for the M10. The hope is that the cross-pieces are a big enough radius that they don't split the grain of the shafts. Mar 16, 2020 at 17:35

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