Cardboard Master Sword




Introduction: Cardboard Master Sword

I created a Master Sword out of cardboard! This was my first attempt at making a cosplay item and I documented the process as clearly as I could to help others try it out too. I tried to keep the materials that I used to be things that are readily accessible or very cheap and easy to obtain. Due to a current stay at home order, I was going to have to make this only with materials that I already had at home.


Cardboard - I used 2 large corrugated cardboard boxes (think diaper box size) and 1 cereal box

Paints - White, black, silver, blue, yellow, green(optional for base)

Cutting Tools- utility knife, scissors, cutting mat

Marking Tools- pencil, marker

Paintbrushes - various sizes

Measuring Tools - ruler, compass (the kind you find in a math set for making circles, not the 'point to north' kind), wing divider (optional)

Adhesives - school glue and/or hot glue, masking tape or painter's tape

White Paper

Thin wooden dowel (optional)

Step 1: The Blade

1) Open up one of your large cardboard boxes and lay it flat. Pick one of the longer sides. Using a long ruler, draw a line from corner to corner. Next, mark off the inches along this line. You aren't going to be using the first and last inch along this line. You can see in the first picture that I marked where the blade will start and end with a black dot. The blade piece will be 19 inches long. If your box is longer than mine you will only want to mark off 19 inches to use.

2)The first line you drew is the midline down the blade. To make the next step easier, you may want to write a little number next to each inch that you marked off along the midline. You will now be drawing parallel lines on either side of the midline to map out where the edges of the blade will be. The following list below will tell you how far away the parallel line should be away from the midline.

From 1" to 13" --> 1"

From 14" to 17" --> 3/4 "

From 18" to 19" --> 1/2 "

You will notice that there are some gaps along the edge of the blade. You will now fill those in.

Form the point of the sword by connecting the point at the start of the midline with both the parallel lines at 1".

Connect the gaps in parallel lines from 13" to 14" and 17" to 18".

3) Cut out the outline of the blade. In the fourth picture, I outlined what I would be cutting in black marker to make it easier for you to see in the picture. It is not necessary for you to outline your edges before you cut, just make sure you know what lines you will be cutting and that they are clear.

4) You will need a second blade piece. You can do this a fast or slow way. The slow way is to make the second blade like you made the first, with a lot of measuring and sketching. This is the more precise way. The fast way is to take your first blade, place it on top of your new piece of cardboard and trace its outline. This is much faster, but it is not as precise. If you are using cardboard that has a shiny side make sure that you are
tracing onto that side. That way when you cut out your piece and glue it together, the matte and easier to paint side will be facing outwards.

5) Cut out your second piece of blade.

Step 2: Cross-guard

This piece is going to require a lot of measurements again, as well as connecting some point with freehand curved lines. Often throughout this project, you will see a measurement for a line and that it is centered on a mid line. What you should do to make sure that your line is centered is take the length of the line and half it to determine where it should line up on the middle line. Example: If the length of the line is 4" and it is centered on the middle line, set up your ruler so that the 2" mark lines up with the mid line, then mark the 4" from 0" to 4" (2 " will be on either side of the mid line)

1)Start by drawing your mid line. It is upright and 2" long. Make a 7" perpendicular line centered at the top of the mid line, this is the top guideline. Make a 4" perpendicular line centered at the bottom of the mid line, this is the bottom guideline. (see picture 1)

2) On each end of the top guideline, measure in 1 1/4" and make a mark. On each end of the bottom guideline, measure in 3/4" and make a mark. Draw a smooth curve to connect the very ends of the top to the bottom guidelines. Draw a smooth curve to connect the marks you made on the top and bottom guidelines. (see picture 2)

3) On the mid line, mark a 1/2" from the top and the bottom. Lightly mark out lines perpendicular to the mid line at these points. Where the bottom guideline that you just made touches the outer edge that you made in step 2, make a mark. Also make a mark where this guideline intersects with the mid line. At the top guideline that you just made, on both side measure out 1" from the mid line and make a mark. Connect these 5 point with a slightly curved freehand line in a sort of M formation. (see picture 3)

4) Measure 1" down from the very top guideline along the mid line and make a mark. Make a line perpendicular to the mid line here until it reaches the M shape from the last step. From where this line meets the M shape on both sides, make a line up to the top of the mid line. You should have a diamond shape nestled in the middle of the M shape now. Measure 1/4" up from the very bottom guideline along the mid line and make a mark. Draw a freehand curved line from the outer corner of the bottom guideline on both sides to the mark you just made. (see picture 4)

