Weapon Construction

If you plan to purchase a weapon online, (latex or otherwise), please e-mail a staff member with the link to the weapon before you purchase it. Not all weapons you can buy online will pass inspection.

Construction of safe weapons is crucial to game play. Anyone who intends to use any sort of weapon during game play must know how to properly construct and how to properly wield boffer weapons. Boffer weapons are made from materials that can be found in most hardware stores. They are designed to provide a realistic, fun, but primarily safe combat method. DO NOT USE ANY MATERIALS OTHER THAN THOSE LISTED BELOW FOR WEAPON CONSTRUCTION. All weapons will be inspected prior to game play. A game director may partially dismantle any weapon that he/she feels is questionable in any way. WEAPONS THAT DO NOT PASS THE INSPECTION WILL NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE GAMING AREA. Any variation from the materials below will result in disqualification of the weapon.

»½” PVC piping (or ¾” PVC for 2 Hand and larger)

» ½” or 5/8″ thick closed-cell foam pipe insulation (sized to fit 3/4″ copper pipe).

» Open cell (spongy) foam

» Duct tape (assorted colors)

» Electrical tape

» Scissors or hobby knife

» Hack saw

» Measuring tape

» Sandpaper

» Marker

» Safety pin

» Goop® or Shoo Goo® style adhesive

»Racquet grip wrap


Preparing the PVC

There are a large variety of weapons, but all follow the same general construction rules. We will describe how to construct a basic sword. Refer to the size requirements for your preferred weapon type.

Begin by using the saw to cut the PVC to the proper length for the project. Determine the length you want your weapon to be, keeping in mind the minimum/maximum length according to the weapon rules. Subtract about six inches from your desired length to determine how long you must cut the PVC. For our example, we want our sword to be 40″ in total length. Therefore, we will cut a 34″ length of PVC. (The additional 6″ will be made of foam.)

Use the sandpaper to smooth any rough or sharp edges on both ends of the PVC. Take a two lengths of electrical tape, about 4″ each, and cover the end of the PVC, making an ‘X’. Do the same to the other end.

Now, determine where you want your grip area to be. Hold the PVC in your hand like a sword. Be sure you find a comfortable spot that feels good to you. Mark the PVC about ½” on each side of your hand(s). The long end will be your blade; the short end will be your pommel. Be sure you allow at least 1″ to 1 ½” on the short end to construct your pommel.

Constructing the Blade

Place the ½” or 5/8″ foam pipe insulation next to the PVC you have prepared. Align one end of the foam to the mark you made indicating the blade length. While keeping this lined up, cut the foam ½” beyond the end of the PVC. This section of foam will form the blade of our sword.

Slide the foam over the PVC to the line where your grip will start. The foam should extend at least ½” past the end of the PVC. The foam insulation should fit snugly on the PVC. You may want to use some adhesive here to ensure the insulation stays in place. A piece or two of duct tape along the length of PVC before sliding the foam on will help make it fit more tightly also. If the foam still seems loose, you may have used the wrong materials.

Secure the foam to the PVC by applying several strips of electrical tape where the foam meets the grip. Wrap another strip around the others on the foam and also on the PVC.

Inserting the Cross-guard

A cross-guard is optional. You may skip this step if don’t want one or if you are constructing an item such as a staff or spear. Skip to CONSTRUCTING THE POMMEL if you are not making a cross guard.

Cut a length of insulation foam as long as you want your cross guard to be. Find the center of that length and, using your hobby knife or scissors, cut a hole directly through. The hole should be just large enough for the PVC to fit through tightly.

Slip the cross guard on to the PVC until it meets the base of your blade. Cut out the section of the cross guard were the two meet so that the foam of the blade fits snugly about ½” deep into the cross guard. Using tape (and adhesive if you like), secure the cross guard to the blade and to the PVC. Be sure this is a solid joining. If it is not secured well, the cross guard may rip loose during use.

Stuff the hollow ends of the cross guard with scraps of foam. Pack them tightly. Then cover the ends with tape to keep the foam in.

