This sword is part of the Soliare costume that I am putting together and will have a matching scabbard as in the Dark Souls games.
The finished sword below is actually the second attempt at doing this prop after the first failed. Both have been an experiment to find out if I could make a thin blade and not have it break. The following details the creation of the second sword using a similar method to my Longclaw build. If you wish to make your own blade I’d recommend using the 3rd method detailed at the end. To help in the construction I created some blueprints using in-game images. These are available on my Etsy store page here.
The whole length of the sword fitted exactly on a 1-metre piece of 5mm balsa wood I had ordered. I marked out where I wanted the bevels to go (half the width and height) and shaped the wood using metal and nail files. Next, using templates cut from my blueprint I used 5mm and 3mm wood to add details.
Even with a shell of Worbla the first blade had snapped where it met the crossguard. To prevent this I added a layer of fiber glass to the blade and crossguard. I made sure this was flats as any lumps would show through the Worbla.
Following the purchase of a casting kit which included some pasti paste (resin with fibers used for mould coatings) I decided to experiment. It had given the mould I created a light but hard cover. May be this would work to further add strength to my sword? Since the container had more in than I would need to make a mould casing for the mask, I mixed some up and covered my sword in it. Sanding did gunk up my files and sand paper but it looked pretty good, until I looked close up that is. Although the surface was smooth it had ‘stubble’ and would need to be coated in something else.
Instead of using a coat of normal resin I gave it a few coats of Gesso which was sanded when dry. This succeeded in covering the fibers, but I wasn’t happy with the softness of the Gesso as it kept picking up marks and dents when it was moved around; I should have coated it in resin. It was given a few coats of XTC 3D applied with sponge brushes. This prevented brush marks and gave it a smooth finish which would save on more sanding. Although this resin takes a little longer to dry (4 hours each layer), only 3 -4 coats were needed and the finish is more durable.
After three coats I sanded the resin lightly using 180, 400 and 600 grit sand paper. This gave a beautifully smooth finish. After a short process of priming and sanding I donned my filter mask and tried some Rub and Buff Silver leaf and pewter wax I had. This combined with the smooth finish gave an amazing metal finish. Sadly while buffing the blade two bubbles appeared, one on each side.
I can only assume these were caused by the friction of the buffing, warming the Gesso under the resin and paint. In order to try to fix this I sanded the bubbles and a little area around them, removed the now soft paint, filled the gap and sanded. I then sprayed the areas a few times to make sure the repair wasn’t noticeable. I went back and carried on buffing, going a little slower this time. Again a few tiny bubbles appeared. As these were hard to spot I decided not to fix them and carefully finished buffing the sword.
I found that is important to make sure to buff this stuff for a good length of time to stop it coming off in your hands. As with paints containing metal, you can’t spray this stuff with varnish without ruining the finish. It is a good idea to test occasionally with your finger to see if any rubs off. If it does, carry on buffing. Eventually you will reach a stage when none comes off. When I reached this stage I weathered all but the blade using black and brown paint.
So I learned a few things from this build, should I make another prop this way:
- It is possible to make a thin blade using balsa wood if you add a layer of fiber glass.
- It may have been better to add a few extra coats of XTC 3D resin rather than both the plasti paste and Gesso. Having further experimented after making this sword the result is really strong and durable.
- Don’t use Rub and buff over Gesso.
Final method for creating a thin blade
- Cut out your blade from balsa wood and build up using more basla wood.
- Add a thin layer of fiberglass over the sword making sure this is as smooth as possible.
- Cover the whole sword in worbla. Extra details can be added at this point.
- Give the blade 3+ coats of resin using a sponge brush. Make sure to avoid pooling as this will create more work later.
- Give the sword a coat of grey spray. This will help show up any high/low spots.
- Sand the sword. If there still any low spots these can be filled with your preferred filler. More resin can be used but this will take time to dry.
- Spray/sand/fill until you are happy with the finish and then paint.