How to Build a Wolfpack Sword
There are many different ways to build
a sword, and many variations on the basic design.
Some designs are more safe, others more durable, cheaper, or
easier and faster to build.
The following design, however, produces a safe, durable, and easy to build sword.
½ inch or ¾ inch PVC Pipe Available at
most hardware stores, including ACE Hardware just off the
ISU Campus. It costs about $1 for a ten foot piece.
Schedule 80 (the gray stuff) is recommended because it is
stronger, but Schedule 40 works just as well.
½ inch closed-cell foam The most ready
source of this are the ground pads used for camping. It
is found in the camping section of any Kmart or Walmart
for about $9-$10. It usually comes in a roll about 6 feet
long and two feet wide. This should be enough foam to
build 3-4 swords (depending on the size of the swords).
Duct Tape Available almost anywhere. We
suggest you buy the Professional Grade duct tape
(available at ACE Hardware), which is much stronger than
the cheaper General-Purpose stuff. A roll will cost about
$6, and is enough for dozens of weapons.
Glue We have found that Liquid Welder
works best. It is available at Kmart, Walmart, and ACE
Hardware, and cost about $3 for a tube large enough to
build at least two weapons. DAP non-flammable contact
cement also works very well, but takes much longer to set
and cost about $4 for a 16 ounce can.
Cloth and Thread Any shade of blue,
green, gray, red, or yellow can be used, but we suggest
dark blue and dark green or blood red. Buy thick, strong
cloth that wont tear easily. We recommend cotton
its strong and easy to clean. Cloth can be
found at Walmart for between $2-$4 dollars a yard, and
about 1/3 of a yard is needed for one sword. Try to buy
Button Thread or Upholstery Thread it is much,
much stronger than any other type of thread and costs
about $1 for a spool that will make a dozen swords.
Rope This is to wrap around the handle
of the sword for grip and balance. Other materials can be
used; leather strips and grip tape are popular choices.
Leather strips can be found in the crafts section of
Walmart. Long leather shoelaces will work in a pinch.
Prices vary depending on what you use.
TOTAL COSTS: $22-25 (enough materials for 3-4
General Rules on Sword
- All weapons are subject to rejection for any safety or construction discrepancies at the discretion of the weapons checker appointed by the event organizers. .
- A safe weapon is one that will not leave bruises, break bones or noses, or knock out teeth when an unarmored person is struck with a full-strength baseball bat style swing.
- All weapons must have cloth coverings.
- Blue swords have a minimum blade length of 12 inches and a maximum blade length of 36 inches.
- A sword with a blade length greater than 36 inches is considered a red weapon.
- Two and one half inch rule. No surface on a striking edge (sword tip,arrow head, spear head, javelin head, etc)
shall pass more than 0.5 inch through a 2.5 inch diameter hole, swords with a semicircular tip, with a minimum 1.5 inch radius are exempt from this rule.
- The flat (non-striking surface) of bladed weapons must be safely padded.
- Single-edged weapons such as sabers and cutlasses must have their non-striking edge clearly marked with a 12-inch piece of silver tape.
- The pommel must not easily go through a two-inch (2.0) diameter hole.
- All bladed weapons must conform to one of the following:
- Minimum dimensions of 1.25 inch by 3 inches.
- Weigh greater than twelve ounces.
- The shaft or blade of a weapon may not flex greater than 45 degrees.
- Weapons cores may not be constructed with baseball bats or axe handles or any other form of pressurized wood.
- Weapons may not have metal cores.
- No weapon may have a spike or blade at the butt (pommel) end, unless it is a legal double-ended blue weapon. This includes double-ended daggers.
- The maximum allowable unpadded handle length for swung weapons is 18 inches.
- All hafts of wood weapons must be taped, including bamboo and ratan.
- Cut PVC to the correct length. Allow room for the pommel (1½ inch), handle (4-10 inches), hilt (optional, 1-2 inches), and blade (12-48 inches).
- Securely tape coins to both ends of the pipe to prevent the pipe from cutting through the foam.
- Rough up the pipe with sandpaper, if you have it. The glue will stick better to a rougher surface.
- Cut two long narrow strips of closed cell foam to the width equal to the diameter of the pipe. The
strips should be long enough to go up one side, around the top, and down the other side (pieces A
& B in the diagram to the right). These strips do not have to be continuous, but any
breaks in the foam should not be near to tip or middle of the blade.
- Glue continuously the first strip (piece A) from where the blade begins up over the tip and back
down the opposite side. These are the striking edges of the sword.
- For best results with the glue, make sure both surfaces are clean and dry. Apply a thin layer of
glue evenly over the entire surface. If you have time, apply glue to both sides and let it dry a
minute or so until both surfaces are "tacky", then firmly press the pieces together.
