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Kevin Earle's Construction Method For Making Nunchaku

I made my first pair of Chinese nunchaku some forty years ago when they were not readily available, using the exact same method as I describe below - Kevin Earle

WARNING: In some jurisdictions the possession of Nunchaku or 2 sticks joined together is illegal. Penalties for possession may range from Fines to a term of Imprisonment. You are advised to check with your local law enforcement agencies before making or purchasing nunchaku.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: There is no magical formula or fixed specifications as to the weight, thickness and length of your nunchuk shafts, or the length of the chain that joins them. It depends upon your personal requirements.


For example if you want to utilise them for blocking other weapons you might use a shaft that reaches to the tip of your elbow at one end while holding it at the other end.


On the other hand you may wish to use a matching pair for double nunchaku in which case shorter shafts &/or shorter chain may be more suitable.


As to the length of the chain again this depends on your preferred method of use. Longer chain for extra striking length or shorter chain for employing chokes & wrist locks, or other "come-along" methods. 


MATERIALS REQUIRED: Timber (for the shafts); metal tube (for sleeves); wire (to make the securing staples); and chain (for connecting the shafts). TOOLS: Drill + 2.5 mm drill bit; pliers; saw; hacksaw; coarse wood rasp and fine wood rasp; bolt-cutters; craft knife; 80 grit & 120 grit sand paper; tape measure; pencil.


TIMBER: It is best to select a dense hardwood (preferably untreated) such as Jarrah or Balau, although any good hardwood species should do. The wire staple holding the chain tends to rip free of soft timber.


You will need enough timber to make two shafts of equal length. The length of the shaft depends upon your personal requirements, but each shaft will probably measure somewhere between 300 mm and 400 mm long.


I recommend tapering the shaft for better control - from about 32 mm at the grip end (size to suit your grip), tapering to about 28 mm near the chain end. Finish the taper 50 mm from the end, to allow for the metal sleeves to be fitted.


I prefer to have my timber dressed on all 4 sides to the largest thickness I require (say 32 mm sq) before beginning the rounding and tapering process. It makes it easier to make accurate measurements for a well balanced finish.


Hint: If the top end of the shaft is to thin it may cause you to fumble; if it is to thick you will not be able to maintain a secure grip. If you are unsure what thickness to use for your grip go to Mitre 10 Mega or Bunnings and try the different sizes of dowel. You should be able to feel comfortable with your thumb just overlapping the top of your forefinger, but thick enough so that your fingers don't interfere with your palm.


METAL TUBE: This is used to make the 50 mm long "sleeves" that will hold the wire staples in place and stop them from pulling out of the timber with the force generated by the flailing of the chuks. Steel tubing or copper tubing. Copper is easier to work with. The inside diameter should be about 24 mm, to fit over the appropriately sized chain end of the shaft. So be sure to select your tubing before you size the end of the shaft!

They will need to fit firmly over the end of the shaft, but you should be able wiggle them on & of by hand in case maintenance is required - such as replacing chain or staple.

WIRE STAPLES: I have found that ordinary steel fencing wire is the best for the job. But not the old number 8 fencing wire - it is to heavy gauge to work with, and makes what should be an easy job, difficult. Two & a half mm is an ideal size. It is easy to get, easy to work with, and it wears extremely well - so well that I've never worn any out. Two pieces of equal length are required (about 100 mm - 120 mm). You will need to bend the wire to shape in the form of a staple with uneven sides.


CHAIN: I have found that the chain that works best is "twisted link" chain as seen in the photos of my three sectional staff. This chain is the type commonly used for dog leads. However, whichever chain you use be sure that the links are welded.


See Photos Below

STEP 1: Having shaped the shafts, drill the holes for the staples using appropriate size drill (in this example a 2.5 mm drill for the 2.5 mm wire). Position the first hole about 20 mm from the end of the shaft. (DO NOT drill the holes all the way through the timber - about half way should suffice.) Drill the second hole on the opposite side of the shaft about 40 mm in from the end.


STEP 2: Using your craft knife (or other suitable blade) form a 2.5 mm channel in a straight line between the holes and the end of the shaft, so that the staple will fit snugly with the surface of the timber.


STEP 3: Cut two 50 mm lengths of tubing for the sleeves.


STEP 4: Cut two equal (count the links) lengths of chain (about the width of your palm - longer or shorter depending upon your personal requirements).


STEP 5: Bend the last 10 mm - 12 mm of each end of the steel wire at a sharp 90 degree angle. Fit one end into the hole and channel on the short side.


STEP 6: With one end of the staple now in place slip one end of the chain over the staple. With your pliers bend the wire in a loop forming the staple, and push the other end into the long channel and hole.


STEP 7: Slide one sleeve over the chain and push and twist it over the end of the shaft, securing the staple.


STEP 8: Put the second sleeve on the chain.


STEP 8: Repeat steps 5 & 6 with the second shaft. Your second sleeve is already on the chain so simply push and twist it over the second shaft firmly securing the staple as in step 7.


STEP 9: Having finished the construction I recommend rubbing them with plenty of linseed oil, or olive oil. So long as you remove all the excess oil it will enhance your grip. Rub them with plenty of oil every few days, being sure to rub of any excess oil before use. The oil will soak into the timber over time, making the sticks heavier, as well as preventing splitting of the timber, and impact damage.

The staple should be shorter on one side than the other. Drill a hole the size of the wire you are using

Note that the staple is longer on this side. Use craft knife to form a channel to seat the staple securely 


San Jie Gun or "3 section staff" forerunner to the nunchaku

Shuang Jie Gun or nunchaku

"2 section staff"


In the video below you will see some idea of the double and single nunchaku in use

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