Weapon Materials Guide

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Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Twolf » Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:58 pm

Warning: The guide below was written based on the public forum knowledge from early 2009.  While this guide is generally still accurate, it's also starting to get long in the tooth and may not accurately reflect what is popular today.

Weapon Materials Guide

This post is a brief summary on weapons building materials for new and intermediate weapons builders.  One of the most common questions we receive on this forum is how do you build a sword.  There are many tutorials available both on this site and on the web.  However, reading through them you will see some of them recommend using slightly different materials and different means to create your weapon, and this post is targeted at explaining the options so you can decide for yourself which one to follow.

A note to those considering commissioning a weapon:  There is a well known site out there that sells weapons for Live Action Role Playing groups.  Notice that they do not mention Dagorhir in their advertisements.  This is because they do not always pass at our events.  Please keep this in mind before considering them.

Core
  • PVC pipe - Found in any home repair or plumbing store.  Usually measured by INSIDE Diameter.  1/2" is good for up to about a 36" weapon. 3/4" is recommended above that up to about 4'.  1" is good to about 5'.  Going beyond these recommendations may result in a weapon that (eventually) flexes too much.
    + Pros: Inexpensive and easily available.  Easy to cut with a saw or PVC cutters.  Can also be heated and bent to make curved weapons.
    - Cons: Thicker and bulkier than other materials available.  Average durability, though durability is compromised when bent
  • Fiberglass Rods (solid) - Available as electric fence posts, though it may have other names.  Can be purchased through McMaster-Carr, Kencove, Max-Gain, and Tractor Supply Company. A single 3/8" can be used for a weapon size of up to about 36".  1/2" or more is recommend for larger weapons.
    + Pros: Almost indestructible compared to other materials.  Almost as inexpensive as PVC Pipe, but much thinner.
    - Cons: Hazardous to cut, must use a saw.  Gloves and masks are strongly recommended.  Cannot be bent to shape.  More difficult to get.
  • Bandshoppe Poles (Hollow Fiberglass) - Named for the online store that sells marching band supplies.  Typically used for spears and other polearms.  Comes in lengths between 5'-8'.  Available at Bandshoppe, Smith Walbridge, and Woodwind & Brasswind.
    + Pros: Much thinner than PVC for polearm weapons.  Best way to get a polearm core.
    - Cons: Far more expensive than most other materials for a weapon. Expensive to ship.  Stores charge a premium for small orders.
  • Graphite - Found in Golf supply stores.
    + Pros: Lighter and faster than fiberglass.  Thinner and lighter than anything else.
    - Cons: More expensive if purchased new.  Does not come in many lengths.  Possibly the least durable core of all except for wood cores
  • Carbon Fiber - Modern wonder material that has a high strength-to-weight ratio.  Available in both tubes and rods through Goodwinds.
    + Pros: Lighter and more rigid than fiberglass rods.
    - Cons: Much more expensive than fiberglass.
  • Other Cores:
    Kite Spar - similar properties to Bandshoppe poles but thinner and available in smaller sizes.
    Square Fiberglass rods - similar properties to regular fiberglass rods, but are easier to build onto for Swords and Axes.  Indirectly available in bulk (and freight) through Liberty Pultrusions.
    Wood Staves, Rattan, Bamboo, etc. - Generally not recommended unless that is all you have available.  Must be wrapped in tape first.

