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......

Step 1: The Do (chest and back armor)

The Do has 4 parts to it, the abdominal section, the chest section, the lower back section, and the upper back section. All the strips( I will refer to the strips as lames though, as it distinguishes a piece form a section) for each section were made 2.5" wide, but the lengths are different for some sections. Before starting to cut, you need to make some measurements. The main measurement you need is the widest point on your waist. There are variations and more measurements to take, but I found it to be a little to complicated to make a "V" contour to the piece. Besides, my waist is not so small ! Ok, so measuring your waist. Once you have that add .5" to 1" to it to allow for under clothing, divide it by 2 so that the lower 2 sections(abdominal and lower back) equal the waist size plus our added inch.

Abdominal section: Once you have the needed length for this section, you have to cut it with one side straight, and the other side curved. This makes more of a rounded appearance for the abdominal section that most breastplates have. One way to do this is to use a poster board template the same dimension of the abdominal lames. Find the center point on the poster board piece and use a flexible ruler or something else to make a subtle curve out to the end of one side of the lame. You only want to take of about .5" on the outer end. Trace the curve on to your template and cut it out. Now you have a template that is half the length of the lame and you can just flip it to get both sides the same. I added a pic below to illustrate this, but its in MSpaint ! Also, you want to drill a series of holes along the sides of the abdominal section to add a 2" x 10" panel of sintra to overlap the lower back section. This is for velcro so the Do can be removed easily enough. Just try and make sure the holes on the abdominal section and the 2x10 panel match up in spacing. You can just send a lace through these 2 parts to attach it.

Chest section The chest section is done in the same way that the abdominal section is, only that the top 3 lames are only 12" across. The bottom lame of the chest section is made 2" longer to make a transition curve from the chest section to the abdominal section. It seems small, but it will give you room to move and it fits on me well at 6' tall. The top lame of the chest section was cut using a glass to trace the round parts and a straight edge to connect them. This adds a more decorative look to it and the curved sections left were bent forward for a better look. That is where your shoulder pieces will attach.

Lower and upper back sections These are fairly easier to make then the abdominal and chest section. The lower back section is 4 lames at 2.5" wide and half of the circumference that you calculated earlier. The upper back section I made 4 lames at 2.5" wide and 14" long. The upper back section should be wider then your chest section. Again, the lowest lame of the upper back section was made 2" longer at each end to make a transition cut to the lower section.

So that was the front and back Do construction, however, there is more. You have to shape the plastic to contour to your body.Try and do this forming before you drill the holes. With the holes i found it to be a weak spot and it wont form a smooth curve. You can flatten these pieces out to drill and it will spring back. It actually goes pretty fast once you get the hang of it. I used a big pot of near boiling water to heat up the sintra. I just ran the piece end from end through the water until I felt it getting loose. You may want to practice on a scrap piece, oh, and don't burn yourself.

Traditional samurai armor was contoured and laced (or riveted) together. It is best to consult the website on my intro page if you want to follow it to the "T". It is a lot more work and I could not justify it for this costume. The holes for the lacing also follow a certain pattern. I recommend cutting your lames, sanding if you want, shaping the sintra, then drilling the holes for the lacing. There are templates for the holes that can be printed out here. the best way to add the holes is find the center point (which all ready should be marked from your cutting) and measure out equal distances to the sides. I think I went every 3" for mine from the center of the lame.

For drilling these holes, I found it best to drill all the holes for an abdominal lame and then use that for the template. You can use this lame for drilling all of lames of the Do, just be sure to line up the center lines of the lames so your lacing matches up. You can stack 3-5 lames to drill at once as long as you have clamps to hold it in place while drilling.

After drilling, its time to paint ! I put around 3 coats of paint on all the armor sections but depending on how you spray, you will be able to tell when it looks uniform in color and has a semi-gloss look to it. Once paint is dry, you can tack all the lames together using the glue gun and see how it looks. Samurai armor usually had an overlap of the lames but I felt the sintra was to thick for that look, so I put them together edge to edge. It still turned out well, just need glue to hold them together instead of the lacing doing it.

Lacing If you used the lacing templates from that website, you might have had to modify the height of the pattern to fit your lame width. That's fine, just use the picture below to see how the lacing goes in. You can refer to the samurai armor website again if you have any problems.

