Complete Guide: Gaffi Stick

Tusken Raider Gaffi Stick from A New Hope

First seen in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope the Gaderffii, or gaffi stick. is the weapon of choice for Sand People. The weapon is based off of the 18th-19th century Fijian war clubs. The original props made for the movie used real war clubs as the base of the stick. With minimal effort the war club can be turned into a gaffi stick.

Fijian war club
Source: http://www.tribalmania.com/TOTOKIAS.htm

The use of a real hand made weapon created more than a century ago explains why no two gaffi stick are the same. All adhere to the same idea but the "pineapple" (spike and wide cylindrical section) can vary greatly in size and detail.

Prop makers took a steel rod and inserted it into the end of the war club. A square rod was then put into the first rod and hammered and modified into a
spike. Four fins were then cut and welded in equal distance onto the first pipe. The welds were primarily at the top and bottom. Some gaffi sticks use plastic or wood as the spike for scenes where the spike could potentially hurt someone (ie when a Tusken Raider is pointing it at Luke).

Replica prop makers generally stick to the design of a long staff with a 90 degree bend. The pineapple is attached there and on the other side of the staff is the metal spike made from wood or plastic.

Top of Gaffi Stick
gaffi stick topTaken at "Power of Costume" exhibit

Bottom of Gaffi Stick
gaffi stick bottomTaken at "Power of Costume" exhibit

Items Needed

This is an unusual prop as there are many ways to create the pineapple at the base. The way listed below is what I came up with but if you can not find these parts look around for things similar. Chances are it will work.

Related Guides

  • Item 1

Pineapple Spike

Note: My original was 3d printed so some images in this tutorial may show that spike instead.
The spike will be made from the for rent sign. The sign will be heated up and stretched over the drumstick. It will be sandwiched in between two pieces of plywood with circular holes cut in them.

  1. Cut out two 4 inch diameter circles in your plywood. I used some scrap plywood and a jig saw. Drill a hole in the circle for the jigsaw blade to start.
  2. Sandwich a cut section of the for rent sign inbetween the plywood and attach together through the plywood, into the sign, and into the bottom plywood with screws.

plywood mounts

  1. Mount a drumstick vertically. I crudely screwed mine into a scrap piece of wood.
  2. Heat up the sign, careful not to get it too hot. 10-15 seconds on high heat should be fine. You want it to be able to stretch but not become thin and tear.
  3. Stretch the sign inside the plywood over the drumstick, creating a point. Remember: Don't stress over getting it perfectly straight. Crooked/curved spikes are better.

Drumstick and spike

drumstick and spike

Crooked spikes are better

spike side view

  1. Remove the spike from the plywood.
  2. Trim excess sign.
  3. Put glue on the bottom of the inside of the spike and attach to the bun foot.

Semi trimmed spike

semi trimmed spike

Crooked spikes are better

cut and attached spike

Pineapple Disc

The disc will be made from the bun foot. In my re-work I chose to go with a diamond pattern. There are a few patterns you can choose from such as squares, circles, spikes, and diamonds. Because they all look similar and are authentic to the fijian war club they are all acceptable.

  1. Make a mark on the bun foot every 1 cm around the circumference.
  2. Do the same on the other side, attempting to line up the marks.

Marked bun foot

marked bun foot

Marked bun foot, both sides

marked bun foot on both sides

  1. Draw a line from one mark to the one directly across and down from it, creating a diagonal line.
  2. Do the same but go from the bottom up in the opposite direction, creating diamond shapes.

Diagonal lines

lines drawn on bun foot

Diamond shapes

lines drawn on bun foot

  1. Use these lines as a guide to cut the bun foot with a dremel cutting disc.
    Note: Do this in a well ventilated area, the speed of the dremel will char the bun foot and cause the smell of burnt wood.
  2. Use a carving bit to widen the cuts and make them look less like they were cut with a machine and more like they were done by hand.

Diagonal cuts made with a dremel

cut bun foot

Uneven carved lines

carved bun foot

  1. Smooth and clean up your dremel lines as prefered.

A quick layer of paint shows the cut lines very well

painted bun foot

Metal Spike

The metal spike will be made with the smaller dowel rod, garden spike, and more sintra.

