Introduction: Kingdom Keyblade Prop
We are Loose Cannons Props and we're here to make you think deeply about prop-making and stuff~!
The Kingdom Keyblade is the iconic prop that many cosplay prop makers take on, for some reason. It's also a great prop to give you a thorough knowledge of wood working, painting, sanding, filling, gluing, drilling, wood plugs and even wood lathing. It sure was for us. If your child is particularly invested into this game franchise and you're a parent wanting to teach them any of these, it's definitely a project worth undertaking. It's relatively simple to do and could easily be knocked out in the course of a weekend. Mind you, our version uses a wood lathe, something you typically wouldn't come across in most casual workshops in the home.
A little background on what exactly a keyblade is: Kingdom Hearts is a an RPG by Square-Enix, probably one of the most successful to date with a massive international following. Regardless of whether you've played the game or not, the keyblade is the iconic weapon utilized in these games, thusly most people are aware of it, if not having played it themselves. The Kingdom Keyblade is the default keyblade you start with and each one varies differently as the game progresses.
4" X 4" Pressure Treated Wood
1 1/4" Wooden Dowel
1/4" Wood Pegs (Key Tip)
3/8" Wood Pegs (Handguard)
10 inches of Chain Links (Your Preference of Width)
1" Chain-Eye Snap
Spray Paint (Gloss Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Matte Silver)
Spray Clear Coat
Sandpaper (Various Grits 60-220)
Wood Filler or Bondo (Your preference, but we used Wood Filler).
Jigsaw or Scroll Saw
Drill Bits (1/4" and 3/8")
Snap Cutter or Wire Cutter
Drill Press or Cordless Drill
Step 1: Keyblade Templating
When we first approached the design of a keyblade, we looked online for pre-existing plans, but none of them had the look we wanted or particular build. Some of them used PVC, some of them used wooden dowels-each individual approach was different, thusly we decided it would be our first project we solo'd. We went looking online for an in-game screenshot and put it into photoshop to break it down to just the basic shape. Here are the original images we used for conceptualizing the prop. We greyscaled to save on printing costs which in turn came out to less than 5 dollars due to some mishaps on the printer's end.
A short amount of time later and a stop at a postal store, we had our enlargements to the size we wanted. We took out a ruler and quickly traced the shape, then did our own measurements, modifications as needed to ensure it was what we wanted in the end.
Step 2: Cutting the Key Tip and the Hand Guards
We traced the pattern of the hand guard and the tip of the prop onto 3/4" and 1/4" MDF. The tip is the thinnest part thusly, it's 1/4" and the hand guard is relatively large so it's using the 3'4" MDF. MDF is a great material, though a bit fragile at times and extremely easy to cut and work with. We did all of our work with a Harbor Freight Scroll Saw (80 dollars normally, we got it for 60 on discount). We originally wanted the blade to fit INTO the dowel, but this proved hazardous to the wood and thusly was scrapped for the dowel method you'll later see. As a result, we saved more wood and it was a little bit easier as well.
Cutting the wood was a relatively quick process, though you must be mindful with circular shapes. When cutting we left about a 2 cm border to allow for smooth sanding. In the last image, you'll see what the final result looks like, pre-drilled with an indicator arrow showing which end mounts.
Step 3: Lathing the Handle
We decided to do the handle completely out of one solid piece of wood.
To do this, we took a pressure treated 4x4 and found the center lines. Mind you, when lathing, our previous attempt snapped on the lathe. It was a slow learning process, but all of us took a turn and figured out our own way to lathe the wood. After adding an additional too edges of breathing room, we had no more problems. Rather than lathe it by hand, we made a wooden template and used a guide to follow along the pattern to simplify the process. Even still, lathing takes considerable amounts of time to work. Each grip should take about 20-30 minutes of your time and 10 minutes plus of prep-time to ensure that you're centered and ready to work.
