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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.


Making a Wood Sword: The Blade

This post is part of a three posts on how to make a sturdy, good looking wooden sword.

  1. Putting it all together and Lessons learned
  2. Making a Blade (This post)
  3. Making the Guard

I am making two blades with the same piece of wood, because I have two boys.  First, the dimensions.

Length per Sword, Handle and Blade: 20 1/2 Inches

Wooden blan, 1 1/2 by 1/2 inch

Wooden blank, 1 1/2 by 1/2 inch Figure 1

Grip: My boys will be 5 and 3 1/2.  Given the size of their hands, I decided on a 3 1/2 inch grip.  I don’ t want them to be able to take big two handed swings.  I added another 1 inch to fasten the hand guard.

Blade: I measured from their waist to a couple of inches above the ground.  For my boys it was 16″.

I used a table saw and a planer to get a piece of wood I had to the right size, total length, 41 inches.

Time For Shaping

Guide Marks, Figure 3

Guide Marks, Figure 2

Then I went to work on shaping.  There are a few different methods that can be used.  You can use a hand plane, a file, or a sander.  I found a belt sander worked splendidly.

Using the Belt Sander

Using the Belt Sander Figure 3

In order to guide my sanding, I made a mark down the middle of the board, and also I made marks that showed where the blade would actually be.  You can see these marks in figure 2.  I left both swords in the single piece of wood to make clamping easier. I clamped one end and worked on the other.

You can also see that the wood is very rough in figure 2.  I used some 220 grit sand paper on a random orbital sander to clean it up.

The Blades were now effectively done.  I just had to do some cleanup, and this is what I ended up with.

The swords, before disection.

The swords, before disection.

The Finishing Touches

I took the swords out to the miter saw and cut the piece in half. The blade was complete, but the hilt did not leave enough to be grabbed in this form, given that it was only half an inch thick. I planed down a 1 1/2 inch wide piece of oak until it was 1/4 inch thick (or you could buy it like that). This short board was cut into pieces the length of the grip, in my case, 3 1/2 inches. This gave me an extra quarter inch on each side, for a total of 1 inch thick. I glued these pieces on, making sure the tops were flush, and left them overnight in the clamp as shown in the picture below. It looks kind of dopey now, but when it is rounded and cleaned up it looks nice.

1/4 Inch Pieces Glued On

1/4 Inch Pieces Glued On

Next, we will work on the hand guard.

Building An Inexpensive Bunk Bed of Pine, Pictures and Measurements

I was going to buy a bunk bed, but everyone wanted an arm and a leg, so I decided to build it myself. Since I couldn’t rapidly find good instructions on the web, I decided to make something up and then post it. Here it is. (We are horrified by the carpet also. We are replacing it this weekend. I will let you know how it goes and maybe post a few pictures for any do-it-yourselfers who would like to learn on my dime.) Please give me any feedback on what doesn’t make sense etc, and what you think I could do to improve this post.

Picture of Bed 2Picture of Bed

Required (I purchased from Lowes)

10 8ft 2×6’s (straight)
3 8 ft 2×4’s (straight)
16 5/16 3 ” hanger bolts (Lag bolt on one side, thread on other)
16 5/16 nuts
16 washers that fit
wood to hold up mattress (3/4 inch thick ply or wood- I used both)

Before you start, please note my lessons learned at the bottom. Also, before you assemble any pieces sand them, knocking off any sharp corners. It is much easier to sand boards before they are assembled and their grains don’t align.

Four of the 2×6’s will be posts at the 4 corners of the bed. These need to be cut to length and have holes drilled in them to accept the hanger bolts.Close up of holes for hanger bolts
1. Cut the boards to 72″, being sure to trim off any bad parts at the ends.
2. The bolt holes need to be 1 3/8″ in from the side. Because I knew I had to sand it, I made a line all the way up the side 1 3/8″ from the edge so I could see where to make the holes.3. Make marks for the holes at (from bottom) 13″, 16″, 55″, and 58″. This is for the heights seen in the picture. Fix it as you wish. MAKE SURE YOU SET THESE UP IN PAIRS- ONE SET OF HOLES ON RIGHT, ONE ON LEFT. I almost messed this up and ruined a piece of wood.
4. I drilled the first holes with a 1″ spade bit 3/4 inches deep. This leaves a flat bottom for the washer to sit on and leaves a nice pilot hole for the 3/8 hole you need to drill for thebolt itself.
That is it for those pieces.

