Famous fantasy and science fiction characters are just as famous for their signature weapons as they are for their heroic deeds. Whether it’s Bilbo and Sting or King Arthur and Excalibur, these characters are just not the same with their trusty weapon at their side. The same can be said for your cosplay—while you are deep in the planning stages for your next costume, you can’t forget that iconic side arm or mace. So, here are some helpful tips on how to make cosplay weapons.

How to Make a Cosplay Weapons

The only right way to make a cosplay weapon is the safe way—you don’t want an actual blade on you as you walk around a convention. 

That safety also extends to weapon construction. There are a lot of methods for making a cosplay weapon, but some require more skills than others. If you’re not trained like professional cosplay creators, you can wind up hurting yourself before you even suit up. 

Whether it’s blacksmithing, welding, electrical rigging, or woodworking, make sure you are well versed in your methodologies, and always wear proper safety equipment. If you don’t have access to these more advanced options, never fear! You can still make great cosplay weapons with simple household items and supplies from the craft store.

How to Make a Lightsaber

guy with lightsaber
Source: Photo by Matthew Ball on Unsplash
There’s no weapon more iconic in science fiction than the lightsaber.

When it comes to making a lightsaber, you don’t have to follow the sage advice from a Jedi master: “Do or do not. There is no try.” Trial and error is, in fact, encouraged! And, unlike a regular cosplay sword, you can make a lightsaber without a blade. Here’s a simple method for how to build a lightsaber.

Step 1: Find References

Are you a Jedi or a Sith? What you choose will influence the final look of your lightsaber. Thankfully, there are plenty of references—including actual toy lightsabers—that you can use for your build. Try focusing on a few defining features versus getting every detail screen-correct.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

This lightsaber relies on that tried and true classic—cardboard. 

  • 2 toilet paper rolls
  • Extra cardboard sheets
  • Hot glue gun
  • Primer, paints, and brushes
  • Hobby knife and scissors

Step 3: Assemble the Lightsaber Base

The toilet paper rolls will form the base for your lightsaber. Glue them together end to end. The toilet paper rolls can be a little flimsy, so you can build up their thickness by adding layers of cardstock to the outside.

Using the extra cardboard sheets, cut out small detail pieces that you’ve picked out to highlight and glue them to the tube. Symmetry is key here—placing the pieces evenly around the handle will add to the authenticity.

Step 4: Paint and Detail

Once you’ve glued all your pieces and let them dry, it’s time for paint. First, give your lightsaber a solid coat of primer—the kind that comes in a spray can works best. Then, use acrylic paints to add the appropriate color and details. Metallic paints create a shine that replicates the chrome and steel that would be used for an actual lightsaber.

And that’s it! While it is just the handle of the lightsaber, it will look great hanging from your belt. 

Make Your Own Sword!

Blacksmith Beginnings: Lesson 1

How to Make a Phaser

The twin pillars of science fiction cosplay are Star Wars and Star Trek, so you can’t have one without the other. And the Federation phaser is just as iconic as a lightsaber. Here’s a simple phaser build that will allow you to boldly go where you haven’t gone before.

Step 1: Find References

The Star Trek phaser has gone through many iterations in the 66 years it’s been in existence. So you really have to do some soul searching—are you a Kirk or Picard stan? The answer, in time, will reveal itself.

Along with your references, you should take some measurements for the handle, main body, and tip of the phaser. You’ll need these to keep your proportions straight.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

This phaser is built using EVA foam—a very common cosplay material that can be found at most craft stores. You can use multiple thicknesses of foam to build up the size you need to match your measurements—stacking them up and gluing them together creates the width and length you need.

  • EVA foam (of various widths)
  • Hobby knife
  • Contact cement
  • Sandpaper
  • Primer, paints, and brushes

Step 3: The Pattern

Using your measurements from before, draw out the shapes of the phaser onto the EVA foam with a marker. Focus on the larger shapes at first—the details of each piece will be added later. Cut the pieces out with your hobby knife.

Step 4: Assemble and Shape

Begin gluing the pieces together with the contact cement. Once you finish a section—the barrel, for example—use the sandpaper to smooth out the edges. If you’ve had to glue several pieces together, you may find they set unevenly. The sandpaper fixes those bumps.

Step 5: Paint and Detail

Again, metallic paint is your friend. You can also use slightly diluted black paint to add shadows to different parts to make them really pop. Pretty soon, you’ll be beamed up!

How to Make a Bat’leth

sword thing
Source: Klingonka via Flickr
You can buy a bat’leth like this, but where’s the fun in that?

The yin to the phaser’s yang, the bat’leth is another iconic Star Trek weapon used by Klingons for melee fighting. It has a striking silhouette that is instantly recognizable, so getting the shape down is paramount. 

Step 1: Find References

The basic form of the bat’leth is pretty consistent, but there are a lot of variations on the main theme. You may find one out there you like, or you can even come up with your own embellishments.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

This build can use either cardboard or EVA foam, depending on what you have. In addition, you’ll need the following:

  • Hot glue gun or contact cement
  • Paper and pencil
  • Paints and brushes
  • Wood glue or Elmer’s glue
  • Felt or leather (if you are familiar with leatherworking)

Step 3: The Pattern

Using the paper, draw out the shape of the bat’leth. Most bat’leths have three hand holds in the center of them and taper into blades at the points. You can find measurements for a bat’leth online, which will help immensely.

Trace your pattern onto your cardboard or EVA foam. Depending on the thickness of your material, you may need to trace the pattern twice. Then, cut out both pieces and glue them together with contact cement. 

Step 4: Painting and Details

Before painting, you’ll want to “prime” the bat’leth with some wood glue or Elmer’s glue. This glue acts as a sealant, providing a smoother surface on which the paints can easily set. Anywhere from three to six coats should do the trick.

Once it’s finally dried, paint and detail to your heart’s content. The final element is on the handles. Brown felt wrapped around the bat’leth handles approximates the look of leather. But, if you’re feeling adventurous and have the skills, try making your own leather straps!

It’s Time for Battle!

Now that you’ve attempted some of these classic cosplay weapons, there’s no limit to how detailed you can get with them. Soon, you’ll have an entire arsenal of cosplay props and weapons, enough to fight any fight that comes your way!

Get Started on Your Cosplay Journey!

How to Get Started with Cosplay – Creating your First Ever Costume

Written By

Luke Field

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