Whether it's for a Halloween costume, home decor, a live-action role-playing game or a theatre production, a curved plywood shield can be made at home using materials from the local hardware store. While plywood and glue are not the most authentic method of shield creation, they provide an easily-manipulated alternative to hardwood staves or metal. They also provide a satisfyingly authentic look once they are moulded and painted.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Measuring tape
- 2-inch by 6-inch lumber
- 2-inch by 2-inch lumber
- Electric screw driver
- Band saw
- 1/2-inch plywood
- Fabric scraps
- Stuffing or batting
- Sewing needle
- Leather straps
- Electric drill
- Pop rivets
- Pop rivet gun
- Canvas fabric
- White primer
Create the shield press. Cut six pieces of 2-inch by 6-inch pine to a length of 24 inches. Measure a distance of 1 1/2 inches from one edge of each piece. Use a framing square to draw a line along the length of the piece at 1 1/2 inches. Draw an arc curving from one end of the line to the other, with apex at 4 inches from the baseline (the edge of the wood). Use a band saw to cut out the arc from each piece.
Cut two rails of 2-inch by 2-inch pine to a length of 48 inches. Glue and screw one of your pine arcs between the two rails at either end. Glue and screw the rest of the arcs at 8-inch intervals along the rails. The result is a box with curved ribs running across the centre.
Cut two pieces of 1/4-inch plywood to 24 inches by 48 inches. Cover the bad side of one of the pieces with an even layer of wood glue. Lay the bad side of the other piece over the wood glue. Be sure the edges are flush. Center the laminated plywood pieces over the shield press. Use c-clamps to clamp the edges of the plywood to the shield press. Allow the laminated plywood to dry overnight.
Draw your desired shield shape on a piece of cardboard. Cut out the shape for use as a template on your plywood shield.
Cut a piece of fabric to a length of 19 inches and width of 14 inches. Fold the fabric in half to create a pocket 19 inches long by 7 inches wide. Sew two of the open sides together. Stuff the pocket with batting or stuffing. Sew the remaining open side together with the stuffing inside to create your arm pad.
Remove the plywood from the shield press. Center the cardboard template over the curve. Trace the outline. Use a jigsaw to cut out the shape of your shield.
Lay your arm across the back of the shield as you intend to hold it. Trace the position of your arm lightly with a pencil. Glue the arm pad in position over the traced area.
Use your arm and hand as models to cut two lengths of leather strap to use as armbands. Punch a hole at each end of each armband. Hold your arm across the arm pad on the back of the shield. Mark the appropriate locations for the hand and arm straps. Pre-drill 1/8-inch holes on either side of the arm pad at these locations. Use pop rivets to attach the leather strap to the back of the shield.
Cover the face of the shield with a thin, even layer of glue. Lay a piece of canvas fabric over the glue. Stretch it across the surface. Hammer tacks through the fabric to secure the edges on the back of the shield. Allow several hours for the glue to dry.
Apply white primer to the canvas face of the shield. When it has dried, draw the desired symbols on the front. Use paint to bring the symbols to life.
Tips and warnings
- A layer of 1/8-inch plywood can be applied to the surface of the shield after the straps have been attached. This will better cover the rivets than just the canvas skin.
- The straps need not be riveted. They can also be tacked. Rivets, however, are more secure.
- Wear eye, ear and lung protection when working with wood.
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