Next, to provide the cross bars to the end pieces, we simply 2 2×6’s into 6 31″ lengths.
I used a Kreg jig to drill holes at the ends of these pieces so I could attach them to the posts at the edges, as shown in one of the top two pictures. You could simply drive in the screws at an angle, but that wouldn’t look as nice, and would provide more sliver opportunities. The bottoms of the 3 crossbars are at 19″, 56″, and 64 1/2″. Attach them using 2 1/2 inch grabber screws. This makes an H type frame with three crossbars.
The last four 2×6’s make up the rails that the beds themselves rest on.

Rail Endview
1. Please examine both methods for steps 2-5
2. Make a 3/4 inch deep cut 3 1/2inches from the end.
3. Make a 3 1/2 inch deep cut 3/4 inches from the end. Make sure you have 3/4 inches of wood left, and that you have calculated the width of the blade in there.
4. Use a chisel or knife to make sure the cuts are clean, so the boards that the mattress will rest on can lie flat.
5. Cut the rails to 74 1/4 inches long, again, being sure to take at least a bit from both sides so you will have a clean end.

2-5 An alternate (and much easier) way of doing this is to buy a 1×6 and a 1×2. To get the exact same dimensions, you simply screw and glue them together so they look like the picture. Make sure they are held flat when you are screwing and gluing them to minimize any bend. Wood glue all along with a 1 1/4 inch screw every foot will give you a great rail in a fraction of the time. I would recommend cutting them to 74 1/4 inches after you glue them, to avoid uneven ends.

End shot on one of the Rails

6. On the end of the board, mark the holes for the hanger bolts. They should be 3/8 inch from the outside edge, with one hole 1″ from the bottom, with one hole exactly 3″ above the bottom hole. Drill these holes with a 1/4 inch bit about 1 1/2 inches deep.
7. Turn in the hanger bolts until 1 7/16″ remains above the surface of the wood. This makes sure you have enough thread to grab with the bolt, while still being recessed enough to make sure your child isn’t going to have issues with it when running past.
8. On one of the rails, I made a guard rail to keep my son from rolling off. I made sure that he could not slip between the guard rail and the mattress, and just used three pieces of scrap pine to fasten the guard rail to the top rail that supports the mattress. The leftover piece from the ladder should be long enough to make the 54″ rail.

The ladder is the latter piece (pretty rough, but).
1. Cut two 2×4’s 63 inches long. Cut a 15 degree bottom. The 63″ should be the measurement on the long side.Marking with doohickey
2. Cut 5 14″ long steps. Make pocket holes (with the Kreg jig) on the bottoms of each. You can also just drill them in from the sides, but it doesn’t look as clean.
3. On the 63″ pieces, make a pencil mark at 9″, 19 1/2″, 30″, 40 1/2″, and 51″. These are the bottoms of the steps
4. Use an angle doohickey (or piece of cardboard) to transfer the 15 degree angle to each step.Ataching Stairs
5. Screw all the steps to one side (I used 1 5/8″ grabbers) , using the marks to make sure the angle corresponds with the mark you made in the last step. Make sure the pocket holes are on the bottom.
6. Put the other side of the stair on. Attach using screws.

We used boiled linseed oil to treat the wood. It is inexpensive, and preserves the characteristics of the wood. Just use the instructions on the can. It is best to do this before assembly.

All that is left is to assemble the bed.

1. First, install both top rails to one side, using a washer and nut for each hanger bolt, not too tightly at this point.
2. With assistance, attach the other post piece, again not to tightly
3. Set in the bottom two rails. This requires two people with some maneuvering, or one person with some skills.
4. After all the rails are in place, tighten all the nuts on the hanger bolts.
5. Attach the ladder using two screws driven from the inside of the bed.
6. Place 38″ boards across the rails. You could use a sheet of plywood or multiple smaller pieces. I just got rid of some of my scrap. Make sure that you prevent these pieces from shifting. I ran a strap across the top, attached it to each piece with a staple gun, and screwed in the end pieces. You don’t want the mattress falling down and smothering your child.

Again, best of luck with this project. Please leave comments on how to improve this and what is hard to understand.