How to Make a Plywood Shield With a Leather Wrapped Edge




Introduction: How to Make a Plywood Shield With a Leather Wrapped Edge

In this instuctable you will learn how to make a leather wrapped shield. You can use it for LARP, boffering, or whatever other re-enactment activity you prefer, of course it can also be used as a costume element or just for fun!

Tool-wise you will need:
Pneumatic stapler
Air Compresser
1/2" long, 18 gauge, 1/4 inch crown staples
Utility knife (box cutter, razor, somthing sharp)
plywood (slightly bigger than the shield you plan to make, B/C is fine)

Leather, enough to cover the edge with 4 inch strips (under 1/8 thickness is advisable)
Padding (anything soft but strong enough to be stapled)

A black regular sized sharpie
A place to work

wood dye
leather dye

"Measure twice, cut once."

Step 1: Design, Plywood and a Jigsaw

First get your design in mind before you get your plywood.
A word on designs. When choosing a design keep in mind two things:
1. First and most important, what you want the finished shield to look like. What you personally think is awesome.
2. Functionality. However awesome it might be, plywood shields, when cut into designs with long thin pieces, will break. So don't go making the spiky tower shield of doom because it will soon be missing some spikes. Also, when you're sword fighting a good fighter blocks with the edges of their shield, NOT the middle. so unless you are totally bent on making a round shield, don't. Squares with rounded corners, good. Triangles, fine. Just make sure you've got some edges.
Now because I was making this shield for someone else he had a preset design in mind so all I had to do was round the corners. However you may have to measure out your design.
I have a love/hate relationship with eyeballing it so i usually get out the yardstick, sharpie, a piece of paper and a pencil and measure it out.

Always write down your measurements on a piece of paper BEFORE drawing the pattern on the board.

That said, I recomend that your shield be 2-3 inches larger than your shoulders on either side. Also I will say to always try for a symmetrical shield.
Once you've got your wood on a pair of sawhorses, and the design is drawn on you can start cutting. So take out your jigsaw and go at it, but be careful on the curves. Also when cutting the curves if you want the same curves on bothe sides just take the srap piece and line it up with the other side. Voila, the same incline on both sides.

"Measure twice, cut once."

Step 2: Putting on the Handle

Next you staple on the handle.
Now some people like their handles rotated at a certain angle. That's up to them but for a standard shield i just put it straight across.
So first you need to cut out straps. Get your leather  measure out two straps about 1-1 1/2 wide and work them like crazy until they are nice and soft. Cut them a litlle long because you can always cut them down.
Find your padding and dig out the staple gun. Flatten out the padding and figure out where you want your handle. If this is your first try i suggest that you find dead center and put it there. Put a staple every inch all the way aroung smoothing out the padding as you go. Next take your strap and put it around your hand without stapling it to the board and cut it to size. You're going to want it tight arownd the hand and a little loose around your forarm. The reason you are going to have it tight around the hand is so that you can get maximum leaverage on that shield.


It sounds stupid but I have done it many a time. Take the staple gun and staple the straps on, 5 on each strap. Congradulations you now have your handle on.

"Measure twice, cut once."

Step 3: Optional: Staining

This step is only if you have staining to do, otherwise go right on to the next step.
If you are going to stain your wood stain it before you put the edging on. The reason being that the actual edge of your wood shield can be as weird looking as you want, as long as it's straight the leather will cover it up.
Rub the wood stain on and wait for it to dry before moving on to the next step.

"Measure twice, cut once."

Step 4:

Well then you're ready for leather. Go forth thee and surmount a noble quest for thy leather. Also on the way find your yardstick and sharpie.
When cutting your leather keep in mind that the leather may be crooked as long as you keep your trusty yardstick and use it that the piece will come out straight. Cut the leather in to strips about 2-2 1/2 inches and if in doubt cut it bigger than nessary.
So you are ready to staple on your edging, well get your stapler out and lets get going. Get your leather straps and work them around the side of the shield until they bend easily then start with the corner pieces. Along the top edge lay a strip and put a staple on the side farthest from the coner on bothe sides, before you staple it make sure the sides are balenced. then keep on stapling down the strip making sure each side is even until you reach the corner. then bend the corner over and cut it so it layers over it's self, check the picture for a referance. Continue on down the strip puting a staple every 1/2 inch or so. follow this procedure for the other corner(s). After doing the corners, continue on with filling in the gaps with other pieces following the same method to get the other pieces stapled on. If the leather gets a little bit lumpy when on curves don't stress it. If you just press down hard when stapling and don't be too OCD about the curves, it won't matter in the long run because you won't notice them from a distance.

"Measure twice, cut once."

Step 5: Find a Mirrior......

Go find a mirrior. Find all the other parts of your costume/getup/armor also for the best effect effect. Altenitvly sally forth and do battle with your brave comrades in arms. Whatever you wan't to do with it, enjoy.

This is ShNitZulll signing out, please comment, please refrain from cursing while doing so (after all the are much better ways of expressing yourself, such as Shakespearean insults), and good luck.

Ex: In civility thou seem'st so empty.

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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice shield, Im thinking of making one at some point, historically they used rawhide for the edge for better strength and a cheap and easy source is dog chew toys. They are raw hide and can be soaked and unwound into perfectly use-able strips.

    Interesting... Typically a heater would have an angled handle unless designated for cavalry... The angle provided support and utilized the shield's shape for combat. Here's some pics of a heater I have built after much research. It has a rawhide edge and is fit for steel combat. I'm guessing I'm about your age though... More people need to get into stuff like this. Not enough young fighters.


    8 years ago on Step 5

    When you say "Go find a Mirror" Do you mean Look in a mirror? Or Attach a Mirror to the Shield to make a Mirror Shield?