How to Cheaply & Easily Build Samurai Armor

Written by michelle labbe
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How to Cheaply & Easily Build Samurai Armor
Samurai armour has a distinctive look. (samurai image by Felipe Passolas from

Building armour worthy of a Japanese samurai seems like a daunting task. Typically made of plates of steel and leather formed into scalelike coverings for the arms and chest, samurai armour appears complex in its design. But with a little improvisation and creative use of your resources, you can fashion a version of samurai armour that's easy to make and doesn't require expensive materials. This will come in handy for Halloween, a role-playing game, or a character in a play.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Foam-core board
  • Gold spray paint
  • Green spray paint
  • Marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
  • Utility knife
  • String or ribbon
  • Nylon rope
  • Duct tape
  • 20-by-12-inch rectangle of leather
  • Long-sleeved green tunic

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  1. 1

    Spray the foam-core board with gold spray paint. Let it dry according to the instructions on the paint can, then apply a second coat of green spray paint.

  2. 2

    Take your measurements. Measure the distance across the front of your chest from armpit to armpit. Measure the length of your torso from your neck to your waist.

  3. 3

    Draw a pattern for the armour from these measurements on the foam-core board. Allow room for the scales of the armour to overlap, about an inch for each of the seven overlapping scales of the front of the armour. Draw a long rectangle for the front piece of the armour, and draw a curved neckline. Draw horizontal lines across the armour for each "scale," dividing the armour into seven pieces. Cut out the pieces with a utility knife.

  4. 4

    Mark holes on each scale where you will sew the armour together. Along the top of each scale piece, mark five columns of three holes each, spacing each set evenly. Add an extra column on either end of each scale piece. Drill through the holes.

  5. 5

    Weave the string through the holes to lace the armour together. Create a pattern with the string if desired.

  6. 6

    Construct two sets of side pieces and the back piece of the armour in the same manner, cutting seven scale pieces and weaving them together with the string, or using nylon rope for extra strength. Size the armour generously, with room to slide over your head so it will be easy to put on and take off.

  7. 7

    Connect the front, back and side pieces to each other with the nylon rope. Leave the top of the armour open. On the inside of the armour, reinforce the seams with duct tape.

  8. 8

    Cut two shoulder straps for the armour. Make two holes at either end of the straps, and two holes on the shoulder pieces of the front and back of the armour on both sides. Connect with the string or nylon rope.

  9. 9

    Make the skirt of the armour. Cut four triangular pieces for the bottom of all four sides of the armour. Cut three or four horizontal lines partway through the foam-core board to make perforated pleats for the skirt, or make scales as before if desired. Connect the skirt to the body of the armour by drilling holes and weaving the pieces together.

  10. 10

    Measure and cut two pieces of leather to wrap part way around each arm to make armbands. Spray paint the leather gold and then green. Score holes through the leather with the knife, and lace the armbands with the string.

  11. 11

    Wear the armour over a plain long-sleeved green tunic to complete the look.

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