Making a Wood Sword: The Guard or Hilt

This page is part of a series that is one making a nice looking wooden sword.

  1. Putting it All Together
  2. Making a Wooden Sword Blade
  3. Making a Wooden Sword Guard. (This post)

The hilt turned out to be a little easier and harder than I thought.  I wanted to get a shape that both looked good and was easy to make.

Drawing the design out

I started with a piece of 4/4 oak (true 1″ thick). I decided on this basic design.
I first drew the design out on a blank, as shown in figure 2. To draw the design, I made two marks on the piece of wood 4 1/2″ apart. Then, to for the curved portion, I took the lid of a five gallon bucket, and made it cross the edge of the wood at these two marks, tracing it. Last of all, I made a line across the wood 1 1/4″ from the front edge. This line would serve as the cutting mark for the side of the guard closest to the hand.

For the slanted cuts on the side, I chose to just go with 15 degrees, and I did these on my miter saw.

Sketch on the Wood, Figure 2

Sketch on the Wood, Figure 2

The Actual Cutting

To cut the curved portion of the guard, I used a jigsaw, making sure to stay just on the conservative side of the line. I used a file and the sander to clean up the edge. I then ran the whole piece threw the table saw, and cut off the 1 1/4″ strip, ending up with the piece shown in figure 3.

Strip is Cut, Now the Slot, Figure 3

Strip is Cut, Now the Slot, Figure 3

Before you use the miter saw, I would recommend you cut the slot for the blade to fit through. This will give you a lot bigger piece to clamp, etc., while you are trying to cut the slot.

Cutting the Slot

You will need to sketch the slot for the blade on the guard piece, 1 1/2″x1/2″. You can do this by drawing a line 1 1/2″ from each end and 1/4″ from each side on the flat side. This rectangle will give you your guide. There are three basic ways I can see to cut the slot.

  1. First, if you have a mortising set, you are golden. Just use your set and go for it.
  2. If you have a router and router table, you can route a slot out. I recommend using several passes, and checking the width on a waste piece of wood. This is the method I used. Use a chisel to clean and square up the corners. A file can also be useful here.
  3. Last of all, you can use a 1/2 inch drill bit to care away most of the wood. If you are using this method, I have a few recommendations. Make sure your drill bit is totally vertical. You should drill pilot holes (1/8″) to guide your bit through so it doesn’t wander. You will then need to use a chisel to get the job done and make it square.

If none of these opportunities are open to you, you could make the guard out of pieces. Two 1/4 inch plates for the sides, and two 1/2 inch pieces for the spacers. This method would in some ways be easier, but doesn’t produce as nice of a result, as you will have glue lines.

You can use a piece of 1 1/2″x1/2″ left over from the blade to check the size of the hole. You want it to be big enough to fit the blade, but no wiggling.
Hint: . If your slot is a little too narrow (your blade is a bit to thick), you can sand the blade piece down a bit to make it fit. This tends to be a lot easier than removing material from the inside of the slot.

Then, take the piece out to the miter saw and set it at 15 degrees, and finish cutting off the pieces. Leave the largest piece of wood until last, so you will have a handle while you are cutting it.
After you finish these parts, it is time put it all together.

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