Introduction: Kite Shield

I built this kite shield to be relatively functional as well as comfortable to use. I recommend it because it has a curve to shed blows made by gluing to plywood sheets together and slowly warping them, giving it increased strength. It also features a one handed grip for maneuverability and an adjustable back strap to carry it by.

Supplies

2 Sheets of 2'x4' 1/4" Lauan Plywood

About 16 oz Wood Glue

2 Gradually Curved Forms

Atleast 6 Clamps

Atleast 2 Ratchet Straps

Jigsaw

1 Square Foot of Quilt Batting for Padding

4" Adjustable Strapping for Back

1.5" Strapping for Handhold

2'x4' Vinyl, Leather, or Other Sturdy Cloth

Either Furniture Staples and Staple Gun or Furniture Nails

Step 1: Planning the Shield Design

First, draw the shape of the shield you plan to cut onto the top piece of plywood. I began by drawing a grid across the sheet to help keep it symmetrical. I made a compass from a nail and string to create a perfect circle for the top of the shield. I used a meter-stick and traced from the edge of the circle to where I wanted the bottom to be and rounded the edge out.

Remember, kite shields should range between 3.5' and 5' long depending on height of the user, but convenient plywood sizes only allow for 4'. Keep the shield lined up along the center line of the board and do not try to put it at an angle to try to get more length as that will interfere with warping it into an even curve as shown in step 3.

Step 2: Preparing a Curved Form

In order to curve the shield evenly, you need to identical curved shapes that will support the shield while it is molded to them. Try to find something you already have that you could use (eg: 2 spare car or bike tires). I had nothing of the right shape, so I cut a spare board into two curves and rigged a stand to keep them upright. At the very least, just support it in the center with scrap wood. That could do the trick well enough to be functional.

Step 3: Warping the Plywood Sheets

First, moisten the outer sides of the plywood sheets with water. Flip them over and coat the inner sides with roughly 8 oz of wood glue per side. Make sure it is evenly coated across the board by painting it on. Press the plywood sheets together and use atleast 6 clamps to hold them together (one on each corner and the other two at the centers of the 4' sides).

Next, set the sheets on top of the forms prepared in Step 2 and set a ratchet strap across it directly above each of the forms. Slowly tighten the ratchet straps on both sides so that the boards are evenly curved. Continue moistening it as you tighten the straps so that it does not snap.

Let the glue dry for about 24 hours afterwards.

Personally, I could have bent the boards a little more, but decided not to risk it because I began to hear cracking.

Step 4: Cutting the Shield

Cut out the shape of the shield using a jigsaw. Because of the curve of the wood, I believe a jigsaw is the best tool for it, but not the only option. Use whatever you have. Be sure to sand or file down the edges on both sides, as the plywood is prone to chipping otherwise, and a sharp corner is hard on any cover you stretch over it.

Step 5: The Hand Strap

You want your handhold to be in the shield's center of mass so that it moves smoothly with your hand. Just find the spot where it balances, and place the straps about there.

I stapled a square of batting from a scrap of an old quilt where I wanted my hand, then covered it with a scrap of leather, but any cloth and padding should work.

Next, I stapled two parallel cotton straps in place to act as handholds. You can tighten this configuration of straps by squeezing them together in your hand, which gives you more control over the shield. Don't be afraid to just take the staples out to try a different distancing, as it will vary for every person's hand.

Step 6: The Back Strap

For this step, I used a sturdy 2" Nylon strap. As pictured, I set it up so that it can be tightened flat when not being used.

This step especially depends on trial and error and on the individual. With configuration I used, the shield is meant to be worn with the narrow end upwards, as is shown in step 8 with the completed shield. The bottom should be held just barely above your waist so that you can sit down while wearing it.

Step 7: Covering the Shield

This step is optional, but I highly recommend it.

Using Vinyl, Leather, or a sturdy cloth, cover the front of the shield. This is meant to protect the shield's edges, especially bottom, from chipping. In the end, it is much easier to replace this cover than it would be to make a new shield, so it is best to take the time to protect the shield.

Stretch the cover tightly over the front of the shield. Start by placing a couple of holding staples at either end and at the midpoints of the sides. Then staple it in place, starting with the ends. The bottom will be most difficult because it has such a sharp turn.

I sewed two colors together, then added a cross on top before attaching it to the shield. This was only my personal preference and took much more time to do.

A Few Tips:

  • In general, start with a wide gap between staples, then halve it to keep the folds even and out of the way.
  • Keep the cover taut as you work.
  • Do not hesitate to remove staples, or to use a lot of them.

Step 8: Conclusion

This shield is both sturdy and comfortable to either hold or wear across the back.

If you have a shield boss that you would like to add, put it in place after covering the shield, but before putting on the straps.

If you would like to experiment with different strap configurations, I recommend visiting this website on historical depictions of enarmes (shield straps), which is very detailed and informative.

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