How to Make a Buckler Out of Sheet Metal




I decided to make a buckler out of sheet metal for one of my friends who is very interested in Monster Hunter, a Action/Adventure/RPG that involves fighting massive monster with awesome weapons. This is the start of one particular sword and shield from the game.

          18"x18" 18 gauge sheet metal
          18"x18" poster board
          2 strips of sheet metal 2-3 inches wide and about 8 inches long. I used 18 gauge again.

I made this using a variety of tools at Techshop RDU. Awesome place would seriously recommend going at least once.

I also just finished a Helmet that goes with this seen here.

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Step 1: Plan It Out in Correl Draw

Really simple step. Draw a circle of the outer size of the shield. If your circle is bigger than the size of your laser printer then just print it on 2 or 3 sheets of poster board. Then draw another circle that is the size of the boss. I used 18" and 10" for my measurements. Make the outer circle hairline and the inner circle as dashed then set the thickness to something like 8-10 pt.  This will allow you to have a cut out big circle with a smaller circle you can see on the metal. Here are pictures of the laser in action, and the final template.

Step 2: Trace, Cut, Sand, and Pound Away

Place your template on the piece of metal, tape it down, trace it and fill in the dashed lines.  I then cut the circle out with the beverly shear at techshop. (sorry I forgot to take a picture of this bit) 

Grab your sandbag and a nice hefty mallet and begin swinging. By taking the organic sheet metal class at techshop I learned how to dish a bowl, I would highly recommend taking this SBU. Pretty much you start in the center then work your way in a spiral working outwards over and over again to work it down into a bowl, then flip it over and flatten out the outer rim with the wide end of the mallet. After it is roughed out flip the mallet over to the big end to clean it up a bit and smooth out the curves. There should still be plenty of hammer marks though.

Step 3: Planish and Polish

Now put on the ear protection again close the doors and reassure everyone that our not taking a jackhammer to the floor. Ok maybe you can skip that last part, but it is extremely loud so be careful. You can take this as far as you want slowly turning down the power until you have a mirror finish, I didn't go that far because I will be powder coating it black.

Step 4: Make Some Straps

I cut 2 straps that were about 6-8 inches long by 2.5 inches wide. I then cut two small rectangles off of each side to make a weak spot that I could fold on the brake. I then folded half an inch or so of each side into the middle then I put it on the slip roller to roll it into a nice curve. I then put it on the english wheel to add a slight third dimension to the straps to make them a little more comfortable. I repeated this again, on a slightly smaller scale to hold in my hand, then went out the the hot shop and spot welded both straps onto the shield.

Step 5: Sandblast It

I apologize for the lack of visiblity in the photos. I used the sandblasting cabinet at techshop RDU to remove any oils on the metal left over. Just take your time and get every inch otherwise your powder wont look very good. Wash off all of the glass bead in the sink then blow dry it with the blowgun.

Step 6: Finally Powder Coat

If you are going to do clear, I would recommend shooting cold, otherwise I would shoot it hot. Turn on the oven and the fan and preheat to 400. When it is about 375 put in the shield (hang it by a strap) and let it sit in their for 10 minutes or so. This way when you shoot the powder it will stick even if you had some patchy areas when sandblasting. turn the air pressure up to 5-10 psi press te plunger on low current flow and start spraying, making sure to equally cover the whole surface. 

Step 7: All Done

Now go throw yourself in front of a sword or something with this, or just wear it around while going about your daily life. It is very good at breaking the ice (both socially and actually) Please post pics of your awesome shields. If you have any positive criticism please share it below. Also don’t forget to vote for this in the Instructables Design Contest. Thank you for reading.

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    7 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Like brianhunt said, the end product is nice, but not historically accurate, but unless your mate is going to do actual combat, it doesn't really matter, it's a nice prop.
    Also, the sandbag goes underneath the bit to be dished while it's being hammered, right? So you have a giving surface to hammer into?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Correct, I was trying to raise the dome. You set the sandbag down then hammer in a spiral towards the center spreading the inner material to the outside raising the edges and hammering the center down. Again I was modeling this after a video game shield, so obviously not historically accurate, but thank you for the concern. Also the use of powder coat, a sandblasting cabinet, a laser, and a pneumatic planishing hammer would obviously detract from the product if I was going for historically accurate. Sometimes i’ll make something historically based, in which case I will attempt to use historical tools, this was not that type of project. Thank you though for your comment.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Just a quick note. You have done a very nice piece of metal work there, but as a teacher of medieval sword and buckler I think you might like to know that a buckler is held by a center grip like a viking round shield. Otherwise, good job. For additional strength you might want to roll the edge as well. All the best.

    1 reply

    I like it. Really I like anything that gets people, who otherwise wouldn't, to consider working with metal.

    Now, I don't know anything about bucklers or armory in general but why go through the bother of drafting a template onto paper? I would think that a compass or a divider ... or a 5" and 9" stick with a nail at each end would give you the concentric circles you need.

    I like your use of the planishing hammer, probably could have started with that but it makes for a better tutorial since a lot of folks don't have access to the air rig. The powder coat is a nice touch. I work with copper and brass so I never bothered with it but it sure makes for a nice finish.

    1 reply

    Thank you. I just decided to use the tools I had available at techshop. Hopefully my templating idea inspires someone else to make something more complex but using the same method. Thank you for the message though, it means a lot. I’d love to see some pictures of stuff you’ve made from metal. (Your instructables are fantastic by the way, I just looked at a few)