How to Make an Shield, As done by Caladin Ironhearth.



This is a page about how to make a shield I lovingly call the ABAS (Ansteorran Big Ass Shield) but it also shows the techniques on how to make any flat shield, using things you can buy and use yourself making the lightest best most durable WOODEN shield possible. (Curved shields and Aluminum shields are addressed elsewhere and I might

Write a page about it,if I get to make another one and try out some new ideas I have :))


What you will need:


2íx4í Ĺí thick plywood,

3/4'Ē or larger Flexible PVC water pipe (also called roll pipe or Black pipe)

2 - ĹĒ inner measurement Aluminum U Ė channel5í-8í lengths

1/4'Ē or smaller Nylon rope.

Shield Basket (see my page on making a simple Shield basket)

Arm Strap

5 - ľí diameter, 1Ē long Carriage bolts, with locking washers and nuts to fit (if you hardware is different, your bolt length may change)

Duct tape, 1 roll or less.



Jig saw with wood cutting blade.

Hand drill

Drill Bits (one slightly larger than rope, one slightly larger than bolts


Selecting the Wood.

Go to the hardware store and find a piece of plywood the size of the shield you want. Most hardware stores sell quarter sheets of Plywood that are 2 feet by 4 feet pre cut. What I do is go through the stack of sheets, picking out the 2 or three lightest ones weighing by hand. Iíve always wanted to get a fish scale and a clamp and test I that way, but Iíve never found a scale to use and remembered to buy it at the same time (Note: I finally did this, and on my inaccurate scale a good piece of BC plywood is 12.5 lbs and a good piece of Birch is 11.5lbs) J


After youíre found the lightest ones, look at the edges of each piece of wood, youíre looking to be sure there are not any voids along the edge of the piece. This means there all of the layers of the plywood are there along all of the edges and make sure that there are no loose pieces just barely hanging on. Void will cause the wood to e weak and the edge of the shield to break before its time. Next tap the wood with a knuckle to see if there are any obvious voids in the center of the wood, especially if you are cutting a non-rectangular shield. Pay special attention to the area you are planning to cut, in my case a straight line about 1 foot from one end of the wood. A void will sound slightly deeper and hollow when you tap on it.. If you canít tell the difference, gamble on the lightest piece of wood, and hope for the best.


Ab or bc grade is fine, some people use marine grade. Itís more expensive, harder to find and heavier.. But it holds up much betterÖ especially if you let your shield get wet (something I avoid, because wet shields are very heavy :) ). If you can find it, Birch plywood is about 1 lb lighter per 2'*4' piece and is stronger besides.

Mostly you want to be sure there are not obvious blemishes or knots on the side of the shield you want to put out. Also be sure the wood is straight, or that you like any curves that might be in itÖ


Cut the wood

Since Iím making a rectangular shield, all I have to do is measure one foot down from the end of the shield and draw a straight line across it (Squares are very handy for this, but a Yard stick works fine, you just have to measure and mark at 1 foot on both sides, and then line the stick up to match both marks exactly before drawing the line.


<drawing Marking a straight line on shield>


If you are Making a different shaped shield use either a Flexible yardstick (for a heater) or a String and Nail (for a Circle) to mark your lines.


Now Plug in the Jig saw (or whatever saw you are using) and cut along the line.

Note that a Finer toothed blade will leave a stronger cleaner edge to the wood, but will cut slower.


You should now have a 2íx3í rectangular shield blank. Or whatever shape it is that you are using.


Drill the Holes:


You are going to need to drill holes to put the rope through to hold the edging in place.

Before you can drill the holes you need to decide on your lacing pattern. If you want to just go around and around, like sewing. Only one piece of rope will go through each hole so you need a bit 1 Ė 2 sizes bigger than the diameter of the rope.


<diagram, lacing styles>


If you are using a style, which will put 2 pieces of rope thru each hole, you need a drill bit big enough to let that happen. Look at your rope and figure it out. Try sticking the rope through once after you drill the first hole to be sure it works. Weíll get back to Lacing the edges on the shield later.


I use a modified sewing stitch to lace my shield on, and Itís shown above. To do it my way use the 3/8Ē bit to drill the holes.


Where to drill the holes


The holes should be slightly away from the edge of the shield, about 1 and Ĺ to 2 times as far from the edge of the shield as your edging will go.

(Using my edging thatís 1Ē-11/2Ē)


<drawing close-up of shield edge>


I usually drill my holes as follows I start at the center of the top of the shield and drill a hole.Then drill both corners. Then I divide each side inhalf and drill one hole at the 1/2 marks to make 5 holes total along the top edge. Then I start the same way with the sides, but instead of one hole between the corners and the center, I drill 2, dividing it into thirds. The advantage of this is that it measures really quickly and seems to work fine.


<drawing the drilled shield>


My first shield I drew a straight line 2Ē in from the edge of the shield all the way around and measured 2Ē between the marks and made all of my lacing exactly even.But this is not required. Although it looks nice, itís your call. Basically you can lace you edging on however you want. Mostly itís a matter of esthetics.


Tips and Tricks.


Preventing (minimizing) Splintering on exit holes.

Always drill from the out side of your shield to the inside (towards you) so that the outside holes where you paint the shield are the nicest looking.


Put a piece of plywood (say the piece you just cut off) under the place where you are going to drill so that the shield blank wood is pressed firmly against it. Then drill thru the first piece and into the second. This will minimize splintering as well.


Preventing Rope wear at the Holes.

