Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Foam Fun: Building a Sword

Here is sword that is relatively safe as it's foam, cheap to make, and light weight.
You need a hobby blade, a hot glue gun, and a solder iron. A rotary tool would also be useful.

I am using the Elder Scrolls Daedra sword as inspiration.
I started with 3/8" eva foam mats. I scaled the sword to 36" overall as it 'felt' right to me. I printed a full size pattern and began cutting.

Due to the size limitations of the foam mats, I had to make a break in the pattern. I broke it just above the grip, as the hilt will have additional pieces that cover the seam. I traced the pattern with a hobby blade. I performed an initial cut, and then a second to cut through the foam completely.
You need to change the blades often. Once they dull, the cuts will be jagged. When sharp, the blade should easily slice through the foam.
The blade is two pieces thick, the hilt four, the handle two, and the pommel is four, though sanded down.
I bent a 3/8" threaded steel rod, from my local home improvement store, to be the spine. I marked where the bends needed to be based on the printed pattern.  I then clamped the rod to the work bench  with the bend at the edge and used body weight to make the bend, checking with the template to make sure the angle was correct.
Using a plunge accessory for the router and a grinding bit, I made a 3/16" channel on each side of the foam. I guessed at bar placement for the opposite side and traced it with a sharpie.
Put the foam pieces and bar together to ensure proper fit. I had to trim one of the channels to get the edges to match up.
Hot glue is great for bonding foam. I had to glue in segments as my glue gun is hot only when in the base. Apply plenty of glue in the channel and on the inside face of the foam. This is what bonds your sword.

For the grip, I added 1/8" pieces of foam achieve the right thickness.

For the shape of the sword, I've used a hobby knife, a wood burning iron (a solder iron would also work), and a rotary tool.

Be careful not to take too much foam away too quickly. This is my current progress. I still need to shape the sword, but I will write the rest of the tutorial in case you make it farther than me.  I've lost interest on this project and am excited for new projects.

Once the sword has been shaped and carved, it's time to paint.  
I use Plasti-dip rubber coating. This provides a smooth, yet flexible finish that will stop the foam from absorbing paint later in the process.

I used a number of different gray spray paints for the blade to achieve a mottled, metal look.  I began with a black base and layered silvers and grays- going darker to lighter. I used a scuff pad, sanding in only one direction to remove the top layers of paint at edges and to give the blade a striated metal look. I used silver acrylic to highlight the sharp blade edges using a dry brush technique.

The handle is much the same, I started with a dark gray base and a dark wash to accentuate the recesses and add a layer of grime.

Once your colors are done, clear coat the sword.
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