Hey fixomaniacs! We got a special treat for you this week, as we set the tricks on the backburner and make our own fixed axle yo-yos at home.
A huge chunk of the current Fixed Axle renaissance can be credited to the woodworking geniuses keeping the idea of pure & simple yo-yoing alive: TMBR led the charge, of course, but Hildy Bros, and Once Upon a Tree are all doing amazing things. When you throw their spinning works of art, it’s hard not to catch the bug and dream of making your own fixie. Unfortunately, not all of us have access to a lathe, but necessity is the mother of invention, and one unconventional (but extremely fun) way around this problem is silicone molding. Sonny Patrick of Anti-Yo fame was the first person that I know to do this with yo-yos, he made some super cool bootleg Freehand Zeros in 2006.
Now, before we get going, I’m going to throw out some spoilers: I’m making a bootleg Butterfly. As dear as the Butterfly is to my heart, I can look at it objectively and recognize that it’s not as high-class a performer as a Barracuda. To complicate matters further, these butterflies are going to be poured from wax, and let’s just say that there’s a reason there aren’t any crayon yo-yos on the market. Honestly, though, if you’re throwing fixed axle you’re probably already familiar with the fun of working within constraints, and a little extra “surface noise” on a trick shouldn’t bother you too much; to be perfectly frank, I kind of like a yo-yo that doesn’t listen to a thing I tell it.
There are a ton of way better tutorials on how to make molds on the internet, so I don’t want to get too caught up in specifics, but here’s the basic process:
- Prepare the yo-yo for molding; for the butterfly, this involved wrapping a piece of Sculpey clay around the axle post and then smooshing the cap into it to make the yo-yo airtight. Put it in a small airtight box. (I took the opportunity to make an extra spiky art yo-yo, and I highly recommend taking the chance to make your yo-yo unique… but it’s also worth noting that the normal Butterfly worked better.)
- Mix together the silicone compounds. I used Oomoo 30 from Inventables. Pour it all over the yo-yo.
- After waiting for the mold to cure, pop the yo-yo out and clean up any nasty bits of unnecessary silicone or chocolate chips stuck in the mold or whatever.
- Melt some wax. I recommend following the instructions on that link and being very very safe, but will confess to melting wax in a soda bottle sitting in a bowl of boiling water from time to time. You’ll get better results by going to Goodwill and buying a cheap pot, though.
- Pour the wax into the mold! This is very exciting, but try to do it slow and avoid bubbles.
- Wait 20-30 minutes for the wax to cool entirely, pop it out, do it again, and bam! You got some yo-yo halves. I used a Duncan Butterfly axle, but found that it worked much much better if I put a little bit of hot glue on the axle before sliding it into the halves.
And that’s it! You got yourself a yo-yo you made all by yourself. You should probably be noticing by now that wax does not really play like any other yo-yo material; if you used crayons like we did, your string should change colors within four or five throws, and get noticeably stiffer as well. After 20 throws, it may be tough to make it sleep, let alone do a braintwister.
And that’s GREAT! It may not be the same feeling as designing a perfectly smooth machined bearing contest monster, but there’s definitely going to be some smiles the first time you hit a Kickflip on it. If the novelty wears off, you might enjoy casting one out of resin; Death Ray Kendama has made some really awesome resin stuff, if you want some inspiration.
I threw some funky bonus tricks with the yo-yo at the end so you can see it in action. Not gonna do as much tutorial writing this week, but just to highlight three new things:
- At 1:00, we got a weird chopsticks flipback carrying on from where the trick at the end of “Imperialism” left off. The inital dump truck transition is the main conceptual meat of the trick, but the end is also noteworthy for relying on the return of the yo-yo to switch the orientation of the string.
- At 1:33, we have a follow-up to that Mach-5 Kickflip Suicide that people seemed to like in the Flip Tricks vid. I’ve found that it’s actually a little bit easier to whip it than to take the rotating slack loop approach, so give it a shot! It’s also worth noting that an unexpected bonus(?) of wax yo-yos is that it makes the string super stiff, which either makes flip suicides a dream or a nightmare.
- I wanted to close out the clip with a recent horizontal favorite. This is probably one of the simplest fixed axle ‘zontals I’ve found, but it’s still pretty flashy & fun, so give it a shot! From a trapeze stall (ideally caught with a very small loop), use your thumb to tilt the yo-yo up on its side before throwing it out into a UFO. With a little practice, you can intercept it on the return and catch it in a trapeze stall. Bam!
Alright, suckers, that’s all for this week! Now, go try it at home.