Thursday, 31 May 2012

How to make a leather mitten and keep your fingers safe

So far I've only shown how to make weapons. This is well and good, but weapons will only get you this far.

In most LARP games that involve combat - hits to the head, hands and groin and ignored(/and/or penalized) and the vast majority of people prefer to wear only rule wise relevant armor, thus ignoring helms, gloves and cod pieces. For some - its a part of their costume, for the rest - its inexcusable . Unfortunately we live in the 21st century now, and while its tempting to clean the gene-pool of such people(or at least make sure they won't reproduce with a well placed groin hit. Don't forget to say Sorry after that!) its more trouble than worth. That of course doesn't mean you are one of them are you? If so you have a chance to redeem yourself partly if you follow this guide.  

 Chances are that the first part of your body to suffer would be your fingers, and bloodied knuckles are annoying. To avoid them, one must protect his sword arm. Here's a simple way to make a sufficiently thick leather glove for it. The model is sturdy and if you have tougher leather it works for SCA and reenactment as well.

Leather mitten

Budget:10-15$(depends on what you got)

Materials:2x Leather belts - look in second hand stores to find them cheap or use old ones ready for throwing away. If you can find an old army belt you scored the jackpot. A pair of leather workman gloves - these offer some protection, but in this case will serve only as a carrier.  Thread for sewing leather - normal one isn't strong enough.

Tools: Scissors, leather hole punch, strong needles.

Here we go!

 First we cut the leather into pieces, as many as necessary to cover the workman gloves with 1-2 extra since they will be overlapping.

 Then we start sewing them together, starting from the top. .Make sure they overlap.
 Measure carefully where you punch the holes - once you do it, you can't fix it.

 The first two pieces are sewn together.

 Now we simply repeat the same operation several times.  Once you get halfway there - its time to switch the direction of the overlapping. This is also the point where the thumb will go once we get to it.

Now the full length of the mitten is finished. Next thing on our list is to get the first strap on.

Again, measure the length of the strap carefully, then cut it out and sew it on.

Now that we can zero it in -  we can attach the thumb of the mitten. We are almost there now.

With this done, only thing left is attaching the mitten more firmly to its base - the workman glove.
Once we sew it firmly to the workman glove, with some quick glue to help keep things together, we are done.

Facebook page created

For those who don't feel like checking blogs often, I made a facebook page. Its not yet complete but its functional.

Monday, 28 May 2012

How to make a curved larp boffer sword.

Straight flat blades are well and good, but at one point a time comes in a man's life, when he wishes for something with some curves....But don't worry that's perfectly natural as you grow up. Okay jokes aside.

Now making a real curved sword, a saber, scimitar, shashka, yatagan or whatever, would require a bit more than just fancy cuts on the foam. You need to bend the core. Now that's not as impossible as one would think.

Here is how its done.

Curved larp swords

Budget: Same as for normal one.

Materials: Same as for normal one. Use a polypropylene pipe!      Here we are making use of the specific properties of polypropylene pipes - PVC, bamboo or fiber glass simply won't do - in fact don't even try or you might hurt yourself or set something on fire. Also pick a thinner one - I used F20.

Tools: The usual for making a sword - in addition on that :

Hot iron - just be careful not to burn yourself - get some leather gloves or mittens. If you do burn yourself don't come to me crying, its your fault.

Spare set of hands. That is - call a friend to help you out with this. You can do it on your own, but it will be much easier to do it with someone else to hold either the pipe or the iron.

Here we go!

 First we let the iron get hot. What we are going to use here, is the polypropylene pipes elasticity.

As you can see, I've fixed the pipe to a small vice - you can improvise here if you don't have one around. I've selected enough for the sword handle and started heating up the pipe right after that point.
 There is no need to melt it - just heat it up, once the iron starts leaving a mark, move it to another side.
 Once the pipe gets hot its stops being elastic and you can make a bend at the desired location - in this case just after the handle section.
 Once you bend it - keep it like that - here a friend can hold it for you while you concentrate on the hot iron.
Keep the area that's getting a curve reheated so that the plastic resettles in its new shape.

 Eventually, it will stay as it is - curved. Thats a good start, but only the start. Now we have to curve the blade.

In the second step, a helping hand is invaluable. Don't ask me how I managed to both work and take pictures, because I did not - there are only a few photos so read through what I say to avoid blisters.

Now curving the blade is best done on a flat surface - namely the floor. I used an old cardboard pizza box to make sure the carpet is undamaged. The reason for this is that we want to achieve a curve on the X and Y lines, we don't want to add Z in there - that is we only want to curve the blade in two dimensions and if you keep it in the air while bending its easy for it to bend sideways as well.

The markings on the pipe are useful here for making sure its flat on the ground while you are working.
Start heating the whole length of the blade that you want to get curved. If you have a helper - divide labour - one will hold the pipe, another the hot iron. If you don't have a helper - put some boots on because you will be using your leg to help you hold the pipe in place.

