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A samurai costume I made using Sintra (PVC foam board). This costume did take about 3 weeks of construction to complete, and could be even more time consuming for some.

I had an interest in making this after running across the website sengokudaimyo.com. There is an armor manual on that website that shows traditional methods of real samurai armor construction. I did not follow every step because it probably would have taken more like a year to make. I did a few variations based on how real samurai armor is made. What is great about samurai armor is the variation in lacing color and decoration that you can do.

Through making this, I did not take as many pictures as I should have to make an Instructable, so there may be some pictures that dont look that great because the paint may be between coats or something like that. Feel free to ask any questions though, or to visit the Samurai Armor page.

Some items you will need to make a suit of samurai armor are:

4'x8' sheet of Sintra ~$40
3-4 cans of Rustoleum plastic paint ~$4.00 each
1 folkart paint for details ~$3.00
1 Mod Podge hard coat ~$5.00
Hot Glue gun
1 Pkg of glue sticks
A bunch of shoe laces
Decorative lacing
a box cutter or carpet knife
A drill and 1/8" drill bit

So the most expensive part is the sheet of Sintra that you will have to find from a plastic distributor found locally. Don't buy it from a sign store because they will mark it up a lot. Can sand the sintra if you want prior to the painting, but I found that with a few coats of the paint, it came pretty smooth.

I broke each step down by armor piece and the traditional Japanese name for the piece.

Things that should be noted about sintra. It is a thermoplastic, which means it has a low melting point so you can heat it, shape it, cool it, and it will hold that final shape. Some people have used their oven to heat it and some use near boiling or boiling water. I chose to use water because it heats it faster and I could get more pieces contoured faster because the sink was close to run a trickle of cold water over it to keep its shape. You may want to use some gloves that will keep some of the steam and heat away from your fingers. Also when cutting the sintra, be sure to score it a few times and take your time cutting it. it is easy to skew off your line and end up having to re cut or sand the error down after cutting. If you are going to cut on the floor (since it is a big sheet) be sure to use a piece of plywood under the sintra and sit or kneel out of the way of your cut. I cut myself twice on this project and I am lucky i didn't need stitches!

Diclaimer : Please read the directions on some of these paints and chemicals, and make sure you are using proper safety equipment for them. THIS IS NOT A KID PROJECT, parental help and or supervision is mandatory in my opinion. There is a lot of cutting, painting, and using hot things, like glue guns and hot water.

So on to the first piece......
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JagarA4 months ago

My only problem with this is that the kusazuri should be shaped as a trapezoid not a square. Historically they were bigger at the bottom than at the top. And really, developed as horse armor, they were designed so you could sit in a saddle, so omitting kusazuri just seems a little... out of place. Nothing against you, just a bit of an enthusiast who wants to offer some constructive criticism.

kampai on such beautiful armor! I hope I can find a way to do ok with what I have!

All I can say is WOW! VERY impressive! I've made Boba Fett and Mandalorian armor out of "For Sale" signs and sintra before and I like it a lot. I'm planning to make an Immortals costume from Frank Miller's 300. The concept and design of their armor is similar to the samurai shoulder armor. Hopefully, I'll be able to do this and post an Instructable about it.

Your detailed plans about the lacing are very useful. I'll keep you all posted.

jdmeeuws made it!10 months ago

More image to come very soon. Used these for a few events, and they have held up to the abuse very well. I'm looking for some better detail and full shots.

jtalaiver10 months ago
Thanks for the great write up. I used it to develop my own Darth Samurai... I actually was able to use the faux wood plantation blinds with my heat gun to achieve the curved surfaces. Still needs more work but figured I would share. By using the slats from the blinds I saved on significant cutting time while losing on the ability to have more unique shapes...
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drearanek10 months ago

great instructions! i'm using your idea for my 8 year old who wanted 'authentic' samurai armor. instead of sintra i bought those weird 'foam' placemats at goodwill and painted them red. i'll keep you posted how it turns out! thank you!!!

wlaraby11 months ago

Sintra (Closed-cell PVC foamboard) Suppliers I found online, including the cost of shipping (to me obviously). These are 24"x48" 1/8" sheets in white, and other colors were more.
http://www.iplasticsupply.com/foam-pvc-sheet/#PVC $23
http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?sku=42499 $25
http://www.eplastics.com/PVC_Foam_Board $32

I've not made this yet, but I will soon. (fingers crossed)

Also I'm sure you could make this out of Plastic - HDPE $31-38, or ABS $46-47 (from the same suppliers in the same dimensions) if you would like a more rigid end result. From what I've read it sounds like those products can be shaped in nearly identical fashion. You may not be able to get ridges like some of the pieces seem to have, but it should otherwise be quite easy to work with.

SethG111 months ago

I went to the website that you posted the like to get sintra and I don't think they have it. The main like was bad and they said they had rebuilt there site. Can you help me out

clipscomb11 year ago

Hello! I just wanted to say thank you for posting this instructable. It is exactly what I am looking for to make my Halloween costume for this year. I like how the finished product looks but I especially love the mask and only hope mine turns out half as good as yours.

