A few years ago I was teaching a cane class where the students had a wide range of heights. We decided to make our own canes for the student showcase. I cut dowels down to the length each student needed so that we could have a cane making party after class one night. One of the students happened to make hula hoops and taught us how to wrap the canes. It was really fun and an affordable way to ensure that students of different heights could easily get a cane that would work for them. In a recent Bhuz thread I was discussing how we made our canes and it seemed like a useful thing to write a tutorial on. Enjoy!
Acquiring and Preparing the Cane
For making my canes I use wooden dowels from my local hardware store. There are many different diameters to choose from and often a few types of wood as well. Test the various types out in the store (being careful not to hit anything!) to find what will work best for you. Different wood types are more or less dense and heavy so find one that feels like it will be light enough not to stress your wrist. The wood type of mine wasn't labeled but I chose the lightest wood available. I like 1/2” diameter canes, but you can go smaller or larger as you prefer. The standard dowel size is usually 48” long so it will need to be cut down to a usable cane length. Most hardware stores will cut them down for you if you need. If you aren't sure how long you want it have it cut a bit long, test it out, and cut down more as needed. If you have the dowel cut down at the store keep the end they cut off in case you want to try practice wrapping before wrapping your cane. I like my canes to be 38” long, which is the same length I wear in trumpet skirts so that may be a good way to roughly estimate length. I have a miter box and saw at home so I just bought the dowels and cut them down at home. Sand down the ends of the cane before starting to wrap it.
For this cane I used leftover silver metallic hula hoop tape from when we made the class canes. It is 3/4” wide. The larger the width the less times you will be need wrap it around. I think that 3/4" or 1” wide tape would be ideal. 1/2” may be too small, but could be used for adding an accent color if you wanted to make a two tone cane. Hula hoop tapes are available in lots of fun finishes and colors such as holographic, prism, and metallic which makes it easy to match a variety of costumes and create a fun and unique cane. To determine how much tape you will need you can use this handy formula:
L=length of tape
D=diameter of cane
W=width of tape
O= overlap length per wrap
This will give you the minimum amount of tape you will need since you will need an extra few inches to cover the ends and more to account for any mistakes or practice wrapping you want to try.
Wrapping the Cane
Start by covering both ends. Take an inch or two of hula tape and place it over each end then smooth it down and fold the edges where it overlaps. Wrap another piece of tape all the way around the top to secure down the piece you just used to cover the end. Make sure to do both ends so that once you get to the end of wrapping you will already have that bottom end covered. Now start your wrap with the tape at a diagonal. As you go you want to have the tape overlap the previous wrapped section by about 1/4”. To get the tape to lay smoothly unroll a few inches of tape and hold it tightly to the side then slowly rotate the cane so the tape is applied evenly and unroll more tape slowly as needed. If the tape starts to pucker or gets an air bubble just unwrap that section of cane and redo it. I found the tape I used was easy to unwrap and still sticky enough to hold even if I needed to redo sections. Try to keep a constant amount of overlap on each rotation of the tape. Once the cane is completely wrapped, look it over and press down any sections that need to be smoothed out. Now your cane is ready for dancing!
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