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Weapons Edged Weapon Tutorial

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Edged Weapon Tutorial
« on: Feb 19, 2020, 03:04 PM »
Author: Arkham
Edited by: MMCC Education Team

This tutorial will help guide you through the process of building an edged weapon in the Star Wars aesthetic with the goal of getting the weapon approved. With these ideas in mind, you should be well on your way to creating a Swarzy bladed weapon.

Design Aesthetics

This tutorial will focus on custom designs to create your own weapon that is as unique as your armor. These same techniques can be applied to building a canon melee weapon.

With many Cons instituting “blaster bans” a melee weapon is a great way to continue to show the uniqueness and formidability of your Mandalorian. It can add to your existing kit, or be a substitute for when your blasters need to remain back at your base.

The edged melee weapons in Star Wars are often not as prominent as the blasters. With the new movies, shows, and animated series we are starting to see them more often. The prominence of lightsabers alone make it obvious that melee weapons are a part of this universe. The MMCC has compiled an example of some Melee Weapon Reference Images

As you can see, there are a wide range of styles and technological levels. The key is to not make it look like an earthly weapon. Basic simple weapons should have a rough, used look. More advanced weapons should be layered, have noticeable tech bits, and above all else greeblies!

When designing your weapon; do your research. You may have an idea already in mind. You may just know you want something long (or short). Research historical weapons, Pinterest is a great place to start and is often where I find most of my ideas. Once you find a basic image, consider how to change it to make it more swarzy.
  • Pole arm, axe, sword, knife, something new?
  • Basic or tech? (gaffi vs. vibroblade) Maybe both?
  • Would my Mando carry/use this?
  • What do you add to the design?
  • What do you take away?

Function vs. Fashion
Now that you know what you want it to look like, we need to address the functionality of it. For functionality I don’t mean “would this be an effective weapon in the Star Wars universe?” but rather, “is this something I can/would carry at a convention all day?”A 12’ long vibro-spear may look really cool, but if it won’t fit in your car to get it to the invasion, then it’s not very useful. Here are some of the things to consider when addressing the functionality of your weapon:
  • How will I transport my weapon?
  • If you plan to carry it inside your kit box, make sure that it does not exceed the longest dimension of the interior of you box (usually diagonally).
  • If you plan to have a separate case or bag for it, make sure that it protect the most delicate parts of your blade, usually the point or any protrusions.
  • How will I carry my weapon?
  • If you plan to carry your sword on your back, make sure that the blade length does not exceed the length of your arm, otherwise you won’t be able to sheathe itt without help.
  • If you’re carrying it in hand all day (axe, pole arm, etc.) be sure that the weight is something you can manage.
  • Consider the orientation you will carry it in. A 6’ tall weapon looks great vertically when posing for pictures, but becomes hazard when carried horizontally walking around a con. You don’t want to take out a swath of con-goers if you need to turn around too fast. This also goes for long swords carried on the hip.
  • What will I build it out of?
  • Metal may be cool, but will often not be allowed into a con, and its weight may be prohibitive.
  • Will it be strong enough not to bend or get damages through repeated trooping?
Now that you have an idea of the functional requirements needed for your weapon, revisit your design to explore ways to incorporate these ideas into your weapon.

In this tutorial, I’ll explore building a couple of pole arms, and a sword, using multiple mediums and techniques. These techniques can be applied to a variety of other designs to make your own custom melee weapon.

Supplies and tools needed:
  • A wood, Sintra, or other material board for the blade
  • Poster board
  • PVC pipe and couplers, and/or wood dowels for the handle (I used primarily ¾” PVC)
  • Bits of wood and PVC and other materials for greeblies (a great use for scrap sintra from your armor, 3D printed parts, or the guts left over from your Nerf mod)
  • A saw of some type (Scroll saw, hacksaw, Dremel tool)
  • PVC cutter (you can use your saw in a pinch)
  • PVC glue/epoxy/superglue
  • Wood filler
  • Bondo and/or glazing putty
  • Filler primer
  • Dollar store mop(s)
  • Greeblies
  • Sandpaper, Lots and lots of sandpaper (I use 220 and 400 during construction)

Design Phase

Begin by researching the type of weapon you would like to build. There are numerous canon references you could base your designs off of; including skiff guard vibro-axes, Enfs Nest’s Vibro Axe, and Dryden Vos’ knives. However, these are not your only options. You can choose to create a custom pieces as unique as your armor. To go this route, you can begin by looking at historical edged weapons (polearms, swords, axes, etc.) as these can all be used as starting place for a unique Star Wars weapon. I often use Pinterest to find interesting images and concepts to start from. Once you have an idea you like, sketch it out to refine it a bit, and then choose your materials.
You can use a lot of materials to make your weapons from. The first ones I build were made using 6mm PVC board. While it is easy to use, it does not have the strength and durability to hold up well without significant reinforcement for longer pieces. My material of choice is currently ¼” poplar boards. You can get them in a variety of widths that lend themselves well for many different blade designs. Avoid using any actual metal for the blades of your weapons, as they may not be allowed on many cons or other invasions and events.

