Introduction: Boffer Dagger

Picture of Boffer Dagger

This instructable will show you step-by-step how to make a simple boffer dagger using common supplies quickly and cheaply.

This lesson is based on that on which I learned, and some experimental methods and ideas. Thanks to my LARPing friends at SUNY Purchase for helping me learn a safe way for making good boffers.


Step 1: The Materials

In order to make our dagger boffer, we will need some supplies:

1) 1/2 inch PVC pipe. This will act as the core to provide support for the foam padding, and our hilt. This generally costs $2 - $4 for a 10 foot piece, higher depending on the quality. (check the PSI on the piece, the higher the number, the more durable, but lower grade does just fine for this project. The piece should be cut down to the size we need, which will be about 14 inches.

2. Duct tape. The color preference is up to you, The cost depends on where you go. Online websites tend to have the best deals, with larger roles costing about $3.25 per role of 1 in x 60 yards, to about $6.25 for 2 in x 60 yards (preferable) on tapebrothers.com. Of course, online stores like tapebrothers.com have a WIDE assortment of colors too, making them more appealing. Of course, hardware stores like ACE have a decent selection, but the roles tend to be more expensive. Look in large flea markets, sometimes god deals do come from there too, but I digress.

3. Pool Noodle. This makes up the foam padding for our boffer. You can find them at stores like poolcenter.com for about $3 for 60 inches (5 feet) of foam. I recommend poolcenter.com for this. Note however that it must have the hole down the center.

4. Electrical tape. This will be used to add grip to our hilt (handle) Depending on store, prices will vary. I once again reccoment tapebrothers.com, you can get the rainbow pack - 10 rolls of electrical tape (red, purple, blue, orange, yelow, green, white, gray, black, brown) for around $10 ($9.80 + shipping) here: http://www.tapebrothers.com/Electrical-Tape-Rainbow-Pack-p/el766clrain.htm

5. Open cell foam. Yellow, usually lightweight. This will be used to create thrusting tips, or soft squishy ends of the boffer designed for using the end of a boffer to thrust safely. For this, you have a lot of places you can turn to. Old chairs, couches, eggcrate are just three places you can find some, scavenging doesn't hurt it is all the same, and if you can't scavenge, you can buy reasonably large quantities cheaply.

6. Scissors for cutting tape when needed.

7. Knife, or switchblade for cutting the pool noodle.

YOU MIGHT BE ASKING: Why use PVC and pool noodle? For one, it is a lot cheaper than pipe foam and graphite kite spar, and secondly, for those who don't know how to properly wield a boffer, the heavier PVC boffers are good for learning how to control your swings..

Step 2: Preparing the Pool Noodle

Now that we have our supplies ready, it is time to build.

NOTE: I am approximate here in this tutorial, but when it comes to hilt size, pommel size, etc. feeling it, and not working off exact measurement is encouraged once you get the hang of making boffers, and easier to get right on larger weapons, but allows for more flexibility nonetheless.

Take your pool noodle, and cut it down so you have piece approximately 20 inches overall. Yes, it is in the scheme of things a lot, but it is better to have a cut-down piece with excess than not enough foam, you can alway remove the excess.

So now, you should take your piece of PVC, and take your piece of foam, and put them next to each other. With a ruler, take the foam, and measure two inches, and put the pipe alongside the two inch mark. This is as much foam off the pipe as you should have off the pipe. This is enough where foam shearing won't be to much of an issue, but not so much that you get what I call a "floppy" (more common amongst my friends is a term being more obscene) - no, or not enough backbone making it whip more - and being more painful - and if you have very very little pipe, and a LOT of foam, you can be disarmed easily without much effort. More on that another time.

Since you aren't working on a lot of pipe, we need to cut down the foam. Take into consideration the hilt size - which for a dagger should be enough to fit a fist around it with at least an inch of wiggle space. So for now, lets say about 4 inches. Since we are working with a 14 inch piece of pipe, we should also take into account the pommel. At minimum, you should have an inch of pipe for the pommel. I go for two 2 inches just to be safe.

Now, that is approximately 6 inches for pommel, and hilt, which leaves us with 8 inches of pipe + 2 inches off the pipe for a 10 inch blade. Cut the pool noodle to this length, then cut off a 4 inch piece for the pommel. Save the rest, small pieces can be recycled.



Step 3: Putting It Together

Now that you have your foam ready to go, let's put it together.

There are two methods I know of for getting the foam on the pipe, one will be shown here for now.

First, take your piece of PVC, mark two inches off one end for where the pommel begins, then 4 inches for the hilt, then mark off the end of the hilt where the blade begins.

On the side with more pipe, take the 10 inch piece of pool noodle and twist it on to the pipe through the hole until you reach the mark where the hilt begins. Take the 4 inch pommel piece, and shove it on the other end until you reach the hilt beginning mark on that side of the PVC pipe. Now you should have a pommel and "blade" on the PVC pipe with enough space in between for the hilt.

