Introduction: Invisible, Usable Back Scabbard

Picture of Invisible, Usable Back Scabbard
This instructable goes out to everyone who, as a child or a not-so-much-of-a-child, stuck a wiffle bat down the back of the shirt and had trouble getting it out (and putting it in in the first place) for use in swordfighting. 
Or anyone who has used an actual back scabbard and found that, wow, you can't take out a long blade, and it's super-hard to put any blade back in!
This could also be useful for LARPing.

Anyway, this 'ible will show you how to build a back scabbard that is much more usable than any other I have ever seen, and can also be invisible.  Some of the ideas came from back scabbards I have seen where only the bottom few inches of the blade are encased, and the handle sits on something to hold it in place (like this).  I said, hey, let's just hold the handle area with a magnet-WAIT A MOMENT.  Let's just hold the whole blade up with two magnets - one at the handle, one further down!

That's the whole basis for this 'ible.  My particular incarnation is invisible also.

Step 1: Materials, Tools, Etc.

Picture of Materials, Tools, Etc.

There are a number of versions of this which could be made, and I'll try to keep that in mind as I go along.
So, with that in mind:

1 Belt per Blade + 1 Belt (2 belts for 1 blade, 3 belts for two blades) (the way I did it, which is certainly not the most stable way it could be done)
I used 2 wide, D-ring belts for over the shoulders.  I would not recommend them, as the D-rings tend to slip a little every time the contraption is used - but being wide did make them comfortable.
I used one wide, elastic-y ladies belt for the waist (really chest) belt.  It worked very well.
Hard Drive Magnets or other strong, flat magnets - 2 per blade
Scrap denim or other tough material.
Strong sewing thread.
A Blade that this is for (in my case, 2 machetes).
One tight t-shirt (for increased stability and comfort)

Hacksaw and Vice (for dealing with Hard Drive magnets, possibly)
How to get Hard Drive magnets:

Then, once you have them, you should have one where the face of the magnet is the highest point, and one which has pegs and/or extensions of the base which go past the face of the magnet.  You want only magnets where the flat face of the magnet is farthest out.
Put the pegs of the magnet in a vice, nice and tight, and hit the magnet (gently!) with a hammer.  The peg should pop out.  The legs, on the other hand, must be cut off with a hacksaw.  NOTE:  if you use a hacksaw near a strong magnet, the magnet will end up covered in metal filings, which are sharp and not fun to try to brush off with bare hands.

Step 2: Basic Assembly

Picture of Basic Assembly

Put one belt over your shoulder and under the opposite arm.
Put another around your midsection, based on how long your blade is.
Hold your blade where you want it to stick to your back.  Mark the spot on the shoulder-belt, as well as a spot on the midsection-belt.  I recommend having the midsection belt higher than seems necessary - not at the bottom of the blade, but in the middle is fine.  This does not affect how will it stays attached, but allows for more body movement.

I put a safety pin in the belt to mark about there the magnets should go.  It doesn't matter, exactly, as the belts can adjust.

Step 3: Details, Getting Down to It

Picture of Details, Getting Down to It

Here is where you must decide what type of system you want - invisible, invisible under one piece of clothing in particular (a trenchcoat or leather jacket, etc), or worn on top of things.
I recommend invisible, as it lets you wear baggy clothing (which looks bad if it has tight belts on top).
I made mine invisible under any standard t-shirt.
I did this in the following way.
Take a magnet.  Put one layer of denim on top of it.  Put one layer of whatever piece of clothing will be worn over on top.  Put blade on top, and see how much force it takes to pull it off.  I only used one piece of denim for the shoulder magnets, and two for the waist magnets.  If you are doing this under a thick coat, you may want no denim.

Pretty much, however much cloth is between the magnet and the blade determines how hard it is to get the blade off your back.  I recommend plenty of strength, as it's not too hard to give it a good pull, but you don't want it falling off your back.

Sew the denim over the magnet and onto the belt.  If it's denim, make sure you double the edge over so it doesn't unravel.  Sew however you want - I did 1.5 stitches forward, half a stitch back.  When my mom showed me to.

