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How to roll a crutch for your joint or spliff

RAW crutches
RAW crutches. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

A crutch—also called a filter or a tip—is one of the easiest improvements to make to the standard joint. It’s effectively a mouthpiece, and it serves a number of purposes:

  • It keeps the end of your joint open (even when sharing with your wet-lipped friends)
  • Adds support to your joint, keeping it straight
  • Blocks bits of plant matter from getting in your mouth
  • Ensures you don’t burn your lips or fingers as you puff your way down to the roach

What are crutches made of?

Unless you opt for a reusable glass tip, the best material for a crutch is stiff paper. You want something thicker than printer paper (which is too flimsy) but thinner than a cereal box (too bulky).

These days, there are pre-cut crutches. RAW’s standard tips and the standard, which use long-fiber paper made on a special mill. They’re designed specifically to roll up smoothly and have enough rigidity to hold their shape in your mouth.

Some other good crutch options include:

  • Part of a rolling paper pack
  • Index card
  • Manila file folder
  • Back flap of a checkbook
  • Magazine subscription card
  • Some business cards (not thick ones)

The easy (but flawed) way to make a crutch

Most people tend to roll a crutch by literally rolling it into a cylinder. When viewed head-on, it looks like a spiral.

rolling a crutch
One of the most common methods to make a crutch or filter tip is to roll it into a cylinder. It works, but there’s a better way. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

This is an easy technique but has some drawbacks. The main weakness is that the opening in the center of the crutch is big enough to let through small pieces of plant matter, which can end up getting in your mouth.

Another problem is that it’s not particularly sturdy and can sometimes pinch closed. Does it work? Sure. But there’s a better way.

The better way to make a crutch

You can make a much better crutch simply by adding a few accordion-style folds before rolling it up. It takes a tiny bit of practice to master, but the end product will keep those pesky flecks of cannabis out of your mouth and ensure a smooth draw.

To start, make a few folds at the end of your crutch material, making the folds about as wide as you want the final crutch to be. Be sure not to crease the paper when you’re folding it; otherwise the final crutch will be too tight.

rolling a crutch
After a few folds, start to wind the remaining paper around the folded part. Make sure to leave enough left over to wrap all the way around the crutch. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

How many folds to use is up to you. Some people talk about making an “M” shape inside the crutch, while others opt for a simple “V.” Experiment to find out what you like best.

Once you’ve made those first few folds, roll the remaining crutch material around the folded part. Make sure you have enough unfolded paper to wrap completely around the crutch—you want the final product to roll easily between your fingers.

Tip: You can rip some off if you have too much.

rolling a crutch
The accordion-style crutch helps keep bits of plant material out of your mouth while still allowing for a smooth draw. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

You might find that the crutch wants to unroll or expand on its own. That’s OK. Once you roll the crutch into your joint, that springiness will help keep the crutch from falling out of the end of your joint.

Put the crutch at the end of your rolling paper and roll it into your joint. Some like to leave a little of the crutch exposed, then push it flush with the edge of the rolling paper when finished rolling.

Buy a crutch

Can’t be bothered to practice tiny origami? That’s fine. Either buy a reusable tip, skip the crutch altogether, or opt for a pre-rolled crutch. There are all sorts of pre-rolled options these days, including choices by RAW, Elements, and a handful of others.

These will cost you a bit more. RAW’s standard tips cost around $1-2 for 50, and pre-rolled tips go for about twice that.


Ben Adlin and Pat Goggins contributed to this article.