Foam
Note: We are always looking for better foams and better suppliers.  Let us know if you know anything not on this list
  • Blue Camping Foam (Walmart Ozark Trail brand) - Available at Walmart.  Majority of Dagorhir weapons are made from this foam.  Believed to be a form of non-cross linked polyethylene foam.  Density is about 2.4lb/ft3.
    + Pros: Widely available.  Extremely inexpensive.
    - Cons: Breaks down easily.  Not as durable as other foams.
  • Minicell - Refers to a cross-linked polyethylene foam that has very fine cells.  The cell structure cannot be readily seen when cut (unlike Blue Camping Foam or Marine Foam).  This foam is considered superior to Blue camping foam, though arguably not as good as EVA below.  It is available through Alric, Foam For You, Foam by Mail
    + Pros: More durable than Blue Camping Foam.  Usually cheaper than EVA.  Very smooth for plastidipping.
    - Cons: More difficult to get and more expensive than Blue Camping Foam.
  • EVA foam - Sometimes known by the brandname EVAlite, it is a foam made from Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate that is much more durable than camping foam.  It is currently the gold standard by which other foams are compared to.  It comes in many different properties, but the properties listed in McMaster-Carr are the ones we recommend (2 lbs/ft3).  It is available from McMaster-Carr, A.M. Foam and possibly FoamOrder.com
    + Pros: Much more durable than Blue Camping Foam.
    - Cons: Difficult to get and very expensive in comparison.
  • Anti-fatigue EVA floor mat - Commonly referred to as puzzle mats as the edges have a toothed edge similar to a jigsaw puzzle.  Good source of 4 lb. EVA (See below under "Other Foams").  One side may exhibit a skin that resists adhesive, so roughing up may be needed. Available at Harbor Freight and Home Depot
    + Pros: Probably most durable foam on this list.
    - Cons: Too stiff to be used alone and must be used along with one of the other foams on this list.
  • Pipe Insulation - Found in hardware and plumbing stores, this foam should not be used as part of a striking surface, as it compresses too quickly.
    + Pros: Almost no work required.  Very cheap and easy to get.
    - Cons: Breaks down faster than Blue Camping Foam.  Should not be used without additional foam.
  • Other Foams:
    4 lb. foam - A foam that is more durable than typical 2 lb/ft3 foams listed above.  It is sometimes (though not always) referring to an EVA foam.  It recommended to only use this as a base layer for weapons, but doing so may increse weapon longevity.
    Marine Foam (aka Ensolite) - A closed cell rubber foam that is popular for stabbing tips.  Available through many other suppliers.
    Volara - Another cross-linked polyethylene foam that has reportedly high tear resistance, but otherwise has similar properties to Blue Camping Foam (except for price).
    Polyethylene Foam - This is basically the same as Blue Camping Foam, but beware that there are MANY properties to foam, so any given Polyethylene foam may or may not work for a Dagorhir weapon.
    Neoprene - A foam with possibly similar characteristics as 4 lb. foam.
    Fun/Pool Noodles - Found where pool toys are sold, breaks down faster than Blue Camping Foam.  Quality can vary wildly, but some are stiffer and better than Pipe Insulation.  Not recommended for beginners.
    Unicell - An open cell Polyurethane foam from McMaster that was used to create stabbing tips.  Not discussed as much as before, use part number 85735K66.
    Grey Computer packing foam a.k.a Charcoal Ester- A very thick open cell gray foam.  Possibly the same as Unicell.
    Canal Rubber foam - A source for above mentioned foam.

Adhesives
All are available at home repair stores
  • Contact Cement (DAP WeldWood) - Contact cement generally used for laminates.  General recommended adhesive for building weapons.  Read instructions carefully, as it requires the glue to be dry before use.  Use foam brushes, extra pieces of foam or putty knives to apply.  Use Mineral Spirits to clean up any messes.  Nonflammable and Gel versions do not work as well as the original formula.
    + Pros: Generally considered best all purpose adhesive for Dagorhir. 
    - Cons: Requires 10 minutes or more to be ready.  Has a strong odor and must be used outdoors or in a very well ventilated area FAR from an open flame.  Does not bind to duct tape very well.
  • 3M 77 Spray Glue - An alternative to DAP in a convenient spray can.  Use turpentine to clean.
    + Pros: Provides a superior bond over dap when bonding open cell foam.  Although it has the similar warnings as DAP, it is not as odorous and can be used indoors.  No accessories needed.  Works faster than DAP.
    - Cons: Not as good as DAP on closed cell to closed cell bonds.  More expensive
  • Double-Sided Carpet Tape (Fiberglass Indoor/Outdoor) - Manufactured by Duck tapes, they come in 1.5" and 1.88" widths.  Can be tricky to cut
    + Pros: Can be used without regard to ventilation.  Recovers its stickiness if lost due to cold weather.
    - Cons: Not as good adhesion compared to other methods, especially in very cold or very hot weather.
  • Other Adhesives:
    3M 90 - similar to 3M 77 but "stringier"
    3M 74 - similar to 3M 77, but possibly superior to it.  Harder to get locally.
    Double Sided Duct Tape - Possible superior alternative to double-sided carpet tape.
    Duct Tape - Recommended for everything that is not on a striking surface.
    Gorilla Tape - Superior to normal Duct tape for holding, but more expensive.
    Gaffers Tape - Available in lighting supply stores, similar to duct tape but does not leave as much of a residue when removed.  Recommended for holding covers onto weapons.
    Athletic tape/Hockey Tape - A "breathable tape", recommended for securing striking surfaces.
    Strapping tape - A cellophane tape with string running along it.  Sometimes used as an alternative to athletic/hockey tape.
    Tyvek Tape - An untearable tape that can reduce or prevent tears blade surfaces.  Use with caution as misuse can cause weapon to fail.

