-Foam pool noodles or Foam pipe insulation (1/2" and 1")
-1/2" white pvc pipe, schedule 40?
-Duct tape (colored is cooler)
-Peel & Stick Foam sheets from walmart or something else for grip.
-1 1/8" Rubber chair tips
Tools you might not already have:
-PVC pipe cutter (you should have one, makes cutting PVC a breeze, seriously)
|click to zoom|
Long sword dimensions:
based on my wooden boken (two-handed katana), we want a blade length of 30" and total length 40". For a two-inch safety tip, this means the PVC pipe should be 38". (the foam is of course 30" in length). This sword is also suitable for lightsaber practice, as they are based off of japanese sword dimensions as well.
Short sword dimensions:
based off of my kung-fu broadsword (one-handed saber), we want a blade length of 25.5" and total length 32". For a two-inch safety tip, this means the PVC pipe should be 30". (the foam is of course 25.5" in length).
In practice, this will still feel a bit longer than the regular sword because of the width of the foam. Also the rubber chair tip adds ~0.5" so you could cut the pipe a lil shorter on the handle side.
Martial arts and safety
Because we are using these swords for training purposes, 1/2" pvc pipe is the best size to use as it strikes a good balance between flexible enough to not hurt much on impact and stiff enough to solidly block without bending. The problem with most toy swords and commercial practice foam swords is that they bend too much (so you won't get hurt and sue the company). They also have poor tip designs making them dangerous for thrusting attacks.
|do this if using pipe insulation|
When sliding on the foam pool noodles on the pvc pipe, spray adhesive is a pretty good idea. The foam will be solidly locked on the pipe. (pipe insulation has adhesive already). I didn't do this, instead i just hot glued the pvc pipe to the foam (i roughed up the pipe surface with sandpaper for better adhesion) and duct tape to lock it down (a strip on opposite sides, and a ring on the hilt and on the blade to lock it).
Finishing the handle
The handle is a bit thin and hard on the hands. I've used some vinyl fabric ribbon before (with double-sided tape) but the best option i found was Peel-&-Stick Foam sheets found in the Walmart craft section. 40 sheets for $5 makes it great grips for mass-producing foam swords. A single sheet wrapped is good for the long sword. Cut it in half lengthwise for the short sword. The colors are nice too. The foam will probably peel-up over time so fix it in place with hot glue, bands of electrical tape, or a ribbon grip. Finish off the sword pommel with a rubber chair tip to cover the hard pipe end (if you have the foam grip, the 1 1/8" size fits perfectly).
|rubber chair tip not shown|
There you have it! With this design, i can make a sword in 10 min. I made sets of 6 swords per blade color but with all different hilt-grip colors. The blade color would signify the team, but the hilt color could give individuality when a person choose their sword. I made mostly long blades, but made all short swords blue blades, so people can tell visually.