Introduction: Sting - Lord of the Rings

Picture of Sting - Lord of the Rings

I'm a big Lord of the Rings fan, and browsing around looking at all the other great sword replica 'Ibles, I was inspired to make my own based on Bilbo/Frodo's sword Sting from the movies. I borrowed the basic process from Johnny1983 's method for his  Master Sword replica . Ok! So let's take this bad boy all the way to Mordor and smite some orcs!

Note: I started this instructable towards the end of the project, so I'm going to apply my GIMP skills to magically make duplicates of pieces that require duplication. If pieces look cloned, it's because they are. :)

Step 1: Materials/Tools

Picture of Materials/Tools


* 1 2x4 1/8" MDF sheet. I actually had a bunch of scrap laying around that was enough. You just need one piece that's long enough for two copies of the blade+grip, and 6 copies of the crossguard+pommel.
* Wood glue.
* Wood putty.
* Scrap cardboard - the thin kind that's not corrugated.
* Sandpaper with sanding block.
* Spray paint: 1 can primer, 1 can brown, 1 can silver.
* Acrylic paint: black.
* Scissors.
* Masking tape.


* A printer, or a very good eye for tracing outlines.
* A coping saw. You could probably get away with just a box cutter/X-Acto knife.
* A box cutter/X-Acto knife.
* Oddly enough, I found a chisel very handy.
* A pencil.
* Soldering iron (or woodburning tool).
* Optional: a Dremel or rotary tool.

I chose to work with MDF for it's workability: it's really easy to tear away big chunks of the stuff to get it down to how you want it looking. On the other hand, it gets a little nerve-wracking when you're trying to do fine details, so your mileage may vary.

Step 2: Cutting Out the Blade+Grip

Picture of Cutting Out the Blade+Grip

What we're going to be doing is constructing the sword via laminating the MDF. First you need to cut out two copies of the blade+grip. To do this, print out a copy of the attached file (sting_blade_grip.pdf). Align each piece so that the blue circles line up, and tape them together. Next, tape the paper template to the MDF, and trace the outline of the template. After removing the template, use the coping saw or the box cutter to roughly cut out the shape of the blade+grip. You'll want to do this whole process twice. After you've got your two copies, apply a generous amount of wood glue (I mean generous! I made the mistake of not using enough) to both halves, and stick them together. It's ok if glue leaks out the sides: we're going to be sanding all that off anyways. If you're really worried about it, you can wipe it off with a damp rag. After they're stuck together, I found some thick books to compress them together overnight.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Crossguard+Grip+Pommel

Picture of Cutting Out the Crossguard+Grip+Pommel

Next, you want to cut out the pieces for the hilt. Print out the attached file (sting_hilt.pdf), and cut out each of the shapes. You're going to do the same process (tape to MDF, trace, roughly cut out) for the pieces. Here's how many you need of each:

8 crossguards (the one that looks like a moustache)
4 grips (the long skinny one)
4 inner pommels (sort of looks like a spaceship maybe?)
2 outer pommels (the spaceship without the inner corners)

At this point, before laminating everything together, you'll want to clean up the edges of all the pieces. Initially, I used a Dremel to do this, but I was having a hard time keeping it under control for the little pieces. What I ended up doing was using a chisel to gouge out big chunks of MDF (it's really soft) until it was pretty close, and then plain old sandpaper for the fine details. Do this for the two blade+grip pieces as well.

Step 4: Laminate the Crossguard+Grip

Picture of Laminate the Crossguard+Grip

Now we move on to lamination. Line up two of the grip pieces onto the blade+grip pieces, and glue them together. Do the same for the other side.

The crossguard is a little more complicated. First, glue three crossguard pieces together, and then glue them to one side of the blade+grip piece, butted up against the grip pieces that were just glued to the main body. Next, you need to cut two of the crossguard pieces to fit around the blade+grip pieces. I eyeballed this at first, and then sanded down the interior edges until everything was flush. Finally, laminate three more crossguard pieces on the other side of the blade+grip assembly.

Step 5: Laminate the Pommel

Picture of Laminate the Pommel

Take the 4 interior pommel pieces and laminate them together. Then laminate the two outer pommel pieces to the outside of the pommel. Note that there's a hole in the pommel now: that's where we're going to put the grip.