Weapon Decoration
  • Plasti Dip - A rubber coating for weapons that hides seams, giving weapons a molded appearance.  Comes in both paint and spray forms.  Paint varieties are recommended over sprays for weapons.  Available at k1cra.com, The Quilter's Husband, as well as some local hardware stores.
    + Pros: Simple to apply and very durable. Conforms to shape of the underlying weapon, so 3D effects can be achieved.
    - Cons: Conforms to texture of underlying weapon.  Will dissolve uncured adhesive bonds.  Requires 20-30 minutes per coat. Can be punctured by sharp objects.
  • Fun Foam - A thin foam (2mm-6mm) that is easily cut with a razor blade or scalpel. Sometimes goes by other names like Crazy Foam or Foamies.  Used for creating 3D effects and designs on weapons.  When Plasti Dip is applied, Fun Foam will appear to be part of the weapon as a solid piece.  Available at Wal-Mart, Joanne's, and Michael's in small sheets.  Larger sheets are available online.
    + Pros: Very easy to shape and apply. Cheap.
    - Cons: Requires a very sharp blade to cut evenly.
  • Spray Paint - Flexible varieties can be used to paint over Plasti Dipped weapons. Available just about everywhere.  Recommended brands include Krylon and Rustoleum. Ensure the type chosen is usable on plastic.  A recommended test is to apply on some Plasti Dipped scrap foam and checking for increased rigidity.
    + Pros: Super Easy to use. Cheap. Can cover a large area in a short time.
    - Cons: Not very precise. Must be 18 in some places to purchase it. Overwhelming variety.
  • Acrylic Paint - Brush or spray-on paint used to paint details over Plasti Dipped weapons. Many different types are available, but Liquitex Soft Body Acrylic is strongly recommended for weapons. If using another variety, make sure it has similar properties. A good acrylic paint will be flexible, self leveling, and should provide excellent coverage.  Available at any art supply store (Michael's, some Joann's, Dick Blick Art Supply).
    + Pros: Very precise. Amazing detail possible. Water Soluble when wet, chemically inert when dry. Easy to use in a basic fashion.
    - Cons: Very expensive. Permanent if spilled on cloth. Takes good painting skills to use well.

Arrow Shafts
  • Wood - Adequate.  Must be wrapped in tape to protect combatants from splinters
  • Aluminum - Adequate.  Fairly inexpensive compared to fiberglass or carbon.  Get bent easily.
  • Fiberglass - Good. Moderately priced.  Must be wrapped in tape to protect combatants against splinters except if using red Safety Glass shafts
  • Carbon - Good.  A bit more expensive.  Lightweight.  See Oznog's post below.

Tools
  • Utility Knife -A retractable blade, available at any hardware store.  Keep replacement blades handy, as they dull quickly when cutting foam.
  • Straight-edge Ruler - Any ruler with a hard edge that you can run the utility knife along without damage.
  • Screwdriver - Great for opening a cans of DAP or changing utility knife blades.
  • Hacksaw - Used for sawing through pipes, fiberglass rods and arrows, and graphite golf club shafts.  When cutting fiberglass, cover the area you're cutting with tape first.
  • PVC Cutter - A PVC pipe cutter that has ratcheting jaws and cuts pipes straight and clean.  Do not attempt to use it for fiberglass or graphite
  • Utility Knife Blades - Extra blades are always good as foam quickly dulls knives.  Use without the blade-holder to shave away edges and points, or cut through larger thicknesses of foam.
  • Electric Knife - This is usually purchased more as gifts for others than anything else.  It's a knife with a reciprocating edge.  It can cut through foam like butter.
Last edited by Twolf on Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Twolf » Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:00 pm

