Friday, October 1, 2010

How To: Jugging Chain

As I finally got a day off work, I decided to sit down for some nice relaxing video games and podcast or two. I was tipped off to the Mid-Level Crisis Podcast a while back, but I hadn't got around to listening to it until just recently, so I'm working through the archives. I got to their episode where they talked about jugging. Needless to say, I decided to be productive for a change and I did something I've been waiting to do for a long time - build a Jugging Chain.

We've got a number of people in this area who said that they'd be interested in playing Jugger or even starting a team on the USJL. The only thing stopping us at this point is the equipment required. Sure, we can make the Q-Tip and the Bludgeoner, as those are essentally common boffer weapons. And even making the skull and the spike is easy enough. But what's really tricky, is the chain. Here's what you'll need to make a bitchin' chain.

Plastic Chain ($10) - You will want at least 78 inches + whatever you need to run it through the ball at the end. I purchased a 15' length from Home Depot, and that should be enough for two full chains. I used #8 chain links for durability, but you can try smaller links if you'd like.

Pipe Insulation Foam ($1) - I used 5/8" ID with 3/8" wall thickness foam. This is easy to find at Home Depot, and an 8 foot length is like a dollar, and you can make thrown weapons out of what's left. If you're using #6 chain, you might want a smaller ID.

Poof Soccer Ball ($7) - It doesn't have to be this specific brand, but this is what I used. Just find yourself a decent size foam ball (6"-8" diameter) that doesn't have a ton of weight to it.

Tape - I didn't include a price here, because you won't be using much and you should probably have it on you. You can use duct or, if you're classy, gaffer tape. If you don't have any (shame on you!), you could get away with a dollar roll of duct tape from a Dollar store.

Camp Foam - Again, I would expect that you already have some of this lying around for other weapons. If not, you can get it at Walmart for like $5, or you could use part of the pipe insulation foam from above.

Wire Cutters
Drill (with long 1" drill bit if available)
String or Wire

1. Drill the Ball
We're going to be running the chain through the ball to hold it on the end. So the very first thing you're going to want to do is drill right through the middle of the ball. You're drilling foam, so it's going to want to move around on you. Just take your time to get all the way through. When you're done, feel free to push the bit all the way through a few times to clear out the remaining foam pieces.

2. Run the Chain through the Ball
Take your string or wire and tie it to the drill bit. Push it through, detach the wire, and tie it to the top link on your chain. Pull it back through, and voila! The chain is through the ball.

3. Wrap Around
Now, you're going to pull about 6 inches through the ball, and wrap it around so that it meets the chain on the other side. The chain will essentially wrap around half the ball at this point. Mark the path that the chain is going to lay.

4. Carve the Path
You're going to want to remove some of the foam from where the chain will lay, because you want the chain to be about level with the surface of the ball. You can try other means for hiding the chain, but for the first go, this is probably a pretty safe way to do it.

5. Tie the Chain
Now, with the chain in the path, tighten the chain so you can barely connect the tip of the chain to the link that enters the ball. The chain should be forming a "D" shape around half the ball at this point.

6. Cover the Chain
Since you don't want to be wailing on people with the chain (and not get kicked out), you're going to want to cover the chain trench with foam. I cut a strip about 1.5" - 2" long and wrapped it around the entire ball. Tape it down. Remember, if you're using gaff tape, you'll want it to sit for a while, which will be hard because you're going to want to start swinging it at walls and such immediately.

7. Pad the Chain
You have to put padding around every third link for the top third of the chain. For me, this ended up being about 18 links so I went safe and padded 7 links. Cut small sections of your pipe insulation and fit it over the end of the chain. It should slide down to your spot without much give (can't guarantee if you're using #6 chain). Tape over the foam and tape it to the chain if it's sliding around too much.

8. Cut it to Length
Finally, if you used a longer chain than necessary, here's where you can cut the chain down. USJL rules state chains can be no longer than 78" (6.5'). Wire cutters or tin snips should have no problem with the chain.

There you have it! Now you can go out and start swinging it, until you realize how hard it is! I have a lot more respect for those German chain players in those Jugging videos, because they're absolutely dominating.

I didn't do pictures during the process, but I do have a picture of the finished piece. Pardon the Damashay colors. It just kind of happened that way. Also, if you haven't checked out the Mid-Level Crisis Podcast yet, you should totally give it a chance. Lots of great LARP talk that's pretty difficult to find elsewhere. They've made the blogroll.


  1. Thanks for the mention, Bill! Also, thanks for talking us through making a Jugger chain. I'm tgoing to make some Jugger equipment tomorrow and this came in just in time!


  2. You'll have to let me know how it goes.

    If we both successfully make teams, then maybe we can find a way to play each other next spring!

  3. Hi, i'm from germany, and really really disadvise one aspect of this build. Please don't pull the chain through the ball and don't wrap it around.

    I don't think it is a good idea to wrap the chain around the ball and then cover it up with some padding. Yeah, we probably got stricter rules for safety, but if anybody aproached me during training or any torunament with a build like that i would flat out refuse to play.

    It might be kinda unlikely but not unthinkable, that the padding might losen completly or partially without you noticing (e.g. the ball is behind you in a swing you want to the land)and you might hurt your opponent.
    I wouldn't like to take that risk (either as the chainplayer or as the opponent).

    Secondly at least in my experience a poof soocer ball that is drilled through and has to support the force of the hits will soon get "cut" through by the material that is in the ball.
    I have experienced this very behaviour with some kinda rigidish cord. Here as well you have a certain danger for your opponent lurking. And this probably will shorten the lifespan of your chain too.

  4. Torsten could you point out to a how to make weapons guide germany style?