If you take a much larger bit, (say twice the diameter) and go back and slightly counter sink the edges of the holes slightly the rope will not have a 90degree corner to wear on and the rope will last longer. The rope usually wears out where itís hit anyway, so this is nice, but not required. Basically you are just rounding off the corners with the bigger bit. In theory if you do this first, then go back and drill the smaller holes itíll look nicer, but I always forget and have to go back and do it, which usually causes some splintering when the 2nd bit hits the corners. So frankly I donít know :)


<Drawing, countersink the edges of the holes>



Paint the Shield


If you want to paint your design on the shield before you fight with it, this is the time to do so. For some reasons I never pain my shield till after Iíve fought with it a few times to see if I like it. So you can paint it after you are done as well, but youíre gonna get paint all over the ropes. Once again, itís your call :).


Edging the Shield


The tape

To edge the shield first you want to run a single length of duct tape along the edge of the wood. This makes the aluminum u-channel fit more snugly and wear better. Put the tape on one edge at a time, centering the tape on the narrow flat edge of the wood, and then folding down the edges along the flat side of the wood. I actually use scissors to cut my duct tape slightly narrower, so it will not show out from under the shield edging, before I put the tape on. Fold the corners so they overlap slightly.


<drawing tape the edge>


The Channel


Sometimes aluminum u-channel is hard to find at hardware stores. Iíve found that most large hardware stores carry it, usually with the pieces of angle iron and stuff, but occasionally in as strange a place as the paint department. If one salesman canít find it, as another, Iíve usually found it, if not try another store, and then remember where you got it.


Next you need to cut the U-channel to fit the edges of the wood. The easiest way to do this is to make a relief cut at each corner. Basically what you do is use the jig saw to cur out a triangular shape from the sides of the u channel that will allow it to bend to a 90-degree angle.Donítí cut thru the bottom of the channel, as this is part of your corner protection.


If you are making a different shaped shield you will have to cut a series of smaller relief cuts along the part of the shield, which is curved, instead of straight. Usually a series of cuts straight into the u-channel about 1 inch apart will do the trick. But that depends on the radius of the curve you are trying to fit


<drawing cut the relief cuts, corner>



<drawing relief cuts, curve>


Usually it will take a couple of pieces to cover the whole edge, I buy the 8 foot pieces of u-channel and that covers from one bottom corner around the top, to the other corner, then I just cut a small straight piece off the other one to fit along the bottom.


<drawing the u-channel on the shield>


The Roll Pipe


Selecting and Cutting the pipe

I use ĺĒ or 1í roll pipe, although in the past Iíve used as big as 1 ĹĒ Pipe.

I prefer the ĺĒ because it fits the wood better. But there is a trick to using it.

If you do the standard hose trick of cutting a slit down 1 side, the ĺ inch is going to kill you trying to get it on the shield. And the 1 ď is going to be plenty hard as well.


The trick is to cut your pipe with a jig (or band ) saw perpendicular to the edge of the pipe you are cutting off. This leaves a nice wide opening for the wood to fit into, and makes a nice clean profile on the wood. This is really hard to explain in text, but the picture should make it very obvious what Iím talking about.


<drawing cutting the edge of the pipe to open>


Putting the Pipe on. Youíll need to cut the pipe to make the corners fold over nicely, usually cut about 1/3 of the way through at the folding point on both sides. And itíll overlap nicely. Also if while you are at it you nip of the corners of the cut youíll not snag your clothes and scratch yourself when rubbing against the shield. Also I overlap the edging slightly on the front upper corner where the edging will take the most abuse, this way there are two layers at the front corner.


<drawing cutting the pipe corners>


<drawing the pipe put on to show the overlap>


Some people also make a leather cover to go on the front upper corner, it seems a good idea, but Iíve never tried it. My shields do usually wind up with a piece of duct tape here, so itís probably something I should try :)



<drawing attached the leather cover>


Lacing the edging on


There are several styles of lacing, pretty much itís esthetic choice. Here are several. First is the way I like it. I do it this way for 2 reasons. 1. I like the rope going around the edges to be perpendicular to the edging (esthetics) and it also leaves a bit of rope incase it breaks, and you can unlace it a hole or two, put in it sewing style and have enough slack to tie your shield edge back on in a hurry. Basically itís just lacing, but before you go to the next hole, you tuck the rope through to make it pull straight.(see the diagram)



<Drawing E stitching Top , Sewing Bottom>


Attaching the Basket and Strap


When I made my first shield, I stood it up on a box and put my self in my best stance and marked where my hand was (I drew a line to show where a grip would be if I had one. Then I outlined the part of my arm where I thought the strap would go. Then I pretty much lined the box handle up and marked the holes and then lined the strap up as close to my elbow as I could (leverage)


<drawing, marking the shield for hardware>


I had to move the strap out away from the elbow some because it was rubbing on a tendon and hurt. Iíve pretty much just reused that same placement, with little tweaks here and there ever since. Next you need to put the holes in and attach the bolts. Put the lock washer between the nut and the surface of whatever you are attaching to, this keeps the nuts form coming loose as easily. You can also put a fender, (a large washer with a small hole) between the lock nut and the strap to make it hold up better and stay tighter.


<drawing bolt, washer, etc>


Tricks and tweaks


There are lots of cool clever ideas for making your shield work better, but after youíve fought with it a while IMHO you are better off only tweaking it slightly. Mostly because those muscles are trained to hold the shied and changing it even slightly can make you wind up using new (weak) muscles, requiring extensive retraining. Here are some of the ideas Iíve seen a heard of, so you can try them yourself.


Tipping the Basket to take weight off the hand

Seemed to work, but I was used to it the other way and put it back.


Lowering the strap to take weight of the hand.



<drawing strap and box moved>


Tipping the handle of the basket to cause the end of the shield to stay closer to the leg.



<drawing of tipped handle>


There you Go, itís a shield, grab your Sword and go Thwack something!