So I played the Deadpool game some time back before the movie came out, and I fell in love with it. Deadpool’s character brought back memories of one of my favorite early cartoon series and movies, The Mask, due to their similarity of zany insanity. Judging by the movie’s nuclear bunker-buster of a box office opening, I’d say the rest of the world seems to love the red suited psychopath too.
To that end, I was commissioned to make a pair of deadpool’s swords for a friend. As I’ve just finished and delivered the swords, I decided to upload this build log to detail how I made them, as the technique can be adapted to make most costume and cosplay swords.
This log is for how I made a wooden sword, which are sturdy and stiff, but very time consuming if you do not already possess the power tools for it. There are other processes to make cosplay swords, including my favorite method of sandwiching PVC foamboard, but I’ll detail that in another build log.
- 12mm plywood, slightly larger than your sword blade
- 1in CPVC pipe 20cm
- Primer(I use black Gesso)
- Acrylic paints
- white m-seal
- Epoxy/hot glue
- Wood Files (Rasp & Bastard files)
- Hand saw
- Angle grinder with 80 grit sanding wheel(optional, a major time saver)
- Sandpaper 80-200
- Ruler and marker
So I started off with a long strip of 12mm plywood approx 1m by 4cm, which was scrap left over from a previous project. I had it cut on a table saw so because hand cutting such a narrow piece is arduous, but a wood store may help you with the cutting when you’re buying your wood.
Once I got my sword blank, I started measuring out the dimensions. I marked 15cm for the handle at one end, and marked the slanted tip at the other. I then drew a white line running the length of the sword 1cm from the edge, on both sides, and a black line on the edge. This will be our guide to sand a neat straight blade edge. Sand strictly between these two lines removing most of the material with either an angle grinder or a rasp. Its better to apply light pressure and go at a uniform speed from one end to another, checking your work as you go. Remove a little less material while grinding is easier to fix than to remove too much.
One metric ton of sanding later…
After sanding the edge, use a bastard file to sand down any imperfections and make sure that you’ve got a nice, straight, and sharp edge. Look at the blade edge from one end of the sword to ensure its straight. M-seal, an epoxy plumber putty, is ideal for filling voids in the plywood, especially the M-seal White version. After this comes every maker’s favorite part, sanding!
Start with 80 grit and sand down the entire blade, both the flats, spine, and the edge until all the bumps and imperfections are gone. Then move to ~200 grit and once again sand the entire blade down. Be careful not to round the blade’s edge or where the edge meets the flat of the blade, we want crisp boundaries. The rule of thumb with sanding is that the more you sand the better the end surface will look.
Next, we take our 1in CPVC pipe, and cut it to length. My handles are approximately 15cm long, so cut the pipe to that length and file the ends to make them flat and smooth. To fit the blade into the handle, simply use a hand saw to narrow the handle area of the blade by 1 cm,and slightly round the edges with sandpaper. This narrower part of the blade which fits into the handle is called the “tang”, in sword glossary. Keep checking the fit, you want the pipe to be tightly fit around the tang, but not so tight that you may damage the tang by forcing it on.
The two swords, after sanding with the handles inserted.
Next, mix a medium-sized batch of epoxy, like Araldite, and use a ice cream stick to fill as much of the handle’s hollow interior as you can. You can put the epoxy on the tang before inserting it, but if you’ve got a good tight fit then the epoxy will just get scraped off the tang. Alternatively, you can use tape to cover the lower end of the handle, fill it a third full of epoxy, then insert the handle in. Alternatively, you could use hot glue, as I did, but it has inferior strength as compared to epoxy. You really don’t want a sword flying off the handle when you swing it about.
To cover the ends of the pipe where the interior is visible, I find that M-seal works well.. Generously mix a batch and knead it into the openings with extra, and then sand it smooth.
Phew, we’re 75% done now, as we’ve just finished the structure!
As I’ve said earlier, paint is the second most important thing to a prop. A roughly constructed prop can have its value raised by a great paint job.
I started by using this stuff called Gesso as a primer over the entire surface of the sword. Gesso is available in many variants, but the stuff I used is called Mont Marte Black Gesso Universal Primer. Its pretty handy stuff, as it dries even in thick layers, and provides a really nice grip texture to the surface. I applied around 4-5 layers of gesso, with intermediate light sanding to knock down any imperfections and reduce the wood grain’s visibility.
Several layers of gesso later…
Next, I used paper masking tape and covered up the flats of the blade and in rings on the handle, before using silver acrylic powder and binder to paint the edge. Its possible to just freehand the edge’s paint, but using tape saves you a lot of effort, although the tape is valid for only one use.
Much Shiny, such pretty
Now we have a nice shiny completed sword! It looks very pretty and clean, but its a bit too drab, I mean, this is DEADPOOL we’re talking about.
The answer? A bucket and a half of chicken blood.
Well, not really… That’s a bit too extreme, and won’t actually give the effect we’re looking for, not to mention the ethical issues or the smell. Real blood actually doesn’t look like much like what movies or cartoons depict it. So instead, we’re going with 1 part crimson acrylic paint, and 3-4 parts water. My weapons of choice were my fingers, as you use a brush to get uniform neat strokes, but blood needs to be splattered and dabbed on. Remember to spread a large plastic sheet below your work.
Start by dabbing the edge of the sword, especially the upper parts and the tip, and work downwards. Dipping your fingers in watered paint and then flicking them against your surface is a great way to produce realistic blood splatters. Add as much blood as required, but remember to frequently examine your work and see where you might need to tone down the blood splatters. As with most processes, you’ll save a lot of effort by being careful on the first run rather than trying to fix it up.
Tada! A well bloodied sword
Notice the way blood is smeared thinly in some areas, and in large blotches in others. You can see some of the splatters too
That’s it! After all that work, we’ve completed a pair of swords! Overall this took me two weeks to complete, and I’m quite pleased with the results. I try to turn every project into a learning experience, and this was the first in which I bloodied the prop in such a manner, and I certainly learned a lot from it.
Please do let me know if you have any questions or suggestions, I’m always hanging around here. I hope this helps you, and if it does, then do bookmark/follow my blog to see more.
Thank you, and have a pleasant week.