Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Third Clue: Battle

That's our sword doing its Excalibur impersonation.

Oh, we had so much fun making these swords! I think it had to do with it being summer and us being able to do woodworking outdoors. I don't work with wood as much as cardboard or fabric so I've never taken the time to build up a solid power tool collection. This means that I am usually limited in how much from-scratch woodshaping I can do; I often resort to ready-to-use-shapes or improvise in some other way. This doesn't mean I don't have covetous thoughts about power tools - you should see my mental wish list (it's quite sinful). But for now, I work with manual tools like handsaws, planes, sandpaper, hammers and screwdrivers, plus one low-voltage power drill. 

Bearing all that in mind, if you are a wood and power-tool expert, you should use good wood and carve that down to the shape you want because it will give a superior and (probably) longer-lasting result. We, however, started out with some very lousy wood - these garden stakes because they were closer to the final shape I wanted (translation = less work for me and my sandpaper/handplane). I made peace with myself by deciding they were still better than chipboard (what we call particleboard back home in Singapore), which is simply the most repugnant 'wood' product in the known universe.

So, here's a 2 foot long garden stake. It's a good base shape for a sword, but the finish is awful and it's too pointy to be allowed near children.

So we sawed off the tip to blunt it

and planed down the long edges.

Comparative photo below: the top stake has been planed; the bottom one hasn't.

Then we performed copious amounts of hand-sanding (because no power sander) until the entire surface was smooth.

Next, we built the crossguard. I got some of that 1x2 lumber (although it's more like 3/4" x 1 1/2"), cut off two  3"-long pieces and hand-sanded them smooth.

These were wood-glued to the sides of the sword body, dividing it into blade and hilt. Strong rubber bands were employed to provide the compression force in lieu of a clamp (ours all too narrow) or vise (don't have).

Obviously, wood glue alone is not strong enough, so we added a wood sandwich. We got some 5/8" trim, which comes in ridiculously long strips that you can buy yardage of (just like fabric trim!). We cut off two equal pieces that were long enough to span the entire cross-guard (ours were about 7.25")

Here's the cross-section of that trim - it's flat on one side and rounded-edged on the other.

We glued these across each face of the cross-guard so it spanned its entire width.

Copious amount of clamping of all types helped the trim adhere fully to the contours of the sword body and cross-guard; any gaps were filled with wood filler.

Then 4 nails were pounded into both sides of the trim - one securing each half of the cross guard (that's two nails)

and this repeated on the other face of the sword (that's the other two nails).

The finished sword, before painting.

Then we made twelve more.

Then came the painting - silver aerosol paint on the blade

and metallic acrylic paint on the crossguard and and hilt.

Here is the finished sword.

At the party, we broke out gems - large and small - and glue dots

and let the kids decorate their swords.

Swords need scabbards and belts but we took a shortcut - sword-belts-with-loop. More feasible for mass-producing.

Essentially, the belt is simply a strip of webbing with a slide for size adjustment

and a loop for the sword.

Here's how to make it - we used 2" webbing and sealed both cut ends using the very fancy Candle Method. Then we sewed one end around the middle bar of a plastic slide.

Then we sewed a short length of webbing in a scrunched-up lump on it for a loop.

Here is the plan, with all the measurements:

And it's worn just like a belt. 

Disclaimer: Be sensible and use this toy with care - ikatbag is not responsible for any damage to human, animal, plant or property resulting from use of sword made with these instructions.

Next up: Prisoners of the Lake!


  1. Sure glad you had fun making those... looks like an awful lot of work, to me. ;) But they look awesome!! And I like your disclaimer. Heheh.

  2. These swords are beautiful. And even if my kids are a little young for sword-play right now (I can only imagine them accidentally dropping on on the baby sister) your instructions will definitely come in handy someday. =)

  3. Awesome! I was waiting to see how you did this, love it. my new years resolution needs to be "do birthday parties more like you" :)


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