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Hula Hoops

Make one for yourself, and one for a friend! The 25' lengths of hardware store tubing are enough for two large hoops at a small fraction of the cost of one "real" adult hoop--while the finished product looks like one of those fancy ones!

This project requires lots of information, because I want you to be successful and enjoy a new hobby! I'd rather give you what you might see as too much information, rather than too little, so you'll feel confident in the process.

Supplies

All the supplies to make these hoops are commonly available in hardware stores. Well, other than the optional nail polish remover. ;) If anything isn't in stock, they should be able to special order it for you.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 3/4" (interior diameter) 160 PSI PEX tubing in a 25' roll. (This is enough to make two large hoops.) The company I went with has tubing in blue, red, terra cotta, and white, but what's available will vary on where you make your purchase. Note: No PEX? No problem! Try looking for black irrigation tubing, or another similar tubing. Try finding tubing that is 3/4" (for a beginner) and 100-160 PSI. 100 will be lighter, and 160 will be heavier. Although it seems odd, heavier, thicker tubing is easier to hoop with, because it will move around you more slowly, giving your brain more time to think about what's going on. Big hint coming up here! If you can find a coil of tubing that has the text printed on the inside edge rather than elsewhere, that's great, because you can get rid of it!
  • A curved (so it can follow the curve of the coiled tubing) scrap piece of smaller tubing that just barely fits inside the larger tubing For me, this was a stick (the same type of thing, but sold in a smaller length) of 1/2" PEX the same color. When you become more experienced at hooping, you might like to try sizing down to this, which is similar in diameter to 5/8" HDPE and Polypro hoops, as irrigation tubing is measured differently (interior diameter for irrigation tubing, versus outer for HDPE and Polypro). The tubing should ideally just squeeze in. Unfortunately, since this stuff isn't made for making hula hoops, you'll probably end up with a bit of a gap, like I did (this is a crosscut of the tubing, with a metal rivet showing):

    OR
    A coupling made for the 3/4" size tubing. (If you're not at all interested in buying extra supplies like a riveter, talk to the store about a 3/4" plastic coupling. When it comes time to put the hoop together, put an end of your tubing in hot water to soften it up, then insert the barbed coupling. Repeat on the other side. Let it sit to cool, then cover this with lots of tape to help keep it together. You could also try riveting the coupling in, to see if that works. I haven't used the coupling piece method, so that's why I have it in parentheses! That being said, it's what lots of people use for homemade hoops.)
  • Acetone/nail polish remover containing acetone (optional)
  • 80 grit sandpaper (This specific grit number isn't super important, but just make sure it's coarse.)
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Pipe/tubing cutters (These are readily available at hardware stores, but some people just use a hacksaw in a pinch.)
  • Drill with 9/64" drill bit
  • Rivet gun (This is readily available at hardware stores.)
  • 1/8" x 1/4" aluminum rivets (Don't make my mistake--I got stainless steel thinking, "stainless steel is strong!" Well, that's true, but in a bad way. It's extremely difficult to work with, and driving in just one wears me out completely. My rivet gun even said (oops!) not to use it with steel.)
  • Hammer
  • Tape, such as gaffer (this is not duct tape), hockey, and electrical (Optional, and not discussed much in the instructions. I'm not a fan, but you may be! This may not be available at your local hardware store.)
  • Don't be intimidated by this list, or the tools involved! Not everyone who makes their own hoops uses a rivet gun, for example. As mentioned, you can just use the inexpensive couplings available from your hardware store, along with tape over that area to help reinforce it.

    Note: This is a project for adults, and it can be dangerous (blades, etc.). Please be careful!

    Prep the Tubing

    This section preps all of your tubing at once. After this section, I'll just be telling how to make one hoop at a time; but you can of course work on as many as you want to at once, like a one-person hoop assembly line. :)

    This section refers to the larger, outer tubing. You don't need to prep the insert tubing (That being said, you may wish to prep the insert tubing, just in case there's a gap at the seam of your hoop--markings may show at that spot. Alternately, if there are areas on your tubing without any text and you aren't making lots of hoops, you may be able to selectively cut lengths off where there's no text on them, and use those sections for the inserts.).