Constructing the Pommel

The pommel is created in the same manner as the blade. Measure the  foam insulation to the short end of the PVC. Cut it off about ½” beyond the end of the PVC. Secure the foam in place with tape and adhesive just like the blade. Be sure it extends at least ½” past the PVC.

Applying the Tips

Now we must construct the tips for the point of the blade and the butt of the pommel. These are made of open-cell (spongy) foam. Cut two pieces of open cell foam at least 2″ thick . They should be the same circumference as the foam insulation on your weapon. These open-cell foam tips MUST be at least 2″ long for all weapons.

Using scraps of foam, plug the ends of the weapon where the foam insulation extends past the PVC. The purpose here is to completely cover the PVC with foam so that we have a cushioned tip on both ends. For both ends, place one piece of open-cell foam on the end of the insulation. Secure it in place with strips of tape.

Completing the Weapon

The weapon is nearly complete. Now we must cover the entire weapon with duct tape. Choose an appropriate color for you weapon. The color should approximate the material that the weapon is made of, i.e. silver/grey for metal, brown for wood, white for bone or flesh. Start with the blade section. Tear a strip of duct tape about 1″ longer than the blade. Lay it flat along the entire length of the blade, folding the excess over the tip. Repeat this process with 4-5 strips of duct tape, each overlapping the last about ¼” until the blade is completely covered. Be careful not to compress the open-cell foam on the tip. DO NOT wrap the duct tape around the blade in a spiral (like a candy cane). This tends to tighten and compress the foam insulation.

Repeat the same process for the pommel. Also apply several strips to cover the cross guard. Use the electrical tape or racquet grip to wrap the grip section.

Use the safety pin to poke holes throughout both tips. This allows air to flow in and out so that the open-cell foam will compact and expand. You can judge the appropriate number of holes to poke by squeezing the tip. It should compress with only mild resistance and then immediately spring back to form.

Creating Axes, Spears and Maces

Weapons with large striking heads, like axes, can be made by using open-cell foam and cutting it to the desired shape. Affix it to the foam insulation that covers the shaft of the weapon by using adhesive or double-sided tape. Then cover it with duck tape and poke holes similar to the tips.

Decorating the Weapon

If desired, you may decorate your weapon with designs or jewels. Cut duct tape or electrical tape to create patterns or runes to stick on the weapon. You can also affix jewels (plastic gems) to any non-striking portion of your weapon. This is great for creating a fancy hilt. Just do not use sharp, pointed, or metal objects.

If you have followed these instructions and used only the proscribed materials, you should have a good quality weapon that meets all safety requirements.

Shield Construction

Shields can be made of many different materials. Wood, plastic, and metal are the most common. Choose the material according to what you have available and how heavy a shield you are willing to carry. Wood should be 1/8″ to ¼” plywood. Metal should be rigid aluminum or tin. Plastic must be sturdy enough that it will not break from a weapon impact. Aluminum or plastic snow discs make great shields.

Cut the material to your desired size and shape. Remember that the foam cushion will add about 1″ to all sides. Avoid any designs with sharp points. If you are using metal, roll the entire edge over to make a rounded lip.

Determine where your forearm and handgrips should be. Mark the spots with a marker. You may use leather (old belts work fine) or nylon strap for your forearm brace. The handgrip can be made of the same, or even a cabinet handle. Bolt the grips in place with the bolt head on the front of the shield and the nut on the back. If the bolts protrude too far in the back, cut them off with a hacksaw.

Insert pipe insulation over all edges of the shield. Secure it in place with adhesive and duct tape. Be sure the foam is fixed firmly around the entire shield. Finish your shield with decoration by painting or applying duct tape designs. Nothing should protrude from the face of the shield, and you should not be able to feel any edges through the foam.

Shields may NEVER be used to push or strike another player. They are for personal defense only.