Step 6: Shape the Pieces

Picture of Shape the Pieces

This step was the most nerve-wracking for me. I initially started to go at it with a Dremel rotary tool, but every once in a while I would slip and gouge out a huge chunk of MDF. Luckily it wasn't yet at the point where this mattered, but I decided that I'd continue using only hand tools. So, on the blade, I used a sanding block. I started with a 80 grit piece and sanded at an angle so that the blade would have the appearance of having an "edge." I sanded until half of the blade had an angle, and about half the width of a sheet of the MDF was taken off at the edge. Repeat the process for the other three "edges." Then I went down to a 150 grit, and then down to a 220 grit. This made the "edge" a little "sharper," which is ok, but don't overdo it. In the end, my "edge" had a thickness of about half the width of a sheet of MDF (about 1/16'', or 1.5mm).

I used my chisel to give the crossguard its initial shape. If you're not comfortable using the chisel, you can just use a low-grit sandpaper, it will just take more time. The crossguard follows the same basic shape as the blade, but just at a slightly sharper angle. After chiseling, sand down until there are two sheets of MDF at the tips. The only detail you need to keep in mind during the process is the overlapping lip in the center of the crossguard. I messed up a bit here, in that I made one side of the crossguard a mirror image of the other, when they should have looked the same when flipped over. Once you've got it looking like you want, take a 150 grit and then a 220 grit to make it nice and smooth.

Next, shape the grip. This is probably the easiest part to shape, since you just need to make it into an oval. Same basic process as the blade here: start with low grit (I used 80) to get the basic shape, and go up to high grit to get it smooth. The only detail is that it needs to taper off towards the pommel. It should taper off to 4 MDF sheet widths. This is so the grip fits into the pommel.

Lastly, shape the pommel. This step is the most artistically involved. It's hard to explain the exact shape, other than the basic roundedness of it. The pictures are probably more illuminating. Same process here though: start with low grit, work towards high grit.

The last image shows what the cross-sections ended up looking like for me.

Step 7: Attach the Pommel and Clean Up Gaps

Picture of Attach the Pommel and Clean Up Gaps

It's starting to look like a sword now, isn't it? :) Before attaching the pommel, you should make sure that it fits snugly. You might need to sand out the inside of the pommel a little bit in order to get it fitting correctly. Once you've made sure it fits, glue the pommel onto the grip.

After that, fill in any gaps with the wood putty. I had gaps where the crossguard butts up agains the grip, and where the grip meets the pommel.  You can be pretty liberal with the wood putty since it's just going to be sanded away, just make sure to get it all the way into the gap. Let the wood putty dry overnight. After the wood putty dries, sand/shape the excess.

Step 8: Make the Lettering - Crossguard

Picture of Make the Lettering - Crossguard

As far as I could tell from the images I looked at, the lettering on the crossguard is actually raised, and the whole face of the crossguard was sunken. I originally intended to just carve out the lettering, but I soon found out that the MDF just flakes away with details that fine. So what I ended up doing was chiseling out the whole sunken area. Leave about 1/8'' (3mm) area around the border of the face, and chisel to a depth of about 1/8'' (3mm). Make an outline of the crossguard face on the cardboard, and draw the lettering. You can see how to position the lettering with the attached file (sting_lettering.pdf). Next (this part's a little tedious) cut out the lettering from the cardboard using the X-Acto knife, and glue them to the sunken face of the crossguard.

Step 9: Make the Lettering - Blade

Picture of Make the Lettering - Blade

This part's the most fun, artistically speaking. Draw the pattern of the swirl and the lettering on the blade with a pencil, using the template from the last step. I can't really give specifics as to how to do this, just try to follow the template the best that you can. The only tips I can give you is to mark guidepoints first: mark where the tip of the swirl is, and mark the spaces between the words. After you've drawn the pattern, take the soldering iron and CAREFULLY trace the outline of the lettering pattern. The hottest part of a soldering iron is not the tip, but the flat part beside the tip, so this is the part you need place against the MDF when tracing the pattern.

SAFETY NOTE: I'm going to take a minute here to say: soldering irons (or woodburning tools) get really REALLY hot. The packaging on mine said that it gets up to 900F! That's over a tenth as hot as the SURFACE OF THE SUN! Needless to say, you need to be really REALLY careful with this kind of tool. 

The script on the blade roughly translates to "Sting is my name - I am the spider's bane" in Elvish, for those of you that are interested. :)

Step 10: Spray Paint

Picture of Spray Paint

Great! Now we're ready to awesome-ify this into looking like a real sword! In order to get an even coat of paint, start spraying away from the sword, and then pass the spray over the sword. If you start with the can pointed right at it, it'll form runs in the paint. If this happens, don't worry: you can always sand down the runs and apply more paint if needed. First, you need to apply at least one coat of primer. I used two coats.