5) Measure 1 1/2 inches along the bottom guideline centered on the mid line and mark the ends. Draw a freehand rounded line from the marks to the point in the middle of the M shape. (see picture 5)

6) Extend the mid line down 1/2" below the bottom guideline. Make a 1" perpendicular line centered on the bottom of the mid line. Draw curved freehand lines to connect the marks from the last step on the bottom guideline to the ends of the line you just made. (see picture 6)

7) Clean up your lines to make it clear what you are going to cut. I also added a small extension onto the bottom of the cross-guard. This is to help connect it to the other pieces of the hilt. (see picture 7)

8) Cut out your cross-guard. (see picture 8)

9) Place your cross-guard piece onto another piece of cardboard to trace it out. Since there are so many freehand lines in this piece making another piece wouldn't be anymore precise. If you are using cardboard that has a shiny side make sure that you are tracing onto that side. That way when you cut out your piece and glue it together, the matte and easier to paint side will be facing outwards.(see picture 9)

10) Since you are going to be sandwiching part of the blade between the middle section of the cross-guard, you will need to add an extra piece to the outer pieces of the cross-guards. Trace the outer shape of each side and cut it out. (see picture 10)

Step 3: Optional Step: Adding a Wooden Dowel

I wanted this sword to be sturdy enough for my kids to swing around without bending when they stab their stuffies (aka the bad guys). This step is optional though and can be skipped. If you are not planning on adding a dowel then you can move onto the next step.

I used a 3/8" dowel that was 21 1/2" long. I would have preferred one that was a little thinner, but this was all I could find in the house.

1) Start by cutting a channel down the middle of the blade pieces on the side that will not be facing out. I used a diaper box and the one side is shiny so that is my inside. Only lightly cut out where you want the channel to be. Do not go through all the layers! Next, take your utility knife and slip it under the top layer of the cardboard and slice all the way down your channel. Once the top layer is removed you can use your finger to crush/smooth the bumpy layer in the middle. (see pictures 1 and 2)

3) I decided to notch out the ends of my blade to allow for a bit more room for the dowels, as it was getting very tight between the cross-guards with everything sandwiched together. (see picture 3). Cut channels down the middle of the cross-guards like you did for the blade.

4) Glue the dowel into the channel of one of the blade and let dry/cool (depending on what type of glue you are using). (see picture 4)

Step 4: Blade: Part 2

You will begin to assemble the blade and work on its shape and edges. I used hot glue in this step because I didn't want to wait for the drying time and because I wanted a strong bond between the two layers. It was too big of an area for me to glue it all at once so I did it in sections.

1) Line up the two pieces of the blade. Apply glue between the layers and press the edges together. Hold together until it is set. (see pictures 1 and 2)

2) I used a wing divider for this next step to make the job easy. It's a tool that I have for leather working, so I don't expect others to have it. You can also do this step by measuring and marking with a ruler, but it takes longer. I set the wing divider to 1/4" and scratched a line all the way around the blade. With a ruler and pencil you would measure a 1/4" from the edge of the blade and make a line all the way around. (see pictures 3 and 4)

3) Use your utility knife to cut on an angle all the way around the blade. You will create a beveled edge from the line you made in the previous step to the edge where the 2 pieces of blade meet. Do this to both side of the sword to give yourself a nice sharp edge on your blade. (see pictures 5 and 6)

4) I applying school glue and used white paper to cover all the holes in the sides of the cardboard to make a smooth surface for painting. In hindsight, masking tape would have been so much easier and less messy. I wouldn't suggest any types of shiny/smooth tape as they will be more difficult to paint on.

Step 5: Cross-Guard: Part 2

1) Before you assemble the cross guard you will want to cover a few of the edges that will be hard to reach later with glue and paper/ masking tape. Cover the edge of the diamond shape and the inner edges of the M shape (see picture 1).

2) Place the blade piece on top of the one of the cross-guard pieces.The bottom edge of the blade should be lined up with the bottom edge of the cross-guard piece (not including the little extra bit we threw onto the bottom of the cross-guard to help with stability and construction). Take the small extra pieces you made to go inside the cross-guard and make sure they fit. Trim them if you have to, then glue them into place. You can also glue the blade into place. (see picture 2) Make sure you have it straight. Mine went a little crooked and I didn't notice it until it was too late.