Shield Type Diameter Area Approximate Size
Small Shield up to 12″ up to 114 square inches 9″ x 12″
Medium Shield 12″ to 28.5″ up to 4.5 square feet 2’ x 2.25’
Large Shield greater than 28.5″ greater than 4.5 square feet greater than 2’ x 2.25’


Ranged combat is conducted with real bows and modified arrows. Only straight bows with a draw weight of 20 pounds or less are allowed. Arrows will be approved only under heavy scrutiny. Please make extra arrow so we can tear one apart to make sure it is constructed correctly. Latex arrows may also be purchased from many online retailers. Bows may be rented for $3 per event plus a $5 refundable deposit.

Spell Packets

Spell packets are small beanbags used to deliver magic spells, prayers, alchemy, and other effects of ranged attacks. They are constructed of birdseed covered in fabric, secured by a rubber band or stitching. Mages and Priests in particular will need a quantity of these in order to make use of their spells/prayers.

Cut scrap fabric, any color, in to squares about 4″ x 4″. Place a small pile of birdseed in the center of the square. Gather up the corners and sides of the square, making a little pouch around the birdseed. Gather it tightly, and then close it securely using a rubber band wrapped several times as close to the birdseed as possible.

Weapon Size & Damage

Length restrictions listed below are in inches for the overall length (tip to pommel) of the weapon. A weapon may only ever be one size classification.

Weapon Type Minimum Length Maximum Length Damage
Small Weapon 9″ 18″ 1 (blade), 1 (pommel)

(Small weapons can be made entirely out of closed-cell-foam, but only those of PVC construction may be used to block)

1 Hand Blade 18″ 44″ 2 (blade), 1 (pommel)
Bastard Blade 44″ 54″ 1-handed – 2 (blade), 1 (pommel)
2-handed – 3 (blade), 1 (pommel)
2 Hand Blade 54″ 62″ 4 (blade), 1 (pommel)
1 Hand Hafted 18″ 32″ 3 (head), 1 (butt)
Bastard Hafted 32″ 42″ 1-handed – 3 (head), 1 (butt)
2-handed – 4 (head), 1 (butt)
2 Hand Hafted 42″ 60″ 5 (head), 1 (butt)
Club 18″ 32″ 2 (head), 1 (butt)
Staff 48″ 72″ 2 (butt), 2 (shaft)
Pole Arm 60″ 96″ 5 (blade), 2 (butt)

(Pole Arms must be constructed without hand grips; the entire shaft must be covered in closed cell foam)

Martial Arts/Brawling 9″ 16″ 1
Thrown Weapon 1″ 6″ 1
Bow/Crossbow N/A N/A 3
  • A Small Weapon is any bladed or hafted weapon that fits within the given size restrictions. This includes knives, daggers, and hatchets.
  • A Blade weapon is any type of sword that is made entirely from forged metal. It is a balanced weapon that requires skill in crafting.
  • A Hafted weapon is an axe, hammer, mace, or any other weapon that commonly utilizes a wooden shaft with large or substantial striking surface attached to it. It is not as precisely balanced as a bladed weapon, but its larger mass and weight distribution can inflict substantial damage.
  • A Club is any roughly hewn, usually wood, weapon that can be fabricated with little skill.
  • A Staff is usually made from wood and is crafted to be a balanced weapon. Staves are two-hand weapons.
  • A Pole Arm is a very long hafted weapon. Pole Arms are two-hand weapons.
  • Brawling represents bare hands or fists. They must be constructed using white or tan duct tape.
  • Thrown Weapons include darts, knives, shuriken, etc., that are relatively small and light. They must be thrown to cause damage and are therefore useless in melee combat.
  • A Bow or Crossbow must be a very light bow and only approved arrows with foam tips may be fired.

You must supply your own weapons. Remember, all weapons will be inspected prior to being allowed in the game area. This is for safety purposes and will be strictly enforced. If, during game play, a weapon should become unsafe in any way, immediately discontinue its use. Give the weapon to a game director. It will be held until the event is ended, or until satisfactory repairs can be made. The game staff usually maintains a weapon repair kit. You may purchase these repair materials, if they are available, at the Logistics center. Use of an unsafe or unapproved weapon will result in immediate dismissal from the game.