For a long time, I've wanted to create a combat ready, double-bladed Battle-Axe, but I couldn't find a good set of instructions online. Due to this, I used various materials left over from previous Boffer projects to build this, which both looks good and is completely safe for dueling. The project took about 5 hours to complete, not counting the time I spent waiting for the adhesive to dry. However, I was figuring this out as I went, so it may take less time for someone else.
This is a moderately difficult project, and I wouldn't advise it until you have several projects under your belt. It is particularly helpful to have some experience with making flat-bladed weapons, as that is a key component of this design. Try creating a warhammer or flat sword for practice, and then moving on to building this project.
Yes, I am aware that this weapon is not historically accurate. Real Battle-axes didn't have two blades, as the benefit from the second blade was far outweighed by the weight it added. Frankly, I didn't really care about making historical weapons, I just wanted something that looked neat.
This project gives you a great costume accessory, or you can just use it to beat the stuffing out of your buddies in LARP.
Step 1: Materials
Here is a list of the materials and tools I used to create this weapon.
Spray adhesive (optional, can be found at Walmart or most hobby stores)
Camping/Yoga Mat (look for it anywhere that sells exercise equipment or outdoor items)
PVC (any good hardware store has this)
Pool Noodle (This is cheap during the summer, and but can expect to spend 3 to 4 times as much during the winter)
Duct tape: (You may need two rolls, depending on how efficiently you use it)
Gorilla Tape (If you don't have it already, don't bother getting it: you only need 2 meters, and duct tape works nearly as well)
Open Cell Foam (this can be taken from old sofa cushions, or found online)
Hot Glue Gun
Hacksaw or PVC cutter
I would estimate the cost to get the materials at about $20-$30, but as everything needed is sold in bulk, this gives you enough to make two or three weapons. These materials are pretty common, so If you're into Boffer, you may already have half this stuff lying around in your basement.
Step 2: Designing the Base
First, cut the PVC down to length with a hacksaw or pipe cutter. The length of the shaft will depend on your personal preference, however, I made mine 5 feet long so that it could be swung with both hands.
Next, use a pencil and paper to design your blade shape. You can create any variety of shapes, but I opted for a classic fantasy style, composed of 3 arcs. Once you have a design, then use a sharpie to sketch it out onto the camping mat. The sharpie sketch doesn't have to be absolutely perfect, as the blade will help to dampen any errors, but keep it pretty close to the original. Use a utility knife to cut out the shape, and then use it as a stencil to create 3 more like it. These will form the base for your blade.
Step 3: Building/Attaching the Axe Head
Separate the foam designs into pairs, then use hot glue or spray adhesive to attach the pairs face to face. This will make the head of the axe thicker, and will enhance it's overall durability. Once the two sides of the axe are completed, hot glue the axe onto the PVC pipe.
Step 4: Reinforcing the Axe Head (part 1)
Currently, the base of the head is attached to the handle, but a single swing will cause one or both sides to break off. In the next two steps, we'll make sure that the head is properly attached, so that you can use it in combat.
Cut out two small rectangles 4 inches by 5 inches from the camping mat, and glue them across the handle on each side. This will attach the two blades, and provide cushioning if someone gets hit with the flat of the blade.
Step 5: Reinforcing the Axe Head (Part 2)
The axe head is pretty sturdy now, but it could still break off and start sliding up and down the handle. Now, you either need your gorilla tape or your duct tape, depending on which you chose.
Cut out a 4 inch strip of tape, and attach it to the top of the head. Fold the tape down and onto the handle, being careful not to crease the tape or to wrap it around the PVC just yet.
Now, take the utility knife and cut two slits at the bottom fold on both sides, leading up to the pipe. Once you have done this, you can fold the two flaps you created down around the pipe. Flip the axe over and repeat.
Next, attach another 4 inch strip to the bottom of the head. Once again, fold it up, cut it, and flatten the flaps on the left and right sides.
Repeat the technique on the bottom, and your axe head is firmly attached. You now should have a firm seal going nearly all the way around the handle on the top and the bottom, which should hold up to any amount of bashing.
Step 6: Shape the Blade
Cut out 4 strips of foam about an inch wide, and spanning the length of your blade. These will help to provide form, and to help your blade hold its shape. Attach these 2 inches from the core on both sides of both blades with hot glue, clamp it, and allow it to cool.
After this, cut two 4x6 inch rectangles of foam, and four 2x6 inch rectangles out of the open cell foam.
To attach the 4x6 rectangles, spread hot glue on the rectangular camping mat section you attached two steps ago. Count to 10 (so that the glue isn't so hot that it melts the foam), and then firmly push the section down and hold it for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
To attach the 2x6 sections, spread hot glue in between the core and the rectangle. Once again, wait 10 seconds, press it on, and then wait 10 seconds. Repeat this on both sides of the blade, and then repeat again on the other blade.
Step 7: Creating the Blade
Currently, you should have a sturdy axe head with a decent shape, but hitting someone with this will likely cause pain and bruises on your opponent. We now need to attach a softer blade, to absorb the force of the impact.