3) Glue the top piece of the cross-guard into place. Once the glue is dry you can look at the edges of your cross-guard and trim up anything that seem to be out of place. (see picture 3)

4) Cover all the exposed edges that are shown in picture 4. The last bit will be covered after we add the rest of the hilt.

Step 6: Grip

1) Take your cereal box and cut out a 5"x13" rectangle. You won't necessarily need the full 13", so if you box is a little shorter that is fine. (see picture 1)

2) Line up the edge of the cardboard with the extra bit that we had hanging off the bottom of the cross-guard. Glue it and hold it in place until set. (see picture 2)When it is set, roll it up lightly to form a tube. The multiple layers will make it much stronger than an toilet paper roll and you have better control over how thick the grip is. When your grip is a width that you like, you can cut off the extra cardboard and glue it into place. I used a rubber band wrapped tightly around the end to hold it in place until it dried.

3) Place a piece of paper over the little shape at the bottom of the cross-guard and sketch out its shape. (see picture 3) Cut out this paper template and trace its shape to corrugated cardboard. You will need 2 copies of the full shape and 2 copies of just the bottom half of the shape. Cut these pieces out. (see picture 4)

4) Glue a full shape piece over its shape on the cross-guard. Cut a slight bevel edge to the sides. (see picture 5)

5) Glue the bottom half piece onto the full shape piece. Cut a slight bevel edge to the bottom edge. (see pictures 6 and 7)

6) Use paper and glue/masking tape to cover all the exposed edges of the cardboard. (see picture 8)

Step 7: Pommel

This part took me way too long to figure out how I was going to do it. Just making a piece isn't that hard in itself. The hard part is figuring out a way to make a pommel piece that I can clearly explain to other people so they can replicate it. I think I figured it out though.

You are going to need a compass for this step as we will be making circles. When I give the radius (r) of the circle you are making, that means it will be half the width(diameter) of the circle. You can set your compass to be the measurement of the radius between the point and your pencil. We only need half of the circle for the pommel piece.

1) Draw 4 circles centered on the midpoint.

r= 1/4"

r= 1 1/2 "

r= 2 "

r= 2 1/2"

(see pictures 1 and 2)

2) If you have a protractor for this next step it will be easier to be precise. I couldn't find one in my house so I just eyeballed it. Make a line across to turn your piece into a semi circle (180 degrees)

Make a line that cuts the semi circle into halves (90 degrees, perpendicular to the line you just made)

Make two lines that will cut the two 90 degree chunks in half again. You should now have a semi circle that is divided into 4 equal sections (45 degrees each)

(see picture 3)

3) You will need to be folding all the edges of the pommel eventually, so you need straight lines. Using a ruler, turn all the curved lines from the circles you we making into straight lines using the points where lines intersect as your guide points. (see picture 4)

4) See picture 5. Line up your ruler on the individual sections on the r-2" circle (2nd circle from the outside). The sections should be about 1 1/2 " long. You need to reduce this down to 3/4", and you want this measurement to be centered. Mark each section at 3/8" and 1 1/8", the space between this will be your 3/4". Make a line from the intersecting point of intersecting lines on the r-1 1/2" circle (2nd from the inside) to your marks that you have just made. Then extend these lines straight down to the outermost circle. Look to picture 5 to see what I mean, because seeing it will make it all make sense.

5) Add tabs! To connect all the edges of this shape together you will need tabs to help glue and hold it together. These don't need to be a precise size as they won't be seen. Here are some tips to follow though: 1. only make tabs on one side on all the edges. Think about where the section is going to connect. Each connecting edge only needs one tab. 2. Don't make it so big as to be getting in the way, but do give yourself enough space to be able to apply glue and be able to handle it. 3. Make the ends of the tabs angled. If you don't they will not fit properly with all the bending that is going on in the shape. (see picture 6)

6) Cut out your shape outline. Cut the inner lines only in the smallest circle. Lightly score all the other inner lines of the shape to help it bend easily. Do not cut all the way through the cardboard! Bend all your edges in the correct directions. (see picture 7)

7) Glue the tabs and put your shape together. The top should be flat, it flares outward, then inward, and finally straight. (see picture 8 and 9)