Roughing Out the Blade Design

We will start with the blade. Cut a piece of poster board to match the size of your uncut board (or other material chosen). You may have to tape a couple of pieces together to make it fit.

Poster Board Layout

Draw your design on the poster board. Be sure to include any section that will insert into your PVC handle material. ¾” PVC has a ¾” opening, so your tang should be ¾”. For the Sword, I knew I wanted an ovalized handle, so I made the tang wider as I would ovalized the PVC handle.

Poster Board Designs

Cut out your poster board design. Do not discard the non-design portion of you poster board*. See that the shape and design is close to what you wanted (we’ll refine it later). If it is not, do it again. It’s just poster board. Once you finalize your design, use your poster board template to trace the pattern onto your blade material.

Traced Designs

Cut out your blade design from your blade material. Depending on your material a variety of saws may be your best tool for the job. I found a scroll saw works best.

Blade Rough Cuts

*Save the unused portion of your poster board template with your unused blade material. When you decide to make another bladed weapon, you already have your poster board blank that is cut to the remaining blade material. So you will know how much material you have left to work with. I can often get 2 or 3 blades from a piece of poplar, depending on the blade design.

Next, smooth out the edges of your blades and refine the design shape. Once you have it close, use a sander, file, sandpaper or any combination to start to bevel your edges to achieve your blade profile. Be careful not to actually sharpen your edge or it will become flimsy and brittle. I would keep your edge about 2-3mm thick. Once you have achieved your desired profile and shape, sand your blades to remove any high spots.

Clean Blade Blanks

I then coat my blades with a thin layer of wood filler to hide the wood grain and even out the finish. This can be done with Sintra or other material blades as well.

Wood Filler Coated Blade

Once dry, sand it smooth. I use 220 and 400 to get the desired result. Following this coat your blade with a few coats of filler primer. When this has cured, sand again with your levels of sandpaper.

Smoothed Coated Blade

Now that our blades are fairly set, it is time to think about some details for strength an aesthetics. To do this I used 1/8” thick hard board, but you could also do this with 3mm Sintra or other materials. I chose the wood for the added strength. Use some of your remaining poster board to design out some support plate designs (similar to doing trauma plating for your armor). Once you have your design, cut them out of your support medium. Be sure to make two of each design, for either side of your blade. NOTE: if your blade design is asymmetrical, be sure to mirror each side to the other. Shape and refine the shape of your pieces. I would also recommend reducing the width of your tang for these parts by 1/8” on either side to accommodate the curve of the interior of your PVC.

Reinforcement Blade Details

Glue the pieces onto your blades. Be sure to center them so they mirror each other. Clamp and let dry.

Reinforcement Details Clamped to Blades

After they have dried, use more of you wood filler to fill in the edges where your plates meet your blade. Sand down the new additions to your blades.

Blades w/ Reinforcement Details

Once it has dried, round off the square corners where it will insert into your PVC collar. Depending on your design, you can modify your collar with a channel to extend it up either side of your blade. It is a good idea to leave your collar longer than you need. We can always trim it down later when we get to the final fitting.

Collars w/ Channel

Test fit your pieces. Once you are happy with the fit, epoxy the collar pieces to your blades. At this point, I would suggest test fitting a connector and a long piece of PVC to your blade to ensure the alignment is straight and at the orientation you want your final weapon to be. You can clean off any epoxy that gets on the outside your collar bits before it cures. It’s easier to do this now than after it dries. Once your epoxy has fully cured, clean off any bits that may have leaked out, and fill in any gapes with wood filler.

Finished Blade Design

Once this has dried, sand everything smooth, and coat with another layer or two of filler primer, sanding after to your desired finish.

Roughing Out the Handle Details

We are done with the blade for a bit, so set it aside and we’ll move onto the handle.

Take your various pieces of PVC, couplings, elbows, etc, and test fit them together. I tend to like to use small lengths of PVC and various couplings and connectors to achieve a tech looking handle that fits well in the Star Wars universe. This same method can be used to make a base/counterweight for long handles. I will often build a hand guard depending on the design of the weapon. Play around with it to find your desired design. Nothing is glued together so you can swap things around and try different configurations.

Handle Grip Configuration Parts

Handle Grip Configuration Assembled

Handle Configuration Assembled

NOTE: Keep in mind if you are planning on having your weapon be able to be broken down for transport or storage. If you are, build these connector into your plan at this point. I will often use the threaded PVC couplings only for the base/bottom of the weapon as this piece is short and does not have much lateral stress put on it. For the separation point of the long parts of the weapon I use a deep socket coupler and relay on the snug press fit of these pieces to join them as they do not flex and move as much as the threaded couplers.

