Cardboard Scabbard

Introduction: Cardboard Scabbard

I made a prop blade as detailed here but I wanted to protect it a bit while transporting it to a location and also while wearing it. Cardboard is a robust material and I had quite a bit lying around so I made a simple scabbard to house the blade while not in "use".

Step 1: Gather Materials

Materials used:

  • Cardboard (could use coroplast instead but I didn't have that to hand) (I used a section 50 cm x 25 cm and then trimmed a bit)
  • Fake, black leather material backed with fabric (About 60 cm x 40 cm)
  • Copper wire (about 80 cm)
  • 2 of double key ring snap bolt trigger clip

Tools used:

  • Sharp, fixed blade knife
  • Straight edge and ruler
  • Small circular form (in this case a wine bottle neck)
  • Hot glue
  • Wide tape
  • Black felt tip pen
  • Stapler

Step 2: Create the Scabbard

I cut out a piece of cardboard that was 45 cm x 20 cm width the long edge parallel to the "grain" of the cardboard. This size will depend on the size of the weapon that you want inside the scabbard. I would recommend cutting the cardboard about 5 cm more than the blade's length and the width should be about 20 cm if you have a reasonably thin blade. Adjust the size of the cardboard to fit your blade. Fold the cardboard in half along the long axis and then three more folds in each of the halves. You should end up with the cardboard having 5 parallel folds along it.

To create the actual shape of the scabbard, fold the flat cardboard in half along the existing middle fold. This should make it about 45 cm x 10 cm in two layers. Hold one of the ends flat (you can use tape for this bit) and then using the folds made earlier make a hexagon shape at the other end.

After holding the hexagon end for a while, it should be able to hold its shape. If not, flex the cardboard more so that the folds are more pronounced. That should allow the cardboard to keep the new shape. Make sure, at this point, that your blade will fit into the scabbard as far as it needs to - the blade should slide in and out easily and be protected by the cardboard. Once it is the right shape and the hexagonal end is the right size, use hot glue along the open sides to hold the shape (remove the blade before hot gluing). It is advisable to hold the cardboard in the right shape until the glue has cooled somewhat so that the scabbard holds it shape.

Step 3: Covering the Scabbard

So that the scabbard looks more like a scabbard rather than a lump of cupboard, I attached some fake leather around the cardboard. I cut the material to about 50 cm x 25 cm to cover my scabbard. If you need to cover a lager area (from making a bigger scabbard), leave an overlap of about 5cm.

Starting at the bottom, hot glue the material onto one of the sides of the scabbard with about 2cm overlap over the long edge of the scabbard and 1cm overlap at the end of the scabbard. Wait for the glue to cool to make sure it's securely attached. Then, keeping the material taut over the cardboard, hot glue the remaining material around the cardboard. There should be a little overlap all over the scabbard.

Glue the closed end shut (if you haven't already) and the extra material along the length of the scabbard. Trim the material at the closed end of scabbard to a few millimeters, if you need to Cut the material at the open hexagonal end along the folds of the cardboard. This should create six small flaps. Hot glue each one down to the inside of the cardboard. I did it in order but it doesn't make much difference if you don't.

Because I was using black material, I could use a black felt tip pen to colour all the exposed, white edges. If you're using another colour of fabric, I'd recommend using acrylic paint which has been watered down.

Step 4: Creating the Belt Loops

Using some of the extra fabric, I cut four strips of material with these dimensions:

  1. 5 cm x 30 cm
  2. 5 cm x 30 cm
  3. 5 cm x 18 cm
  4. 5 cm x 32 cm

Since I am right handed, I wanted to make it so that the scabbard is on my left hip. To make it a little more aesthetically pleasing, I kept the seams / overlaps on the inside. So, if the scabbard was in place on my left hip with the hole pointing upwards and forwards, the seams would be pointing to the right and towards my body. Be aware of which side you want the scabbard to be on.

Wrap strip 1 around the top end of the scabbard (the end with the hexagonal opening). The ends should butt up against each other and be on the inside. There is more material than the end diameter and this will be used to connect the scabbard to the belt loops. This extra material should be pointing upwards if the scabbard is on your desired hip. With the butt joint on the inside and all of the excess material pointing up, hot glue the strip onto the scabbard. Some hot glue was also applied to the inside of the excess part for some added strength.

Wrap strip 2 in a similar manner to strip 1 but make a gap of 5 cm between each of the strips.

For strips 3 and 4, fold each of the strips into a loop with a 2 cm overlap. I initially used hot glued the overlap but that didn't hold too well so I stapled the ends of the loops together. I did use a little bit of glue to hold the bottom of those strip together but leave enough room for your belt to pass through the loop.

On each of the strips, a small cut was made at 1.5 cm from each edge on each of the strips. On strips 1 and 2, this was on the excess part just away from the scabbard. On strips 3 and 4, this was on the side that had a little extra hot glue.

Once again, black felt tip pen was used to make the edges dark to hide the underlying fabric

Step 5: Creating the Rings

Using the copper wire, wrap it around a suitable form - I used the neck of a wine bottle to make a spiral from the copper wire. Using wire cutters, cut about every other loop so you effectively have a key ring. You should be able to make four of these rings. Feed each ring into one of the cuts made from the previous step and out the other cut. Move the ring around until the open edge is hidden within the material. You should now have one ring threaded through the holes on each strip.

Step 6: Putting It All Together

Here's how to put it all together.

