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11 Aug 2009 - 19:5018319
Making a sword from cardboard?
Hello! It is me again ^^; I'd just like to say thanks for the help on the cape, it looks great!!

I'm going to be making my first sword but I don't have any access to power tools and the like so I was going to go down the route of cardboard and paper mache. I want to make Hien, Syaoran's katana type sword from Tsubasa. But I'm unsure as to how about it exactly... Should I use couragated cardboard? Should I use more than one layer of cardboard? How many layers of paper mache should I use? How do I attatch the guard? How do I make the scabbard?

Sorry for all the questions! I have searched for tutorials online but I've found none of them particularly helpful.

There are a couple of reference pictures here... http://www.cosplayisland.co.uk/costume/view/8573

Thank you very much

11 Aug 2009 - 21:2218320
hi Lady Bahamut

i love what you've done so far it looks really good.

if i was going to make something like a sword out of cardboard i would use couragated cardboard but get the double layered one (like they use for heavy shiping not the usual one layer type). The reason is because it is alot more sturdy.

And the paper mache i would do two to three layers as this would then make the sword stronger and it should get rid of those grooves that cardboard seems to have

I think to make the guard on the sword, what you are best doing (i think) is cut out the shape of it and also cut out the shape of the sword. For the sword i would cut out the shape of it then do another one exactly the same (easiest way is just draw around the one you've just done) so you end up with two pieces exaclty the same and stick them together so your sword should be stronger, made with two layers instead of one.

If i was you what i'd do is cut the sword pieces longer so then you can use thoes extra inches as the handle.

When you've cut both pieces out place the flat ends of the sword to the card that's going to be your gaurd and draw around it so you should then end up with a rectangle shape on the card that is going to be your gaurd.

Cut out that little rectangle and slide your sword in the hole you've just made to your desired position (so then you can decided how long or short you want the handle). it should fit nicely. when you've done that you can then tape the gaurd in place.

when you have taped it in place to make the handle thicker (and this should also secure the blade better too) you could measure how long the handle is and how wide it is too when you've got thoes measurements cut out two rectangles of those sizes out of the couragated and stick them to both sides of the card that is going to be you handle this should thicken it (you might need some more rectangles depending on how thick you want the handle but make sure both sides have equal amount otherwise it might make it seem your handle isn't in the middle, i found that out once T_T )

When you've done that you could get some thin card like cereal box card a rap that around the handle and tape it in place. this can then smooth out those rough edges like if they are ever so slightly off one another and it gets rid of the grooves at the ends. when that's all done you should then be ready to do your paper mache.

Anyway hope this has been of some help ^^ i'll have a think about how you can make the sabbard

(i watch way too much Art Attack)

12 Aug 2009 - 00:1318323
While not fantastic, I made a SOLDIER Sword from Final Fantasy VII:Crisis Core out of cardboard, the tutorial for it can be found here;


Not amazing but it comes with pictures if that helps? LOL

CosplayIsland Staff Member

12 Aug 2009 - 18:3618338
Thank you very much for the help!! Any idea where I can get this double layered cardboard from?


Last edited by Lady Bahamut (12 Aug 2009 - 18:37)
18 Aug 2009 - 23:4718496
Quote Lady Bahamut:
Thank you very much for the help!! Any idea where I can get this double layered cardboard from?

Hi hun

I've looked on the internet and i can't seem to find it anywhere so what you are best doing in that case is sticking two lots of the cardboard together, that should make it just as strong as if you were able to get the double layered card

19 Aug 2009 - 00:4618500
Mine was the packaging my rowing machine came in ^_^'

CosplayIsland Staff Member

19 Aug 2009 - 10:5518505
The sword for my Raiden cosplay was make with cardboard and foam and its still0 fairly tough even though it has to be thin.
Sounds possible to do yours the same too

- KrEid - www.clayos.co.uk
19 Aug 2009 - 13:0818512
cardboard, hot-glue and funky foam are your friends, I've been working with these materials for some time now and although they don't look fantastic my Keyblade for Sora, my sword and sheath/scabbard for Edge, sword and sheath for Justin and Ultima Weapon for Zidane are all made from these materials if you'd like to look at them (some with a broom handle wedged in the middle) the thing you need to remember is build from the inside out and like a sandwich, though if you plan on using a broom handle for the handle and support it doesn't need to go right through the blade, but that may not work for a katana as its blade should be rather thin. I'm currently working on a katana for my Elfé costume for Oct Expo I'll try to post some informative progress shots.
hope that helps a bit, sorry for the essay. XD
if you'd like any specifics don't hesitate to PM me and I'll see if I can help

Last edited by Heero Masaki (19 Aug 2009 - 13:10)
19 Aug 2009 - 13:4918516
Thank you very much for the help ^^ My dad has got a cardboard box for me to use, which I'll start work on as soon as I've finished the main part of Syaoran's costume!