    Remove any tape or other fasteners that may have been keeping the 3/4" tubing coiled, and let the tubing relax in your home environment.

    You can skip this next step if you'll be taping your hoop, or don't mind the text.

    A lot of beginner hoops are taped to help with grip, add some weight to the hoop, etc. Besides, irrigation tubing has eyesore text all over it! But you may be able to mimic the clean look of a fancy, non-taped hoop's tubing (like the Polypro or HDPE kind) with a simple trick: nail polish remover (acetone-based). For safety, work outdoors. Put some nail polish remover on a paper towel, and rub away the text. Test just a bit of the tubing to see if it works well and is giving you the results you want. If it looks good, continue along the entire length of the tubing, removing the text as much as you can. (If you have a huge coil of tubing, such as the 100' coil my red hoop (pictured near the bottom of the page) came from, it can be tough to maneuver around, and you may prefer to remove the text after making a hoop.)

    When finished, rub down the tubing with soap, followed by water. Be very careful not to get any liquids inside of the tubing.

    In my experience making lots of hoops from different coils and two different brands of tubing, the most that text will do is fade, not disappear entirely. If you find tubing that has the text on the inside, after doing this and sanding (which comes later), the text should be virtually removed. But the fading does help make it less noticeable even if the text isn't on the interior and this isn't possible. You can also tape the hoop if you don't like how it turns out.

    This sounds like it will take forever or require tons of elbow grease, but it's relatively easy to remove (or at least fade) the markings on smaller coils of tubing.

    Hoop Size

    The math in these instructions will work for whatever diameter hoop you want to make--even minis. But, for an example, and assuming you're a beginner, this will be about making a starter hoop.

    To make a beginner hoop, measure the distance from the floor to your belly button, or a bit above. If you're just learning to hoop, don't be tempted to make a teeny one like the ones you see experts using. You can downgrade . . . upgrade (?) to one of those later! :)

    Let's say it's 38" to my belly button, and I want a 38" hoop. (You can make two this large, or even larger, with 25' of tubing.) The larger hoop in the photo is a 38" hoop.

    Multiply 38" by pi, or 3.14159.

    If you want other sizes of hoops, the same rule applies. Just know what outside diameter you want, multiply it by 3.14159, and you'll know how much tubing to cut.

    This leaves us with wanting to cut approximately 119 3/8" (just a tad above), yielding a 38" outer diameter hoop.

    Next, take your tape measure and measure by holding it on the outside of the tubing (what will be the outermost edge), holding it against the tubing tautly and moving slowly. Remember, as the saying goes, "Measure twice, cut once!" Measure again and again if you need to. A pencil is helpful for marking where you need to cut.

    Now, take your pipe/tubing cutters (or whatever you're using) and aim for a 90 degree cut. If using pipe/tubing cutters, it helps to turn them a bit while cutting.

    Prep the Insert

    Measure and cut your insert material to 8". There's no magical number for this, but with this tubing, the fit isn't good enough, so I cut more than you might if using actual hooping supplies. Mark with pencil at 4" (midway) to make sure half gets in each end of the tubing.

    Put the insert in halfway, and set the hoop down flat on the floor.

    Assembly

    At a 90 degree angle, drill a hole with the 9/64" drill bit away from the cut end of the hoop, being careful not to go all the way through. (By feel, try to stop when you can tell you've gone through the top two layers of hoop). Where you drill isn't super important--about 1 1/2" to 2" away from the edge is fine. Put in a rivet.

    Repeat this on the other end.

    Flip the hoop over, and add two more rivets distanced a bit away from the two on the other side. For example, 2" away on each end on one side, flip it over, and go 1 1/2" away from each end on the other side. There are no real rules. (If your inserted tubing fit very tightly, two rivets should be enough.)

    If any rivets feel rough, you can use a hammer to try and smash down the metal.