Keep trying the belts on as you go to make sure they're where you want them.  Try them on with your blade(s).  Otherwise, what's the point?

Step 4: Secure/Comfort Adaptation

Picture of Secure/Comfort Adaptation

My secure/comfortable adaptation works like this:  put on your tight-fitting shirt.  Put on the belts, making sure they are exactly where you want them.  Safety-pin each belt once to the shirt.  Remove the shirt.  Sew the belt to the shirt at the indicated place.  Now, when you put this shirt on (which can be difficult), the belts will be about where you want them, and you just have to fasten them.  Also, it's more comfortable than belts on bare skin.

Step 5: That's It!

Picture of That's It!
You're finished!  Tweak it, let me know how you did a better job than I did (trust me, you did).  Figure out exactly what your limits are in terms of what you can do whilst wearing one or two blades.  Be amazed at how easy it is to draw your blade, and how incredibly easy to put it back!  I roll them on my shoulders going both ways - grab the handle and yank it forward to draw, roll the handle over your shoulder to re-holster.  Have fun!  Be careful!


ilpug (author)2012-03-05

I have to do this... except maybe modify it to work with multiple knives on different parts of the body...

nikolardo (author)ilpug2012-03-27

Sure, just attach magnets all over yourself. Just make sure it's tightish clothing - otherwise the magnets will bunch up your clothes and stick to each other and look stupid and not be useful.

ilpug (author)nikolardo2012-03-27

Oh yeah, I know. I was planning on doing to the suit of body armor I am making.

nic.bryan.73 (author)ilpug2015-11-27

That would be perfect for holding a Bolter pistol on a Space Marine armor as well.

urbanprimate (author)2010-08-23

Absolutely brilliant in it's simplicity! I doubt it would work for larps, but definitely for moving through a jungle where you constantly go from needing a machete to wanting your hands free (and back again!) Not to mention a great use for those old hard drive magnets! I'm definitely using this on my next camping trip!

or when you gotta have your sword handy for battle

NostalgicStone (author)2010-08-20

Love it. I use machetes on a weekly basis. My mom has some land outside the city and I like to get some exercise in by trudging through acres of 5ft+ weeds and brush, and also have to keep certain areas cleared for her chickens. This will be very useful, thanks! : )

nikolardo (author)NostalgicStone2010-08-21

My mom uses one of my machetes to cut Cumfrey plants for her chickens to eat. It's scary that the theme I'm seeing develop for machetes is that of serving chickens' every need.

frollard (author)nikolardo2010-08-21

I've known a machette or two to spell the doom of a particular near-genocide-sized portion of our chicken bretheren.

nikolardo (author)frollard2010-08-21

Goodness me. We haven't had machetes until recently, but my mom always managed to spell chicken-doom quite handily with an axe.

MadBricoleur (author)nikolardo2010-09-30

Cut the plants to feed your chickens with the same machete you use to slaughter them in the end... :( how horrible!

NostalgicStone (author)nikolardo2010-08-22


eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-08-23

Where do you get the magnets? Great instructable!

witmoreluke (author)eulaliaaaa!2010-09-06

If you don't have any spare hard drives around, you can go here: United Nuclear sells all sorts of neodymium magnets, which are what is in hard drives. Now, if you get these, BE CAREFUL!!! i have some that are rectangular prisms. They pull 150 pounds each, and they are small enough to hide them in the palm of your hand. I placed these on opposite sides of the coffee table, (about 4 feet away) and walked away. A couple of seconds later, i heard an earsplitting crack, and they had flown across the coffee table towards each other, and exploded! Not flames or anything, but they turned into extremely sharp 1 inch shards that were sticking together, in the walls, etc. Save yourself the trouble, and don't get ones larger than 1 inch in any direction. Great instructable, by the way! I never would've thought of that.

nikolardo (author)eulaliaaaa!2010-08-24

I had some spare hard drive magnets around from hard drives I'd dismantled in the past.

kutz (author)2010-09-02

lol niko i want to see that movie xD

pmengo92 (author)2010-08-28

That cant be safe.