I know that this is not a complete list or a complete FAQ.  I only have so much knowledge as one person.  Help me out with this if you can.
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Oberon of Lyonesse » Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:35 pm

this is a great start just edit your post as people fill in any gaps
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Antonis » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:18 pm

Mayhaps add some of my pictures?
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Twolf » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:08 am

I really considered it, but I think that pictures may actually detract from the actual reading of it.  There are plenty of pictures around for all of these things if you need them, and most people really don't.

Still, I may link to your FAQ directly for pictures of items, unless there's a good how-to that shows pictures of everything.
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Heydar » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:09 am

As far as blue foam goes I used to get Wenger (makers of the Swiss army knife) brand blue foam from K-mart before they stopped selling it.  It didn't hit nearly as hard as the Walmart brand foam does and I wish I had more than one sheet left.  It broke down pretty fast but then again my cover sucked and I was a horrible swordsman (read: hit the ground a lot).  Anyway I'd recommend it over the Walmart brand stuff.
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Oberon of Lyonesse » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:50 am

you could add links to images to keep the readability

i would also add data like weight, strength, flex and price so that things could be easily compared
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Twolf » Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:02 am

[quote="Heydar"]
As far as blue foam goes I used to get Wenger (makers of the Swiss army knife) brand blue foam from K-mart before they stopped selling it.[/quote]
I'm loathe to mention anything in here that is no longer readily available (and is known only through one source).

[quote="Oberon of Lyonesse"]
you could add links to images to keep the readability

i would also add data like weight, strength, flex and price so that things could be easily compared[/quote]
Links to images is genius.  I'll do that when I'm not about to hit the sack.  Weight, strength, flex and price are either subjective or beyond my ability to render judgment to evaluate (in the case of price, it's really variable depending on the source), and I've not really read a post in the forums that brings it up.  Tell me which is better for what and I'll throw it on there, because otherwise I have no idea.
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Oberon of Lyonesse » Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:05 am

by price i mean generally and comparatively like

pvc is cheap
bandshoppe is expensive

blue foam is cheap
eva is expensive
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Antonis » Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:55 am

If you look closely, a number of my pictures came from a drenthan materials FAQ, which was packed with pictures, perhaps you could link to that?
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Dibs the Imp » Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:33 pm

Tools to have on hand:

Utility Knife: A retractable blade, found at any hardware store.  Keep replacement blades handy, as they dull quickly when cutting foam.

Straight-edge Ruler: Any ruler with a hard edge that you can run the utility knife along without damage.  Many people use a steel t-square.  A gridded plexiglas quilter's ruler is also a good choice.

Screwdriver: You might not think you need one, until you need to open a can of DAP or change a utility knife blade.  Every foamsmithing box needs a screwdriver.

Hacksaw: Used for sawing through pipes, fiberglass rods and arrows, and graphite golf club shafts.  You can buy a tiny hacksaw blade frame that gives you more control over the cutting for about $5 at Home Depot.

PVC Cutter: If you make many PVC weapons, this is definitely worth getting.  This cutter has ratcheting jaws and cuts the pipe straight and clean.  About $10 at Home Depot.

Break-off Utility Knife Blades: Specially designed for a breakaway utility knife, these blades are about 5" long.  Use without the blade-holder to shave away edges and points, or cut through larger thicknesses of foam.
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Twolf » Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:30 pm

Updated and modified with some pictures where appropriate.  I'd rather not rip off images from non-dagorhir sites.  In all other cases, I linked to the relevant product page.
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Stellaria » Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:21 pm

FYI, breakaway utility knife blades and regular utility knife blades are two different things.  The breakaway ones are LONG, and can be safely used without a blade-holder. :)
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Adrius » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:50 am

[quote="Stellaria"]
FYI, breakaway utility knife blades and regular utility knife blades are two different things.  The breakaway ones are LONG, and can be safely used without a blade-holder. :)
[/quote]


im gonna beg to differ stell. i always cut the heck out of my hands when i dont use a breakaway holder...but i do prefer breakaway knives because its easier to cut three layers of blue glued together at once
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Sir Magnus of Narnia » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:55 am

Four words...

