Crafting: Oblong Cross-Sectioned Hilt

I maintain always that Dagorhir and other foam sports should be closer to the medieval era, and one easy way to do such is make hilts that have an oval cross section instead of being round. In the functional sense, the feel helps train the mind to remember which side is the striking surface, no matter how often you rotate it and play with the blade. Below is the outline of a cheap, simple, and effective way to create this type of hilt.

Some people use bar stock in place of this method, as that also provides a counterweight while still making the hilt oblong in cross section. My preference is to use a long hex bolt as counterweight since I have a hollow PVC core. As I mentioned trying to make Dag weapons more realistic, I recommend counterbalancing swords, period (pun intended). If you have a solid core, use the bar stock method, though the step about thickening the chopstick sides may also apply to bar stock and dull the sharp corners.

And as a second side note, about hex bolt counterweights: to make sure mine don’t rattle after years of use, I wrap several messy layers of duct tape around the non head end. Enough that I have to use notable force and/or twisting to push it down til it’s flush with the core end, but not too many that the tape bunches up and makes it impossible. Said method hasn’t caused one rattle after 13 years of counterbalancing.

THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP, SO READ AND FOLLOW CAREFULLY. Start when only the blade on the weapon is finished. Take two chopsticks, preferably the round kind but any will do, and cut them to the desired length of your hilt. They can be a little longer so the ends will hide under the foam of the pommel (you didn’t put that on yet, right?). Tape them to opposite sides of your hilt area. This, in my opinion, is the most crucial part, because if they’re not secure here, they’ll rotate or slip and completely throw the purpose for this design out the window. Note in the picture how they’re secured with duct tape that’s exactly snug with the chopstick’s surface, not just wrenching down the tape as tight as you can. That would create a triangle of open space between the tape, core, and chopstick, making it easier for chopstick shift. You could attempt splitting them in half to make them more flush to the core, but that makes the hilt slimmer—either take that into account in the next step or work with the round ones.

Also, if you’re borderline OCD like I am, double and triple check that the chopsticks align exactly with the blades. I’ve had a couple instances where they’re slightly off, and I end up redoing the hilt because it bothers me so much. Princess and the Pea sort of story.

obhilt091

As you may notice, straight up chopstick-core Oreo feels just like that, not a solid hilt. Next, rip off more duct tape in lengths that match the chopsticks, in sets of four. Fold two of the lengths in half, and place them in the middle of the other two lengths. Secure these thicken layers lengthwise over the chopsticks, centering them on the folded lengths. Effectively, this thickens the chopstick sides while thickening the exposed part of the core more slowly. If preferred, add an extra securing layer of duct tape after the first thickening pieces. Add as many thickening layers as your hand needs to make it just impossible to feel the chopstick separate from the core.

At this point, feel free to add an extra securing layer after thickening is complete. Double check your grip isn’t too wide. Here I actually recommend the hilt be a little slimmer than preferred, as I always add deer skin leather to complete the realism.

To attach the leather (or hemp string, or preferred hilt covering), wrap double sided tape along the hilt. In a bind, you can also use reversed duct tape, with one edge of it folded under to secure it to the core. By fighting physics, hands most often slide along the hilt from blade to pommel. That means your hilt wrapping will start at the pommel, making the leather/string/whatever near the blade will be on top and a moving hand won’t catch up the edges of the wrapping. After the hilt is completely finished (leather and all), then add the pommel. This ensures any extra bits are hidden from view and give the weapon a neater look.

obhilt098

There you have it! A cost effective realistic hilt that looks like it belongs on a reenactor’s field. Gimme your questions, comments, or criticisms, and thanks for reading!

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