This is the biggest and hardest part of this costume!
<p>Wow, looks like real samurai!!</p><p>It is almost the same as my &quot;red&quot; miniature armor.</p><p><a href="http://www.alexcious.com/products/detail2455.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.alexcious.com/products/detail2455.html</a></p>
<p>great work </p><p>thanks</p>
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<p>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.</p>
<p>kampai on such beautiful armor! I hope I can find a way to do ok with what I have!</p>
<p>All I can say is WOW! VERY impressive! I've made Boba Fett and Mandalorian armor out of &quot;For Sale&quot; 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. </p><p>Your detailed plans about the lacing are very useful. I'll keep you all posted.</p>
<p>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.</p>
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...
<p>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!!!</p>
<p>Sintra (Closed-cell PVC foamboard) Suppliers I found online, including the cost of shipping (to me obviously). These are 24&quot;x48&quot; 1/8&quot; sheets in white, and other colors were more.<br><a href="http://www.iplasticsupply.com/foam-pvc-sheet/#PVC" rel="nofollow">http://www.iplasticsupply.com/foam-pvc-sheet/#PVC</a> $23<br><a href="http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?sku=42499" rel="nofollow">http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?sku=42499</a> $25<br><a href="http://www.eplastics.com/PVC_Foam_Board" rel="nofollow">http://www.eplastics.com/PVC_Foam_Board</a> $32</p><p>I've not made this yet, but I will soon. (fingers crossed)</p><p>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.</p>
<p>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 </p>
<p>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.</p>
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?<br>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
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.
Great tutorial and i'm on it..<br>However sintra is hard to find over here so I have to make it of either thick leather or wood :S<br>Leather is very expensive and with wood it will take a very long time to finish
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.
Fantastic watch for real <a href="http://www.bestprices.in.ua/kupit-iron-samurai.html" rel="nofollow">samurai</a> !
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.
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.&nbsp; sengokudaimyo.com recommends Noble Plastics, Inc. which makes plates for the SCA.&nbsp; The effingham line are made explicitly for Japanese SCA battles.<br /> <br /> http://www.plasticlamellar.com/information.htm <br />
It looks like a cross between a samurai warrior and Iron Man.
do you have to use shintra or can you use cardboard?<br>
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
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!
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!) <br><br>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. <br><br>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
i don't think it would be economical and will probably take a while, also, for the leg armor question, considering its a costume, it doesn't have to be like the real deal just my two cents
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 :)
Tanks dude I'm going to make one of metal plates of hard plastic tanks &nbsp;
I'm going to try this out of PVC:extremly durable and easy to work with using a heat gun and normal woodworking tools
Thanks this really did help me in so may ways.
Here are some more details about <a href="http://www.tokyo-top-guide.com/Samurai_Armor.html" rel="nofollow">Samurai Armor</a> -<br /> The image that first comes to mind when imagining the famous Japanese warriors is their Japanese swords.<br /> <p>However, the armor, the helmet, and the <a href="http://www.tokyo-top-guide.com/Samurai_Masks.html" rel="nofollow" title="Samurai masks">Samurai masks </a> were an important part of <a href="http://www.tokyo-top-guide.com/Samurai_Weapons.html" rel="nofollow" title="Samurai weapons. ">Samurai weapons. </a> <br /> They were worn only during fighting.<br /> The look of a fully equipped Japanese warrior, with Samurai masks, armor and helmet, must have been very intimidating for the enemy.<br /> The unique artwork of producing the armor was a skill that was learned for years by Japanese artisans. Every detail was made by hand of course.<br /> The first attempts produced a heavy and non-flexible result, much like the armors we all know from medieval times in Europe.<br /> The challenge was to produce an effective protection without restricting the warrior's movement.</p> The brilliant solution was the invention of the 'fish scale' Armor. <p><br /> It was made from numerous tiny plates of steel instead of big pieces of steel plates.</p> <p><br /> The tiny steel plates were tied between them with a leather cord. Only the chest plate was usually made from one piece of metal.</p> <p><br /> The tiny steel plates didn't cover the whole body, only the most vulnerable parts, because of the weight of steel. <br /> The rest of the body was covered with thick leather plates.<br /> <br /> Casual everyday <a href="http://www.tokyo-top-guide.com/Samurai_Clothing.html" rel="nofollow" title="Samurai clothing ">Samurai clothing </a> was the kimono.</p> <br /> <br /> <br />
How many peices of shintra did you use?
You totally look like kensei from the show heroes!
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.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> 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. <br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Cardboard-Samurai-Armor-That-Looks-Authentic/">Let me know what you think!</a><br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
this is bomb
Is the second picture new?
You captured the essense so well with such average stuff. Absolutely fantastic.
Thanks, the armor looks Awesome! Gave me great ideas!
I'm having a real hard time trying to find some sintra. The only place where I can find it is online, and the cost for it is roughly $600. Is there anyway to get sintra for a cheaper price?

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