  1. Cut the garden spike so the widest part is the diameter of the smaller dowel rod (3/4" inches)
  2. Cut any possible jagged edges off the spike so it is smooth.
  3. Dremel out a plus sign into the base of the dowel rod so the garden spike can snuggly sit in the dowel rod. This doesn't have to be very deep, just enough to keep you from accidentally breaking off the spike.
  4. Cut the smaller dowel rod to be about 9 inches long.
  5. Cut four fins from sinta (in my image I used plywood) - The fins are trapezoidal in shape and no more than 1/2 the height of the dowel rod. Below are two examples of how you could shape them.

Fin Example 1
The shape of my fins

gaffi stick fin 1

Fin Example 2
Approximate dimensions seen at "The Power of Costume" exhibit

gaffi stick fin 2

  1. Using hot glue, attach the longer end of the fins to the dowel rod equal distance from each other.
    • The originals were welded sloppily at the top and bottom to look like it was made out in the desert with little technology, so make it messy.
  2. Insert the spike into the slots you made earlier and glue.
  3. Optional: Slide an extra wooden ring onto the dowel rod about 1/4th the way from the base. Glue it in place.
  4. Spray the entire piece with silver spray paint. Let dry for an hour.

Assembled metal spike
These fins are made from plywood

gaffi stick spike

Optional step, ring on metal spike.
Taken from the 501st Legion CRL

gaffi stick spike with optional ring

Assembly

This is where all the parts come together. Start with assembling the pineapple.

  1. Using E6000 or Hot Glue, attach the spike you made earlier to one side of the wooden bun foot.
  2. Let both parts dry for an hour (full cure time is 24 hours).

Next is the main staff.

  1. Cut the 1 1/4th dowel rod to be 30 inches in length.
  2. Slide the long end of the wall pipe over the dowel rod. Sand as needed for a tight fit. The dowel rod should be inserted about one inch into the pipe.
  3. Take the pipe off and spread E6000 glue on the inside of the wall pipe and slide back over the dowel rod.
  4. Glue a wooden toss ring to the other end of the dowel rod.
  5. Let both parts dry for an hour (full cure time is 24 hours).
  6. Optional: Use your dremel to carve a pattern (see below) into staff on the side of the wooden toss ring. These patterns were (probably) not on all staves.

Lastly attach the pineapple.

  1. On the other side of the bun foot, dremel out a slot big enough for the end of the metal pipe to sit in.
  2. Fill it with e6000 or stronger epoxy and insert the pipe. Allow 24 hours for a full cure.

Assembled Gaffi Stick
Note: My sintra items are substituted with 3d printed parts

assembled gaffi stick

Gaffi stick pattern
As seen at "Power of Costume" exhibit

gaffi stick pattern

Assembled Gaffi Stick with paint

Pineapple Cover

Note: My original was 3d printed so some images in this tutorial may show that spike instead.
This is where the pipe connects to the bun foot. Really this part is optional as some original war clubs have a pretty hard transition from the handle to the pineapple. Personally I like some transition, and most people have it. The surface should gradually come into the pipe as a opposed to being flat and the pipe attaching at a 90 degree angle. Making a quick cover is fairly easy.

  1. With the gaffi stick assembled, mix some plumbers epoxy together.
  2. Put the plumbers epoxy around where the pipe meets the bun foot. Not only will this allow for a transition from pipe to pineapple, but it will give more adhesion to the two parts.

Plumbers Epoxy applied and smoothed

Painting

The metal spike should be painted already so this section is for the main staff.

  1. Cover the entire staff, minus the metal spike, with dark brown spray paint.
  2. Gently mist the metal spike with brown spray paint to give the illusion of dirt and rust.
  3. Gently mist the entire staff with black spray paint, putting more at the pineapple.
  4. Allow the paint to dry for 2-3 hours.

Painted gaffi stick
Paint is still wet in this image

painted gaffi stick

Painted metal spike
Silver with light weathering

Final Assembly

  1. When all the paint is dry, attach the metal spike to the end of the staff. I kept breaking them in two when trooping. I found that putting E6000 on first, letting dry, and filling in the gap around the smaller dowel rod and wooden toss ring with hot glue works well.
  2. Allow the glue and paint to sit and dry for a full 24-48 hours.

full gaffi stick

bh51512

My name is Brandon Owens, 501st Member BH/DZ-51512 and MMCC OM#1793. I have an approved Tusken Raider (ANH) and a Boba Fett (ROTJ) that I spend years researching and building. I'm here to share my progress, methods, and findings.