Wednesday, 30 January 2013

How to make a larp spear shoulder strap(works for all polearms)

So, assuming you got a spear or a polearm of some sorts, now comes the question, how to carry it? Swords, knives, maces and sharp sticks are easy - you can tuck them in your belt if have nothing else. A polearm though, is a different deal, and carrying it in your hands all day is not the best option.

So, I'm going to show you how to make a very easy and simple shoulder strap for your larp spears that takes only a few minutes to make.

For this we are going to use some rope, a leftover used duct tape roll, and as tools the scissors and a mini drill(though you can improvise with any of the tools/materials - I'm simply showing you the design)

 First things first - make some holes in the duct tape roll. The roll is made from very hard cardboard, and its juuust a bit bigger than the F-32 pipe which I use in most of my large weapons. A loose fit is important - the duct tape roll will act as a cup in our strap

 After we drilled 4 holes in it, its time to cut out two pieces of the rope.
 One should be big enough - roughly twice the size of a rifle strap, the other small since its only used to block the cup.

 Next insert the rope and tie knots at the end to keep it in place.
 Voila - that's it! Your boffer spear strap is done. That's it! Nothing more to it. So, how it works now...

 I'm testing it with the same boffer spear I made for the larp spear guide.  First we pass the loop through the spear shaft, then we fit the end of the shaft in the cup and just lift...

 There you go, its ready for carrying on your shoulder now. Now your hands can be free during long marches.

 It can work with other polearms too, and if you make a cup that can fit the blade - with great swords as well. Unstrapping it is a mere matter of shaking the cup off. This is another reason why I used such cheap materials - it is possible to lose your spear strap by accident. If you are careful, or tie the strap as part of your armor, feel free to use more expensive stuff - namely leather.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

How to make a larp boffer bardiche (or berdiche) great axe

The bardiche is a type of great axe, possibly evolved from the dane axe, that was widely used in medieval Russia and Poland. Its notable for its very long blade - often up to 60 sm and lack of spear point or rear spike, that made it different from halberds and the like.

Unfortunately after I finished mine, I accidentally deleted the step by step photos. Therefore I'll have to improvise with this guide, since I can't make another one.

So, bardiche - how its made.

First of all - there are a lot of similarities with the guide on a one handed fighting axe and the warhammer guide.

BUDGET - bigger than usual - roughly twice what we'd need for a simple sword.

TOOLS - the usual.

MATERIALS - F32 pipe 1.5m long, foam, tapes, wood texture wallpaper for the shaft, f20 pipe 1m long,  about 20+ plastic bottles, cardboard. Pop rivets.

First things first - about the shaft - the shaft is made exactly the same way as the shaft in the normal axe guide. Of course its much longer - the bardiche stands at a 1.85. sm - its as tall as I am.  The f20 pipe is about 1 m long and its fitted inside the f32 as a counter weight and for improved stability(and less wobbliness).

Now the real deal - the axe head. To make the axe head you will need a LOT of plastic and cardboard.
 Therefore your main resources will be plastic beer bottles and pizza boxes. Well - at least for me they were.

 I used a LOT of both - About 20+ plastic bottles and I still don't think its enough.

Here is the tricky part now. Even the large 2 litre beer bottle is not big enough for the whole head.

Therefore you need to make it two piece - First from plastic bottles you cut and shape 2/3ds of the axe blade, then rivet that to the shaft. Reinforce it with the cutouts from the bottles the cardboard and truly frightening amounts of duct tape. After that with yet another batch of plastic bottles you shape the top half of the axe head AND rivet that to the lower half. Don't forget to cover the rivets with foam/cardboard. Don't leave exposed metal. Again reinforce it with copious amounts of cardboard, tape and plastic. After all this, actually fitting the foam covering is a trivial job. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

On armour - chainmail - the simple chainmail shirt tutorial part 1

I've made enough progress with the commissioned chainmail shirt to make part one of the tutorial on how to make your own. Mind you part two won't be coming soon - it will take me a while to get to that point.

Anyway, on the point. As stated before - homemade chainmail is the obvious choice for good quality larp armor when you are on a budget and can't afford much. However, making something big like a shirt or a hauberk is the biggest possible project you can engage with so don't take on it without previous experience.

So - chainmail body armor - what do we need?

TOOLS. - the usual for making chainmail - pliers, a cutter of some sorts, mandrel and optionally electric drill.

BUDGET - depends on the material, the size of the shirt and your local prices. The ones you see above are from galvanized wire and cost about 30$ apiece in terms of raw materials.

First of all a bit of extra info. Chainmail body armor comes in 3 main types, depending on the size, namely - vests, shirts and hauberks.

After seeing my awesome photoshoping skills, back on topic. The given numbers are rough estimates of course, based on my own experience for standard 2mm thick wire and 10mm inner diameter of the links. Mind you there are hauberks with short sleeves and shirts with long sleeves so again - the numbers could be different.

The sleeveless vest is the easiest to do and a lot of larpers don't do anything bigger. However often it gives an "unfinished" look - it depends on the rest of your costume.

The chainmaille shirt is the most widespread type. Usually it has short sleeves covering down to the upper thigh. The tutorial will be for one of these.

The chainmaille hauberk is the biggest possible project and a major undertaking. Its slow to make, and heavy to wear for most people. On the bright side - its a full set of armor that covers  your body, arms, upper legs and if you have an integrated coif - your head as well and thus it can serve as a costume on its own. Just get some feet wraps and a norman kite shield and you are good to go with a garb that will be accepted pretty much everywhere.

So, how to make your own chainmail shirt?

