Lukrain's Guide to Boffers

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Making Swords

The Pieces of a Boffer Sword

Swords are made the same way the generic boffer is made. They are a bit more complex because of an added guard and possible thrusting tip. If you want a nicer looking weapon than the generic boffer, as well as a better functioning weapon, you will want to customize the guard and possibly the pommel of your sword. Below are several templates for making boffers that resemble real swords as they appeared throughout history.

Various Guards
It's difficult to alter the appearance of the blade of a boffer and still keep it safe. In order to make your boffer look more like a sword, you may want to alter the guard of the sword. See the diagram to the right for examples of various guards.

A - Curved cross guard. Used in many small and medium swords.

B - Small box guard. This guard goes around the entire sword, and is very common in Japanese weapons.

C - Straight cross guard. Very common in European design.

D - Large angled cross guard. Used by the Scotts, especially on the claymore.

E - Hand guard. Very common on falchions and rapiers.

F - Large cross guard. Used mainly on long swords.

Short Swords
All small swords are one handed weapons. They have a blade length around 15 to 25 inches and usually have a small guard like types A, B, and C. Because of their short length they are very light weight and extremely easy to wield. The light weight can be a problem because blocking a heavier blade is very difficult. Also, the short blade length forces you to get very close to your opponent to hit them. Almost every culture had some form of a short sword. The Greeks and Romans used them as their main sword of choice. The Japanese wakazashi and the Chinese dao are eastern examples of short swords.

Medium Swords
Medium swords were usually just light enough to be wielded in one hand. Many had an elongated hilt for the optional use of two hands. Medium swords are usually just referred to as "swords" as they are the most common size of the weapon. A medium sword has a blade length from 25 to 30 inches and could be seen with all types of guards. Most cultures had a medium length sword. A simple straight sword was heavily used during the middle ages in all of Europe, the Arabs use the curved scimitar, and the Japanese counterpart was the short katana which could be wielded with one or two hands.

Long Swords
Long swords go by many names like broadsword and great sword. They are almost always wielded with two hands as they can be extremely heavy. Their blade lengths ranged from the shorter 30 inches the extra hefty 60 inches. Many cultures developed these weapons which were used by very strong people. Long swords used large guards like D and F. Examples of these blades include the Scottish claymore, the Knights Templar sword, the flamberg, the German zweihander, and the long Japanese katana.

Making Guards
Guards are fairly easy to make and can usually be made from the scraps left behind when making the sword.

You will need:

  • Enough foam padding to make the guard you want.
  • A safety razor such as a utility knife or X-Acto knife.
  • Duct tape.

Step 1
First pick a type of hilt you want to make. Several are available in the diagram above, but you may want to create your own design. Make sure you have enough padding to make the design. If you are making a very large guard you may want to use PVC pipe for added structure, but remember that the weapon must be padded properly so that there are no hard spots.

Step 2
Measure and cut the design out of the padding you need using the utility knife. Try to make the guard out of one piece of padding if possible for added structure.

Step 3
Attach the guard to the sword and begin taping. Because the guard probably has a lot of tight corners you may want to cut your tape lengthwise before using it so it will be thinner and easier to work with. Make sure that all the tape is secured down and all the padding is covered.

Step 4
That's it. You now have an added guard on your sword. Learn to use the guard as a defensive means of stopping your opponent's attack.

Thrusting Tips

Thrusting tips are a means of making a boffer safer. A standard generic boffer simply has three to four inches of empty closed cell foam at the tip. For most uses this is safe enough to not have to worry about injury, but for younger players this can still be a bit hard to get stabbed by. Thrusting tips add open cell foam (couch cousin style) to the tip making it much softer.

When adding a thristing tip to a boffer you only need about one inch of closed cell foam at the end of your boffer, because you're going to add an extra three inches. However, you don't want the tip of the PVC pipe to damage the weaker foam, so be sure to put a few layers of tape over the end before applying the thrusting tip.

To make the thrusting tip take a 3 inch cube of open cell foam. Cut the cube into a cylinder that will line up to the end of your boffer tip. You can now attach it to your boffer by taping over it. Be sure not to compress the foam when you're taping over it. You want it to be nice and spongy when you're done. Some people poke holes in the area where the thrusting tip so it will compress better. Although can make the tip fall apart faster, it does make it safer.

A thrusting tip is a nice addition to any sword and it will make receiving thrusts much more bearable to the people getting hit.

Outside Links - Lightweight/CPVC. (Legends) - John's guide to PVC boffers. - PVC and CPVC. (Haven/NERO/SOLAR) - Complex boffer making guide. (Midland) - Generic boffer making. (BTL) - More Boffers. (SOLAR) - Blue Sword. (Belegarth)

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