I use wood over other alternatives primarily for its abilty to absorb shock, aluminium, although lighter, transfers shock. Its also readily available and replaceable (heres the sad part, stilts do break and usually when you're on them in foreign countries miles from welders, smelters or graphite industries)
. A number of different types of wood can be used. My terminoligy is suspect but its long close grain wood we're after. Long as in straight and knotless, and close as in the grain close together.This is found in older slower growing wood, also all hardwoods but hardwoods, like oak and walnut are too heavy and heavy stilts will injure you. The lightest close grain you can find, there, couldn't be simpler.
The wood being close grain will have more tensile strength and will shatter under stress rather than crack. (shattering takes longer-more time to react)
I should clarify the context under which I speak of stilts breaking, certain advanced movements will always test the strengths of the equipment but the most common cause of breakage (don't laugh) is people getting their stilt stuck in a hole,in the floor, in a grate, in deep mud, between concrete slabs, in rubbish tins.
When stuck in a hole locked in from the knee down and with all my weight committed foward and my leg straight I'm always grateful when the stilt snaps before the cartilege in my knee
Anything Light/Close/long grain 30mm+36mm. (3 ply-each 12mm)
You can get it laminated or cut it and glue it yourself. 2= 1 meter lengths (Bottoms)
2= (tops) measure the distance (from the side) between your heel and the corresponding point on the side of your calf that matches the top of your shinbone. Take that measurement and add 36cms -[the overlap]
2 footplates 250+ 110 marine ply 10 mm thick.
Marine ply for braces and footplate-see diagram)
(you can use ordinary ply but marine ply has a better weight/strenght ratio)
I also increase the strenght of the wood per volume by slicing and then glueing 3 pieces.(basic lamination.)
Cut- glue- position with grains opposing
(see fabulous illustration)-
clamp, then wait to set.
Wood glue is at the hardware store and a tablesaw is easiest to cut the wood to size.
HARDWARE-EACH SET OF STILTS
4+4 cm bolts with nuts and
6+8 cm bolts with 2 washers (rounded-screw-top) per and wingnuts if poss.
34 4cm flathead philips screws
??+7cm bolts (rounded-screw-top with ordinary nuts and washers
4 bolts for the shoes also
These are the individual steps I go through in fitting stilts per individual.
At present you have stilts constucted with (A) braces attached and footplate still loose.
Get individual to stand on newspaper on an imaginary line that runs across its middle,
Feet shoulder width, looking straight ahead, go into what I describe to non dance students as a putting stance, - shift weight from one foot to the other until most relaxed stance found, student still focusing ahead.
Teacher/assistant traces outline of shoed feet on paper Pupil steps back.
The outline provided will give you an indication of the pupils stance in relation to the right angles involved on paper and on the footpad to be set on the stilt. (theres no right or wrong stance, the empasis is on familiararity and comfort)
Step two: Use ladder or secured object to stand stilt-level (I let pupils use my head as a brace)
Place the footpad down and have the pupil experiment by putting weight on it.
Note:- the stilt should be as close into the ladder or object as possible.
Objective:- to put full weight on standing with knees hips and shoulders in line and symetrical and have the top shaft of the stilt able to be lightly held, without pulling forward backward or out.
This is the first of two fitting stages with the same process, this one focuses on the placement of the footpad.
The further back a pad goes the further foward the pupil overcompensates, to do otherwise would be to fall backwards.
The further foward the pad the further backward the pupil overcompensates, to do too much so would be to fall backwards.
This is quite a serious issue as YOU MUST NEVER FALL BACKWARDS.
Without at least a decent attempt at a half twist.
Its ironic asking someone whose put themselves up a ladder and are stepping out onto an unsecured platform supported by overlocking lenghts of three-ply
"Is that comfortable?"
But primarily what you are looking for beyond their hypertension is the footpad to be flush with the side of the stilt and the top of the stilt, at just under knee level, to be free of tension when weight is added.
The pupil should feel that in this position there is the potential of balance without tension and that the stilt feels like it is directly underneith them.
(and there should be no war and everyone should eat)
This process can take longer to begin with but once you realise the feel of what you're looking for, your fingers holding the top of the stilt feeling for pressure foward, back or out. Once you have achieved that, mark the footpad ready for drilling onto the (A) frames already on the stilt.
Repeat with other stilt.
Drill footpads onto stilt- This is delicate. Drill a smaller, trainer, hole then screw.
The next is the second of the two fitting stages, this one focuses on the placement of the boot.
Use the same process of ladders or objects to get on top of the stilt and this time, initialy using the outlines provided on the newspaper as an indicator, again with the stilt as close to the supporting structure as is practicle, move the pupils foot foward and backward and also experiment with the angle of the foot.
I use two instructions to miminise this procedure, "Weight on" and "Weight off"
Ask the pupil to identify when adding weight is at its most stable.
The top of the stilt (still just a shaft) should help indicate balance and should be relatively stable when the foot is positioned and the pupil is standing with a natural weight on it with knees, hips and shoulders in line.
Positioning decided, trace around shoe and repeat process with other stilt.
This is the last step before perminent setting so any doubts regarding balance are easier to correct before this stage.
The next task is to pull the inner sole out of the stilt-boot and, placing each on its traced position on the footpad, drill a hole through the shoe and the corresponding footpad, Proceed to bolting the shoes onto the footpads.
Your stilts should now be complete apart from the upper clasps.