Crafting a Stage Friendly Blade

9 Nov , 2011,
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It’s been awhile since we put up a tutorial, so with AFA just round the corner, we’ve decided to toss together something that might prove useful amidst the prop-making tizzy.

Here’s a quickie guide to creating a basket-hilted sword (also known as a broadsword) that’s LARP (Live Action Role Playing), stage performance and convention safe.

This tutorial will take you through the process, which will take approximate 2 hours to complete. You’ll need some extra time for paint to dry and glue to set though, so that’s going to take a good while more.

Stuff you’ll need: 

1. A piece of PVC electrical wire fitting that’s about 1 meter long. Available at most hardware stores.

2. Some 0.28 mm thick PVU sheets. Available at Art Friend.

3. Some blue foam. Available at Mash Shop, mentioned in this entry.

4. For the wire hilt, you’ll need a piece of 4 mm wide plastic hose/tube. Available at most hardware stores.

5. A piece of 3 mm thick metal wire. Available at Daiso.

6. Some materials for crafting the guard and quillons. In my case, I grabbed a plastic gyoza press and some metal ice cream spoons, both from Daiso.

You’ll also need brushes, contact cement, some masking tape, paint, a pair of wire snips and a pen knife.

Step 1:

We’ll start with preparing the core for this weapon prop. Cut the PVC wire fitting to size (a typical one-handed sword’s about 37-inches), then measure off and snip off a strip of blue foam that sits just nicely in the center of the the PVC fitting.

Next, press the strip of blue foam into the center of the fitting, apply a dab of contact cement to both ends to keep it in place, and snap the fitting together.

Finally, wind masking tape around both ends of the core to secure both halves together.

Step 1: Cut the PVC wire fitting to size...

... then snip off a strip of blue foam and press it neatly into the bracket.

Snap the brackets together and wrap both ends with masking tape...

... and you'll end up with something like so. ^_^

Step 2:

It’s time to move on to the blade.

Typically, your blade will take up about 5/6ths of the total length of the prop, so in this case, we’ll be creating a blade that’s approximately 31-inches long.

Measure off and cut out two blade shaped strips of blue foam measuring 2-inches by 31-inches, then affix them to the core of your prop with contact cement.

When you stick the blue foam on, make sure the tip extrudes about one inch above the core. You’ll know why in a bit.

Step 2: Cut out the blade shapes...

... apply liberal amounts of contact cement...

... and voila!

Step 3:

Now for the sticky part.

Apply contact cement to the edges of your blade, and gently tease the ends together with your fingers in a pinching motion. Work the entire length of the blade, until you have joined them at the seams.

Remember why we had to leave off about 1-inch at the tip in the previous step? That’s because we’re creating a “false tip” that’s malleable enough that it bends and springs back to shape when you stab somebody with it. That’s one of the secrets to making your blade stage safe! ^_^

Step 3: It's time to get down and dirty! ^_^;;

Step 4:

Next, to create the shell of the blade, cut out two blade shaped pieces from PVU.

These should be the same relative length and width as the blade pieces you cut out of blue foam. Crease both pieces in the middle, and snip off a V shaped wedge at the tip.

Join the shell over the blue foam blade using contact cement. You’ll end up with an elongated diamond shape. Use either scotch tape or masking tape to keep the edges binded together.

Step 4: Cut out and crease the PVU pieces...

... contact cement the edges together...

... and the tip too!

Step 5:

We’ll work on the hilt for a little bit while waiting for the contact cement to set.

First, we’ll create the guard of the weapon.

You can use most circular items for this, including coasters and cup covers. In this case, I chose to use a gyoza press since I decided to go with a floral motif. Draw out and cut from the middle of the item the shape of your core piece.

It should be big enough for your core piece to slide through, but also tight enough to fit snugly. Push it into place, making sure it’s flush with the base of your blade, and then stick it in place with a dab of contact cement.

Next, we will create the quillons, which are the metal strips that extend edgewise from the hilt. Metal chopsticks are great for these, but this time, I decided on using metal ice cream spoons because of design considerations. I snapped off the spoon head, and attached the handles directly to the gyoza press.

Step 5: What do these items have in common? Everything!

Cut out that little rectangle there, and your hand guard's as good as done.

Step 6:

We’ll bind the hilt next.

Wind a strip of blue foam around the exposed bit of the core  to create a grip. Go over it with masking tape to secure it together.

Make sure you cover the whole length with masking tape!

Step 7:

And finally, to create the wire worked basket hilt of the weapon, we’ll use a piece of hose. Stick the 3 mm thick wire into the hose, and then bend and twist the resulting product into the design you want.

Coil it around the base of the guard, and out again to create several ornate loops.

Step 7: Look! It's a Tube-y!

And here's some really convoluted "wire-fu"! ^_^;;

Step 8:

You’re essentially done at this stage. All that’s left is to give it a fresh coat of paint and some embellishments to make it look spiffy!

Almost completed product! ^_^;;

And here's the completed project! A stage friendly basket-hilted sword! ^_^