Introduction: How to Make a Hylian Shield Out of Plywood
This tutorial will show you how to make a medium quality Hylian shield out of plywood. This took me around 28 hours of work-time to complete (not counting glue/paint/primer drying), and ran me about $60. This project is not hard if you take your time and think it out. You will need the following materials:
3-4 pieces of ~24x28 1/4th inch plywood (you can change this depending on your desired size)
Blue Painters Tape
Clamps (more the better)
Handheld Sabre Saw or Jig Saw
Construction Paper (about the size of your plywood)
Box Cutter or Scissors
Metallic Silver Spray Paint
Blue Spray Paint
Yellow Spray Paint
Red Spray Paint
Paper (graph worked better for me)
Sawhorse (or some other acceptable object to work on)
Nuts and Bolts
Scanner, Transparency Paper and Projector (unless you want to free hand)
Leather Straps (or some other material to make handles out of)
Lots of Time
You can acquire the materials as you go along. You will only need a pencil and paper to start. Everyone has that! Lets get started.
Step 1: Draw It Out
This first step, depending on your artistic ability, may be the easiest or the hardest. I'm not the most artistic of people, so for me this took quite a good while. You want to find some pictures on the internet of the shield you want to make, and draw it out on paper. For this project, I went with a slightly enlarged Twilight Princess version. Take your time on this. Took me about seven hours to draw.
*Note: As you can see in the drawing and the finished product, I did not make the enclosure piece around the triforce or add the details on the pentagon at the top. I will be making a second shield, and I hopefully will give you an idea of how to do that. Or if you're feeling creative, give it a go yourself!
Step 2: Scan, Print, and Trace
Now that your design is drawn out, you want to scan it, print it onto transparency paper, then project it. I had none of these materials, and had to use a friend for the scanner and transparency paper. As for the projector, I asked around and found my church had one they would let me use. I suggest doing the same. Once your design is scanned and projecting, you want to line it up on your construction paper, grab a marker, and trace it. Again, take your time. This trace will be used extensively throughout the project.
Step 3: Cutting the Center Piece
Now that your design is traced onto the construction paper, you want to cut it out and outline it on one of your pieces of plywood. Then use the Sabre Saw to cut it out. This piece will be the central piece to which the front and back will be glued and the handles attached.
Step 4: Cutting the Front Piece
To cut the front piece, you first want to use a box cutter or scissors to cut out the outline part on the side of the shield, then trace it onto a new piece of plywood. For symmetry reasons, I used only one side to trace the entire outline, flipping it over for the other side. Then, use a drill to drill into the center of the piece and use the Sabre Saw to cut it out. When you are finished, you should have the center piece and the front piece. They should be able to assemble like in the last picture.
*Note: the last picture shows three pieces of plywood, but you should only have two. I already had the back cut out in the picture. you will do this in the next step.
*Cutting tip: To get nice sharp angles on the indented pieces, you may want to go at them from two different directions. As seen in the third picture, I curved around the corner of the shoulder piece, then came back at it. This gave me a very nice angle.
Step 5: Cutting the Back Piece
The back piece is rather simple, though will require a little drawing as there is no efficient way to trace it like the front, and is rather simple in design anyway. You want to trace your front piece onto your third piece of plywood, tracing the whole thing like you were going to remake it. Then you want to separate the inside into four quadrants, as shown. You will then need to edit the trace slightly, mainly at the top and bottom to make it look like the back of a Hylian shield. Then cut it out the same way you did the front piece.
Step 6: Sanding and Gluing
Now you should have the center, front and back pieces, and they should be decently close in size, and when slapped together, look like the iconic shield. Your pieces probably won't line up exactly around the edges but thats ok, we'll fix that in a bit. For now you want to grab sandpaper and begin to sand down every edge of all three pieces; as in the corner edges, not the sides. You want to have a flat surface on each side so you can comfortably and easily glue all three pieces together. Get all the stray fuzzy pieces sticking out off. Once sanded, line the pieces up, apply woodglue, and clamp them together. Let the pieces dry for at least 24 hours.
Step 7: Touch Ups
You should now have a three piece plywood slab in the general shape of a Hylian shield. However, there is probably glue popping out, and the edges don't match up very well. Thats ok! Because you're going to fix it right now. Grab the Dremel and some small heads to sand down the glue on the inside pieces. Use the Sabre Saw again and go around the edges, evening them out.
*Note with the dremel: You do not have to get every speck of glue off the inside. Just try to even it all out, and get as much off without digging into the shield. The paint primer in the coming steps will help to even out any minor bumps.
Step 8: The Small Pieces
Now its time to cut out the small pieces that will make up the center of the shield. To make the triangles more or less similar, I cut out half of one, then copied it to the other side. I then used that piece to cut out three more triangles, discarding the first one. I did the same with each of the other raised areas, cutting one out wood, then tracing the wood pieces to cut the actual pieces. I did this so I didn't damage the construction paper cut outs much, in case I needed to use them later. Again, drill some holes in which to place the Sabre Saw, then cut them out.
Step 9: More Sanding and Bolts
Now you should have all your pieces, and you're itching to finish it. But first, I recommend you paint it. And before you paint it, I suggest you test your paints. Also, all the edges of the shield and the smaller pieces need to be sanded. To test the paints, use a scrap piece of plywood, then throw primer on it, and spray blue over it when it dries. If it looks and feels nice, great! You're halfway done testing. Now you want to spray some red over it, as this will be done on the shield to make the emblem. I neglected this step, and found my paints did not mix. This created the cracking seen in the intro photo. Try to test this as much as possible to avoid that happening, and you'll get a much nicer, smooth look.