  1. Thread strip 4 (the long one that isn't attached to the scabbard) onto your belt with the seam facing inwards.
  2. Thread strip 3 (the short one that isn't on the scabbard) onto your belt, again with the seam facing inwards.
  3. Put the belt around your waist and move the belt loops over your choice of hip.
  4. Attach one end of the key ring clip to one of the belt loops.
  5. Repeat for the other belt loop.
  6. Offer up the scabbard to the belt loops and connect the other end of the key ring clip of the shorter belt loop to the ring at the top of the scabbard.
  7. Attach the other key ring clip (the one attached to the longer belt loop) to the other ring on the scabbard.

Step 7: Conclusion and Improvements

This has made a rather effective scabbard in the fact that it has protected the blade prop that I made make pretty well. The blade hangs at a good angle to be able to be withdrawn from its sheath with ease. It looks matched to the costume it goes with but it is a little awkward sitting down with it. I am please with the quick release effect with the key ring clips, even if it isn't quite in the same style.

As with quite a lot of my creations, there does seem room for improvements, such as:

  • Use a specific fabric glue since the hot glue adheres well enough but some parts that have been subjected to movement have failed. Hence, the reason for using staples to secure the belt loops.
  • Maybe use more folds so that the fit of the blade is better. It's not bad but anything more than a cursory glance will show its flaws.
  • The scabbard does hang a bit low so shorter strips might achieve a better look.
  • Maybe make more copper rings so that the key ring clips aren't needed and it'll fit the style better. I quite like being able to take it off quite quickly.

2 People Made This Project!


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3 years ago

It did, thanks! My corner shop had some Bostik, which worked well till I lost the tube. They only had Superglue, so I had to go with that, not nearly as good. Happily they restocked and I Bostik-ed the rest. I'll post photos as soon as I can get them uploaded. Not nearly as elegant as yours, but for a first effort, making it up as I went along ...


Reply 3 years ago

Superglue is fast but I found it not as good as other glues for keeping things together.

It's not about making the best thing - we are doing this for fun. If it achieves what you want then great. If not, try again - we all have to start somewhere.

For what it's worth, I was making it up as well. :)


Reply 3 years ago

I don't consider myself to be very "craft-y" so anything that turns out semi-decent is always a pleasant surprise. My main prob is" what-if-I-get-it-wrong-and-mess-up"-itis. But that's the only way to learn. And it's fun, once I actually get going.
I couldn't work out whether to have it left-or right-handed [I'm right-handed, but I used to fence southpaw] so I dithered about the belt loops. Decided I'm going to be left-handed, so fixed them accordingly - and very belatedly!


Reply 3 years ago

People surprise themselves by actually being able to do things - just starting it is the main problem.
I would recommend using cardboard for prototypes - it's cheap, strong and sometimes good enough for the final project. If you get it wrong, you've not spent much. If you get it right and want to improve it, you can use the cardboard version as a sort of template.
Left or right-handed - if the seam for the straps is at the base, you could wear it either way. And now, I'm reminded of a fight scene from The Princess Bride. :)


3 years ago

Oh, that's brilliant, thank you! So many ideas I'd never even thought of.

Contact adhesive does sound best, as I'm a bit ham-fisted at times and would probably need a couple of goes, at least in the beginning.

Thanks again for taking the time and trouble to respond


Reply 3 years ago

Good luck with it all and I would like to see how it turns out. Maybe make an instructable... :)


Reply 3 years ago

Thank you! If I don't make a total dog's breakfast of it ...


3 years ago

Thanks for this! I made a cardboard scabbard for my plastic sword out of a cereal box and fastened it with duct tape; not elegant, but it works! I want to wrap it with leather [I got some offcuts via Freecycle] and have been trying to find the "how-to" that doesn't involve real swords and tooling etc. Also your belt clips are exactly what I was looking for. Simple and effective.

I want to wrap the handle so that it looks less like plastic! but again, all I've found is the Re-enactor's "proper" methods, which are a bit above and beyond for a plastic sword! I've cut the strips, but not sure how to fix them, or how to stop the end coming loose.

So, supplemental question: do you have any idea what kind of glue or adhesive would work best? or even work a bit? it's only for a costume for photo-shoots, it won't have a lot of use.

Thanks very much!


Reply 3 years ago

Trying to elaborate on each section:
I did forget to bring the clips to one of the events and found that just connecting the rings works pretty well too. Not as fast to clip on and off again but it did work.

Wrapping the handle - I haven't done this on this prop but I'd imagine hot glue (fast) or epoxy glue (slower) would be suitable for attaching one end of the strip to the handle. Then wrap the material (after it has set a bit) and glue the other end. That is probably how I would do it if I were to wrap the handle. Maybe dabs of glue along the way to stop the wrap from misbehaving. I think screwing them down would be overkill, but it would be effective. Because you have a plastic sword, it might be tricky to do that.
Types of glue - hot glue works quickly but might not last (I think I used that method on this prop at first and it has since separated). Two part epoxy (mix glue and hardener and then apply to surfaces) is strong but has a setting time. Superglue can work but I am not keen on it since you need to be very accurate from the start. Contact adhesive (apply to both surfaces, wait until tacky, then join together) is good since if you join them while it's *just* tacky, then you have some tolerance and can get it just right. I think it all depends on the job - I usually look at the instructions on the packaging. I would suggest that contact adhesive would work well in this situation since you can work in stages.

Hope this helps.