Bench mounted scroll saw :)
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Kneef » Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:16 am

You should mention Funnoodles in the foam section, too, because it breaks down a lot faster, but does have its uses, like for haft padding and quick and dirty swords when covered over in blue foam.
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Oberon of Lyonesse » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:38 pm

and pipe insulation foam for the same purposes
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Joseph Windstalker » Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:25 pm

id say pipe insulation should jsut be quick and dirty incidental padding but not what is the core of the striking surface
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Twolf » Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:03 am

Updated to reflect pipe insulation and pool noodles.  I've personally never used them, so I'll have to rely on you guys to make sure what I've written is correct.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Joseph Windstalker » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:39 am

twolf- in my opinon the pool noodles are fine to use by themselves as quick and dirty blue, but jsut a single layer of pipe insulation wouldnt cut it as a quick and dirty blue
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Stellaria » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:14 pm

I use pipe insulation as the first foam layer over the PVC core of my modular arrowheads.  Makes that first layer SOOOOO easy.....
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Grey Wolfcaller » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:37 pm

I do something similar with my javs. Since the insulation is the incidental padding on the shaft, I just cover the whole core, so that way there's no risk of separation between the shaft padding and the head and pommel.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Sabrik » Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:43 pm

I didnt know anyone else had used graphite cores before. I had wondered if it was technically legal. No weapon checker has ever had a problem with it, but its still good to know.
Good place to get it is second hand stores. Many have mounds of 2 dollar golf clubs, and you can usually find some graphite ones. For a larger sword, I'd search for ski poles. Again, graphite ones are often hard to find. I find graphite to be quite durable. I only have made 2 swords with it, but they've been through 2 years of light use. Enough they could stand for a refoaming.
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Re: Weapon Materials Tutorial/FAQ

Postby Athron » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:38 pm

[quote="Kneefers"]
You should mention Funnoodles in the foam section, too, because it breaks down a lot faster, but does have its uses, like for haft padding and quick and dirty swords when covered over in blue foam.
[/quote]

Presuming that this guide is best serving new people without immediate access to foamsmithing vets, I actually suggest emphasizing the inappropriateness of using funnoodle in almost every application.

The reason for this is two-fold:
(1) When people are new, they often look for the path of least resistance ("sweet, just throw a noodle on a stick!") and even though they HEAR the negatives, they aren't equipped with enough foamsmithing skill or weapon checking ability to actually understand the seriousness of the negatvie attributes of various building materials.  To use pool noodle appropriately and safely (especially as a striking surface), one must really understand the poor properties of funnoodle.  In time, as they devleop, they will later stumble into understanding when and where pool noodle is fine to use.

(2) Pool noodle actually varies greatly in quality.  There is some REALLY bad pool noodle (can't even be used as a temporary blue weapon), while there is some other stuff that is more dense with better closed-cell structure that certainly can make a striking surface safe for a reasonable duration.  Again, new people simply don't have the knowledge or ability yet to differentiate between 'good' 'okay' and 'terrible' pool noodle.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Alric » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:59 pm

I agree with Athron on this
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Oberon of Lyonesse » Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:32 pm

i would only ever use pipe insulation or funoodle for haft padding and arrowhead bases
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Ake » Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:37 pm

Twolf,and Alric:

Can something like this be added to the How-to links on the national site?
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Twolf » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:07 pm

Updated to reflect Athron's concerns.

Ake, I have no control what goes on the national site.  If my permission is needed, then consider this post my official permission to use it.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Twolf » Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:58 am

I would love to add something about arrows and the differences between arrow shafts.  Unfortunately, it's beyond what I know, so I need to rely on you guys to help me out.  Surely there's an experienced arrow builder that would love to weigh in on this.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Stellaria » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:34 pm

Arrow shafts:  Wood (adequate, must be wrapped in tape to protect combatants from splinters), Aluminum (adequate, fairly inexpensive, but get bent easily), Fiberglass (good, moderately priced, must be tape-wrapped to protect combatants against splinters unless using red Safety Glass shafts), Carbon (good, a bit more expensive, lightweight.  Snaps easily when stepped on)
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Lykos MacGregor » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:38 pm

