Introduction: Build a Prop Vintage Baseball Shin Guard

About: My girlfriend and I run a company called Deville's Workshop in Toronto, Canada. We build weird props for film and television and love this website - such a great resource for inspiration and discussion!

Hiya allaya! We were asked to make a pair of prop 'vintage' shin guards for a documentary on the history of baseball. In the doc you won't actually see the props we made - they'll be filtered through post vfx grainy textures and stuff - and so we could have gone a little simpler, but we wanted to play with some scrap leather we had and ended up with the piece you see pictured. I've also included the photo collage that our client sent us to use as a reference.

Step 1: Retrofitting Existing Shin Guards

Our first step was to take an old pair of modern shin guards and modify them so that they began to assume the shape of the vintage ones. This meant cutting off the hard plastic shell and cutting away some of the extra padding along the top of the knees.

Step 2: Build the New Pads

In order to get the shape of the vintage guards but still be soft and malleable enough to work with we decided to cut up some extra foam floor pads that we had lying around. The modern shin guards didn't go down far enough so we had to make extensions; I just roughed these out in pencil on the foam pads and then cut them with an X-Acto. Once they were cut out the final step was to round over the edges with a sander (all of this will eventually be covered in leather).

Step 3: Make the Nubby Bumps and Start to Glue the Leather

Here we've turned the cut up pants inside out and contact cemented them to the modern shin guard. Tina then takes some medium-dense foam and cuts out/carves the two nubby bumps just below the knee. She finishes that by gluing leather on them.

Step 4: Make the Vertical Bars

So apparently back in the old days these 'vertical bars' are actually made out of reeds! I used foam floor pads. I cut them into 1 1/2" strips and then routered a rounded edge on them. The next step was to contact cement them down to the black foam shin guards. Once everything was cut to size and glued I put them under a bunch of cinder blocks to set the glue.

Step 5: The Finishing Touches!

Now that the main parts are assembled it's time to skin the foam guards with leather. We used 3M Super 77 spray glue on the back of the leather and carefully attached it to the foam. Once these were all glued Tina started to scenic paint - she added shoe polish and acrylic paint to make it look older. When they go in front of the camera we'll actually rub dirt and fly-ash into them; this will make them dirtier and help take some of the shine out.

And that's how we made these prop vintage baseball shin guards!