Sword & Knife tips
Totally just getting started here. It's not a costume, but since it's a major accessory for the movie, we're going to carry a bit here.
Until we get organized here, see our LOTR Costume yahoo archives.
These are only beginner tips... there's much more out there. Google for it.
In the Movie
Basically, the "hero" swords were fully functional steel weapons, with steel or brass guards and pommels, and I believe the grips were wood wrapped with leather. Guard, grip, and pommel make up the hilt, technically.
The base of the blade ends in an extension called the tang which runs completely through all 3 pieces and is flattened out or "peened" on top of the pommel. Makes it all very secure, nothing's going anywhere.
In this case, polyurethane was put between the tang and the hilt pieces as a shock absorber, which seems to have worked like a charm because not a single stunt sword broke during filming--pretty much unheard of! Several hundred aluminum prop swords were also made, but with the same decorative details as the steel ones.
The guards or crossgards and pommels (the knob at the end of the hilt) on the swords in the movies were all made from steel or brass. Only the grips or handles were wood, often wrapped with leather (a very traditional method, because it works!).
== Matthew A.
Just a reminder, the officially licensed swords are made with a rat tail tang (what holds the sword into the pommel). They are not meant to be used. That kind of tang will break on the first solid hit... That keeps down the labiality issues.
You might try Rub 'n Buff, in either black or silver. Won't give it the "buried in the dirt for years" kind of dirtiness, but it does add weathering. People over at The Dented Helmet (Fett costuming board) swear by it.
Basically, you buy a silver metallic paint, the one that is for turning none metallic items into looking like they are made of metal. You will need the primer first, if you are going to put this on metal. Then you get a tint, such as red, black or patina, and you add that to a still somewhat wet coat of the metallic paint. You can either do the entire surface, or you can add the metallic paint in little splotches and then add the tint to those areas. It won't affect or tint the none painted areas, so don't fret it.
On our web, in other sections
Out on the web weapon bits
Our list of web articles on LOTR Swords
Sword Making Guides
Making Metal Prop Swords
I would try to find a flat piece of steel scrap, no more than a quarter-inch thick. You may even be able to buy a piece at a hardware store like Lowe's. Then cut and grind it into shape. Heck of a lot of work in any case! Aluminum might be a better choice for your first attempt.
The tang is the narrow part where the hilt fits on, and the tip of it has been narrowed and threaded for a nut to hold everything in place.
== Matthew A.
King Theoden's sword crafted in wood
Making Wood Prop Swords from Scraps
I've even seen very convincing weapons made entirely from wood. I would recommend buying the pieces of wood you need, or at least scrounging regular lumber scraps from dumpsters or trash piles. Do not start with a tree branch. Freshly cut wood is going to dry out, shrinking and cracking.
== Matthew A.
Making REAL swords requires a lot of skill and experience, but hey, ya
gotta start somewhere, right? And remember, anything that doesn't come out
looking like a good elven blade can always be turned into an orc weapon!
Closed Cell Foam / LARP Wepons
Back on topic, if you do decide to go for the foam rubber and latex variety, be aware of its properties. It can be made to look pretty good and is safe to actually hit people with (as long as you don't hit them in the head...duh!) but the tip is somewhat vulnerable. Never stand an LRP sword on its tip or lean on it, and DO NOT stab people with it. If your sword is treated irresponsibly, the fiberglass core will find its way out of its foam padding (and if you're *really* lucky, into someone's skin / muscle / internal organs) and become unsafe to wield.
With the proper care, however, it will last you for years, and earn you many "OMG, she's carrying a sword"-looks from innocent bystanders. I just love going to LRP events on public transport with at least one sword on my hip *WEG*
PS: For materials, you could add thin foam rubber sheet (the stuff used to decorate barrettes and stuff like that, a big thing a few years ago but still available in crafts stores) for the relief pieces, like the horses on the hilt and pommel of Eowyn's sword. We've had some success with this, as it's a nice thickness and it's easy to cut with sharp scissors.
One way to make a sword or any type of safe weapon is by using a fibreglass rod core (like a driveway marker) blue CLOSED CELL camping foam and contact cement covered over in latex. The technical term is called a boffer weapon and is used in many combat LARPS over the world.
I've seen some that are so well done, they double for fight scenes in TV and movies. Take a look on the net for some samples . (Check our links on the web, above here.)
Just getting this section started...
Please feel free to contribute tips and pictures!
This page was last updated 04/22/08