I have been making props for over a year and a half now and I was recently commissioned by my friend to make the Elucidator from Sword Art Online. This was a fun commission for me to do and I want to share how I made it and how you can make one yourself!
This build is relatively easy, even for beginners and only requires a couple of basic power tools which are widely accessible to most people. (chances are you already have the power tools needed in your household) This entire build was made only with hand tools, but if you have access to big tools, (like a band saw, or a drill press) take advantage of using them.
This build uses a layering process as opposed to a solid piece being carved; this means that layers are applied to build thickness. This process is a great way to build lots of different kind of props because it means that symmetry is maintained and accuracy for detail is easier to control.
This build took me about 30 hours from start to finish over the course of 2 weeks so don't expect to make a decent prop if you rush it! Take your time on this build and the pay off will be much better.
Step 1: What you will need:
The list of requirements are as follows:
MDF sheets (Metric: 1-1.5mm, 3mm and 6mm) (Imperial: 0.80-0.100", 1/8" and 1/4")
250grams/8 oz of 2 Part Epoxy Putty (Milliput, Apoxie sculpt)
High impact styrene (Metric: 1mm) (Imperial: 0.80")
PVC pipe (Metric: 25mm outer diameter) (Imperial: 1" outer diameter)
Pine dowel (same outer diameter as the PVC pipe inner diameter)
Threaded rod (Metric: 6-12mm diameter) (Imperial: 1/4-1/2" diameter)
Filler (wood filler, body filler)
Jig saw (or similar electric saw)
Power drill (or drill press if you have access)
Various clamps (about a dozen)
Hacksaw (for cutting metal)
Orbital sander (optional)
Dremel rotary tool (optional)
Gorilla glue (Expanding Polyurethane glue)
Sandpaper (60, 80, 120, 200, 400, 800 grit)
Cheap liquid Super glue (check out step 7 to see why you want cheap liquid super glue)
High build/Filler primer
Black/Silver spray paint
Matt clear coat
Step 2: Templates
To start with, you will need the templates of the pieces for this project. On the link below, I made a full size blueprint and templates for you to download for free. All measurements are on the templates.
(You will need to click on the image to find the full size blueprint)
Once printed, these templates need to be transferred to your thickness's of MDF. Be sure to mark your MDF with the thickness's so you don't get the pieces muddled up.
Step 3: Cutting and initial shaping
Once your templates have been transferred to your MDF sheets, they need to be cut out using your saw. I would highly recommend the jig saw for this since they are cheap, easy to work with and you can cut all the pieces using that tool. When cutting your pieces, make sure you cut on the outside of the line, this means you will never take off material that wasn't supposed to be cut off.
Once all of the pieces are cut, I would recommend cleaning up the edges by sanding and filing any areas that are scruffy or jagged; doing this now instead of later will save you a lot of time in the long run.
Step 4: Glueing
The pieces now need to be glued together, I recommend glueing the 6mm/1/4" to the 1.5mm/0.100" and glueing the 3mm/1/8" pieces together separately. The 3mm/1/8" pieces will be glued later on in this build.
To glue these together, apply a small amount of wood glue to the bases and secure with clamps; you don't want too much glue otherwise you'll need to wipe off the excess and you don't want to use too little, otherwise the bond won't be strong.
You will need as many clamps as you can get your hands on to ensure as much optimal pressure as possible. something to note is don't clamp the MDF too tightly, otherwise you might leave an indentation of the clamp.
Step 5: Sealing and Epoxy clay
With all of the pieces glued together, the pieces need sealing. This is to protect the MDF and to prime it ready for sanding and prepping. This can be done in many ways; I chose to do a layer of PVA glue over the MDF. You can also use wood glue, lots of filler primer, super glue (as I later demonstrate in this build) or you can just straight up use MDF sealer.
Once sealed, you can now apply the Epoxy clay all around the gaps; this is used to create the bevelled edges of the sword. 2 part Epoxy clay is mixed with the ratio 1:1 and are blended together until the colour is uniform. (colour depends on brand and type)
The working time for Milliput/Apoxie sculpt is about 30 mins so you will need to make multiple batches. Just be patient and apply inbetween periods to fill every edge. One great advantage to Epoxy clay is you can use water to manipulate the clay, so you can wet your finger and run your finger across the clay and spread it out evenly.
Curing time is around 4 hours and it cures harder than rock so you'll know when it's done but if you want to play it safe, leave it to cure for a whole 24 hours to absolutely ensure maximum strength.
You may notice that the clay doesn't look uniform and smooth, this isn't an issue with Epoxy clay because it sands and files beautifully.
Step 6: Filing, sanding and smoothing
Once you have ensured all of the clay is cured, you will need to file and sand all of it to a smooth shape. I recommend filing first to remove high spots and blend low spots so the clay is flat. run the file up and down the blade at a 45 degree angle along the whole way on both sides to ensure similarity.
Once the clay has been filed, sand with 60 grit, 80 grit and lastly 120 grit to make the clay incredibly smooth.
