8/26/2007

Zabuza's Sword

Materials
-Pink Insulation Foam
-Fiberglass cloth
-Epoxy
-Wooden Dowels
-Spraypaint
-Duct tape
-Sand Paper


Tools
-Hand saw
-Power sander
-Drill - Power drill, or a han drill. You'll need a big bit


Procedure

Step 1: Preparing the area
I recommend you do your work in a place which is well ventilated (like a garage). The steps to epoxy and spray paint will require this for your own health. Get your materials together. Refer to the quick guide above for materials. This building process will take a week or more, because of drying times for the epoxy, so you don't need the paints right away. But you do at least need your rigid insulation foam. Decide how large your item will be. Few cases will require you to bind multiple pieces together. You can see that my board was pretty large.


Step 2: Shaping/Cutting
Trace out the outmost edges of your sword. If there are any other cuts you're going to need to make (like the hole in the middle for this sword), draw those lines out as well. Using a saw, make your cuts, leaving about 1/4"-1/2" extra outside the lines. This is incase of any chipping/breaking. You will be sanding this down, which will be smoother and more precise.

Step 3: Sanding/shaping
Time to use the powersander (or sandpaper, if you don't have one). I recommend wearing goggles, or you'll end up with bits of foam in your eyes. As is, don't wear nice clothing--it will be covered with foam dust. As you can see in the picture to the right, I'm carving away the edge of the blade. This is pretty straight forward--once you get the hang of using the sander, you'll be able to work quickly. Don't press too hard, or you'll "dig" an unwanted deep mark or curve into the foam. When you've got the sword to the final shap you want it should be pretty smooth. If it's not, take some fine sand paper and lightly go over it. This is not overly important, but will help with the fiberglass cloth and epoxy.



Step 4: Additional Pieces
For my sword, there was an added section near the handle. I had another section of the rigid insulation foam, so I cut and sanded two of those. I attached them to either side with super glue. Don't worry if the edges where the foam comes together aren't 100% smooth--the epoxy will cover that up. You can make these shapes as you see fit--mine weren't quite accurate to Zabuza's sword.

Step 5: The handle
I used a long dowel of 1" diameter. The length is up to you, depending on how long you want it to be. A second dowel, of 7/16" was also used. I believe it was about 20" long. Using a drill, make a 7/16" hole into the center of the larger dowel, 8" deep. Fit and glue the smaller dowel inside this hole securely, so that the longer end is sticking out. Now, drill a 7/16" hole into the base of the sword where you want the handle to be. This hole should be 12" deep (the remaining length of the smaller dowel). It may be difficult to make this deep of a hole, and may require some improvising. It doesn't have to be too precise, but you don't want it any bigger (diameter wise) than the dowel or it won't hold, but you need to get the material out of the space all the way down. If you try to jam the dowel down in, you risk cracking or buckling the insulation foam.

Step 6: Applying the cloth and the epoxy
Read the instructions for your epoxy. Remember to be in a well ventilated space. Keep in mind that once you combine the resin and the hardener, it will only stay fluid for a short time before it is unworkable. So layout your cloth first on the surface of the sword, mix the epoxy, and apply it. You can work in stages. You may want to practice first on an extra piece of material so that you have an idea how it will work. When the epoxy is applied, the fiberglass cloth with go clear, though it might have a colored tint to it (mine looked yellowish--you may notice that in the image for the preceding step). I used three coats of epoxy, to make sure it would be strong enough and not chip off. Give the epoxy enough time to dry between each coat, probably overnight. Also, a little epoxy around the base of the handle wouldn't hurt as a bit of security to hold it in place.




Step 7: Post-epoxy sanding
The epoxy job is probably not going to be perfect, so we're going to sand it down next. I used the powersander, but you can use regular sandpaper as well. The idea is just to smooth down the bumps, not remove the whole coat. Using some black spray paint, I've demonstrated what I needed to do on my sword to smooth it out. Areas that were bumps before were sanded down, and so no longer have the black paint on them. You don't need to use paint for doing this on your own sword, as it should be visible enough if you look closely.

Step 8: Painting
This is pretty easy to do, if you've gotten yourself some decent spray paint. Read the instructions on the can for the best spray technique. I've forgotten what the pattern is, but the instructions will prevent you from leaving clumps of paint in spots. I used a silver-metallic paint for most of the sword, and gave it a second coat after the first one dried. I then used a chrome spray paint for the blade edge, which made it shinier than the rest of the sword. The effect is a bit subtle, but a nice touch I think. After it's dry, if you want, you can take a bit of sand paper and scuff the sword up for "battle damage". Just a few cris-crossing marks is all--you don't want to take all the paint off.

Step 9: Finishing the handle
The Zabuza sword actually has handle grips, but I didn't apply those. I was attempting to look for some sort of plastic/pvc piping that I could fit on the handle, but didn't find anything. It's an addition I will make if I do find something that works right. What I did do was wrap black duct tape all the way around the handle. I started at the base, near the sword, and worked outward towards the end, making only small advances each time around. This prevented the tape from bunching up (which would happen if you try to stretch it out). I also like the look of the close wrapping.
There you have it, that's how I made my sword. It stands at 7'1", a good bit taller than me. Good luck making your own sword.

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