Introduction: Forge a Paper Sword

Picture of Forge a Paper Sword
I recently rediscovered the versatility of paper mache for costume making at Halloween. With some paper, cardboard, white glue (also hot glue) and paint almost anything can be made; add some auto body filler and sandpaper and it goes to the next level.

I made a Witch King of Angmar costume for my daughter for Halloween but didn't take many pictures, but when I started making the sword I had the camera ready and here are the results.

Basic tools include:
  • hot glue gun
  • medical scissors
  • box cutting knife
  • sandpaper
  • paint brush or sponge

Materials:
  • cardboard
  • chop sticks or wooden dowels
  • paper
  • white glue
  • hot glue sticks
  • white masking tape
  • urethane foam spray like for house insulation
  • acrylic paints and hammer metal spray paint


Step 1: Draw Out a Sword on a Sheet of Cardboard

Picture of Draw Out a Sword on a Sheet of Cardboard

Draw out a full outline of the sword blade on a large sheet of cardboard. Use a box cutter blade or something similar to carefully cut out the blade outline.The cross-guard is drawn separately and the handle is a piece of PVC pipe cut to length. Use a hack saw to cut a grove into the end of the pipe and hot glue the "blade" into the grove as shown in the picture.

Step 2: Reinforce and Wrap

Picture of Reinforce and Wrap

Hot-glue some small dowels or chop sticks to create a center ridge on the center of the blade; make half of the last dowel go into the handle. Spray urethane foam into the handle to hold in together; after it dries trim off any excess. Next glue on the cross-guard in several layers and wrap everything in masking tape.

Step 3: Paper Mache

Picture of Paper Mache

Mix 2 parts warm water and 1 part white glue to make a glue mix. Tear old paper into little squares and fully dip into the glue mix. Layer the paper onto the tape wrapped sword to cover the entire sword; I just did 2 layers. Clip the excess once dry (sanding is optional depending on how smooth you like it).

Use more masking tape and some hot glue to build up part parts of the hilt or blade if necessary.

Step 4: Use Hot Glue to Make Designs

Picture of Use Hot Glue to Make Designs

Use a pencil to draw designs on the paper mache` and carefully apply hot glue along the lines. I roughly copied the Witch King sword design from Lord of the Rings.

Step 5: Pommel

Picture of Pommel

The pommel is made by inserting small dowels into the foam of the handle and wrapping with masking tape or foil to build it up. Hot glue on accessories and paper mache`. I added a half and half mixture of drywall mud and white glue to the pommel and sanded it smooth once dry.

Step 6: Paint and Finish

Picture of Paint and Finish

Paint the whole thing with hammered metal spray paint. Once the spray paint is dry, use acrylic paints to paint the details. I used a dull light gray with a sponge to tone down the shine on the blade and black on the hilt and around the hot glue designs.

A clear matte sealer should be sprayed on to protect in from any light moisture.

Comments

Steamcrunk (author)2013-11-10

I like that you used an unconventional material to make a conventional sword. Well done!

Mad Props (author)2017-03-05

Looks awesome. Love the hot glue design on the handle.

VivianY5 (author)2017-02-24

I have a question. How did you make the part where the blade joins the hilt strong enough? Mine keeps flopping over.

robbtoberfest (author)VivianY52017-02-25

In step 1 there is a slot cut into the pvc pipe to insert the cardboard blade. Then the glue and sticks support the blade to keep it from flopping over.

Maroon 3 (author)2017-01-26

Wow. That is cool.

RafaelaS7 made it! (author)2016-08-22

I made it a bit differently, you can see the stick on the outside, but i do like the outcome :D

robbtoberfest (author)RafaelaS72016-08-23

The style and paint work look great.

CarlyK made it! (author)2015-08-20

Same technique, different prop. I made a staff for Yuna from Final Fantasy X. I am also making Auron's sword and will post those pics when its done! :)

robbtoberfest (author)CarlyK2015-10-27

Cosplay is awesome! Thanks for the pic.

BradleyJ3 made it! (author)2015-10-20

I used your techniques to make a dagger. Thanks Robbotberfest!

robbtoberfest (author)BradleyJ32015-10-27

Sweet!

jackowens (author)2015-05-22

Wow I never would have believed that was made out of paper mache! Excellent idea and Instructable!

nexteinstein made it! (author)2015-04-03

everyone was complementing me on how wonderful my sword looked

Awesomeness! Thanks for the picture.

