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This is my second time making a sword prop for cosplay, and I thought it could be interesting to share what I've done.
Let me say one thing first: There is no ultimate or correct way to make a sword. My way of making these props consist more or less of scavenging and hunting for materials in the local stores. Get what I think will be of use, and smack them together with glue and paint. My mini tutorial is only one of many way to approach this
It's worth doing some research and see what other prop makers have done
Before starting, its important to visualize what you want achieve, what level of detail, and how practical it should be.
I had a couple of things in mind before I started; I wanted the sturdy but as light as possible. And as 1:1 scale and realistic looking as possible.
Before doing anything, I spend my first week only browsing my local stores for materials available, and figuring out in my head of how to turn my materials into the sword, and which tools I needed. Needless to say, it became a very expensive project after a while, but it was definitely worth it in the end
I ended up with a material list like this:
A wooden sword
Lots of cardboards ranging from 1mm to 3mm thick
Foam boards, about 1 cm thick
Several cans of primer spray and silver spray
Black acrylic paint
Nuts and bolts
Any cylindrical containers as long they are in correct sizes.
1) The wooden sword would act as a core to the foam board which would make up the blade. Cut out the shape of the blade accordingly and glue it together, on each side of the wooden sword.
2) As soon as the glue dried, it was time to sand brush it down the blade so I would have a "sharp" edge to it. Since its foam, it was quite easy. However the surface of the foam doesnt make a good surface to paint on, so I "dressed up" it with the thick cardboard as a layer on top of everything. A cross section of the sword would be like: Cardboard - Foam - Wooden sword - Foam - Cardboard. The black stripe along the blade is simply another layer made of cardboard on top of that again.
3) At this stage, I started to look into working with the surface. If you paint on cardboard, it will still look like cardboard, just in another color. That's why you apply a primer on top. The primer will fill the small gaps and additional sturden the cardboard and also making it more water resistant. Cool huh? Combine it with a fine sand paper smoothing, and you will have a great surface to paint on.
4) The only things remaining now are the all the pieces attached to the sword. Here is where the creativity kicks inn. I bought things which resembles what I needed, and those I couldnt find. I simply made them in cardboard, using the same technique.
5) For painting, you should get a super high glossy black and give it several layers of coating so the sword looks almost shiny. Then apply the metallic/silver paint on top. I intentionally made a few cracks and worn out the look to the sword with the acrylic paint to make it look more like metal.
6) As all the pieces were finished with paint, I applied a final layer of lacquer to protect my silver coating from wearing off.
7) Time to glue all the pieces together. Sealing all gaps and holes which weren't meant to be there
8) Sword is done!
The whole sword project took me about fourty days to complete, much longer than I had anticipated, due to my first time working with cardboards and a sword this odd. It was very experimental but I'm very satisfied to manage to pull this through.
I've learned a few things about handcrafting after this. So feel free to ask any questions you may have regarding building it :')