Now we tape.

Step 4: Taping Down the Foam to the Pipe + Taping the Hilt.

Picture of Taping Down the Foam to the Pipe + Taping the Hilt.

Now comes a portion that can be tricky, or not. Taping down the foam pool noodle to the PVC. This isn't difficult, but a step where you need to pay attention to your work. This is how I do it.

To start, take the duct tape, and start with the piece of tape on the PVC pipe. Travel upward, aqnd up lengthwise up the blade, around the end, and back down to the other side, and end on the hilt. ( Refer to the makeshift drawing of a boffer, with the red representing the tape.) Repeat until there is no pool noodle showing. Be careful to try and lay no more than one layer of tape in an area to prevent making the boffer hard.

Taping like this will anchor the "blade" to the hilt pretty well, and because it wraps around the top, will be better secured to the blade (funny way of putting it) so-to-speak and wont come off as a whole nearly as easily if at all..

The tricky part here is not only making sure that the tape securely anchors the "blade," but also that it isn't wrinkled. This is not easy, and takes time to perfect. I have not done this yet myself, though I am getting better. This is where you must experiment a bit. I personally like lying the boffer on a flat surface lengthwise, and rolling it back-and-fourth like rolling a hot-dog in ketchup, until the tape is smooth, but other methods work well, and this is just an experimental method for me.

Repeat the same process for the pommel.

DO NOT spiral wrap the tape. For one, the boffer becomes harder, and getting hit stings immensely. Secondly, it uses more tape than necessary.

Now you can work on the hilt. Take your electrical tape, and wrap around the hilt at the top, and bottom where the duct tape lays. This will strengthen the anchoring, and help prevent twisting the blade on the PVC.

To tape up the hilt, I will do this in two steps.

The first step is the primary layer/color. This you can do with individual pieces wrapped around the hilt piece of the pipe until it is covered completely.


The 2nd layer is not only for show, but makes, from personal experience, the hilt easier and more comfortable to grip. You can take the same color for this, but I prefer another color for asthetics. Wrap the tape around one side of the hilt once, then tape up the hilt diagonally, creating a diagonal stripe pattern. Wrap around the other side of the hilt, and cut. Congrats, you now are mostly done with your boffer. Now we need one more thing before we can say that we are done.


Step 5: Thrusting Tips

We have made our boffer, and it should hopefully look pretty good by now. We are not, however, ready to use it in boffer combat just yet.

We need to add thrusting tips - soft pieces of open-cell foam that allows us to safely poke people with our boffers in combat, to put it in basic layman's terms.

Take a piece of open-celled foam, and cut into squares of about 2 in by 2 in by 2 in. If your foam is in pieces, or of a thickness that doesn't allow for this, dont fret. Take enough open-cell foam to come close to this measurement, and tape together, wrapping around just enough to secure the two pieces together.

To attach to the pommel and blade, all you have to do is tape from one end of the hilt, or pommel across the thrusting tip, and down to the other side. Repeat until all 4 sides of the tips are secured on.

To finish, take your knife, and punch holes in the thrusting tip until it squished like an accordian. This will make the foam softer, and not as hard/painful to the thrust.

Congrats, you have now finished your first boffer.

I hope you learned from this tutorial, and had no problems.

Step 6: Boffers I Have Made

Picture of Boffers I Have Made

Here are some of the boffers I have made.

Comments

Brother_D (author)2009-04-04

You've got the idea right, but those weapons are ugly! Take some pride in your handiwork and pretty it up! If there are some pieces of tape lifting up, tape around until they're flat. Stuff like that can make a big difference. Also, when building these, don't rush, these look very thrown together. Whenever you tape the blade, do so carefully and gently. Keep having fun though!

Travelsonic (author)Brother_D2009-04-04

"You've got the idea right, but those weapons are ugly! " 1) these are meant to be basic/simple, not pretty. People making boffers can go much further to make them look good. 2) since then I've made some damn beautiful boffers. My claymore boffer, which I will upload a photo of in the future, is downright stunning IMO. This is a pictue of a very abused boffer. I have made much better.

Brother_D (author)Travelsonic2009-04-04

I'd really like to see that claymore. And sorry if you took offense to that first sentence, I didn't mean to be mean. It's really hard to express tone on the internet. If they ever get that right, I'll never leave my computer.

Travelsonic (author)Brother_D2009-06-02

Expressing tone/emotion online.... another task that should but might not be perfected by the internet saavy. I'll upload pictures of the claymore soon.

Brother_D (author)Travelsonic2009-06-02

Awesome.