First of all you'll need to make a lot of rings. That involves a lot of  coils - its better to wind all or most of your wire first, instead of making some every day. It will save you time spent on dismantling and re-mantling the winding equipment. To give you a rough estimate - here is what 8-9 kilograms of coils looks like. 

If you are making a shirt you'll need about 1.5 the amount shown - if you are making  a hauberk, twice that.
Don't worry if you have left overs. They will be used elsewhere.

The chainmail shirt can be divided on several parts - the main body, the sleeves, the skirt and the sides(they are optional - depends on how big you are yourself)
We start with making the main body of the shirt. For this I made a lot of veery long chains. 22 of them at 1.5 meters long each. Mind you this is for someone smaller than me. You should make more if you broad shouldered.

This is going to be the main body of our shirt - front and back combined. Once I weave them together in a big rectangular piece as shown above, I will check if it needs another 1-2 chains to adjust the size, then simply open a hole in the  middle for the neck. In the next part of the tutorial I will measure, adjust then close the sides. If you are making a chainmaille vest, that's when you stop. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

How to make a larp boffer roman gladius

The Roman gladius does hold a few more target specific points to be given a separate tutorial here.

So what can be said about it  in one sentence. If you are looking for a short stabbing sword meant for fighting with big shield in formation then you need a gladius. They come in several basic types, though most of the variation comes from blade shape which cannot be readily replicated. Size is between 60-70-80 sm long, depending on the type.

So Larp boffer Gladius - materials list

The usual gig - polypropylene pipe F25, tapes, foam, some glue and hemp string in this case.

The tools list is usual and so is the price tag attached. I'm not going to repeat it every single time after all.

Now the specific point about the gladuis is that it's meant mostly for stabbing. Therefore the tip needs to be made a bit differently. First I'll soften the edges of the pipe so that they don't damage the foam tip. A champagne bottle cap could go there but I don't have one at the moment.

 After that its grip making time. First I measure it and leave some room for error margin. After all the sword might go in bigger hands than mine.

 Then its business as usual for my current larp sword making technique - the grip is made oval and the pommel goes in. Note that there is no additional counterweight this time, apart from the pommel itself. The gladius is fairly short and light so there is no need for it.

 Usually at this point I add leather to the grip to improve handling. However I decided to do something else this time around.A bit of a cheaper alternative to be accurate.

 Simple hemp string is glued to the grip instead of leather. It works just as fine, but at a fraction of the cost.

Sometime later its done and one can start working on the blade itself. 

In this case the blade is made a bit differently. Its again classic 2 foam layers, however the layers themselves are made from a single length of foam that goes around both ways. 
 One extra layer of foam is added to the tip to soften it more. Both this and the previous step are made exactly with more stabbing in mind. A sharp tip will be flattened in no time anyway.
 Finally one thing the gladuis sometimes lacks - a sword guard. I made it from another piece of left over flip-flop foam. Nothing left to do now but cover the blade.
 All set - you can go stab someone now.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Heavy duty larp boffer arrow

 This Sunday, during my practise, I noticed something funny about the heads of my boffer arrows.Namely, that I've had a bit of an accident with one of them- the shaft had somehow pierced the head.

 I quickly dropped it all and inspected all of my arrows. Sure enough I found another few with the same issue and other that were on the way as well...As you can see - the plastic bottle cap is already fractured.  Obviously my stress testing which was indeed a bit rough, showed that the Hungarian recurve was too strong for ordinary boffer arrows.

 Therefore I went for making better ones, before Someone gets an arrow in the eye...or knee.

For this, I decided on two things - adding a cork, and a coin to the head. That's a simple wine cork, leftover from New Year's eve, rest is pretty clear.

 First thing I did was drill a hole in the cork with a drill the same diameter as the arrow shaft.
 That's because the cork won't be used to cover the shaft - it will instead keep the head stable - not leaning to the left or right.

 Bit of tape was added, since the cork is not the same diameter as the cap.
 After that its business as usual for making a boffer arrow. Cap with coin is fitted on and firmly secured with tape...

 Then the foam layers are added. One side layer, 2 top layers to be precise.
   And its done. I will put it to the test soon enough. Making more will be a bit of a problem, since I don't have that many corks around. I might have to find a replacement for it.

Moral of the story? Stress test and double check your arrows!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

On armour - chainmail - separate mantle

The chainmaille mantle does not need to be part of a coif. It can (and is) worn separately as well. It is also another good candidate for first project since its even smaller than the coif - standing at about 1800-2000 links its something that you can do in about a day or two by yourself - you won't have to shanghai your family for the job.

You can find 3 uses for it, depending on your local larp rules.

 1 Since it only covers the neck and shoulders often it will not always be counted as armour. Some larps have rules about coverage. In those cases it will be an addition  to your costume.

2  If it can count as separate armor piece - by all means use it as such.

 3 Or you can use it as a supplement to your other armour. Case in point here is a photo of bulgarian reenactors where the guy with the breastplate is using a mantle not unlike the one above to protect his lower neck and shoulders.

 Same thing here except this mantle piece is made of 6in1 european and also goes up like a collar to act as a gorget and protect the throat as well.

 Basically in anything that goes after transitional armour you can find a use for a chainmail mantle piece. 

So enough chit chat - on the topic.

You'll need basic tools, about one, one and a half kilograms of links. We will basically do the same thing shown in the mantle piece guide for coif, except this time we have 4 rows.

 Here are the strips in almost finished state.

And finally the finished mantle piece.

You might consider adding a couple of laces to your garment to keep it in place, especially if you are running around a lot. Which you will be if you are a fighter...

Again some of the photos are taken from the internet and belong to their respective owners.