[quote="Stellaria"]
Carbon (good, a bit more expensive, lightweight.  Snaps easily when stepped on)
[/quote]

or slammed in car doors...
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Stellaria » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:40 pm

Well that was dumb!
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Lykos MacGregor » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:43 pm

Don't Look At Me!  I didn't say *I* did it...  :-P
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Twolf » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:26 pm

Updated with what Stellaria posted.  I could probably stand to reword it better, but it's there for now.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Stellaria » Sun Jan 18, 2009 1:11 am

Yeah, that was *definitely* a quick rattle-off....
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Oznog88 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 3:36 pm

[quote="Twolf"]
I would love to add something about arrows and the differences between arrow shafts.  Unfortunately, it's beyond what I know, so I need to rely on you guys to help me out.  Surely there's an experienced arrow builder that would love to weigh in on this.[/quote]

Don't use wood, period.  It's too prone to breaking.  Likewise, aluminum is a waste of time.

There are not many FG options.  The Academy stuff I recall seeing is prone to splitting and it is NOT long enough.  You need 28" + 2" to build the head onto in most cases. There are some specialty FG shafts but you won't find them at Academy or WalMart or anything.  FG Kite spar will typically not work as shaft material because it's of a filament-wound construction and is too flexible in a reasonable diameter.  Solid fiberglass stuff- driveway markers or whatever- don't use it.  It's far too heavy, makes for a slow shot and typically hits pretty darn hard.

Carbon (aka carbon fiber, aka graphite) has a LOT of different properties depending on what you get.  For one, there's pultruded (linear fibers only) vs filament-wound or wrapped shafts.  It's hard to give generalizations because of differences in diameter and wall thickness so this is an apples-and-oranges game we cite specific models.  Like there's the discontinued Blue Jacket pultruded type that was thick-walled, fairly large diameter carbon and was nigh indestructible but weighs a LOT.  The WalMart stuff is typically wrapped and will generally not crack or splinter but will break in two.  I use some ultra-thin pultruded stuff which gets its "toughness" from the fact that it's flexible and can be bent into a tighter radius before snapping, and it's as much as half the weight of the heaviest options.

There are also hybrid, layered shafts with a pultruded core and an outer wrap of filament-wound.

In general, this is true though: larger diameters increase the shaft stiffness.  Thicker walls have a lesser effect on the stiffness but do make them tougher, yet of course increase the weight.  A pultruded wall of a certain diameter and thickness will be much stiffer than wound or wrapped. 

I don't agree with taping.  It makes it very difficult to detect a cracked shaft which creates its own safety problem.  Plus it's a significant weight and maintenance issue.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Oznog88 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:08 pm

"Grey Computer packing foam" is known as "charcoal ester" foam in the industry.

Camp pad, funnoodle, and Volara/Minicel/Microcell are all closed cell polyethylene (PE).  Volara/Minicel/Microcell etc that don't show visible cells when cut are "microcellular".  Those are all crosslinked PE, although I've been told that you can have a crosslinked PE without a microcellular structure.

These foams come in varying densities which has a direct relation to the stiffness and durability.

EVA is PE softened with vinyl acetate additive, to varying degrees.  That allows for a softer foam without reducing the density.  It's not necessarily "tougher" though, it varies.

There's also "rubber" foams that you might find in large floating pool lounger sheets, some "marine" foam, and they used to be widely used as those cheap 14"x10" stadium seat cushions with the handle cut in them.  Oh, and the cheap, non-zipper-type beer can koozies!  AFAIK all these are PVC-NBR (vinyl) foam, aka "Ensolite".  The density is typically fairly high.  They are high-poisson foams, meaning they bulge out sideways a lot when squished.  This tends to make it cut the tape bonds unless you use special technique.  There's also Neoprene foam which would be hard to tell from PVC foam but AFAIK it's heavier and not used in cheap stuff.

I tried to use PVC-NBR for an experimental arrow once.  It did not go well, apparently can't contract fast enough.  Thing made a loud CRACK on the target and came flying back at me about as fast as it went in.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Halbrust » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:31 pm

Does anyone have dealings with, or opinions on foambymail.com?