Atarii-XV3 years ago
here's a question regarding durability what if you were to make tw molds and layer them in a way so its like a composite material?
and do you think this would be suitable to make stormtrooper armour?
Hi, nice work on the armour. Me and a buddy are wanting to make our own armour sets and we were wondering if there was any possible way that you could maybe make a simple guide for using the method that you used. It would be upsetting if we tried to read through your whole guide and make our own changes just to end up making a mistake. If you think you could make it how long would it take you to type up, possibly? Please. :D
Atrophius (author)  ArmourFanatics3 years ago
Well, the instructable is about as complete as i can make it. You can try the link I posted in the first paragraph or so, or do what i did to fit me. Just guesstimate. Just keep in mind how you are going to fasten things. Like with the chest piece, I used a Velcro overlap section, so you have to add in extra material for that.
Takeda83 years ago
Great tutorial and i'm on it..
However sintra is hard to find over here so I have to make it of either thick leather or wood :S
Leather is very expensive and with wood it will take a very long time to finish
Atrophius (author)  Takeda83 years ago
Another idea you can do besides leather or wood is heavy plastic garbage cans, or similar container. I have seem on on here made completely of that.
charger253 years ago
Fantastic watch for real samurai !
Awesome job, this is some fantastic looking samurai armor! I'm thinking of making a set out of the same materials. But I have a few questions regarding the durability of the sintra... because I've never had the experience of handling pvc foam board myself. Would it stand up to say... a beating from foam weapons and possibly a few falls to the ground? Also, what thickness sheet did you use? I would assume either the 3mm or 6mm based on the price you said you paid but I'm curious to know. Thanks in advance!
If you really wanted to,you could use bamboo, which is what original Samurai armor was made out of. The brackets that hold in palm fronds would suit the purpose of a mock battle, and they are already pretty much formed for you, all you would have to do is attach them to your body somehow, maybe with strips of fabric. I'm trying to make armor out of those, once I'm done I'll post it.
Atrophius (author)  Jonnyboy01215 years ago
I am not so sure it would hold up to mock battles or so. You would probably be better off using a material that big garbage cans are made of for that. The sinta will break if hit to hard.
PVC piping! Use a heat gun to mold it and it's very strong, it could probably stand up to a knife thrust let alone mock battles
Lammelar plates are a great choice.  sengokudaimyo.com recommends Noble Plastics, Inc. which makes plates for the SCA.  The effingham line are made explicitly for Japanese SCA battles.

Plo Koon4 years ago
It looks like a cross between a samurai warrior and Iron Man.
nbohn4 years ago
do you have to use shintra or can you use cardboard?
Using the same website and some of your ideas (menpo specifically) I made this out of a black 55 gallon plastic garbage can and black shoelaces
Did you use a viking helmet as the basis?
yeah....and drilled holes in it and laced in the other pieces (after cutting the strips i threw them in the oven at its lowest temp for a few min so it will be more pliable and will hold its new shape better
arveyda4 years ago
Just wanted to toss out to the author that I used this set of instructions to build a suit out of aluminum flashing. I took apart a square flotation cushion and used the 1/4 foam pieces to add some structure and padding behind the chest and back and under the shoulder pieces. Looked great, was relatively lightweight, and was a blast to make. Thanks!
tater2524 years ago
yeah how many pieces did you use?
If i wanted to make this out of steel how thick should the steel be and do i do anything driffernt???
Aluminum would probably be preferable to steel since it is lighter, easier to work with, and cheaper. Thin gauge (16 or so) would be best. It's relatively easy to cut and bend. (But it's also very sharp!)

The only different materials that you need are tin snips instead of scissors; epoxy and rivets instead of hot glue; and spray paint that is meant for metal.

As far as assembling it, I don't think that you would have to do anything different.
sorry i missplled that * want* lol
I ant it to be able to take a hit from a sword thats why i said steel lol i can just see one of my friends say lets try it out
O ya almost forgot shouldent there be more armor on the legs
The Jamalam4 years ago
I know this is slightly off topic, but I think I just remembered why the original pokemon Kabuto is named so - he is pretty much a helmet :)
sebacoraje5 years ago
Tanks dude I'm going to make one of metal plates of hard plastic tanks  
I'm going to try this out of PVC:extremly durable and easy to work with using a heat gun and normal woodworking tools
jjthejet295 years ago
Thanks this really did help me in so may ways.
How many peices of shintra did you use?
your dog5 years ago
You totally look like kensei from the show heroes!
stunami5 years ago
I made an instructable for my armor that I made. Your instructable was what originally peaked my interest for me to make mine. I gave you credit in my instructable for the inspiration. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make a helmet, or the leg/ arm pieces, but next year I will. I also resorted to cardboard because I'm out of work at the moment and didn't want to buy sintra. Once I get a job though I'll be working on a super authentic version.

Let me know what you think!

techdechman5 years ago
this is bomb
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