How to Make a Shield

Introduction: How to Make a Shield

I love armor and have already made a shirt of chainmail that you can read about here, as well as owning a sword. So I decided to make a shield that I can use when my friend and I fight. We are trying to learn the lost art of sword fighting. 

Stuff you'll need
  • Cold rolled sheet metal (Lowes, Canadian Tire, ex.)
  • about 30 1in screws
  • about 25 1/2in screws
  • 8-10ft 1-by-4s 
  • sandpaper
  • nylon or leather strapping 
  • 4 roofing nails
  • Jigsaw with wood and metal blades
  • Drill and drill bits
  • ball peen hammer

Step 1: Cut the Metal

For my shields I decide that the best size was 2ft by 1½ft so that it would cover most of my body without being to heavy. I also thought that a basic rectangle would be best because I am just a beginner at metalworking.

I bought the metal from Lowes for just over 40 dollars but that was enough for 2 shields so you could get a smaller piece that wouldn't be so pricey. Now just mark the length you want with a sharpie and cut it with a jigsaw. This is better done outside, as the metal pieces will go everywhere!

Step 2: Bending Metal and Keeping It Bent.

 Unlike normal shields mine does not have a full wood backing but instead a wooden frame around the edge. I decided to do it this way because I do not know how to bend wood properly. This way is also easier.

 Now that you have the main part of the shield you need to give it rigidity in the form of a bend. This will strengthen it by keeping the metal in tension and helping it deflect sword blows. It also looks better.
 First, you have to decide how much of a bend you think looks good. The easiest way to figure this out is to tie 2 pieces of string around the top and bottom and pull them tight so the metal is kept in that curve.
 Experiment with this until you find something you like, and then trace the shape on to your piece of wood.

 Now redraw the top of the curve on the bottom of the piece of wood so that the end result will be more like a rainbow than a semi-circle. Cut one out with the jigsaw and make sure it fits the shield before tracing it to make the second piece.

Step 3: Drill and Screw

 Now that you have the pieces of wood you need to attach them to the metal. For this you should use 3/4 to 1in screws because they will be under a lot of tension. For mine I put them every 1 ¼in but had to start about 2 inches from the sides because the wood tappers off there.

 You will need to pre drill the metal and the wood but with 2 different size drill bits, one that is slightly larger than the screw for the metal and one slightly smaller for the wood. That way the screws slip through the metal and bite in the wood without splitting it.

 It is best to drill the metal, mark the 2 edge screws, drill them and attach them to the metal and then mark the rest of the holes on the wood. Finally, remove the wood and finish drilling and insert all the screws. That way all the holes should line up.

Step 4: Side Pieces

 To complete the wooden frame and to stop the metal from bowing you will need side pieces. These are difficult to cut out because they are very thin and curvy. 
Measure the length of the metal in-between the end pieces, this will be the length of the sidepieces. Mine are 22 3/4in long, 1in thick and widening out to 4 by 1 ½ in at the bottom and top. This enables them to be screwed in to the metal after both are predrilled.
 There is not as much tension on these pieces so a ½ in screw along the side every 2in and to in the top and bottom should be fine.

Step 5: Handles

 The basic part of the shield is done, now you just need a way to hold it. The best way to do this is with 2 handles, one for your arm the other for your hand; that way you have complete control. For mine I used leather and nylon strapping.

 There are a few ways you could attach the handles to the shield (like nuts and bolts) but I think the best way is riveting. This is not a hard process and it does not need and special tools except an anvil, roofing nails and a ball peen hammer. Drill or punch a hole in both the material and metal that the nail can fit easily through. Insert the nail and make a mark with a sharpie about a 1/8in above the metal. Cut off the rest of the nail with a hacksaw and reinsert the nail. Make sure that the head is next to the material and you will be hammering onto the metal. 

 Place the whole thing on the anvil and, using the round end of the hammer, hit the sides of the nail. They will start to flatten out and sort of mushroom keep on going till the nail doesn't rattle or move. 
 Repeat this 4 times until both handles are attached 

·   Put the handles nearer to the top so the shield won't over balance.
·   The rivets cannot be undone so be very careful! 

Step 6: Finishing Touches

 You are almost done but there are a few things that can make your shield look better and be safer.

 First, you can file down the sidepieces so they meat the end piece. Also it is good to trim the corners of the metal, as they are quite sharp and poky. snip the ends with side cutters, file the edges and hammer them inward to touch the end piece.
 Second, if you missed, as you were riveting, from the inside you can hammer out those bumps.
 Finally, give the entire wooden frame a good sanding and admire your work!

(You can paint a crest on your shield or print one out on sticker paper. I am planning to do this but have not gotten around to it yet.)

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    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    If it was me I would make a vertical grip just saying


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know how it is in the US, but in Europe, this shield won't be allowed in any LARP because it's far too dangerous for the integrity of persons and foam weapons.

    Ther's too many sharp edges for LARP in my opinion, but nice work!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    LARP rules are international standard, but on the otherhand, if you wish to train, this and a rapier are the perfect training tools!

    Not bad for a LARP shield, well done! If you wanted to make a combat grade one, use carbon steel sheet, and hammer it to shape on an anvil. Also, swordsmen wouldn't use a tower or wall shield, those would be reserved for frontline spearmen. Swordsmen would use a circular buckler or at most a kite shield. OVerall, however, this was extremely well done! Bravo!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    That means now you get to make some spears! Woo!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Please vote for me and if you have any suggestions for a shoulder strap I would love to know. Thanks, hope you enjoy.