Add any greeblies that need to be inside the subassemblies at this point. You will be unable to attach these parts after everything is glued together.

For the sword I made a hilt out of various thicknesses of PVC board.

I heated a piece of PVC tubing so I could flatten it to ovalize the handle and add a curve to it.

Handle Configurations Assembled

Once you have your final design, you can glue these detail segments together. I like using PVC primer and cement for these. Epoxy or superglue could also be used. Now that you have you primary subassemblies complete, go ahead and begin adding some of your greeblies. I usually will add my larger or structural greeblies here. You can always add more greeblies later.

There are many ways that the pieces can be added together. Here are four different designs, all that will fit the same handle:

The Long Handle Design

For the main/long segment of your handle you can use a length of PVC or a wood dowel.

If you are going to use a wood dowel rod, or other non-pvc handle section, you are going to need to modify some parts. If your dowel is smaller than the opening of your PVC coupler/connector, you will need to heat the opening that connects to the dowel with a heat gun. This is similar to how you would shape your armor plates.

Heat the opening until the PVC is just starting to soften.

Then, using a glove because it will be hot, form the opening around your dowel working around it to ensure if forms evenly. Continue to do this until the PVC begins to cool and stiffen.

If your dowel is larger than the opening of your PVC coupler/connector, you have two choices. The first is to proceed as noted above, but instead, stretch the warm PVC over your dowel. The second is to sand/file down the end of the dowel until it fits into the coupler/connector.

Either way, make sure that your handle material is in-line with the rest of your weapon. It is far easier to fix an off center alignment issue here than after the weapon is complete.

DO NOT glue your couplers/connectors to your wood dowel at this point. We will address this later.

For my weapons, the dowels were smaller than the opening. I used a curly maple dowel for the spear and a purple-heart dowel for the trident.

Now that we have our subassemblies completed, add another coat of filler primer (or just primer if not using greeblies). This will give us an even finish to both see if there are any areas that need attention as well as allowing us to get a better idea of the final aesthetic of the weapon. Be sure to mask off any areas that will be inserted into others. Paint on these areas will make assembly and disassembly of the pieces problematic. If there are any spots that need attention (like print lines on 3D printed parts) go ahead and clean up these areas now. It is much easier to do this now then when the weapon is complete. Repeat as needed until your parts meet your level of fit and finish.

Axe Subassembly

Spear Subassembly

Trident Subassembly

Scepter Subassembly

Sword Subassembly

Once everything is cleaned up. Look over your subassemblies and make sure you’re happy with them. From here, you can test fit all your pieces together and see the completed design of your weapon.

BE SURE, if you are making the weapon sectional for disassembly and transport that you do NOT glue the sections together that need to come apart.

Final Weapon Pics

…but we’re not done yet!

Three things:
  • “Arkham, what about these Dollar Store mops I bought?” Glad you asked. Now that are subassemblies are done, it’s time to reinforce our weaker sections. This is primarily true if you are using long sections of PVC for your primary handle material. Because these sections are very flexible, they need the reinforcement to become the rigid handles we need for our weapons. To do this, we will use the Dollar Store mops. These mops use a thin, lightweight metal tube as their handle, that happens to fit inside of ¾” PVC tubing (be sure to test fit yours before gluing). Remove the handle end and the mop head. Cut the handle down to the length of you PVC handle section using your Dremel or hacksaw. Be careful as the ends of the tubing will be sharp. I would also recommend doing this for handle sections over 12” long that are made from many pieces of couplers/connectors, as these can flex as well with use. After you have your pieces cut, mix up a fair amount of epoxy. Coat the inside of one end of your handle tube with a substantial amount of epoxy. Insert you mop handle into your epoxied tube section, twisting as you insert it to spread the epoxy evenly. Clean off any extra epoxy. Once the epoxy has set, you can attach your couplers/connectors to your handle section (do not glue the areas where it needs to be disassembled) .
  • Before doing the final assembly, I would suggest adding any final greeblies and doing all of the painting and finishing of your weapon. The smaller sections will make this easier to do. Make sure to mask off any areas that will be inserted into others (threaded or pressfit). Paint on these areas will make assembly and disassembly of the pieces problematic. If you are using a wood handle; be sure to sand, stain, finish, and seal the wood section of your handle. Paint, detail, weather, and seal your weapon to your desired finish. Once your paint job is complete, mix up some epoxy and coat the inside of your couplers/connectors that interface with your wood handle and glue them together. Make sure that the couplers/connectors are inline with your handle material and the rest of the weapon to ensure everything is straight. It is very difficult to finish the wood handle with the connectors glued to it.
  • After the painting is complete, I will remove the base/butt of the weapon, and mask the very bottom off. Then I will add 3-4 coats of spray Plasti-dip. This will give me a rubberized base that protects both my weapon and the floor.
Now carry your new weapon with pride!

« Last Edit: Feb 20, 2020, 01:00 PM by Havelock » Logged
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