CarlyK made it! (author)2015-05-12

Thank you so much for posting this. It helped me make a She-Ra Sword of Protection and a Xena Chakram for Sydnova. I also made my 5 year old a knight's sword. So much fun!

robbtoberfest (author)CarlyK2015-05-12

Wow!!! Thanks for posting your pics, they look great.

CarlyK (author)robbtoberfest2015-05-13

Thanks for the easy to follow tips! Never dreamed I could create such awesome props! :)

Macready (author)2015-04-12

Fantastic! Looks like an actual sword in the photo!

Master Wasi 47 (author)2014-11-15

Wow looks like real. Thank you.

Charkhol Studios (author)2014-11-15

Very impressive. Paint job is sensational

Jake_Makes (author)2014-09-02

Love the costume, so good it looks real.

paperfreak201 (author)2014-07-31

this is awesome but i dont read the newspaper... no papier mache :(

starwarsgeek1 (author)2014-07-22

thats really cool thanks for the idea

Cairdy Crafts (author)2014-07-06

Amazing job! Using the hot glue for bringing out the raised detail is a great idea and the mixture of paints at the end works very well. How is the sword bearing up a while down the line?

AssassinzSinpZ (author)2014-04-05

so helpful ill use this for my Ezio costume thnxx

ElCubano (author)2014-03-08

Nice job dude! You really have art skills!

bpochynok (author)2014-01-14

Also what size of PVC pipe?

bpochynok (author)2014-01-14

Where did you find the urethane spray?

Teachable (author)2013-11-07

Please let me know where you got that spray paint and what brand it is if you would be so kind.

robbtoberfest (author)Teachable2013-11-08

I bought the Rust-Oleum hammered metal paint at Walmart and used light grey and black acrylic paint applied with a sponge.

http://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/universal/universal-hammered-spray-paint

Teachable (author)robbtoberfest2013-11-08

Thank you I appreciate it.

robbtoberfest (author)Teachable2013-11-08

Actually it's Krylon Fusion hammered metal; I just double checked. Either should work though.

pfiddle (author)2013-11-08

Really good this. Well done. Very creative and I'm sure your kids must love you for your inventiveness.

Vikingtrader (author)2013-11-08

Great idea. I love the sword. The ingenuity of people on this site never fails to amaze me.

syates3 (author)2013-11-07

I really like the sword looks great, I helped my friend make a similar costume but I used leather for the gloves (don't recommend it) I'd love to try making a sword like this one though cause the metal one we have is kinda heavy, and we don't have a morgul blade. So using something like this I think I could create a very good replica and starting small might be easier anyway.

seresataka (author)2013-11-07

Wonderful! I'm a firm believer in the power of cardboard.

blanchae (author)2013-11-07

Well done! The best part is that it is inexpensive and looks great!

robbtoberfest (author)blanchae2013-11-07

That's my favorite part, the whole thing cost less than $2.

l8nite (author)2013-11-06

that looks AWESOME ! !

imbiglarry (author)2013-11-06

Bookmarking this for next Halloween. Thanks.

Printy (author)2013-11-06

Totally realistic! Love it!

Infinitevortex (author)2013-11-06

Awesome! Looks totally real!

Fluffy420 (author)2013-11-06

Wow...good enough to knight a Knight at night...{O..O}.....

rachruiz1 (author)2013-11-05

Exceptionally well done! So impressed. If I was wearing a hat, I'd take it off for you.

The Rambler (author)2013-10-31

Awesome. I continue to underestimate the power of paper mache.

I'm lovin' it. It's steampunk gear next :)

Oooo, sounds cool. Anything specific in mind yet, or just kind of "steampunk, go!"?

A nice top hat would be a good start and some kind of arm and shoulder prosthetic. Next Halloween.....

Very cool, if you're thinking of using leather for your top hat allow me to toot my own horn and point out that if you check out my instructables I have written one on the subject. It's a bit stylised but the method should be fairly universal.

v_barnett2002 (author)2013-10-30

Wow, this is fantastic. It looks great, and gives me some ideas for next years Haunted Library. Thanks for the tutorial. (Costume is excellent, too. )

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Bio: Dad and hubby, good food enthusiast, solar energy, boating, making stuff, melting stuff, and raising chickens.
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