Next, apply one coat of silver, using the same technique as the primer.

Now for the tricky part: getting a silver leaf inlay effect on the grip. Wrap the WHOLE grip in masking tape, and tape some newspaper (I actually used wrapping paper) to the crossguard and pommel. We're focusing all our attention on the grip at this point. Using the attached template (sting_leaf_pattern.pdf), sketch the outline of the leaf pattern on top of the masking tape. With the X-Acto knife, CAREFULLY cut the masking tape along the pattern. Don't cut too deeply, or you'll go right into the MDF. Now, carefully peel away the excess masking tape leaving ONLY the leaf pattern. 

The trick to getting nice clean lines from this kind of process is to first spray paint over the masking tape with the base color, in this case, silver. When you do this, it gets under the edges of the tape to make a nice crisp line when you pull the tape off. After the silver has dried on top of the masking tape, apply a coat of the brown spray paint. Once the brown is dry, slowly and carefully remove the masking tape. Almost there!

Step 11: Finish!

Picture of Finish!

The last thing we want to do is fill in the lettering on the blade, and apply a light silver coat. Using a small brush, carefully fill in the engraved lettering on the blade. If you accidentally paint outside of the engraving (like I did), it's ok - you can wipe away the excess with paper towel to get clean lines.

Finally, apply a light coat of silver to the blade using the same technique as in the last step. This should be a very light coat, just enough to dust it with the silver, which smoothes out the imperfections in the blade.

And that's it! You can now show off your awesome replica of Sting! And maybe slay an orc or two in the process. :) If you have any questions or suggestions, please post them in the comments. Thanks for reading!


johana.mandy (author)2015-01-13

This is brilliant!!!
question: the cardboard you use is it cardboard? Or a sort of harder one? Bit like wood? If thesecond how can you cut it that well and, can it be done by using box cardboard pieces put together? Or will they be too soft....i cannot tell from the pics very well and english is not my native so ....ok thanks!

drknotter (author)johana.mandy2015-01-19

It definitely wasn't box cardboard (corrugated cardboard). It was more dense, sort of like poster board. As for cutting it that well, I made a lot of mistakes, but what helped was taking my time and being as careful as possible. I don't think box cardboard will work as well, since it's basically full of air, and would get crushed after working with it.

Good luck!

johana.mandy (author)drknotter2015-01-25

Yes yes I figured!! Eventually! I bought the MDF...size 3 I do't thik it needs more so far it is good. Problem is I dot' have that iron thing.....a nd I cannot carve the letters. Do you have any idea if I can do it some other way? Thankj you so so so much for answerig and I hope I am not tiring you. thanks!

drknotter (author)johana.mandy2015-01-27

If you don't have a soldering iron, I think the only other way would be to carve the letters out carefully. But that'll be tough, since MDF tends to flake away when you carve it.

You can get really cheap soldering irons for around $20 at most stores that sell them, and since you wouldn't be using it to ACTUALLY solder anything, it doesn't need to be a nice one at all, it just needs to get hot. You also might try a wood-burning kit that you can get at most craft stores, I think for a comparable price.

I hope that helps! Good luck!

Grafx4Life (author)2014-12-10

This is VERY impressive. I love seeing how it is done.

Mvn456 (author)2014-08-21

would plywood work instead of the MDF?

Mvn456 (author)Mvn4562014-08-21

oh and how thick is he MDF?

Doctor_what (author)2014-01-11

This is one of the best sting replica's I've seen, certainly one of the better one on this site ;) I've found some glow in the dark blue paint that goes on clear, which I reckon would make an awesome feature when I get round to making one :)

drknotter (author)Doctor_what2014-01-21

Blue glow in the dark paint could work. If it does, you should definitely post it up here, it'd make a great addition.

DGMauriello (author)2014-01-21

Wow, quality job on the sword.

TekoMuto (author)2014-01-07

Excellent Sting! I bought a scroll saw recent to start getting into making stuff out of MDF and I'd have to say I'm probably going to attempt at making my own in the future :D

SimpleSteps (author)2013-09-03

Cornbread and ascots!!!

wooddiamond (author)2013-06-26

This is awesome!

QueenAllyJean (author)2013-06-16

First off, this is AMAZING!

