None of us kids are swordsman by any means, so these are just for playing around with.
A warning: even though these are toys, they are a bit heavy and you can whack somebody a good one with them if you try. So, probably better for big kids rather than little ones.
This is a fairly quick and easy project ( I think I made both of these in just over an hour, and I was having a conversation at the same time.), but for one step you will need a second pair of hands to help you out.
Step 1: What You Need
thin dowel (I used fiberglass rods because I had some at hand, but wood would probably work better and is generally cheaper.) **(EDIT: Wood is cheaper, but I have recieved advice against using wooden dowels. They break easily and the splintered wood can be dengerous, so it's better to use plastic, fiberglass, or PVC if you can.)
duct tape ( I didn't actually measure how much I used, but it was deffinitely a few yards.)
thin foam yoga/exercise mat (You can get one of these for about $10 and it will yeild at least 3 swords.)
string or twine (Make sure the string you're using is good and strong; you're going to be pulling it very tight.)
saw (This is to cut your dowel to length, so you won't need it if your dowel is already the length you want it. It can be electric or muscle-powered because you're only goint to use it for about 2 seconds.)
hot glue gun and glue stick
Step 2: The Dowel
Figure out what a comfortable length is for you (or whoever you're making the sword for) and cut the dowel to fit.
If your dowel is already at the length you want it to be, then you're a step ahead.
Step 3: Making the Dowel Stab-Proof
Cut a narrow strip (about 1/2 '' wide) from the edge of the foam mat. Then cut this strip into 4 pieces about 2 " long.
Duct tape 2 of these little peices over each end of your dowel. They should be perpendicular, forming a + shape until you tape them down, at which point it will just look like a little soft nobule on the end of the stick- which is exactly what you want.
Step 4: Wrapping the Sword
Put a strip of duct tape along each long edge. One side should have duct tape all along it. The other should have tape from the bottom to the point where you are going to have your handle start (so about 6 - 10 " from the top, depending).
Lay down your dowel (with padded ends) right at the edge of the mat and wrap the tape around it to hold it in place.
That was the easy part. Here it gets tricky. Unless you have really soft foam, super powers, or more than the usual number of hands, you will probably need someone to help you roll up the mat. It's alright if it ends up not being perfectly tight and dense, but try to wrap it as tightly as you can. When you get to the far edge, have your asistant hold the roll and fold the tape over it to keep it from unrolling.
The handle will still be loose, so you'll want to whip out your glue gun and glue down that edge trying to unroll.
Step 5: Taping up the Sword
I've included pictures of how I covered the end of the sword with tape to make it more neat.
Step 6: The Handle
Cut about 4 - 5 feet of your string and fold it in half. Tie the middle tightly around the base of the handle so you have 2
Take one strand in each hand and wrap tightly around the foam handle, criss-crossing the string as you go around. When you get to the top, pull out your assistant again and have them hold the string tight while you tie a good, strong knot.
And then...you're done! Have fun, and play safe.