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White Plastic

How to make high-performance white plastic hoops.

I’ve been hooping with white plastics since I first began experimenting with them a year and a half ago. When I started my extensive research trying to find a lighter, more rigid plastic for my regular hoop, Patrick of psihoops was one of the first people I contacted. He’s been using alternative plastics for over five years for LED hoops. Back when he started using these types of plastic, the desire for faster, lighter hoops than could be made with black irrigation tubing just didn’t exist in our community. To my (and her) knowledge, Spiral was the first person to start using these plastics for her regular hoops two and a half years ago. She and I each independently went through the trial and error process of ordering samples and finding the right tubing. Once I posted the “Tube Experiment” a while back, these hoops slowly began to trickle into the community as a legitimate option for regular hoops. My original blog was fairly technical, though, and I didn’t outline how to connect the tubing. The desire for that information has been clearly expressed by the dozens of emails I get weekly requesting additional information. Hence, I’ve finally written this comprehensive post sharing everything you’ll need to get started.

If you’re not a DIY type, Spiral and I will soon be selling signature versions of these types of hoops, to our exact specifications, at our workshops around the country. All hoops sold by Hoop Technique will be made of the high-performance plastics described in this article. More info on our signature designs and dimensions will be posted to the Hoop Technique website very soon.

Hoop Plastic Comparison:

There are two primary types of white plastics being used for hoops: High Density Polyethlyne (HDPE) & Polypropylene (PPE). Traditionally, black hoops have been made from Polyethylene (PE).

I hooped with HDPE for over 6 months after finding these plastics. HDPE is a good stepping stone from a 100 psi standard PE. It’s a little stiffer and much lighter, making it faster, more precise, and better for quick reverses than PE. PPE is a dramatic jump though. It’s super, super light and and feels slightly springy, in my opinion. This is the fastest, most precise hoop material I’ve tried. It’s also the most challenging plastic I’ve ever hooped with. You basically have to know where it will be before it gets there, because you’ll barely feel it when it arrives.

Both of these plastics can change your hooping, but be prepared for a learning curve. After a year and a half, I’m up to 200+ shoulder reverses per/minute with my PPE hoop. This just wouldn’t have been possible with Polyethylene. At this speed you literally are pushing the physical limitations of the material. That limitation is based both on weight and rigidity (as well as size, but material won’t change your hoop size necessarily).

Inside Diameter (I.D.) vs. Outside Diameter (O.D.)

Above, you can see that I’m referencing outside diameter (O.D.) and inside diameter (I.D.). This has often been a source of confusion amongst our community, as hardware stores refer to tubing by it’s inside diameter (I.D.). They care about it’s capacity for moving liquids and ability to withstand pressure. Hoopers care about outside diameter (O.D.), weight, and rigidity. If you were to purchase 3/4″ 100 psi PE, the outside dimension is actually 1″. Compare that to 3/4″ 160 psi PE which has an outside diameter of 1 1/8″. Although the hardware store refers to them both as 3/4″, the outside dimension is not the same because the wall thickness increases with PSI.

Required Tools:

1) Pipe Cutter
2) Pop Rivit Gun with 1/8″ Pop Rivits
3) Drill with 1/8″ Drill Bit

Construction Materials:

I order all of my tube online from McMaster Carr. If you enter the product numbers listed below into the search bar at the top of the website, it will take you directly to the product.

HDPE Hoop Parts List:
Tube A – 7/8″ O.D. HDPE (McMaster Carr #50375K54)
Tube B – 4 in. of 3/4″ O.D. HDPE (McMaster Carr #50375K52)
Fastener – Two 1/8″ pop rivets (available at local hardware stores and online)

HDPE has to be ordered in 25′ lengths from McMaster Carr, so plan on making a few hoops. If you wind up with extra of the thin tube, it makes excellent double off-body hoops.

PPE Hoop Part List:
Tube A – 3/4″ O.D. PPE (McMaster Car# 5392K17)
Tube B – 4 in. of 3/4″ O.D. PPE (McMaster Car #5392K41)
Fastener – Two 1/8″ pop rivets (available at local hardware stores and online)

PPE can be ordered by the foot from McMaster Carr but is a bit more pricey. Currently it costs $1.16/ft. for 3/4″ O.D. PPE.

How To:

Unlike black PE, barbed connectors don’t work for these tubes. The strategy I’ve been using is to purchase a thinner tube and slip it inside the other tubes. This also helps avoid a flat spot on the hoop at the connector because your connector is actually curved. Since there are no barbs on these connectors, we have to fasten the tubing somehow. Adhesives work poorly on HDPE and PPE. I’ve had the best luck fastening with pop rivets, a method I learned from Cosmic Fire.

Step One
Cut your Tube A for an appropriate size hoop. Both HDPE and PPE respond better as smaller size hoops. I would recommend no greater than 40″ in diameter for HDPE and no greater than 38″ for PPE. The smaller the diameter the hoop, the more rigid it will feel.

Step Two
Cut your connector tube, “Tube B”. I’ve tried various lengths. 3″ seems to work well.

Step Three
Insert Tube B half way into Tube A.

Step Four
Drill a 1/8″ hole through both tubes. The hole should not go all the way through the hoop, just through one side. I prefer to put it on the outside face of the hoop. This will be where the pop rivit goes.

Step Five
Pop rivet your connection. For instructions on how to operate a rivet gun, please see this instructional video.

Step Six
Slip the opposite end of Tube A over Tube B, completing your hoop.

Step Seven
Drill for the second the pop rivit in the second end of the hoop.

Step Eight
Install your second pop rivet.

Done!
Now you can go hoop. Good luck! It definitely takes some getting used to, but it’s worth it.