But anyway, sanding. Sand down all the pieces, edges, etc. You will also want to make the holes and insert the bolts for the handle in this step. To do this I used a very small drill bit, slightly smaller than the bolt you will use. After the hole is drilled, you want to use a larger bit to do what is called "countersinking" I believe. Basically, you want to create an indent for the top of the bolt to fit into, so that the surface of the shield is still very flat. Be careful, as plywood is rather thin. A little can be a lot when you're working with 1/4th of an inch. I suggest finding another scrap piece of plywood and test drilling on that. Once the bolts are in and you've countersunk them, cover the protruding parts on the back with tape. This will prevent paint and primer from filling in the treads on the bolt. Also, do not worry about the bolts sticking out too far, as you will clip the excess off in the last steps.
*Note: In the pictures, I have the bolts placed in such a way that the shield would be held in the right hand, for authenticity, not practicality. You can screw the bolts in the other side if you wish to hold it and use it. I also suggest using bolts for the arm strap instead of gorilla glue like I did. I've found the glue does not hold well, and the bolts would work infinitely better.
Step 10: Priming
Now that the bolts are in and everything is sanded, you can begin priming everything. If you are going with the glue method for the arm straps, put a small piece of tape over the part the strap will be glued to. Start priming the back of the shield. Before priming the front of the shield, you want to put some small strips of tape over the parts that will be glued. This will help strengthen the bond to the triforce and the other pieces. Leave these on until after you have primed and painted the shield. Prime the front when the back has dried. Be sure to get the edges of everything, inside and out. Every inch that will be painted needs to be primed. As for the small pieces, you want to prime the front and edges, but not the back of them. The back will be glued, and primer may weaken the bond to the two pieces of wood. Again, wait for them to dry completely. Depending on your primer and how well you primed them, you may want a second coat. I would say do it anyway, as it won't hurt.
*Note: In the pictures, I used a bit too much tape. You do not need this much. As long as there is some untouched wood to glue to, the pieces will be fine. In the end I needed to repaint the front (as I messed up) and I ripped all the tape off and used small, thin strips instead, as you hopefully will do.
Step 11: Painting the Small Pieces
Once all the primer has dried, you are ready to paint. Grab the smaller pieces and set up a nice painting area so the paint won't get on the other parts. Then, paint them. Not much needs to be said here, as it is not a hard process. Let these dry for a good number of hours. While they are drying, I suggest you cut out a stencil for the emblem. If you cut out parts on the construction paper, cover them with tape so you do not get excess paint on the shield. Also, do not worry about the blue dot in the center of the emblem, you will make that later.
Step 12: Painting the Shield
Painting the shield itself is a bit tricky. Again, start with the back and spray it all a metallic silver, or another color of your choice, then wait for it to dry. Easy. Now the front is a bit more fun, and setup may take a while. The paint I used was required a silver, gold or copper color to be applied first, so I got to paint the entire font silver, then blue later. However, the setup for you will be more or less the same, though you may have to get a bit creative at parts.
I see a few different ways you can go at this. You can paint the inside-front of the shield and the other edges silver, getting some silver in the center from excess spray, but try not to get much. Then, you want to create a sort of wall around the shield, applying tape to the inside parts of the raised front. This will prevent blue paint from getting on the outside. Basically, make it so the silver parts stay silver, and the blue parts blue. You may come up with a better idea than mine; get creative. Otherwise, set this up as best you can.
If your silver and blue paints did not mix well when you tested them, can build the wall anyway and spray the parts, but to get the inside edges you may have to use a fine detail brush or something of the like to get them silver also. As I said, get creative and think this part out. And remember: in the end if something doesn't work, you can always sand the paint off and try again. It will suck, and as you can see in the last few pictures, I screwed up and had to do this. However the shield turned out great, and that horrible mark was actually hardly noticeable. I was impressed. This is also the part where I ripped the large pieces of tape off and used the smaller pieces instead.
When you are done here, you should have something similar to the last picture. You should also feel very happy, as if you've come this far then you're almost done. Woo!
Step 13: The Emblem
You should now have a nice looking blue and silver shield. But you're not done painting yet. Remember that stencil you made earlier? Yeah? Go grab it. Some weights too, or something to keep it nice and flat. If you didn't make the stencil, make it now. You need it. Unless you wish to freehand this part with a paintbrush. However I am not artistic enough to do that, so I used a stencil. I also had to cut my stencil a bit to get it to fit in the center of the center of the shield nicely. Once you have it placed, you want to add some weights or something to keep the paint from going out of bounds. Then create a less-extreme-than-before paint wall, so you do not paint the other blue or silver parts. Then, go at it with the red spraypaint. Once this dries, make a nice cutout of a dot of your desired size, place it over the red bird, weigh it down, then spray some blue in there. It should turn out nicely.
Step 14: Putting It All Together
You've done it, this is the end. Everything should be painted, and you're ready to remove the tape, glue the small pieces onto the front, and attach the handles on the back. So, do that. Start by removing the tape on the front , put some glue on, then set the piece in place. I do not have pictures of me gluing, as the glue dried fast and I had to work fast. After they are all on, you want to press them down with clamps if they will reach, or some other heavy object. As you can see in my pictures, the clamps I had did not reach, so I put down the clean side of a piece of construction paper, added a piece of plywood, then threw some heavy object I found lying around onto it. Let this dry for a good 5 hours or more if you can.
After the front pieces are attached, you can bolt down the leather pieces, or glue them if that is what you chose to do. After that, you're done! Congratulations! Enjoy your shield. I hope this guide helped you nicely to build the shield, or to get ideas if you're still contemplating how to go at this. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. If you decide to build this, take some pictures and let me know how it goes. The best of luck to you.
Nicholas, signing off