Monday, April 22, 2013

Curved Shields and Captain America

I recently decided to start looking into making wooden shields. As a quick side project I built a round buckler just as a test run. It was a simple 20ish" planked shield. Assembled from 1x3 furring strips, the whole thing only cost about $10 worth of materials.

This started me further down the path. I was in the middle of working on a production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and the director asked for a shield for the battle. So I started doing some research for methods to make curved shields. So I got online and found plans and instructions for a shield press which I built in the shop with some scrap material. I called for hardwood in a couple of places which I should have listened to. under pressure it popped and I wrecked the first sheets. Reinforced for the second time it all worked.

How the press works
So what you see here is the press, the material inside it is 2 sheets of 1/4" ply. I cut both sheets into 4ths so this is about 2'x4' which leaves a shield anywhere up to that size. You cover the sheet with PLENTY of wood glue and then put it into the press. the 2x4's on top spread the pressure around and then ratchet straps press it all down and hold it in place. The 2 sheets of ply make it easier to bend and once the glue in the middle sets it holds the curve like a rock. I left it for 2 weeks but that's because I was out out town, after about 24 hours it would have been fine to release.

After the Press
After they are free take the jig saw and cut out your shield shape. Its much easier to draw the shield on before you curve it.Cut it out and you've got your rough shape. Sand all the edges to smooth it up and I like to round everything over just because it looks a little bit nicer and makes things a bit less rough on the skin if it hits you at some point. After cutting them out you end up with something like this:

Now I had the cut I needed to do the shield for LWW and I had an extra larger one sitting around. I wasn't sure what to do with it. I kept looking at it and eventually I realized it wasn't too far off from Captain America's World War Two shield. So that's where I went. Note the picture, on these kind of things photo references always rock and you really sort of  need them for anything that already exists otherwise it just won't be accurate.

The white on here was just a primer, which is nice to add once sanded just for a basic shield blank. For added strength and paint-ability people cover the blank with canvas just for another layer. I skipped that here. First step was to measure everything out and figure out spacing. If you look at the center stripe I wasn't perfectly centered but you don't notice it much in person. I'll also note that I use carriage bolts for the handle and straps mostly for ease of repair. If something breaks I can just unbolt it rather than using a rivet which is much more permanent. So I striped things out and hit the red stripes. I won't show it, but let things dry, pull the tape up, do the blue, do the white etc.
Here is a printed out star I used to figure out spacing and size, the center star on Cap's shield is a bit larger. partially because the top bumps up a bit as well, mine was cut straight across the top but there was still space for the larger star. I had to do this for both shields but I HATE HATE HATE painting white over colors. it takes so many layers to get good coverage, it just sucks. I still needed to do the white for all of this, but the primer was white and clean enough that I was able to just to small touch ups and call it good. After the stars are traced and painted I'm just going to add a coat of poly or clearcoat of some kind just to give it a nice shine. I doubt I'll ever use the cap shield for fighting since I want it to stay nice.

Last but not least here's the almost final product. It needs another coat of white on the stars but its basically done. After it I'll add in some more pictures just so you can see other in progress moments and what the other shield ended up looking like.
If I haven't covered everything real well or if anybody wants more details on how I did something just let me know and I can go into more depth. Also let me know if there is interest in any of these I've got the press now and I'm thinking about doing custom shields for people if enough people want them.

Nearly the final product
Size difference between the two shields. The bottom is the Cap shield. These both came out of the 2'x4' sheet I pressed.

The back of the cap sheild. I use a solid metal handle for the grip. Some people use crossed leather straps I like the metal just because its rigid, I don't care if its not accurate. The pad in the middle is nice to soften blows and make it more comfortable to hold.

The final shield for LWW. It was a little quick so my hand was rough in a couple places but this is basically what the custom shields would be. Give me a picture, colors, design of whatever and I'd make and paint them. The next ones I think will just have a coat of arms type center image

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