Weapon Construction


Weapons Construction for the
Mercenaries Medieval Combat Guild

To construct a basic sparring sword out of PVC for use in combat within the Mercenaries Medieval Combat Guild, there are only a few materials needed, all easily obtained from almost any hardware store.  They are: 

  • 3/4 inch thick PVC pipe (minimum schedule 40, but schedule 80 is encouraged) in the overall length of the sword you wish to make.  Be sure to purchase a few extra inches (eight should be enough) to make the crosspiece.
  • Closed-cell foam pipe insulation to fit 3/4 inch PVC plumbing pipe in the length of the blade of the sword (include a few extra inches for a stabbing tip).  If you intend to make a sword with a discernable blade and flat, buy 2 identical lengths of closed-cell foam.
  • Wooden dowel that can fit snugly inside the   inch PVC pipe, with a few inches of space within the pipe at either end.  If necessary, saw some of a longer dowel off.
  • Heavy steel bolts whose pin fits into the 3/4 inch PVC pipe.  A shorter one (only 2 inches long or so) for the tip end of the sword, and a longer one (about four-to-five inches long) to fit in the grip end of the sword.  Brass bolts or sawed-off sections of solid steel round bars will also suffice.
  • Duct tape.  Lots of it.
  • Some kind of material to use as a grip for your sword (hockey tape, leather, fabric, wire, etc...) 

The first step of making your sword is to decide how wide you want the crossguards on it to be.  Generally, three inches each is wide enough, although some longswords or greatswords may call for longer crosspieces.  Saw extra lengths of PVC (that are not part of your main sword core) to size, and set them aside.

 The next step is to oil the wooden dowel with linseed oil (which is highly toxic, so for the love of the gods, don’t ingest it, and keep it away from children).  The purpose for oiling the dowel is to prevent it from drying out inside the sword and shattering.  Then slide (or hammer) the dowel into the main sword core.

Wooden dowel (taped for snugness of fit inside PVC)

Next, take the smaller steel bolt and place it at the tip end of the sword core.  Make sure that the end of it fits tightly against the end of the wooden dowel inside the PVC pipe.  Duct tape the bolt very securely into the end of the pipe.  Be sure not to make a large bulb of duct tape in doing so, or it can misshape the padding on your sword later, causing it to hurt.

Now, take the larger bolt and place it in the grip end of the sword core, making sure once again that it fits snugly against the end of the wooden dowel inside the PVC pipe.  Duct tape it securely into the core.

Now, slide the first layer of closed-cell foam pipe insulation on to the PVC pipe until it covers an area that is the length of the blade with which you wish to strike.  Be sure to leave an extra two inches of insulation loose at the tip end of the blade to make a stabbing tip.

The stabbing tip itself comes next.  Cut a small piece of foam insulation and curl it into a small tube.  Tape it loosely with a single strip of duct tape and place it into the hollow end of the insulation that already covers the blade.  Cut a circle of closed-cell foam and place it over the end of the stabbing tip to make a sort of cap. 

Now duct tape the insulation in a spiral pattern (not too tightly, or it will compress the foam and detract from its padding capabilities) all the way up the “blade” of the sword.  At this point, you may wish to tape the cross-pieces on to the sword, using a figure-eight pattern.  Be very sure that the cross-pieces are held on securely.

If you wish to make a distinct flat and edge for your sword, now is the time.  Take the second length of closed-cell foam, and cut it completely in half lengthwise.  Now, take each of those halves and place them over the cutting edges of your sword, and duct-tape them on.  There are a variety of ways to cut pieces of foam into ever-smaller pieces so that the “blade” has a hexagonal cross-section, but the method described above is simplest for beginners.

Now that you have a completed blade and cross-pieces, the only thing left to consider is the grip.  You might want to consider using something like small wooden dowels or chopsticks to “build up” the handle of the sword.  This will create a flatter grip for you, which is more comfortable than a perfectly round one. 

Cover the handle in whatever grip material you wish to use, and make sure that it is securely attached so that it doesn’t come unraveled during a fight, or unglued in the sun, etc...

If you wish, a cloth cover may be sewn for the blade portion of your sword.  This reduces wear and tear on the duct-taped padding, and it reportedly lessens some of the sting of a strike.  If you choose to pursue this option, use a grey, white or black covering of solid cloth; no nylon tights or pantyhose stretched over the blade. 

Properly constructed and cared for, a sword as described above will be sturdy, realistically weighted, and durable. 

Arrow Construction

Materials needed for construction of combat arrows are as follows: 

  • Aluminum arrows with screw-off points.
  • A penny
  • Closed-cell foam
  • Duct tape

The first step is to remove the screw-off target point from the aluminum arrow.  Then take the penny and tape it on the end of the arrow, so that if the arrow were fired, the penny would strike the target instead of the target point.

Next, curl the closed-cell foam around the end of the arrow in a spiraling pattern so that it makes a tight foam tube about one and a half inches in diameter.  Duct tape it so that the foam is firm and springy, but not loose.

Now cut a circle out of closed cell foam, just as if you were making a stabbing point for a sword, and tape it on to the end of the “arrowhead.”

Remember to periodically straighten your arrow (they often get bent during combat) and to check that the padding isn’t getting too compacted by its repeated impacts.








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