    Here's a comparison between a close connection and an "Oh, well, I did my best" connection:

    Personally, I think it's hard to get a good connection unless you make a really large hoop or use thinner tubing. My very best connection was done on an HDPE hoop of 5/8" outer diameter tubing, but it has since sort of relaxed into having a gap, itself:

    Here's the secret for anyone feeling bad. Even the experts' hoops can have gaps. It helps me feel better that the very first hoop I got was made by a hoop company. It's two colors of tubing, and each side has a significant gap.

    If you don't obsess about it, you'll stop seeing it. Because, let's face it, the rivets are just as much something you'd see upon close inspection, and even super fancy hoops have those. And if you don't like it (or just want some added strength in that spot), you can cover it with some tape.

    That being said, definitely try to do your best with the connection!

    Odds and Ends

    Now it's time to pick over your unfinished hoop (if you haven't already). Do you want to erase any pencil marks? Are there any sticky places where the tape holding it together (if there was any) didn't come off, or where a price tag was affixed?

    Here's my natural method to remove sticker residue. I had to come up with this, being a bookworm! Use your finger to dab cooking oil (such as canola oil or olive oil) over the sticky goop (being sure any paper is removed first, if it's from a sticker rather than tape). Let it sit for a bit. Afterward, put a pinch of flour on the oil, and rub it with a paper towel. After finishing, wipe off any excess, and clean it with water, and soap if needed.

    Grip

    There are different options for finishing your hoop and giving it some grip. Options include doing nothing at all (no extra resistance/grip), sanding the interior edge, lining the interior edge with gaffer tape, or taping the hoop in spirals.

    I'm not a good taper, even though I've tried it a few times. Here's one of the hoops with just some decorative tape on it (this style of taped hoop should probably still be sanded since the tape doesn't cover the whole hoop and, being shiny, doesn't really offer any resistance). The main and only tip I can give for taping (since I'm so bad at it!) is to check the distance between the tape with every pass. You can draw the preferred distance on a scrap of paper to use for reference.

    I'm hoping you got a really neat tubing color so you don't have to use tape at all--that way your hoop will be super quick to make and you won't have to learn how to tape right away if you'd rather not. Or even ever, if you'd rather not! The method I like is sanding the interior edge of the tubing. Use coarse sandpaper (such as 80 grit) to rough up the inside edge of your hoop. This will add friction and make it easier to keep it going around your waist. On a positive note, as mentioned, if the tubing's text is on the interior of the tubing, this will help remove it to the point where no one would even guess you used tubing from your hardware store!

    I'm not too keen on taping hoops for a couple of reasons. First, I'm no good at it. Second, I feel like the tape starts getting messed up as soon as I start hooping with it on. That being said, successfully taped hoops can be really pretty and give you a lot more color and design options, so if you want to try taping one, give it a go!

    Hoop!

    You're done! That's so exciting! But do you know how to hoop? I really recommend checking out YouTube for tutorials. Most people don't realize hula hooping is a different motion--more front to back or side to side, not a rotation.

    When you feel comfortable with a hoop of this size, you might want to size down, creating a hoop smaller in diameter of tubing or diameter overall. You can follow these instructions using 1/2" outer diameter irrigation tubing for the outer tubing. My red hoop (pictured below) is made from this smaller diameter of tubing.

    Hoop made with smaller, 1/2" outer diameter irrigation tubing:

    Smaller, lighter hoops are harder to waist hoop with, but are easier to use for doing "off-body" tricks, or doing both (shorter waist hooping moving quickly to tricks). I made this one at 32". This diameter of tubing (1/2") could also be used for mini hoops that you can do double hooping with. There are so many possibilities, just using materials easily found in hardware stores.

    I hope you have fun! And please read my notes below for some tips and thoughts.

