Introduction: Make Samurai Armor for Display. (You Can Wear It Too!)


I first had the idea of making Samurai armor as a Halloween costume but if I was going to put alot of effort into making one I didn't want it to be a Halloween only event. So I thought to myself, " Why not put it on display to enjoy all the time." The whole process of making the armor has been alot of fun and was a great creative thinking excercise. You'll see what I mean when I get to the materials portion of this Instructable.

Estimated Time:

What I've done so far has taken me about 16 hours. I say, "so far" because you really can put as much detail as you want into your project and the more detail the better. I intend to add more items to the Samurai in the future.

Tools List:

This is what I used and had on hand.
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors
  • Needle and Thread
  • Miter Saw or Table Saw
  • Drill with 1/32 Drill bit
  • Duct Tape
  • Spray paint ( I used 2 to 3 cans of Black)
  • Tape Measure

    Materials List:

    You really are only inhibited by your imagination and what you can find at a thrift store( '*' indicates thrift store purchase).
    Here is what I found and used.
  • Construction helmet or Hard Hat *
  • Faux Wood Blind Slats (left-over from hanging blinds in my house)
  • A Woman's Purse*
  • Sheet of Fabric (8'x4') *
  • Shoelaces (about 3 pair)
  • A few articles of clothing:
    • Button-up collared shirt
    • Long-sleeved Shirt
  • A Mask (I bought this online)
  • Lacrosse Gloves *
  • Shin Pads*
  • Some wood to build a frame for the display
  • Football Neoprene Armguards
Project Cost:

I recycled a few things and used tools I already had on hand so this made the project with everything you see here cost around $55 and the biggest part was the mask ($30). I bought about $14 of material from a thrift store, enough red shoelaces ($6) and spray paint ($5).

Step 1: Prep the Materials

    In this step I took the faux wood blind slats and toyed with them a little I curved them and wrapped them around my body to try and see the length I would need to cut them to. Be careful not to make a crease by over-bending.  I used the longest  for the chest armor and the shorter for the helmet.  I did this because the slats have slits already cut in them and I didn't want holes showing up where I didn't want them. 

   The measurements of the slats I used on the helmet were taken from the brim edge around the back and to the other brim edge.  For the body I measured around 3 feet. Better to have them a little longer than to short.  The measurements may vary from person to person taking body size and different hard-hat styles into consideration. 

Next I stacked and measured to see how many slats I would need to use to make it look right. I also took measurements from my waist to mid-chest and another from rim of the hard-hat to the base of the neck. 

Which came out to be in my case 7 slats tall for the body portion and 3 slats for the drop down from the helmet.

I'm tall (6'3") so these measurements may not be best for everyone. Play with it a little bit till it seems right.  The body is hardest to guess right so gieve yourself an extra slat or two to work with.

Now take your slats and cut them to the length you measured earlier. (Be Safe!)

Once cut to the desired lengths I used this template provided by which I was led to by another great instructable author, Atrophius. (Bowing in respect)

Measuring equal distances from the center I marked in pen where I needed to drill and once it looked right Idid one slat first to use as a template for the rest which I stacked and drilled  holes for multiple slats at a time. I used four columns for a nice symmetrical look which holds the armor together nicely but don't be afraid to do more you'll just need more lashing. Essentially you need at least three columns; two to hold the ends and one column for the middle.

Also, make sure your holes will be big enough, but not oversized, for the type of lashing you are using so it will fit through.

When I saw the purse at the thrift store it reminded me of studded leather and I thought I could use it in my design. The handles came up near the shoulders in the perfect way too.
No one ever knows that it was a purse and I usually don't tell them because that would make it seem, well, less manly.

So the handles were cut and the opening and remaining handle portions were sewn with a cardboard cutout inserted to help hold its shape. The cutout was done by simply tracing out the desired shape on cardboard and then cutting it out with some scissors and sewing the material around it.

Once together some extra pieces from another leather purse (believe it or not) were sewn on to fashion the covering you see now for the chest. This was done seperately from the slats and added later.

Note: Be sure to see the pictures and the notes for more details.

Step 2: Fastening the Plates

I've enjoyed research I've done on making samurai armor and I spent quite a bit of time looking at other displays on the web for inspiration and basic design.

So you have the holes drilled and the slats painted. It's time to fasten them together. 

For the helmet you will need drill two holes for each column to fasten the slats or plates to. I started from the helmet going down and tying a knot at the bottom.
Similarly with the body armor working from the top down much like lacing a shoe by dividing the initial strands equally and lacing. 

Refer to the photos for more tips.

Step 3: Creating the Armor Stand

The armor stand is basically the upper torso of a mannequin. I needed a head to place the helmet on and shoulders to hang the body armor.

The best frame I could think of with the materials I had on hand was using some wood to make a T frame that was shoulder width and then adding some girth with some sort of material by wrapping and securing it with duct tape.

I used some drop cloth material that was used when painting the helmet and armor plates.

Then I dressed the mannequin with a collared button-up shirt. I flipped up the collar and used the button hole in the collar to the top button. I then placed a black, long-sleeved shirt over the collared button-up shirt and stuffed the sleeves with a few articles of clothing that had outlived their primary purpose.

I then placed the body armor and kept it held up using suspenders.

Step 4: Securing the Stand

The base is a weighted box with a hole cut out to fit the stand held by the weights at the bottom.

The box is covered with a black material and the stand is set and adjusted upright.

A secondary thought is to create a hinged wood box that would attach the stand to the base with a pin. Another hole in the top, much like the box it is in now, would hold it at two points and keep it upright without fear of it being jostled.  The box would open up at the front to access the pin and other stored contents below.

Step 5: Conclusion

After all is said and done you now have a great conversation piece and something to be admired.

I placed the Samurai display in a dedicated theater room that also has other oriental decor.

Thanks to the Authors who take time to post  on Instructables and to for creating a medium for ideas to be shared.

A few more photos. 

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