To save time, we sanded while on the lathe with three different grits of sand paper. 80 to 120 to 220 to finish. We used wood filler for any chips or imperfections then hit it with another sheet of 220 to make sure it was smooth. In the pictures, you'll be able to see the transition as it smooths out.
NOTE: If you choose to go a different route, you still can use a 1 1/4 Wooden Dowel and Cut circular MDF to fit the desired shape (others have used smaller PVC and cut couplers to fit over). It should just require a little sanding and bondo if you wish to go that route.
Step 4: Drilling, Plugging and Assembly
We drilled 3/8" holes into the wood to allow wood plugs to fit in for the two components to connect to each other. 1 1/4" wooden dowel was used for the blade and the tip to connect. We used a drill bit guard to prevent from drilling in too deeply. The handle of the guard appears to be smaller than in other pictures because it is a prior model. The grip on the new makes measure in at 1 1/4". Measure for your center mark, then space the drill points to your liking.
It's important to mark the blade when you drill it with the up end, so know which end is up, so as not to glue it upside down as we did with one of our previous attempts. Ours were spaced at 1" , 2 1/2" , 5" , 6 1/2" from the top of a 25.5" dowel down to give it a slight 1" gap over the blade so it's slightly offset and not completely flush with the dowel.
For the hand guard, we drilled in with a 1 1/4" tip for the blade to fit into the hanguard just enough to support it. Originally, we opted to use a metal rod to support the two key blade components to make it easier to travel with, however, we decided a smaller wooden dowel 3/4" was just as good and provided a potentially stronger grip. If you wish to go this route, it will need to be a tighter fit for the metal rod, so that slippage is minimized/prevented.
Lastly, we detailed the handguard with a drill bit to give it the embossing that each blade has.
Step 5: The Keychain
We used 1 foot (7 links) of chain we found at Lowes for 67 cents a foot. We bought a 2.95 Chain Eye Snap. We cut the chain, which was just thin enough to fit in the snap. Then we bent it back closed. The cut is barely noticeable and the metal won't bend unless you're trying to do something silly with it.
Step 6: Resin Casting (Optional)
We decided to try our hand at resin casting, since it was a small enough piece to mass produce and we were making quite a few of these to take to conventions to sell.
We bought a 29 dollar hobby lobby casting kit (Alumilite) and after making a mold, it was a fairly straight-forward process. Using lego blocks, we created a mold just the right size to create a box for the head to go into. Silicone rubber was used to create the mold (another kit entirely). Two chemicals from the kit are poured in they're mixed and then poured into the mold.
Slight sanding and the process is complete. We attached an
Step 7: Simple and Clean - Painting the Keyblade Parts
We used a generic primer for our first model from the store, but we found Rustoleum Sandable 2in1 filler works wonders for our purposes. It's a little pricier, but worth it so much more.
Rustoleum Metallic Blue (can says it's called Cobalt Blue) for a detail as seen in the pictures. A Matte Silver was used for the blade and tip and the hanguard and handle were mostly Gloss Yellow, except for the grip, which is Matte Black. A clear coat was applied and we used leftovers from the lathing to create a sort of base for it to dry on.
For the Mickey Mouse crest, we primed it and painted with a Matte Silver and clear coated three times, since it's a part that hangs loosely and is expected to have more friction as well as shock damage from banging on things. On the back end of the blade is a 1" screw-eye for the chain to attach.
At this point, we began to mass produce them.
Step 8: Exit
Thanks for checking out our tutorial. We're Loose Cannons Props and Cosplay. We've been doing prop-making for a little under two months at the time of this posting, though all of our members come from different background and experiences. We work hard and we play even harder. One of the big motivators of putting this group together was to share our love of prop making with our local communities and encourage this great maker and cosplay culture.
If you have any questions, comments, or want to follow our works, check us out on facebook or e-mail us.
Facebook: Loose Cannons Props
This project was worked on by Kevin Smith, Mercedes Carranza, Lorenzo Perez and Ed Martinez.