With the epoxy clay shaped and smooth, the surface needs smoothing aswell. I applied water based wood filler on the sword using a filler/putty knife, once it had dried, I sanded the surface with 120 grit, and then 200 grit.
Step 7: Glueing the extra pieces and more sealing
With the sword and extra pieces now smooth, you can now glue the pieces to the sword. Repeat the same process as the first glueing step shows, ensuring there is enough wood glue and that you line up the pieces before clamping.
After the pieces have been glued together, you may notice the tick gap at the base of the sword, this area needs sealing and I found using cheap super glue works great because it soaks into the MDF, so when you sand and file it later, it makes it rock hard and smooth.
You may notice the image for the styrene pieces, these are supposed to be on the sword but I never added these on the sword because I preferred the sword without them. These pieces (if you desire to have them on your sword) can be cut out of 1mm/0.80" styrene by using an X-acto blade or scalpel.
Once cut out, super glue the pieces to where they should go; refer to the blueprint to see where exactly they need to be placed.
Note:A tip for cutting out the pieces is to actually score the plastic instead of cutting all of the way through, you can cleanly snap off styrene when it's scored so you don't need to force the blade the whole way through.
Step 8: The hilt/handle
With the sword now close to completion, it's time to move onto the handle. For this, you will need to use your 25mm/1" diameter PVC pipe. You need to cut a piece that is 20cm/8" long.
With your PVC pipe, you will now want to insert your pine dowel. The outer diameter of the dowel has to be exactly the same as the inner diameter of the PVC pipe; PVC pipe usually has an inner diameter 4mm shorter than the outer diameter. For this instance, a 25mm outer diameter PVC pipe will have a 21cm inner diameter so the dowel will have to be 21mm thick.
When you know your thickness's, insert the dowel; you may need to hammer it in with a rubber mallet if the fit is tight, if the fit is loose, you may need to use Gorilla glue to fill the gap. (A tighter fit is much more reliable than a loose fit; a tight fit means that the dowel will never budge because it's wedged.)
With the dowel fixed in place, a hole needs drilling into the hilt and the sword base so the threaded rod can feed through. I am using a 8mm thick threaded rod so I drilled a 6mm hole into the sword base and the hilt.
The threaded rod needs to be cut to length, I decided to cut mine 7.5"/18cm long.
Once the rod is cut to length, it needs to be secured to the base. Squeeze a small amount of Gorilla glue into the base and feed the threaded rod into the base; to do this, feed the threaded rod into the chuck of the drill, then slowly spin the rod into the base.
With the rod secured to the base, the hilt can be twisted into the base. It is optional that you can Gorilla glue the hilt to the base but the point of making it threaded is so you can unscrew it and do work on the hilt separately from the base.
Step 9: Refining the base and sculpting the pommel
(Note: The silver and red paint seen on these images is not necessary, I only wanted to see the shine of the silver.)
With the hilt sorted out, it's time to refine any areas that need attention. In my case, I needed to patch a seem at the bottom of the base; I used Epoxy putty to fill this. Epoxy putty was also applied to other marks along the sword. When they have cured, they are sanded and filed down to shape.
With everything smoothed out, I secured the hilt to the base with the Gorilla glue, as mentioned in the last post, this isn't necessary, it was just my personal choice.
I sculpted the guard and pommel with Epoxy putty in two different periods, the first pass was sculpting the guard and the edge of the pommel. Once cured, I sculpted on the second half of the pommel. This was later sanded to shape.
To aid with sculpting, I wetted my finger with regular water, then smoothed and blended the clay around the hilt and sword base by lightly applying pressure with my wetted finger. This saves time when it needs sanding after it cures.
Step 10: Priming and painting
This is the last step to completing the sword.
To start with, the piece needs priming; this promotes adhesion for the paints that will be applied afterwards and gives a nicer surface to work on.
I recommend using 2 coats of high build primer to start with, once the coats have cured, they need sanding with high grit sandpaper, starting with 200 and 400 grit. repeat until smooth and apply 1 final coat of primer and sand with 800 grit; this will make the surface very smooth.
With the piece primed, you will now want to start adding paint. (I used flat black and silver) To start with, 2 coats of silver are sprayed all over the sword.
Once the paint has had time to cure, all areas which need silver edges were taped up with masking tape, this is so when the black paint is applied, the silver edge won't be painted over. You need to be very patient with this and you need to be sure the masking tape is straight.
Once the tape is applied, 2 coats of flat black are applied to the sword. I suggest letting this set for a few hours before removing the masking tape. If there are any areas where the paint has "bleed", (bleed means any paint that has leaked through the edge of the masking tape) you can touch them up with acrylic paints and a paint brush.
When the taped is removed, 2 coats of clear coat are applied to the sword to protect the paint job and to give a shine to it.
Step 11: Finished!
Just let the clear coat cure for 24 hours to ensure the clear coat has cured and voila! The sword is complete!
Here are a few shots of the completed sword I grabbed. I hope you guys like this instructable and more importantly, I hope this instructable is clear to follow.
Feel free to give any feedback on this instructable, as I am always tweaking some of the steps to make them a little simpler and easier to understand.