nikolardo (author)pmengo922010-08-29

That's why it's fun.

frollard (author)2010-08-20

Cool idea! Larping isn't so much for me, but definitely a great idea

nikolardo (author)frollard2010-08-21

I don't Larp either, but when I mentioned this idea to someone, they mentioned Larping back at me, so I tossed it in here.

ichbinoadie (author)nikolardo2010-08-21

As much as I think many LARPers would absolutely love to have this kind of setup, I don't think your method is really applicable to boffers. Unless I'm terribly mistaken, most games are rather strict on weapon construction, having a "no metal" policy. If they don't allow copper pipe as a well-padded weapon core, I highly doubt they would allow steel or corresponding magnets to be embedded under the padding, let alone surface-mounted.

nikolardo (author)ichbinoadie2010-08-22

That is a pity. I think this setup looks cool, but I'd like people to be able to use it where it would be most helpful, i.e. a "real" battle. I've only boffed once, so I'm not familiar with the rules - would it be legal to put magnets in/on the hilt or the guard? They certainly wouldn't be able to hold a weapon as stably, but they might be able to hold it.

ichbinoadie (author)nikolardo2010-08-22

Honestly, it depends on the rules and standards of each particular game. From what I've gathered, though, I wouldn't expect too many to allow it, at least stateside (nobody wants a lawsuit, so the strictest safety standards are on the books, whether they're rigidly enforced or not). If you want to do this, as a LARPer, just make sure you talk to an organizer/weapons marshal/guy in charge before you go gluing magnets to your favorite boffer and getting it declared unfit for use. If they'll allow it, THEN get working and be the envy of all those players forced to carry their boffers by hand or awkward sling.

nikolardo (author)ichbinoadie2010-08-23

I've got it! I don't know the rules either, but I figure that it would probably be legal to put a strip of loop-side Velcro down one side of a boffing sword? Then, two swaths of hook-side Velcro on the body - one at shoulder level, one lower down. It wouldn't be magnetic and it wouldn't be invisible and you could only wear it as the outermost layer, but it could still give the same easy-on, easy-off that the magnetic setup does.

Phantom5582 (author)ichbinoadie2010-08-22

After reading the anove comments in this line and I think you can do a hybrid sheath. You have it like the leather tip sheath at the bottom and the magnet in the hilt or handle. That way it's still legal, still safe, and can look cool as hell. Also with my idea, you can still run around without the sword boffer bouncing out and falling out of the sheath. Also on smaller dagger like boffers, you can use just one magnet in the handle and another in the sheath and have easy to grab weapon, though make sure the magnets are lined up right before you get past the point of no return in the terms of making them. It would be bad if you tried to use them and they spring off your hips because the magnets repel instead of attracting each other.

tfrost1980 (author)2010-08-23

Would be great for those nerds who run around the woods make believing they are knights, like in role models.

Joel67 (author)2010-08-22

Thanks great idea, I have a modification idea for it thanks again..

softballch1k99 (author)2010-08-22

what the heckkkkkkkkkkkk

CyborgGold (author)2010-08-21

Nice Idea, I'm thinking maybe a vest with an array of magnets to be worn under clothing... with an array covering your whole back you would not have to be so careful when you put the blade on your back, there would always be enough magnets to hold it.

nikolardo (author)CyborgGold2010-08-21

Yeah! That way, you would also have any crazy number of blades you wanted! You'd just have to worry about the magnets sticking to each other. Or, put them all on the inside, and do this!

CyborgGold (author)nikolardo2010-08-21

Okay, not exactly what I had in mind... but I like it, lol I was thinking a vest that would button up under your shirt that had them just in the back... but you my friend, took it to the extreme, and I enjoyed it.

RMConstruction (author)nikolardo2010-08-21

I WANT one of those! Lol!

Kaiven (author)2010-08-21

I wanted the kind of sheath that Eli uses in "The Book of Eli" Magnets... I don't really trust them with a machete, but even if they do hold up, would I be able to slide it out easily?

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