This is my first project on here and I hope it helps. I have built a couple of swords, my favorite is a full size Buster Blade from FF7 but this is just a simple build for how to paint and work with a handle to finish a sword. I plan on posting other builds later but for now I hope this gives an idea how to approach your own projects.
Step 1: Build Your Sword
Sadly I did not take a picture of this step but I plan to make a detailed instruction later. I used a 1 by 4 (pine) and carved out the sword I was looking for. Using a draw knife and a lot of patience I was able to make the five foot sword. The blade is about 42 inches and the handle was about 18 inches. I fire hardened the blade with a torch which is why it has the dark tones. The rest of this build will work with whatever side you want I just wanted a huge two handed sword.
Step 2: Base Coat
The start of this paint job I always use a base coat of matte black spray paint primer. This allows you to see any low spots in your blade where you might want to put in some wood filler. After this semi dries sand it down lightly with a fine grit sand paper. This smoothes out the paint and makes the next coat sit flat with no strange bumps. I cover the blade as well as the pommel. I didn't paint the handle just because it is going to be covered in leather.
Step 3: Second Coat (optional Kinda)
If you don't want a second black coat or if you haven't filled in holes with wood filler then the second color should be a flat or matte grey. This is kind of an optional step I just like to do it as a way of adding another tone to the sword. The type I used for this build is the cheapest grey primer I found at the hardware store. It is indoor/outdoor paint but just indoor is fine since this isn't going to be an out in the weather type of project. spray all the areas that are supposed to be your metal in smooth motions so there aren't any runs on the blade. I do recommend letting this dry slightly and sanding down the same way you did with the primer. making sure everything is smooth.
Step 4: Metallic
Using a metallic spray paint I lightly went over the grey so that it started to really shine. I like to do this just enough so that it shines but not enough to cover it with a thick coat. Our next step is the difference between a well painted sword and a fake looking sword. Make sure you paint with smooth strokes and don't let any runs form. Let this dry for around 5 minutes before moving on to the next step.
Step 5: Weathering
This step is something I am not completely wonderful at yet. I still like how it turned out though. Take a black spray paint (I just used my primer again) and a paper towel. Make sure you have a couple layers of paper towel so that if one layer breaks or get two dirty you can use another quickly. In small patches spray the paint on the sword and wipe it off after about 2 seconds. Wipe the paint off in none uniform patterns. This should fill the dents or crevices of the wood as well as making it look like aged steel. Repeat this step until you have the full length of the blade as well as the cross guard and pommel. I then took the grey paint and did this same process ins particular patches so that all three colors blended to make it look very old. You might wonder why we needed base coats if we were doing something like this anyway. well since we did each layer so quickly the new paint will actually take off small layers when you wipe it off and will cause it to blend better for an overall effect of awesome.
Step 6: Finishing Coats
After I was happy with the Look of the blade I sprayed the whole blade down with a clear protectant. I used a clear semi gloss polyurethane. Do one coat lightly then wait 5 minutes and do another coat. After this point it is a good idea to leave the sword hanging up for a while so that it can air out. I took the time to swing it around a couple times for the fun of it. (it is not recommended to work or paint in flip-flops but it happens. :) )
Step 7: The Handle
When building your handle it is important to decided on your materials. I went to Hobby Lobby and got a pack of leather pieces. I found a set of 3 lb. of assorted leather for $8.99 you can probably find smaller pieces for cheaper. You need one piece the length of your handle and wide enough to wrap around. I used two separate types of leather so that there is a section in the middle to break up the colors. Then using Quick Hold craft glue, glue the leather to the handle and wrap it with a shoe lace or string to hold it until it dries. Once that dries you can take a leather lace and wrap the handle to hold it firm and add a nice look.
Step 8: Enjoy Your Sword
I really like how this came out and hope for the best in your builds.
(just so you get an idea of the size of the sword I am 6' 2" )
Step 9: (Optional Sheath)
Using some cardboard and Nylon I made a simple sheath that I might upgrade in the future with straps and extra leather. Just something to think about.
Good luck with your projects.