Introduction: Boffer Armaments Pt. 1: Tower Shield

About: Hi, we're Dara and Nash. Industrial designers, tinkers, and mayhem builders. Follow our travels.
So, a group of friends recently started a beat-each-other-with-padded-weapons group, of which I've decided to join. So, having access to a lot of scraps and random types of padding, I decided to make a full set of gear. Including: a shield, a great battle axe, a light battle axe, and a medium sword.

This Instructable will discuss how I made a fairly large shield. In Dungeons and Dragons terms, it is somewhere between a Large Wooden Shield and a Medium-creature Tower Shield. Heavy and large enough to offer near-complete protection, but light enough to still be able to bash with it. (I think it totaled out to being ~29 lbs).

I'm using some hardware from an old shield (read: tabletop) that was broken when it met the blunt end of a hammer.

This will need:
Power drill.
Wood (1/4" birch and particle board)
Grip and plate.
Foam (closed cell works well)
Contact cement
Staples/Staple gun
Gaff Tape
Tethers (I used old hockey skate laces)
Measuring tools

Step 1: Making the Shield Body

So, the first step is to actually make the face of the shield. Not too hard.

Since the shop has a band saw, I cut out a vague shape that I've seen on a shield from somewhere in Persia...I think. Anyway, it's not quite a round-shield and it's not quite a kite-shield, but it manages to cover most of the area of both and still allow for an axe/spear/sword to be held in the off-hand without too much difficulty.

Trace out what you want on your blank piece, in this case it's a piece of 1/4" birch plywood that's roughly 3'x4'.

Cut out said line using the band saw. You could do it by hand with a reciprocating saw, or even a handsaw, but it would take forever.

For the second piece, trace the first cutout and then repeat the process of cutting out said piece.

For weight, strength and durability, I added a particle board piece between that's roughly 1' x 1.25' that way everything can be bolted together and add durability.

Step 2: Putting the Shield Body Together.

This could also be called "Some Assembly Required."

Drill holes for support, make sure they're vertical and go all the way through all your pieces. There are four bolts for the grip plate and five bolts for the shield's rim.

Also, use a sacrificial board for whatever you drill through. That way you don't hit the table you're drilling on.

Pretty simple. Drill. Line up. Bolt. Check for sturdiness.

To attach the grip and grip plate, I used some beefy 3/4" wood screws. Might replace them with bolts at some point, but they work for now.

Align everything a little above the middle of the shield. That way the weight is pulling mostly down and you don't have to worry about it not staying vertical, and it will still behave well when you move your arm around with it attached.

One trick I've learned is that if you have more than one strap involved (there are two on this one), the grip should be added last so it fits your arm.

Congratulations, you have a functional shield! Now to add padding so that it doesn't actually maim and dismember when you hit people with it.

Step 3: Prepping for Padding Layer 1

First step, cover that edge in something heavy duty. I used some lengthy neoprene-like foam. Think pool noodles but beefier and softer. That's what consisted of most of the foam used. Some was add-on padding for bleacher chairs and others were actual pool noodle scraps. All much softer and easier hitting than wood with bolts.

So, after that, decide where you want what foam to be; it's good to lay it out before you glue it down, otherwise it might be a little slapdash.

Contact cement is great for preventing that, since you can re-stick it without too much fuss.

Be liberal with the glue, by which I mean give it a nice coating.

After everything's stuck, use the straps from the seat cushions to loop around the back and staple them in. This will give a great deal extra support and hold all of the loose foam in a little better.

Step 4: Adding a Second Layer of Padding

For the second, and last, layer of foam; cover it in the thicker, larger pieces of the neoprene-like foam. I had a nice 1' diameter tube that I could cut up and use.

So, repeat the process before and coat both top and bottom with contact cement. Fit all the pieces together and do some layering.

Add a second layer around the rim with some medium-sized tubing.

Lastly. Take some laces, ribbon, or something sturdy and make an asterisk shape on the front of the shield. Flip the whole thing over and staple it along the back. You'll want quite a few staples.

Now, you have a boffer shield.

An optional step would be to create a linen cover for it to hold everything in as well. After I've managed that, I'll give a final before/after picture of what it looks like.

Have fun, and be safe using this. It's fun, and it is padded, but it is still almost 30 lbs of weight and feels like getting hit by a mattress attached to a small car.