Travelsonic (author)Brother_D2013-07-03

Damn, been years since I made this comment, and I still have yet to upload pics of that claymore - particularly since I decided to re-do it a few years back, and it is still sitting unfinished. Where does the time go? I mean now I've gotten a degree in comp. sci and am working on some small projects, but I still wanna finish the claymore, and get back into LARPing, so much fun. :D

check out my spear it's amtgard legal and very nice

WurdBendur (author)2009-01-18

I wouldn't want to get hit with any of those weapons, but I suppose you pull your hits. Still, your taping is pretty terrible. And might I suggest using a cloth cover instead? If you really must have a metallic finish (and I know this is typical), you can get a metallic fabric. Sew it into a sock-like tube and pull it over the end. Then just tape it at the bottom or add a draw string for easy removal. In Dagorhir, we fight full-contact, and our weapons can last for many years with this design. Of course, we also use better foam (i.e. blue camping pads). Or at least take a little more care with your tape. There's a guy on YouTube (search for boffer tutorials) who does a Mormon battle game (lol, I know). He will show you how to do it correctly.

Travelsonic (author)WurdBendur2009-01-19

Yeah... I should have used another boffer dagger I had for showing the end result. That boffer has seen a lot in the short time here (made last Spring, used intensely 2-4 days a week, 2 - 5 hours a day in moderate boffer combat conditions, still works great.). My tape jobs are a lot better than this though - once able, I'll upload a picture of my boffer claymore and some of my newer longsword boffers. They look (relatively) great. IMO, it's not the foam alone, but the assembly of the boffer that marks its quality. Pool noodle, and camping pad both have differences based on manufacturer, but are still essentially closed cell foam. Still prone to crappy manufacturing practices, etc, though I easily admit that crafting camping pad is far easier, though it isn't impossible to carve/shape pool noodle. (though I'd have to use a thinner core (like graphite) for safety purposes once I shaped the foam) I guess it is how you work with it, and your own crafting abilities overall. I would like to try out Dagorhir some time if I can find the time, it looks like a lot of fun, from what I've already looked up about it..

WurdBendur (author)Travelsonic2009-01-20

Most of the camping foam used by Dagrohir members is made by the same company, so that kind of variation isn't an issue. Some people like to spend even more on different foams that work better and last longer, or have whatever different properties they're looking for. But pool noodles just can't survive the kind of stress we put on them. They are regularly torn apart by kids in swimming pools, and burly men swinging them at full force are just going to destroy them. Camping pads, on the other hand, are actually hard to tear up. Noodles can certainly work just as well if the construction is good - they just start out softer (whereas the blue pad foam takes some time to get broken in) and won't last that long because the foam (whatever kind it is) is not as durable as the stuff used to make camping pads. So you're right, it's not the foam alone, but the foam you use definitely sets the upper limit on the quality and longevity of your weapon. Just as a heads up, you can head to the camping section of your local everything-store and pick up a roll of foam for six something. This will make about three swords. Also, most LARP groups like round swords so that all sides are safe, but we Dagorhirrim like to have edges, so ours are box shaped. Foam in the form of a flat roll is just more conducive to this construction, which is probably the main reason there are hardly any pool noodles on the field. They're usually considered noob weapons, but surprisingly rare even then.

Travelsonic (author)WurdBendur2009-03-05

This wasn't meant to be for making Dagrohir or Amptgaurd (sorry if I butcher the spelling) boffers, but a simple means to make a simple boffer for places that accept pvc+noodle boffers, college LARPs, or just for sparring. Tha said, I have graphite lying around, and some extra noodle (+ a knife, crazy glue, and duct tape amongst other things), I think I will try experimenting with carving/shaping pool noodle for a more realistic looking boffer. Not easy, I know considering what I am working with, but it CAN be done.

WurdBendur (author)Travelsonic2009-03-17

If you're using one of the really thick pool noodles, you could try taking a slice off each side to create the flats. If you're using the thin ones, just put it on normally, then split another piece in half down its length and put each half over the edges to give it that shape. I think this is how it's usually done, but maybe you could find another method. If you can, try to run a long strip up one edge, over the tip and then back down the other edge. A couple layers like that will make a very safe tip, maybe a little extra should be added if you want to stab with it, depending on how hard you use it. Also, Sculpted blades are always nice! You may also be able to file or sand the foam into interesting shapes, besides just cutting with a knife. Though since the graphite is probably thinner, cutting the noodle into sections may be necessary. You might quarter it and put one on each flat, and two or three layers on each edge.

DuctTape Pwnage (author)2009-01-29

i am going to make some instructables on how to make a better boffer and other larping stuff (no offense)

Also, it would actually be helpful if people... I dunno... actually TOLD ME what needs improvement in the tutorial?

Offense? You need to learn about what needs the no offense disclamer and not :-P Competitioon is great. My youtube video version of this tutorial is far better than the instructible version.

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