Cardboard Armour for Feet




Introduction: Cardboard Armour for Feet

This instructable details how to make simple cardboard armour for foot coverings so that your costume looks a little less anachronistic or out of place. These are covers for normal boots - they are not footwear by themselves and they aren't water proof.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Materials used:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Spray paints: Black and Hammered silver (Hammerite)
  • Paracord or similar thick string / thin rope
  • Elastic cord (one of the improvements)

Tools used:

  • Sharp knife
  • Bradawl or center punches (this is what I used since i had it to hand and made the right sized hole)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Step 2: Make Paper Models

Using some paper, I made several scale models to make a suitable shape for a toe cap. The purpose of this stage was to get a shape that I'd like rather than an accurate representation of medieval armour. I went through many versions before settling on the one above with the green cutting board background.

The reason why I chose that particular design is because the toe cap on my boot was quite flat but wide. I wanted a bit of a point to the shape since it would be more suited to the costume for it to go with.

Step 3: Make the Cardboard Toe Caps

Using the design from the previous step, I scaled the design to my boots and drew it onto cardboard. I then cut out the shape with the grain pointing towards the toe (rather than across the toes). This allowed the cardboard to bend easily so that the shape can be formed. Using a straight edge, I bent the top of the toe cap across the grain so that a point could be formed.

Then, I carefully used hot glue along the joint to keep the shape. I applied glue along the inside of the shape to try and keep things a bit neater. There was a bit on the outside too to ensure the shape was kept.

Step 4: Make the Ankle Sections

I mostly made this bit up on the spot. There are guidelines I used though.

  • The edge which goes inside the toe cap (with the three holes - I'll get to that bit in a later step) is curved and fits to the shape of the boot underneath fairly well.
  • The slope near the two rulers (and the equivalent slope on the top side) are cut so that the slopes are actually level with the ground when the piece is curved around the boot.
  • The horizontal sections in the photos were just left like that and would be hidden mostly at the heel of the boot.
  • The small slopes (on the far right of the photo) are cut to be approximately vertical when the piece is wrapped around the boot.
  • The curved cut out section (on the right side of the picture) is the part that goes around and above the ankle of the boot. This section needs to be a little loose but still fairly close to the boot material.

Step 5: Make the Shin Sections

This part was fairly easy - all I did was wrap a reasonably wide rectangle of cardboard around my shin and over the upright section of my boot and then cut it to a suitable size. Once again the reasoning for the holes will be in a later step.

Step 6: Joining It All Together Part 1

This is the step which will explain all the holes. The holes are used for the lacing the sections together and to allow some articulation. More sections (instead of the three I made) would allow more movement but this project would be a minor part of the whole outfit and quite a lot of it wouldn't be seen either.

So, I put three holes fairly evenly in the toe caps so that I could join it to the ankle section. I put 6 evenly spaced holes in the base of the shin section (to connect to the ankle section) and 3 holes in two of the other sides (to secure the cardboard around my lower leg).

Each ankle section goes underneath both the shin section and the toe cap. With the cardboard pieces in place over the boot, I marked where I made the holes on the toe caps and shin sections on the relevant ankle sections.

Finally, a mark was made from the ankle section to match up with the bottom hole on the shin section (i.e. the bottom of the calf lacing. Another mark was made on the ankle section at an approximate similar distance below the bottom hole on the shin section.

Holes were made where there were marks with a center punch since it made a hole of the right size.

Step 7: Painting It

I used a few lines of hot glue as embellishments. It also made the cardboard look a little less flat.

I spray painted each section with black paint and let that dry. I think I used two coats of paint but your experience might be different. I wasn't too worried about the coverage - just enough to make it look fairly dark. Any cardboard that did show through would add a little to the texture of the final product.

I then applied a very light, single coat of hammered effect silver paint from a fair distance away. This produced a nice effect of used metal rather than pristine metal.

Step 8: Joining It All Together Part 2

Suitable lengths of paracord were then cut to join the sections
together. You can join the three sections together however you like but I like symmetry and this is how I did it. For each row of holes, they will be labelled from the inside to the outside of the foot. "Go out" means thread the paracord from the inside (nearest to the boot) to the outside (i.e. through both sections of cardboard). Vice versa for "go in".

Toe cap to ankle section (See picture 1):

  1. Start on inside of ankle section
  2. Go out through B
  3. Go in through A
  4. Go out through C
  5. Go in through B
  6. Tie both ends around segment made from steps 3 to 4

Shin to ankle section (See picture 1):

  1. Start on inside
  2. Out through C
  3. In B
  4. Out A
  5. In B
  6. Out C
  7. In D
  8. Out E
  9. In F
  10. Out E
  11. In D
  12. Tie ends together

Back of calf section

There are three holes on the shin section and two on the ankle section. The top ankle hole matches with the bottom of the shin section. With those holes lined up, there should be 4 pairs of holes (i.e. 4 holes on either side) (See pictures 2 and 3).

  1. Take the paracord from the inside of the top holes and go out through the top holes of the shin section. The center of the paracord should be between the two holes at the back.
  2. Go in through the next holes down.
  3. Cross the two ends.
  4. Carry each end out through the same holes as in 2.
  5. Go in through the third holes on the shin section and also through the upper relevant holes of the ankle section.
  6. Cross the ends.
  7. Go out through the holes from step 5.
  8. Go in through the lower ankle holes.
  9. Tie the ends together.
  10. Even the sections up so that each loop is about equally slack.

Step 9: Final Product

To put these on:

  • Put on boots and tie them normally.
  • Loosen the calf lacing.
  • Slide foot + boot inside the loose lacing.
  • Secure toe of boot into cardboard toe cap and stretch elastic around toe of boot.
  • Push cardboard around boot to ensure reasonable fit.
  • Start tightening the calf lacing from the bottom (heel part) by pulling on the loops that are outside of the cardboard.
  • Tighten the next loop up
  • Continue until you get to the top.
  • Take the center of the top loop that is behind the cardboard (the bit that you started the lacing from in "Joining it all together Part 2") and gently pull it tight.
  • I then wrapped the extra paracord around my mid-calf without tying it off and tucked it into the boot. It stayed secure enough for all of the event.

Step 10: Improvements

  • I did originally use Velcro to to hold the front and top of the cardboard to the boot but I found a far more effective way was to use a loop of elastic around the toe cap to hold it in place. I suspect that this will fail in the future since it's likely to be abraded by walking around.
  • A better colour scheme / painting techniques could be used but it was just to make it blend in a bit. In the end it wasn't seen all that much but it felt more appropriate to the whole costume.
  • Different thickness of cardboard could be used for a better / more authentic effect. Having said that, it was robust enough to last and wont cause damage to anyone if it knocks into someone by accident.
  • Increase the width of the cardboard toe section to make the fit a bit better. As it stands, it's just a little too tight to cover the toe of the boot well. It is hardly noticeable in general use though.

Overall, I'm quite happy with the results, even if they won't hold up to much scrutiny. They did the job they were designed to do.

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    6 Discussions


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you.


    4 years ago

    Swap out the cardboard for Coroplast and you got something here.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks for the idea - I hadn't thought of using anything else. I had cardboard to hand and didn't need it to look great - just enough to cover the (quite modern looking) boots.

    I do think that making it from plastic would be better for version 2.0. :) Waterproof and probably better to work with in this style of project.


    4 years ago

    I actually tried doing something similar to this for a costume, but I ended up running out of time... anywho, nice job! :)


    Reply 4 years ago

    The main issue I had really was getting the ankle section to work well. I do agree that the shapes weren't intuitive but it did work well enough.

    Also, thanks.