Tag Archives: sword


I was a big fan of He-Man growing up, so I really enjoyed seeing this Instructable on making a He-Man Power Sword. Blast Replicas uses an interesting technique of creating a “skeleton” with thin plastic guides, and then adding body filler between the guides to fashion all the curved and beveled faces. The paint treatment on the final piece is also pretty sweet.

Millennium FX created a giant polar bear operated by two puppeteers as part of a PR stunt for Fortitude on Sky Atlantic. Be sure to check out the video which has some “making of” footage that’s sure to be helpful to anyone who needs to build an articulated animal form.

Tested visits Monsterpalooza 2015, a convention for creature makers, practical effects shops, and special effects makeup. I’m amazed at all the high quality work being done out there in the world.

For those of you building things out of craft foam, WM Armory has compiled his ten best tutorials on crafting foam. I’ve linked to some of these individually before, but here they are together in case you’ve missed some.

Finally, here’s a beautiful video showing a couch being made. It’s a real couch, not a prop couch, so they have some pretty sophisticated machines for some of their processes (they roll their own springs!), but it is still very satisfying to watch the final piece grow out of a pile of raw materials.

Legend of Zelda Master Sword Take Two

About a year and a half ago, I worked with The League of Extraordinary Thespians to make a Master Sword for their Legend of Zelda musical. It was a fun project, but I had very little time or money to do it; I thought it was a bit blocky, and the paint treatment was very rudimentary. Since I gave all the original swords away, I decided I would make a new one with some improvements for myself.

I filmed nearly every step of the process and edited it into a six-minute video.

I made the blade out of wood again; on the original swords, I used plywood, which does not really make a convincing faux metal. This time I went with a solid piece of oak. After priming and sanding it, I used some Krylon Stainless Steel spray paint, which, after rubbing it with some steel wool, makes a very convincing metallic finish.

Legend of Zelda Master Sword
Legend of Zelda Master Sword

I decided I would make the hilt as a separate piece, then mold it and cast it directly onto the blade. I wanted a strong connection between hilt and sword that would not break when you played with it. Another reason was that the hilt was a very time-consuming piece, and I wanted the option of making more swords in the future.

Legend of Zelda Master Sword
Legend of Zelda Master Sword

Casting the hilt directly onto the blade was a very challenging and hairy process for me. Despite how awesome I seem, I do not have much experience with molding and casting. The process was far from perfect, but the end result was pretty satisfactory (though you can see some wibbly defects in the picture below).

Legend of Zelda Master Sword
Legend of Zelda Master Sword

I also tried sculpting the quillons out of clay, which is not something I typically do. I used an air-drying clay that was way too soft; if I were to try this again, I would look for a much harder clay. In fact, I would probably be tempted to carve most of it from a solid chunk of wood.

The yellow jewels were a separate piece which I cast in tinted epoxy. I made a video showing the mold-making process on that a few weeks back.

I finished off the hilt with a purple shimmering metallic spray paint. All in all, I was happy with how this sword turned out, and I learned a lot from the process.

Forging the Sword from the Hobbit

I’ve pointed out Tony Swatton’s video series in the past; he is a blacksmith for film, television and theatre, and in this short series, he recreates famous weapons from films, video games and other pop culture using real blacksmith and metal-working techniques. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is a great one to start with: Swatton forges the sword “Sting” used by Bilbo in The Hobbit.

The Unluckiest Links of the Year

Happy Friday the 13th to everyone. Aren’t you “lucky” to have the time to read my blog today? Here are some interesting stories and videos I’ve come across in the last week:

First off is this fantastic and epic build of a Master Sword from the Legend of Zelda series. 2Story Props steps through the whole process, from the initial drafting to the final coat of paint, with tons of photographs showing every step along the way.

Bill Tull, the props master for TV’s Conan O’Brien, is back with some budget holiday tips for you. These are particularly funny.

I like this charming antique story of talking tools who argue over who is the most important when it comes to constructing a wooden box. Guess what? It only works when the tools work together and play their unique role.

Finally, production designer K.K. Barrett talks about creating the unique futuristic world of Her. The movie itself, a sci-fi romance film from Spike Jonze, looks fascinating. Though production design is somewhat removed from the world of props, it is always interesting to read how the various production departments on a film work together, and the interview deals a lot with how the physical objects and tactile qualities of the world relate to the story of the film, which is something props masters do deal with.

Friday Night Links

Tomorrow, August 17th, I will be exhibiting some props at the Burlington Mini Maker Faire in North Carolina. I wrote up some more details about it a few days ago. There’s going to be Stormtroopers, robots and even a space launch. That’s right, they are going to launch a balloon into (near) space from the mall parking lot. I never thought I would live to see the day I could type the previous sentence.

The Library of Congress has a massive collection of digital images and photographs from throughout US history. It is an incredible resource for finding or creating specific paper props or for general research. I use their newspaper collection quite a bit.

I’ve linked to a few of blacksmith Tony Swatton’s videos in the past; he has a new one up where he creates Link’s Master Sword from the Legend of Zelda series. The result is an amazingly accurate replica of a sword which exists only in a video game, built out of the materials which a real life sword would be made from. It is far more intense than the Master Sword I created a few months ago, but then again, I don’t have a whole team of specialized metal artisans working in my shop.

Here is an article on Patrick Drone, the props master at the University of Michigan. In recent years, he has begun working at Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, where he maintains a fleet of early Model T and Model A vehicles. He says the work is not unlike that of a props shop.

The guys at Tested recently visited The Hand Prop Room in Los Angeles to tour through their 1,000,000+ props. I often wish I lived close by to a props rental house that contained everything; then again, I probably don’t have the budget for that. I guess I’ll have to make my own.