 The more you heat it - the more it will bend. You will probably have to repeat the heating and bending until you achieve the shape you want and the pipe stays that way.

 After it does, wait for it to cool down and you are ready to make your sword.

DON'T FORGET TO TURN OFF THE HOT IRON! We got enough house fires as it is!

I'm not going to show you the whole process of making a sword again.
Here's just a few photos until the final result was achieved.

First a counter weight, similar to the one used here.
 Then a blade is cut and attached.

Here it is finished.

Finally the sword is finished. In this particular case I made the shorter sabre. The longer cavalry sabre I made earlier. 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Simple way to make a larp weapon counterweight

Most short larp weapons don't need to be properly balanced because after all - they weight almost nothing. However longer weapons, especially two handed swords and other such do benefit from a counterweight. It gives them the feel of a weapon, and allows better control, especially of inertia which is kind of important for a great sword for example, unless you want to put someone down for real.

Note that this is just a testing example - I'm not making a new weapon here. Also - this works with polypropylene pipes, so don't try it for PVC or some other weapon core.

Materials: A handful of nails.

Consider this to be your average larp sword or axe or whatever. The pipe itself obviously has 50/50 weight distribution.

However, when we add all the extra foam and tapes, not to mention move the centre of balance back
 towards the handle, the weight tips towards the front substantially. This can't be allowed, so we will fix it as best as we can.

 This is a handful of common household nails, just enough to fill out the inner diameter of the pipe and wrapped in tape to keep em tight and together. This is our counterweight.

Now you must hammer it inside the pipe until its firmly lodged in. Once that's done it will be immovable. Since this is a polypropylene pipe, there is no danger of it shattering, the only way to remove the counterweight  would be to melt the pipe around it. In this case I've not hammered it in fully - you can get it to fit better and them simply cover it with something.

There you go - now the weight of the weapon is not so disproportionate.  Mind you for something heavier, such a counterweight won't be enough but its still better than nothing.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Making a larp throwing axe or francisca

For some reason throwing knives in larp and boffer combat are far more common than throwing axes, despite the latter being an actual battlefield weapon, unlike the first. That reason of course  would be that larp and boffer weapons don't behave like normal weapons and often a throwing knife would have the same abilities like a throwing axe with the added benefit of smaller size(thus more can be carried around and concealed). In reality a throwing knife would be useless on a battlefield where everyone is wearing at least some kind of protection. The throwing axe, or francisca on the other hand has been used with great effect in a manner similar to roman javelins - to mess up the enemy formation before a charge.

Here I'll show you how to make a decent homemade larp francisca, and show you how you can recycle what would otherwise be trash.

Larp throwing axe

Recommended for: Battlefield throwing weapon(its too big to conceal) to be used before a charge or mid-combat. Its more versatile than a javelin, since having one tucked in your belt won't impair your movements. Short hand to hand backup weapon.  You can use it in close combat if need be but bear in mind that its not durable enough for continuous hand to hand fighting - the plastic would make the head bend rather than tear if tangled, but I don't recommend it anyway.

Budget: 1-15$(depends on what you have available)

 Materials:Pipe foam, 2 or more big plastic bottles(I used beer bottles) Cardboard(Old pizza boxes for me) Various tapes, glue, fake leather strip, training foam mat(or camping foam mat) - optional.

Tools:Scissors and paper knife.

And here we go!

Photo of the materials used before starting to work.

 First we cut the middle sections of the plastic bottles. The plastic will give our axe durability.
 Then we draw the basic shape of the axe on the cardboard and cut it out from 2-3 layers of cardboard.

After that we cut out the same shape from the plastic bottles. While the plastic will give durability, the cardboard will give it volume and add some weight.

 At this point, its still possible to make adjustments. I decided my axe was a bit too short, so I made the shaft longer. Its a good idea to remove any sharp points from the plastic too.

 Now its time to make the head. Shape the axe head carefully in the same way shown in the basic larp sword guide You don't have to make it too wide since there is nothing heavy or hard behind it.

 Now its time to wrap the head and the shaft in strips of camp/training mat foam. You can use pipe foam too, camp/training mat foam is simply more suitable for the task but its hardly a must - I did it because I had it available on hand.

This will cover the hard edges of the plastic and give even more volume to our axe. Now it will actually fly.

  Finally both the axe head and the shaft are ready for covering.

We start with the axe head and wrap in in tape. I chose classic grey duct tape for its fabled durability.
I could have done a bit better here. A second pair of hands would have helped.
Next its time to wrap the shaft. I used the left over fake leather from the advanced soft knife tutorial
 Add quick glue and wrap it around!(and as with anything involving quick glue work fast...pun intended)

 With this done, our axe is finished. A small piece of pipe foam will serve as the pommel.

 Here you can see it measured with my hand to get an idea of its size.
 It has a good grip and flies well. Alas, I cannot mass produce these just yet. I ran out of beer bottles. Though There is a way to fix that...