- Attach the foam at the tip of the sword to the PVC pipe with narrow pieces of duct tape as seen
in the diagram (a piece of duct tape ripped lengthwise into 4 pieces works well). The best
way to do this is to lay the center of the strip of duct tape on the foam and then bring the tape
down along the sides. Do not compress the foam as you tape.
- Secure the bottom if the foam strip to the pipe with small strips of duct tape.
- Glue the second strip of foam (piece B) to the first one, repeating steps 5-8.
- Cut out two pieces of close-cell foam that are long enough the cover the sides of the sword (the
"flat" of the blade) from base to tip (piece C). The easiest way to do this is to trace
the side of the blade on the foam and cut it out.
- Glue these pieces to both sides of the blade, covering the pipe and the layers of foam.
- Cut out a piece of foam that is long enough to extend up and over the tip of the weapon and back
down the base (piece D). The width should equal the diameter of the pipe plus two ½ inch pieces of foam.
- Glue this strip of foam to the striking edge of
the blade, covering both of the sidepieces (piece C).
- Secure the bottom of the sidepieces of foam
(piece C) to the pipe with 2 small pieces of duct
tape (strip 1). Then wrap a small piece of duct
tape around the very bottom of the blade (strip
2), and another small piece around the pipe right
under the blade (strip 3).
The Hilt (optional)
- Trace out the shape you want for the hand
guard/hilt on a sheet of closed-cell foam and cut
out at least 2-3 identical pieces. The thicker
the crossbar, the less likely it is to tear
apart. If you dont care what kind of hilt
you have, use the stencil attached to the
- Glue and tape these 2-3 pieces together.
- Cut a hole equal to the diameter of the pipe
through the center of the hilt piece.
- Slide the hilt piece onto the pipe and glue it
tightly in place just under the blade.
- Tape the hilt to both the pipe AND the
blade. Just glue alone wont be enough
to hold the hilt in place! Use AT
LEAST three layers of
duct tape on all four sides where the hilt &
blade or hilt & pipe meet. It is best
to use small, measured pieces of tape to keep the
weight down and avoid the hilt looking bulky or
- Finally, cover the hilt in duct tape.
No foam should be showing.
If you want to add counterweights to balance your sword better, do so now before moving on the next
step. If you dont want a counterweight, skip to the section on the pommel. The following
method only works if you used ¾ inch PVC pipe. If you used ½ inch PVC, you'll have to find your own method.
- Hold the sword by the handle as you would in
combat. Using a pen or pencil, make a dot on the
pipe right between your middle and ring fingers.
This is the balance point of the weapon.
- Using a pocketknife, drill a small hole into the
pipe where the dot is.
- Drive in the screw through the hole. It should
fit snugly. If the head of the screw sticks out
too much, you can cut it off with a hacksaw.
- Stack a column of pennies to a height equal to
the remaining length of pipe under the screw.
Using two thin pieces of duct tape,
tape the penny roll lengthwise to hold it
- Put a little glue inside the pipe. Then stick the
penny roll inside the pipe. It will be a tight
fit, and you may have to ram or hammer the roll
of pennies down it. Finally, cover the end of the
pipe with 2-3 pieces of duct tape to keep the
- The pommel (the butt end of the handle) must be well padded. The following instructions are for a quick and easy
- Cut out a small circle out of foam the same
diameter as the pipe and glue and tape it to the
tip of the handle.
- Cut a piece of closed-cell foam 2 inches wide and
long enough to wrap around the pipe. Wrap this
piece of foam around the end of the handle
(including the little foam circle taped to the
end) and glue and tape it in place.
- Cut a second circle out of close-cell foam that
is equal to the diameter of the pipe and foam at
the end of the pommel. Glue it on the end of the
- Cut out a second piece of close cell foam 2½
inches wide and long enough to wrap around the
pipe and foam at the end of the pipe. Glue and
tape this piece around the first piece of foam,
including the second foam circle glued to the
end. You must not be able to feel the pipe
through the end of the foam.
- Tape the pommel to the pipe. Just glue
alone wont be enough to hold the pommel in
place! Use AT LEAST
three layers of duct tape all around
where the pipe and pommel meet. It is
best to use small, measured pieces of tape to
avoid the pommel looking bulky or messy.
- Finally, cover the pommel in duct tape.
No foam should be showing.
- Firmly tape one end of whatever material
youre using to cover the grip (rope,
leather, etc.) to the pipe right under the hilt.
- Cover the remaining pipe with a thin layer of
- Wrap the grip material as tightly as
possible around the pipe all the
way down to the pommel. If you do not wrap the
material tightly, it will begin to fall off
within a month.
- Securely tape the other end of the grip material
to the pommel.