Intro: Excalibur Sword in the Stone
"Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightful king born of all England."
And so the legend goes but you can own a piece of the rock...and the sword if you make it yourself.
A favorite at Rennaisance Faires and for cosplayers, build this essential prop for all ages.
No forge or quarry needed.
(Yeah, yeah, it looks better without an anvil.)
Step 1: A Few of My Favorite Things...
For the sword:
You will need some wood strips.
I had a piece of door trim moulding 4 ft long that would be good for the blade part. It's flat elongated triangular profile and the ridges already cut into the wood simulate the sword lines and bevel to the edge.
I had some other wood scraps of 1 x 2 to make the handle and crossguard. The handle is about a foot long.
I had an empty round wire spool to use as the handle ornament. It saves me from cutting out a round shape or block.
You also need gold and silver paint. I used acrylics. A final clearcoat would be good. I used gloss Modpodge.
For the stone:
I used a cement mix called hypertufa which is commonly used to make garden containers. Hypertufa is a mix of cement powder, peat moss, and perlite/vermiculite There are many recipes for hypertufa mix.
CAUTION: Woodworking and masonry skills needed. Ok, not as much as knowing engaging in such activities has its hazards.
Step 2: Clamp It Down...
At the end of the sword blade cut it so it comes to a broad triangular point.
Sand it down to ease all the edges and blunt out the tip.
To make a strong handle, we cut away a rabbet recess 3 or 4 inches so the moulding can be glued making a nice joint for it to lay in. The moulding face should be flush or even with the face of the handle.
Cut a piece of 1 x 2 stock for your crossguard.
Make a cutout so it fits over the handle.
Glue that in above the blade.
I used a smaller 1/2 x 1/2 inch square stock to cover that joint completing the other side of the crossguard.
You can add the winglets to the crossguard. I just reused the wood scraps laying around. I dunno, reminds me of a T.I.E. fighter...
At the end of the handle, trim the end so that the spool can slide on and be glued.
You can fill in all the gaps with wood filler or just make fillets with glue.
Coat the plastic spool ornament with glue so that paint will stick to it later.
When dry, sand all over to prep for painting.
Step 3: Fancy That...
Parts of the sword were engraved with fancy designs. We can replicate that by using some 3D gel fabric paint to draw on the designs. The bottle has a needle applicator tip so we can paint on fairly fine lines. I did my design freehand but you can sketch on or copy a design to the sword.
I glued on some popsicle stick pieces for the cross in the handle ornament.
Once the 3D paint dries, you will have an embossed effect design.
Prime the sword with paint to yield a smoother finish to mimic a metal surface.
Paint the blade in a metallic silver.
Paint the handle and crossguard in a metallic gold.
You may need to give it several coats of metallic paint to get it looking metal-like.
When all is dry you can give it a clearcoat to further enhance the metal look. I used a gloss modpodge.
Use a piece of black felt or leather to glue on and cover the handle.
Step 4: Giant Poo Emoji...on a Stick
Calm down, it not what it seems...
I wanted to experiment with hypertufa since this stone was going to be used as a garden ornament outdoors. Originally I needed to make some kind of freestanding patio umbrella holder so this project would make a good prototype.
I had worked with GFRC concrete for garden ornaments before so hypertufa would be fun to try out.
I already had a big block of peat moss to use for gardening. I had some leftover portland cement when the porch was repaired. I only needed to get a bag of perlite. At least that is easier to carry than an 60-90 lb bag of cement or concrete mix from the home center.
There are many recipes for the proper hypertufa mix but usually about 1 part cement to 1-1.5 parts of peat moss, 1-1.5 parts of perlite/vermiculite. You can also add in a part of sand and a handful of special fiberglass or polyester fibers for reinforcement. There are also concrete color pigments and acrylic additives to really optimize your concrete for the outdoor frost or environment conditions.
My part measure was an empty container.
Work over a tarp or covering to contain the mess that follows.
Use a mixing tub or wheelbarrow to hold all of your ingredients.
I used a rake to mix all the dry ingredients first.
Wear a dust mask and rubber gloves to protect yourself from the dust and cement. Wet cement is alkaline so it will irritate your skin. Don't work with bare hands.
Add a part of water. Mix it in a wait a few minutes for the cement powder to activate.
Add enough water to get a moist crumbly mix. Take a clump and squeeze it together. If it holds you will have added the right amount of water. Too much water is no good and will weaken the cement bond.
I created a form for my stone by propping up a scrap piece of the sword moulding inserted into a cardboard box. I wrapped it all in packing film stretch wrap to keep out the water from the cement mix. This allows us to mold in a slot for the sword. I used two scrap pieces of aluminum window screen as my reinforcement mesh to form the rest of the stone..
Use larger hardware cloth or wire mesh as your "rebar". The window screen mesh was too fine for the hypertufa to settle in and embed the mesh into the cement mix. I was able to pull it off the bottom after the initial hardening.
The plan was to create a big stone for the sword. I would be able to cover around the sides of the box with hypertufa to build up the height. But when I found it wasn't really sticking to the window screening, Plan B was to just make a faux stone cap. This actually makes the prop more portable since it will be lighter to carry...like a sewer manhole cover.
Detail your stone by randomly pressing on it, making scratches, daubing with other rocks or concrete fragments... Anything to make it look more natural since nothing is a perfectly smooth shape.
Cover to let it harden up overnight or longer to fully cure. Hypertufa can take months to fully cure but can be carefully handled in a day. The color should lighten up a bit as it ages.
Step 5: Lo and Behold...
Fender Stratocaster with triple single coil pickups and a whammy bar.
It will be mine.
Live in the now. Make it.