I've been having some trouble with it, though; I've tried using a boxcutter to cut the MDF, but it hardly makes a scratch in it. Is there a specific way to cut it, or should I try using something else? Would a Stanley knife work?

(Sorry, I'm really new to prop-making!)

drknotter (author)QueenAllyJean2013-06-16

Never apologize for showing enthusiasm in a new hobby! :) Your boxcutter might be dull, they tend to wear out pretty quickly. Something that works a little better is a coping saw, but it's a little harder to control. Your best option would be a scroll saw, if you have access to one.

If you want to explore more of the prop-making world, I would suggest checking out The stuff people make over there blow my puny attempts out of the water, they're really amazing.

CraftWars (author)2013-05-15

This is AWESOME!

HPandLOTR (author)2013-05-13

That looks really good! I'm doing the same thing but it's with gandalfs sword.

Lildevil963 (author)2011-09-07

i hope someone makes it out of metal and takes a pic becasue that would be amazing

drknotter (author)Lildevil9632011-09-07

If you're willing to fork over the cash, you can find them online. Just seach "sting replica," there will be tons of links.

Ringer1633 (author)drknotter2013-04-13

Weta makes them but it's really expensive.

Ringer1633 (author)2013-04-13

this is sweet! I love lotr and the hobbit.

Mooch07 (author)2013-01-22

Very nice! I like how it looks.
Do you think there is an easy way to add a blue glow?

tgreen20 (author)2013-01-01


Did you freehand the elvish writing on the blade? The printout for the elvish writing ist to scale, obviously, and I'm not sure i could accurately free hand it, and make it all the same size. Is there a printout I'm missing?


blacksmith98 (author)2012-11-24

Very Very good. I tried making a sting sword out of balsa wood. It didn't turn out nearly as good as yours.

Assassin Shahriyar (author)2012-09-02

is this cosplay or LARRP safe ?

It should be cosplay safe, as long as you don't actaully hit stuff with it.

Anything made out of solid materials is NOT larp safe. Weapons have to be made out of foam to be allowed in LARP.

MDF is pretty flimsy, I don't think it would stand up to any kind of actual use.

tuilahienhehe (author)2012-09-02

great! but i don't know how to this step (_ _!)

vronning (author)2012-08-06

Hi! I was wondering how big the sword/pdf is. I tried printing the PDFs at 100%, but turned out a little small..

drknotter (author)vronning2012-08-07

The longest part (the blade+grip piece) is 26.5in (67.3cm). Keep in mind that it is supposed to be pretty small. It is hobbit sized, after all. :)

curvy77 (author)2012-02-03

awwww. was kinda hopeing it was a forged one... o well =p great job!

black hole (author)curvy772012-03-18

Same here

Nicolas M (author)2011-10-30

Amazing reproduction, I shall definitely try it out (although I don't really trust myself writing with an iron or cutting the hilt design). It would be cool to make 2 and paint the blade of one of them bright green so if one were to shoot a fan-made film one could use chroma key to make it glow blue.

jediwhiz3 (author)2011-10-11

Very good! I am a huge LOTR fan and looks like an authentic movie reproduction! I just know that MDF gives off particles that are bad for you and i was wondering if there was another material you could make it from.

drknotter (author)jediwhiz32011-10-11

Thanks for the comment! You definitely don't have to use MDF. You could use 1/8'' boards instead, and the process is essentially the same. The only difference would be the amount of time to shape the material, since 1/8'' boards are much much harder than MDF.

jediwhiz3 (author)drknotter2011-10-12

Great! I try it out! :)

GpaSteve (author)2011-09-29

Very nice. Something I am adding to my list of things I want to make

Mrballeng (author)2011-09-22

Absolutely amazing. 5/5!

drknotter (author)Mrballeng2011-09-22

Thanks! I really enjoy your work, too! Perhaps you could make a lord of the rings themed pendant?

ilpug (author)2011-09-06

I totally thought this was real until i read the Ible' . Great job. Can't wait to see more.

drknotter (author)ilpug2011-09-07

Thank you!

vishalapr (author)2011-09-06

That looks awesome! Just like the real one! Well done!

drknotter (author)vishalapr2011-09-07


skimmo (author)2011-09-07

this is pretty cool bro

Mattrox (author)2011-09-06

Wow! That is so cool! So thought it was made of metal before I read the instructable.

Reffner (author)2011-09-05

Very well done. You did a great job. At first glance I thought it was a real sword.

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