When it comes to the overall versatility of foam, the possibilities are endless. While most people think of foam as a couch cushion or housing insulation, it can be used in a variety of craft projects as well. If you are a cosplay fan, it might surprise you to find that foam can be used in creating weapons to complete your character. Whether your character is a valiant knight or the cruelest villain, a sword can lend authenticity to your overall look while giving the character an added edge. Let’s take a look at how to make a cosplay sword using foam.
Why use foam?
When choosing the materials for your costume, especially for the sword, there are plenty of options on the market you can use. While you could use cardboard or other poster board type solutions, that choice has its drawbacks. For instance, the sword would be flimsy, easy to damage, and flat looking in appearance. You could opt for wood for your sword, as some cosplayers have before, but this option may be too heavy or costly, not to mention difficult to work with it if you aren’t already familiar with wood carving and sanding.
Foam is the best choice for a cosplay sword for a few reasons. Foam gives the right feel of weight in your hand without being as heavy as wood. Foam is also easier to work with for both experienced and novice cosplayers alike. Best of all, foam is an affordable solution so if you make mistakes, it won’t be as expensive as wood. Foam is also a lightweight material which will make it easier to carry around at events or conventions.
What type of foam?
When it comes to how to make a cosplay sword, the type of foam is the first thing to consider. While there are a lot of foams available on the mater today, not all of them are necessarily well suited to creating a sword for your costume. There are two foams in particular that are ideal for use in cosplay swords.
Polystyrene Foam. This foam is a lightweight closed cell foam that is easy to cut through in the desired shape of a sword. The fact that its closed cell as opposed to open cell means it’s a bit firmer which is ideal for a sword while the durability of the material means it’s long lasting. It comes in several weights so you can get the option that feels best to you in terms of heft and carrying. It’s also water resistant for added peace of mind.
Cross-Linked Polyethylene. This type of foam is similar to typical polystyrene foam but differs in a few important ways. This foam is available in a wider range of colors which is ideal if you are looking to create a specific sword color for your character. It’s also smoother in feel compared to the somewhat bumpier feel of regular foam. This foam also offers more weight for those looking for a heavier feel. It also offers a great shock absorbency which is ideal if you are looking to engage in pretend swordplay while in costume.
Gym Rubber. While this may not be the most obvious choice for a cosplay sword, it has a dense feel to it which makes it ideal for the job. It is easy to cut and offers a smooth feel while adding extra durability. Any type of foam intended for use as floor padding will work for the job because it offers a good mix of lightweight feel with firmness for the best of both worlds.
How to Make A Cosplay Sword
There are a few materials you will need to create the sword and basic steps to take to complete this project. For materials, you will most likely need not only your chosen foam type, but also items such as a sander to smooth out the foam to your preferences, tracing paper, a sharp knife or box cutter capable of cutting through your chosen foam, a pipe of conduit to use as the base and handle, a ruler to ensure proper measurements, and paint in metallic colors to give the look of metal as well as your chosen paint color for the handle or detailing on the handle.
Once you have gathered all the necessary supplies, you will start by tracing on the tracing paper the sword you aim to create. Most cosplayers are playing specific characters with a specific sword so there is no need to create a sword design of your own unless you want to. Best of all, you may even be able to download a template of the exact sword of the character which will make it easier. Whether you have your own outline or a template, you will need to outline the sword on the foam using a marker. Make sure you measure how long the sword will be before you begin to ensure the right length. You want to outline two separate swords because you will be joining them together to create the right dimensions of a real sword rather than a flat object.
The next step is to cut the foam based on the markings drawn from the tracing paper onto the foam surface. You want to do a first cut along the line that is more about an accurate tracing of the marker with the blade and then a second round of cutting to separate the outline from the foam and give you the main pieces of the sword. You should have the parts that make up the blade of the sword and the foam cutouts for the handle.
If you are painting the sword pieces to get a realistic effect, you want to do this before you assemble the actual pieces into a completed sword. It’s cleaner and will ensure the colors of the blade don’t get on the handle and vice versa. There are metallic silver paints you can use to make the blade look like real metal whereas the handle can be painted brown or whatever color is appropriate for the character you are portraying.
Once the foam cutouts have completely dried, you can assemble and finalize the sword. Using the PVC pipe as the base, you will want to carefully line up the foam cutouts and make sure all your measurements are correct while marking on the pipe where the blade starts and ends the handle as well. This will act not only as a way to properly line up your pieces, but also act as a marker for where to put the adhesive or glue solution.
Once you have the measurements and markers in place, you can use your adhesive to connect the pieces over the PVC pipe. You can either use glue in the spots marked or a foam adhesive you spray on the foam to attach it to the pipe. Once you glue on your blade and handle cutouts, let it sit for a few hours to allow the glue to fully dry. You should have a three-dimensional sword perfect for your next cosplay event!