Cut out strips of open-celled foam, 1 inch wide, and 1 inch thick. The number of these strips that you need depends on how long your strips are, and how long your blade is.
Spread hot glue on the end of the axe head, wait 10 seconds, press it on, and hold it for 20 seconds this time. Repeat this until you've covered the entire blade of both sides of the axe.
As the surface area of the strips is lower than that of the foam you attached to the flat side of the axe, the foam can be dislodged during use. To prevent this, take short strips of duct tape and tape the blade to the head at 4-6 locations on both blades.
Step 8: Wrapping the Axe-Head
The next step is easier to show then to type, so I recommend primarily working from the images, and just using the text to double check.
Get out your duct tape, and start by making one pass all the way around the circumference of the axe-head. Put one strip of tape above the first one, and one below. This helps to further hold everything in place, and it gives you a place to start on when wrapping around the curve.
Generally, I then place a strip of tape halfway through the upper or lower part of the curve, before building off of that. To wrap from the blade, first attach a strip of tape to the other side of the blade, then stretch it over. If you attach the end of the tape directly to the open-celled foam itself, it will pull off with very little force. Once you have gone over the blade, then stretch the tape up, and anchor it to the center strip that you created before. As you are working on a curve, the angle that the tape must be at varies. The first one should be about 45 degrees off of horizontal, but after that you really have to go by feel. (The tape should be perpendicular to a tangent line for that point on the curve, but who wants to go through the math to figure out what that should be?) Continue with strips like this until you have about two inches left on the blade, and then repeat this on the other side, this time starting from the duct tape you left when you created the first side.
Next, you need to cut out a bunch of 6 inch strips of duct tape. Stretch these around the back of the blade, between the duct tape you spread on the front of the blade earlier. Once again, stop when you are two inches or so from the end.
To cover the tip, cut out several 3 inch strips of duct tape. Stretch these across the blade, alternating between the front of the blade and the back. Once you reach the tip, simply place a single strip across the hole on the end.
Repeat this on the other 4 sections of the blade, then place a few more strips over the blade itself, to smooth it out.
If you are only using this weapon for appearance, you can skip to wrapping the handle. The next step detracts from the overall appearance of the blade, but if you're gonna hit someone else with it, you really should do it to prevent injuries and damage to your weapon.
Step 9: Cushion the PVC
This next part will cushion the upper part of the PVC pipe, in case someone receives a blow with the handle, rather than the head.
Cut a 2 foot piece from the pool noodle, then a 3 inch one.
Slide the 2 foot piece up the PVC, and then stretch a piece of duct tape down from the head of the axe. Like you did earlier, cut two flaps and fold them down, before repeating on the other side. Repeat this on the bottom of the axe.
Next, take your utility knife, and cut 4 V shapes halfway down the length of the 3 inch piece. Discard the scrap, and squeeze the four segments you created together. Wrap a piece of duct tape around the end to hold this in place, slide it onto the top of the shaft, and then tape it on in the same way that you secured the bottom guard.
Step 10: Wrap the Handle
You can use normal duct tape for this, but I used some brown duct tape instead, to provide some contrast. While this isn't strictly necessary, it helps you keep your grip, and prevents damage to the foam guard.
Starting at the bottom of the handle, start wrapping the tape upwards at a steep angle. The angle takes a bit of experimentation, as too low and you waste tape, and two high and you leave white gaps. I suggest cutting off a 1 foot strip, and using that to experiment with the angle so you don't waste lots of tape finding the perfect measurement.
Once you get close to the top of the bare PVC, stop wrapping, and stretch a short length across to the noodle, imitating the tape you attached it with in the last step.
Resume wrapping upwards, but this time, you need barely any spiral, as the diameter of the noodle is significantly thicker than that of the plain PVC.
This time, once you near the top, simply stop wrapping at an angle, and put in a piece or two completely horizontally, covering the last gap and the end of the spiral.
For the top section, you can either do a spiral, or simply wrap a series of horizontal loops. It doesn't look that different, so do whatever you think will be easiest.
Step 11: Add a Design (optional)
I use this axe as a cosplay element for a board game, so I wanted to put a crest on the head of the axe.
To do this, first select a design, and find some clear box tape. Print out your design on paper, and cut it out. Lay several strips of the tape face up, overlapping slightly to form a cohesive whole. Place your design face down on the tape, centering it so that there is at least half an inch of tape past the design in every direction. Finally, simply place the tape on the axe, and spread it out. This protects the design and secures it at the same time. NOTE: don't spread any of this tape on the blade, and don't let it crease. It is not near as flexible or forgiving as the duct tape, and WILL hurt if you do this.
Step 12: Finished
Here you can see the finished product. So far, after two major battles, and a dozen small duels, the axe shown has remained in good condition, with the only sign of wear being wrinkling in the duct tape.
I've heard that you can provide even greater appearance to a weapon by coating it in latex, but I've never tried this, so I can neither support nor dispute this claim.
Overall, this weapon is excellent for dueling, LARP, cosplay, or simply intimidation. While not completely historical, it looks epic to swing around, and definitely makes a good addition to any Boffer collection.