If your children grow up reading the likes of Lewis and Tolkein, sword play is par for the course. Everyone knows that. (That last link includes a nice list of sword fighting 'rules' - check it out.) We are often asked how we make our swords, so we are posting directions here. Dads love to duel with these as much as children of all ages do. See some pictures of swords in action at the end here.
And now, heeerre's Jonathan:
We have been making foam swords since we first read Narnia many years ago. We now have a standard battle-worthy design that is very sturdy and easy to repair. I would guess it costs no more than three dollars for materials. With these swords you can have real sword fights and still keep all your arms and legs.
To make four of these swords, we go to the hardware store and get a 10’ length of ¾” lightweight PVC pipe, two 6’ lengths of the foam tubes they make for insulating ¾”pipes, four ¾” PVC end caps, and a ¾”x1 ½” board. (I assume you already have plenty of duct tape around, but if not, get another roll.) You will also need a tape measure, a saw, a pair of scissors, and a drill with a 15/16” bit.
Cut the PVC into 30-inch lengths.
Cut four 28” lengths of the foam. The foam will extend beyond the length of the PVC so that the end of the sword is just foam rendering it safe for play. Trim one end of each piece so that it has a point. Then put three or four pieces of duct tape lengthwise on the foam to cover it entirely. It is easier to apply the tape if you have the foam on the PVC to help keep it straight. Wrap one end of each strip of tape around the point of the sword and tuck the other end into the end of the foam tube.
To make the hilts, cut four 9” lengths of ¾”x1 ½” board. Drill a 15/16” hole through the center of each piece.
Put a hilt and an end cap on each piece of PVC and add the tape-covered foam. Attach the blade to the hilt and the PVC with a couple of strips of tape going diagonally around the base of the blade, the hilt and the PVC. This finishes the basic sword.
If you want to make junior size swords, make the PVC 24”, the foam 24” also, and cut the hilts 7” instead of nine. Last year, we had our two little cousins over and we made them the shorter swords. However the three-year-old went around fighting us boys with one of our full size swords even though his older sister preferred the shorter sword – it is a matter of preference.
These swords can be made fancier if you want. Josiah has the hilt and grips of his swords covered with black tape and he even made a wooden plug to go on the end instead of a PVC cap so that it has his coat-of-arms. If you want, you can paint the hilt and write runes or elf letters on the blade with a permanent pen to make it look like one of those famous swords like Anduril.
If you use these swords a lot, they start to get ripped up, and the tips sometimes fly off in the middle of a fierce fight. Just repair them with more tape the way some kids tape their hockey sticks.
These swords are safe to hit people with if you don’t mind getting hit back. When we duel, hitting people’s heads or necks is illegal as are blows from above (and of course no hitting anyone who isn’t on his guard and ready to defend himself).
When we duel, we usually do not use shields (since only Josiah has one), so a big part of the fight is parrying and jumping out of the way. And as they say in Prince Caspian “The great thing is to slash at your enemy’s legs and feet.” We have enough swords that sometimes we use two swords like Orius the centaur in the Narnia movie. When I duel, I usually wear winter gloves to protect my hands, but this does not seem to be a problem with anyone else.
This is what happens when you bring your swords to a homeschool picnic.
Enjoy your swords!
Final note from Mom: Be sure children understand the rules for safe sword play so that everyone has fun and no one gets hurt (other than possibly his or her pride).