Heero Masaki: Some imformative photo's would be very useful, if you would be so kind as to do that ^^; Thanks again ^^ And I actually think your keyblade is very impressive!


Last edited by Lady Bahamut (19 Aug 2009 - 13:52)
23 Aug 2009 - 16:0118667
Making swords that are both durable and able to pass con rules is tricky, especailly if you are making them full size and not using tiny plastic kids toys.

Firstly, I would say do not use corregated card, it is too weak for the job. There are other materials better suited, many of which I have used in the past with pretty good results. Thankfully, they are also relatively cheap.

Balsa wood and paper:
For my Raiden katana I used a combination of thick cartridge paper laminated to balsa wood. There are pics of it in my profile, here http://www.cosplayisland.co.uk/costume/view/7889 This passed both Minamicon and Ayacon's prop inspectors. If you want to know more on the construction I can go through this in greater detail?

Foam board:
I used foam board to make the tira ring, pics of which are here, http://www.cosplayisland.co.uk/costume/view/1147 The foam board is light but is more susceptible to being dented, as can be seen in a couple of the pics if you look closely (battle damage?!). I am currently investigating ways to prevent this. I have no idea how this would hold up as a longer sword shape, however.

Mount board:
If you are to go down the card route then I would suggest using mounting board from any art shop. It is like a really thick piece of card. Create a template of the design using paper and then cut out two or three of these from the mounting board. Glue them together and the glue gives structural strength. Also, because it's layered, it is possible to sand an edge on both sides to give the blade effect. To make the guard (the circle bit at the hilt), I would cut it again out of car and make a slit in the centre just big enough to fit the blade through.

I hope that is of some use.

Following on from this, I have noticed recently that more cosplayers are starting to venture in to build props of their own that are able to survive a con but also pass regulations. Understandably, not everyone has the space, experience, confidence, or the money to use some of the more technical materials such as fibre glass or resin. However, this doesn't mean that decent props can not be built. I have been asked on occassion about the possibility of giving a panel at an event focusing on basic prop building, designed for people starting out or those on a budget. If this is something people would be interested in then I could look in to it further?

Somehow it's reassuring knowing I'm not the only one pretending to be normal

Last edited by theKillingDoll (23 Aug 2009 - 16:17)
23 Aug 2009 - 21:5218690
I haven't actually read everything everyone above said, but i really would suggest using foam board instead of cardboard. You'll be able to work with it the same way, but it's got that extra toughness, and if your papier mache ends up a bit too soggy (I'm one of those "more is best" people >.> ) then it won't bend and lose it's shape like the cardboard would.

It's pretty cheap, but you can only buy it in A3 sheets at the largest, as far as I know? There's probably larger ones availible somewhere more suited like hobbycraft?

Last edited by Kan-chan (23 Aug 2009 - 21:52)
24 Aug 2009 - 07:4018705
Foamboard is indeed available in larger sheets. I used three A0 pieces to make my girlfriend's Tira ring.

It is often in art shops, at the back where they keep all the A1 and A0 paper.

Somehow it's reassuring knowing I'm not the only one pretending to be normal
24 Aug 2009 - 08:1218706
I second Foam Board. I agree that the outer skin can be dented easier, but they are rock solid once you have several bonded together.

Incidentally, I recently purchased 14 x A1 foam boards from HobbyCraft (Westway Cross, Greenford) for my Gundam.
They were doing a buy one get one free (£5) so I got all 14 sheets for £35
Not bad considering my local art shop still stocks A1 foam boards at £4.75each ^__^

26 Sep 2009 - 14:3120231
Too late for foam board now! XD

Thanks for all the help though!

Anyway, I'm at the stage where I'm ready to paper mache. Any tips and general rules I should follow? I'm also planning to use PVA glue for my paper mache rather than this flour meathod I've read about... but how much water do I need to add to it?

26 Sep 2009 - 17:0420233
Two parts PVA to one part water. It's what we use in schools LOL And it's how I did my Buster Sword!

CosplayIsland Staff Member

27 Sep 2009 - 15:2020270
Quote sjbonnar:
Two parts PVA to one part water. It's what we use in schools LOL And it's how I did my Buster Sword!

Thank you very much ^^

27 Sep 2009 - 17:3120271
You're very welcome ^_^

CosplayIsland Staff Member

08 Oct 2009 - 14:1920660
Quote Lady Bahamut:
Quote sjbonnar:
Two parts PVA to one part water. It's what we use in schools LOL And it's how I did my Buster Sword!

Thank you very much ^^

Although I tend to add flour into the mix as well, lots of sticky stuff, also err i don't know if it has been mentiontioned but if you want it smooth paint the paste over the the thing your sticking it too not the other way around and then paint over it.

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