They have a large selection of foam. Unsure of how their prices compare, because I'm just beginning to look. (have not yet bought foam for first weapon)
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Vapnkasta » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:45 pm

[quote="Oznog88"]
  There's also Neoprene foam which would be hard to tell from PVC foam but AFAIK it's heavier and not used in cheap stuff.


[/quote]

I have a piece of what I believe is neoprene... it might actually be PVC foam because although its black, feels dense, it doesn't exactly feel like rubber... but it is very dense... I don't know what I would use it for other than backing a shield... I would find it very hard to make a weapon that doesn't hit like a ton of bricks with it.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Mikhal Turov Aleksandrov » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:01 am

I have a stiring question. in the "how to" guid it says to use two  fiberglass rods. Is this because they are smaller in diamiter? if i am constucting out of pvc can i put two 1/2" pieces together or is that too much? I'm a big guy and 1/2" seems like the handle would be too small. Please some one give me some input!!!!
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Twolf » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:03 pm

As was mentioned early on, keep in mind that PVC is usually measured with the inside diameter, whereas regular fiberglass rods are outside diameter.  So 1/2" PVC will easily slide over 1/2" fiberglass.

1/2" PVC is a little small for a handle, but wrapping and gluing some rope around it should build the handle up to a comfortable grip.

Please note that questions regarding how-to guides are largely out of the scope of this sticky.  You should really contact the person who wrote the how-to if possible.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Rojji » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:06 pm

My noodle is about 1.5" thick with a hole with a radius of about .5" so the whole diameter is about 4 in" and it is very hard to compress, except like the outside part is a little squishy but as a whole kinda hard. It doesn't absorb water either. I think this would be perfect for a weapon. It even has like a plastic coating.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Jari Kafghan » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:08 pm

The problem with funnoodles is that they break down and become unsafe very quickly.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Turgon Half-Elven » Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:07 pm

Twolf,

First off, excellent post. Now my new recruits can go to one place and get all the info. Thanks.

On a side note, and not to be picky, the link to Tractor Supply you put it is the wrong link. It takes you to "TCS," specializing in military engineering and technology. I'm sure they could help us build weapons, although they probably wouldn't be legal.  ;)

Anyway, the link is currently to 'www.tsc.com', l believe it should be 'www.tractorsupply.com'

Hope that helps! :)
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Twolf » Fri Feb 13, 2009 1:07 am

By all means, BE picky.  I want this to be a near perfect document that can accurately and completely summarize weapon materials technology.  Something that even a veteran can come back, read this, and learn something.

I am embarrassed by the link, because I've seen the Tractor Supply Company and their logo and always thought "TSC" and just assumed that they had tsc.com.  It's worse because it's not like I don't know how to check a link or a URL.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Ziensar » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:47 pm

The Eryndor tutorial said to use PVC pipe, so I went and bought some with some friends, but my chapter head keeps talking about CPVC saying it's better and PVC will fall apart.  Can someone clarify the differences and possibly put CPVC in the list above?  I have the thick-walled PVC, 3/4".
Last edited by Ziensar on Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Gamer_Ely » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:37 pm

good job Twolf, the only thing i would maybe add, and this is only for aesthetics of course, but sword covers maybe? a lot of people don't really know what would be best to wrap their tools of destruction with, i especially. one sword i have has an underamor sleeve as it's cover :D
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Twolf » Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:33 am

I haven't directly worked with CPVC, and thus can't directly speak to its properties.  I've heard its better, but I believe that the difference between CPVC and regular PVC is not as great as the difference between PVC and fiberglass.

Regarding sword covers... That's not a bad idea, except that there are a TON of options out there and I haven't fully investigated all of them.  I personally use the cheapest gray cloth available from Walmart.  But I recently was given some brown knit cloth that's very stretchy and appears to be nearly ideal for swords, except that it has a tendency to ride up.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Cassius » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:43 am

CPVC has less flex, feels nicer in your hands, and is more durable.  It is mostly what I use.
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Re: Weapon Materials Guide

Postby Gamer_Ely » Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:15 am

yea after i said the thing about covers i realized that it could be an unending list :D
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