    Says:

    The hoops made for kids that you see in stores are typically too light and small for adults to really be able to use them. That's why most people say, "I can't hula hoop!" Conversely, if you decide to get an adult-sized hula hoop, you'll find that they're pricey. My first hoop was nearly $40 (in 2015). That was the last hoop I bought, but not my last hoop. That being said, even if you use one of the amazing online hoop supply shops out there to make your own, it still costs quite a bit, not the least reason being that they have to charge oversized shipping fees. And adults who really take it seriously likely will want many hoops of varying sizes so they can do both off-body and on-body tricks. It adds up!

    The first time I went looking for tubing at a hardware store, I left feeling pretty dejected and confused. So I advise knowing exactly what you're looking for before you go. Some hardware stores will let you check availability online. Then you can go in the store with confidence that you'll find what you need.

    I started hula hooping on June 26, 2015. Yes, that specific! I think it helps to start a little journal about the things you learn, so you can look back, and see how far you've come. Here's the thing. I started out with a 3/4" x 36" Polypro hoop, and I could only do several rotations the first day I got it.

    The fact is that those super pretty hoops are harder to hoop with. And if you get a small hoop made for kids, they're going to be virtually impossible to hoop with. As you progress, you'll hopefully be able to use the fancy HDPE and Polypro hoops that hoopers like to use, but people often recommend starting with this larger, heavier type.

    Would I have started with this hoop, if I could start my hooping journey all over again? I think maybe so. But I like off-body moves, too, and this kind can start to feel pretty heavy for those. So it's not like I think this is a magical hoop that will take you on your whole hooping journey. I'm hoping it's just the beginning, and one of many hoops you take on your journey. If you start thinking it's too heavy for what you want to do, though, it might be time to try a smaller diameter or lower PSI of irrigation tubing, or an HDPE or Polypro hoop.

    Hooping is a HUGE thing, with so many things you'll learn along the way if you really get into it. I've been so grateful especially to YouTube for the number of helpful tips and pieces of advice so freely and readily available out there. Learning new tricks to do is always just a few clicks away!

    Something about hooping and making hoops is that it's a constant learning process. I think that's what makes it fun--especially if you have a curious mind. You can always learn new things. I really recommend the following resources for this project and beyond:

    How to Remove Markings from PVC Pipe:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we7mJErnrM4

    Hoop Making Lesson: How to Make a Push Button Collapsible Hoop, by Katie Emmitt:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HzmPMvBZcU
    Very highly recommended! These instructions are for a collapsible Polypro hoop, but her instructions are great and how I learned to make hoops back in 2015. Plus, it can help give you some confidence to watch someone doing this type of project. One thing worth pointing out: I measure on the outside "edge" of the tubing when making hoops, not the interior "edge." After your hoops are made, you may also want to look at her channel for some hooping tutorials.

    How to Make a Hula Hoop, by BaByGaL187:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB0rR4OWSe4
    This is a really helpful video if you're making a hoop without using fancy things like pipe cutters or riveting tools. She demonstrates how to make them with barbed couplings instead of rivets.

    How to Hula Hoop Rap Song, by hoopsmiles
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR0hc7lT0hE
    Now that you've made your hoop, here's a fun little instructional video to help you learn how to use it!

    Hooplovers.tv (Lessons):
    https://www.youtube.com/deannelove
    Deanne Love is my favorite instructor on YouTube. She posts often, and really breaks moves down so that they're easier to follow. She posts some tutorials that are for beginners, so you can really participate and not feel everything is over your head.

    As always, talk to your doctor before starting any sort of exercise. I have tons of health issues and it's one of the things I enjoy and quit if it starts causing pain or fatigue (even if that means taking days off. For me, hooping is more about fun than exercise, which keeps it fun and also allows me to quit). But that doesn't mean it's safe for you! So talk to your doctor. Also, be careful since your hoop might hit things when hooping indoors or out. Any hoop has the possibility of doing such surprise things as flying off, bouncing away, breaking, or opening, so be careful where you hoop!

    Have fun!

    Providing crafts since October 2011. These instructions were written in July 2016. Copyright 2011- and all contents by Melissa. Resulting products can only be kept or given away as gifts. Always keep safety in mind. This site and author are not responsible for any injuries. Be responsible and safe!