8) Attach the pommel to the grip. My dowel didn't extend past my handle and I wanted it to have some connection. I cut a small strip of corrugated cardboard and glued it to the inside of the pommel with a length sticking out the end to later glue to the inside of the hilt. I added small crumpled up bits of paper to the inside of the pommel until it was full to 'stuff' it and help make it a little more sturdy. (see picture 10) Then I glued the other end of the strip of cardboard and all around the end of the pommel and inserted the cardboard strip into the open end of the grip (see picture 11 and 12). To smooth out the transition I applied glue to the connecting area and covered it with some white paper. An easier way to do this would be to tape it with masking tape. (see picture 13)

Step 8: Painting: the Base Coats


The silver paint that I want to use isn't very opaque, so I need to apply a base coat of grey before I can paint it silver.

The grey paint was a mixture of white and black paint until I reached a shade of grey that I liked. (see picture 2)

After the grey paint was dry I added the silver paint on top to give it a nice metallic look. (see picture 3)


The cross-guard, grip and pommel were painted a dark bluish colour with the exception of the jewel shape.

The colour used was a mixture of mostly dark blue and some deep purple. Mix more than you will need for the base coat because we will be making lighter shades of it later to add details.

The jewel was painted bright yellow. The yellow paint I have isn't very opaque, so I added a bit of white to help get even coverage. (see picture 4)

Step 9: Painting: Blade Details

This step helps add depth and detail to the blade.

The first picture helps map out where I added highlights, medium shading and darker shading. You can use it as a reference. I did go over the triforce symbol later with the darker shading colour as I didn't think it was dark enough with the other tone.

To make the paints:

highlight = silver + white

medium shading = silver + black (Add black until it is a shade you like that is a little darker than the blade. Test it on the blade in an area that you will be painting. If you think it needs to be darker, add more black

darker shading = medium shading + black (I just took the leftover medium shading colour and added a bit more black to it)

Paint along the beveled areas of the blade. I put down the thicker sections close to the edge first and added the thin lines at the top of the beveled edge at the end. I used the paints in this order: medium, dark, highlight. You can use them in whatever order works best for you.

Step 10: Painting: Hilt Details

Now you are going to add some details and depth to the hilt.

Start with the cross-guard, grip and pommel. The first picture maps out approximately where the different shades of paint are going.

To make the paints:

Medium tint - hilt base colour + white (you want this to be a little lighter than the base colour you have already put down)

Highlight - medium tint + white ( you want this to pop out a bit more than the medium tint did, but still be very blue)

I started by painting the medium tint to all the planned places on the hilt. Its okay to go into the highlight territory, because we can lay the highlights down on top of it. So in places like the grip, don't be afraid to lay out some thick bands of colour. You can lay a stripe of highlight down the middle of it later. I went over all the edges of the pommel pretty loosely.

Taking the highlight you can add a lot more depth to the hilt by painting lines in all the planned areas. When you get to the pommel you can paint neatly on all the edges.

Now that the purple-blue tones are done you are move on to the yellow jewel. I still had some base paint left over from before that I added to here. In the previous step we could use our base paint and add a bit at each step to get our new colour. Here however, we are going in opposite directions with the tones so you will want to split your base colour in half before you start mixing.

The third picture maps out where you want to add highlights and shading.

To make the paints:

Shade: base paint + small amount of black

Highlight : base paint + white

Step 11: Stone Base: Planning/Cutting

I proudly showed the completed Master Sword to my kids in the morning. They were impressed, but wanted to know where the stone was. Because apparently, you can't have a Master Sword and not have a stone to pull it out of...

So if you wanted to take it one step further and make a base to keep your sword in, carry on! If not, have fun fighting Ganon with your new Master Sword!

We pulled up google images and the kids picked a style of stone base that they wanted. Thankfully it didn't look too difficult. Get out your corrugated cardboard, pencil and ruler! Here we go!

