Back to Barge: Returning to Propmaking with Modular Swords [PICS]


New Member
Hey all! It's been a minute - or 2.628 million minutes - since I've had the opportunity to work on props and costumes, but the time has finally come! I'm kicking off this adventure by breaking into the world of fantasy with some foam swords and sword accessories.

Sounds simple, right?

That's what I thought too, which is exactly why I decided to make all of the templates for the various sword components completely customizable and interchangeable. After some time, I aim to have a library of templates that will allow me to make swords in all shapes and sizes, kinda like in the rage-inducing game Mordhau. That should add just enough work to drive me the right amount of crazy...

Til next time, I leave you with the work from this evening.


I always (usually... sometimes) start a project off with at least some amount of planning. Here I have my note card sketch and scale "blueprint."


Then it's off to make excessively labelled templates on poster board so I can keep track of the modular pieces later.


I used a 1/4" aluminum dowel as the core of the sword. Cut the dowel down to the right length, then covered the tips in hot glue to prevent the metallic edges from wearing out the foam.


I cut out the foam and hollowed out spaces on the inside to seat the dowel.


I finished the evening off by sticking the two sides of the blade together with the titular contact adhesive, then test fit the grip and other details. I may or may not have also swung the chunky thing around for ten minutes like a child. The jury's still out on that one.

Time permitting, I'll shape the blade and grips tomorrow and move on to the fancier details that I'm dying to work on.

Until then,

edit: goofed up on image sizing


New Member
Update time! The blade angles are roughed in and awaiting a final sandpaper cleanup. After that, it's on to the decorative bits.


I cut in the angle very roughly at first with my trusty Stanley blade. You can see in the images above that I cut one slope with short cuts and the other with much longer cuts. I wanted to test out not only which method would result in a smoother end result, but also which would provide a faster cleanup job (spoiler alert - it's the smaller strokes).


Here is where I ran into my first major lesson when making blades; it's best to taper the pointed tip before cutting in the slopes. You can see the difference in the first image above. Besides making the job of maintaining the center line much easier, cutting in the taper first leads to a more gradual taper in the finished product. In the first blade above, I cut the taper into the left face of the blade first, whereas on the right face I just tried to angle my knife as I was cutting. The second image highlights the slight curve and rougher look of the "freehand" tip.

You live and learn ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


After roughing in the shape, I went back with a Dremel to smooth the whole thing out. As it is, I think this would make a decent "screen" or "stage" prop. However, the bumps left over from the broader knife cuts I mentioned earlier are fairly obvious on close inspection and can be felt quite easily by running a finger over the surface. Once I go in with a final round of spot sanding, all should be well.


Here I'm highlighting the lingering differences between the faces of the blade tip, even after the Dremel work.

The project is coming along nicely all things considered. I definitely have some lessons learned for the next attempt but can't wait to see this one finished.

Until then,


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