1) Start off with a mid line again. It will be 12" tall. Make a 6" perpendicular line centered at the top of the mid line. Measure 2" down the mid line and make another 6" perpendicular line centered on the mid line. Make a 12" perpendicular line centered at the bottom of the mid line. Measure 2" up the mid line and make another 12" perpendicular line centered on the mid line. (see picture 1)

2) Use your ruler to connect the end points of the lines around the edges. (see picture 2)

3) Measure 2 inches out from the angled line on both sides of the shape and make a parallel line. Make a perpendicular line to connect the parallel lines to the main shape. (see picture 3)

4) Working up from the higher 12" line, measure up 1" and mark the mid line. Make a 8" perpendicular line centered on the mid line. Working from the lower 6" line, measure down 1" and mark the mid line. Using your ruler make a line from this point to both ends of the 8" line that you just made, to form a triangle. Measure 3" into the triangle along the mid line and mark it. At this point, make a line perpendicular to the mid line until you reach the edges of the triangle. Mark where this line intersects with the edges of the triangle. From those points, use your ruler to make a line to the point where the mid line intersects with the bottom of the triangle. Your triangle should now look like a Triforce (see picture 4)

5) Add flaps! Just like we did for the pommel, we are going to add flaps that will not be seen in the final product, but will help us assemble it. My flaps are approximately 1/4" thick, I didn't measure it precisely. Make sure to angle the corners so they don't get caught on each other when you bend them in. (see picture 5)

6) Don't forget the slot to insert the Master Sword into. Mark the mid line 1" down from the top. Centered on this point, measure and mark 2 1/4 " perpendicular to the mid line. Centered at the ends of this line, 1/2" perpendicular to the line you just made. Connect the ends of these lines to get the outline of the slot you will cut out. (see picture 6 and 7)

7) Cut out the outline of this shape and the slot piece. Lightly score the inner lines where you will be bending it (do not score the Triforce lines). To get the backing piece, on another piece of corrugated cardboard make a mid line of 8". Make a 6" perpendicular line centered at the top of the mid line. Make a 12" perpendicular line centered at the bottom of the mid line. Use your ruler to connect the end points of the lines around the edges. Cut out the backing piece. (see picture 8)

8) Test to make sure your sword fits into the slot. If it is too tight of a fit make a slot a little larger on the side it is getting stuck.

Step 12: Stone Base: Building/ Painting

Last step! The end is in sight!

I used school glue and painters tape in the assembly. Masking tape would have been preferred as it sticks better, but I didn't have any. You could also use hot glue instead of school glue, or glue and paper instead of masking tape.

1) Glue the flaps of the stone base and connect the edges together. I would glue and stick a flap and then tape the edge of the outside. Not only did this hold the shape together while it dries, it also covers the exposed holes of the cardboard to prep it for painting. (see picture 1)

2) Bend down all of the flaps that will be used to attach the backing to the main piece. If there are any flaps that get caught on each other trim them.(see picture 2) I found when I had complete the base that it was very light and easy to knock over. I ended up dropping pebbles in through the slot to help weight it down a bit. If you wanted to add something to help weight your base down, now would be the time (before we close it up).

3) Apply glue to all the flaps and attach the backing. Tape around the edges with masking tape to hold it in place and prep for painting. (see picture 3)

4) Tape around any remaining exposed edges to prep for painting. Test out your sword in the assembled base, just for fun! (see picture 4)

5) I didn't want the stone base to be plain grey because I didn't want it too close to the sword blade colour. I made a base grey and then I added a bit of blue and green. I painting the whole base except for the Triforce symbol. Then I added more black to the paint to darken it up and painted the Triforce symbol in this darker shade. I thought about painting it yellow, but I liked an all stone look. Also I didn't want to have to pull out the yellow paint again.

Once the paint dries you can try it out! My son pictured here loves Breath of the Wild and was very excited to pose for a few pictures. He's a bit dirty and wet from playing in puddles, but that just means he's busy having his own adventures.

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    Patrick M
    Patrick M

    6 months ago

    Quick note:
    I would use Rattan for the rod.
    If you are running (Which you will be) and trip (Which you may)
    If you have a regular pine dowel, there is a chance that the last thing you see is the sharp edges of a freshly snapped dowel going thru things that are not made to hold wood... Like skin and soft squishy internal bits.
    A Rattan rod does not produce splinters (In a pinch, Try Bamboo)
    (This is why the SCA banned natural wood swords decades ago)


    6 months ago

    I NEED TO MAKE THIS. BUT I DON’T HAVE ANY CARDBOARD. Update, I have cardboard but not big enough pieces for the sword.


    6 months ago

    That magical moment where you lift the master sword from the pedestal in Ocarina of Time for the first time! Man I love that game! Nice recreation it’s very well made! Iv played through that game dozens of times and I always tear up upon lifting up the sword of evils bane!