Way back in 2014 I started a project building a shield. It just occurred to me that follow up pictures were never posted! As people have been searching for ‘boffer strap shield’ and finding my blog, I really should fix that error. So much has happened since then. The purchase of a home and construction of a workshop has aided in the completion rate of projects. There have been more shield builds, including an all foam build, and even a spear since my last post. Once I write up the posts you can check those out as well. Hopefully it won’t take me two years to get those posted.
When last I left off there was basically a bare wooden board with just some plastic tubing secured around it.
The next step is to add a layer of pipe insulation. Home depot sells a brand of very long, but rather thin foam pipe insulation. Frost King brand, just like the blade foam, however this is the material that should never be used for weapon blades. Pipe insulation for weapon blades should have a 5/8 inch thick wall (not diameter). This stuff is half (or less) than that. As long as you wont be hitting anyone with your shield, this thinner pipe foam will work fine. Don’t forget to replace the foam after every season of fighting.
Make sure to leave a good amount of foam where the shield comes to a point. In the image on the right there is at least 2 inches of foam with no wood behind it. This prevents injury if anyone happens to make contact with the point part. Next comes the tedious bit.
Add duct take all around the shield. Why not do this the long way? The curvature of the shield makes it almost impossible to apply duct tape in long strips around the edge. Ideally you should never use overlapping layers of duct tape like this, but there really is no other way to do it. Make sure that as much of the tape as possible is not overlapping. Keep that layer thin.
Before adding duct tape to the front you need to cut the holes for the straps. An old shield was disassembled to provided the straps for this one. The straps are two leather large breed dog collars. These collars are 10 years old and have held up very well, longer than the shields themselves. They are the single most expensive part of the build. At the time $22 per collar seemed outrageous. Considering how well they have held together, they were worth every penny. Don’t skimp on the collars, and be aware they will most likely last longer than the shield itself.
Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the holes being made. For strap placement I basically made sure the hand position was comfortable. Somewhere between a 30 and 40 degree angle. Placement may look a little high, but I’ve found this height works very well to block both the legs and head. Make sure to add some padding for the back of your hand. This is really important. Here I’ve use two layers of camp pad duct tapped to the shield. This prevent wrist injuries.
Add a layer of duct tape over the front. Use which ever color best expresses your character. The black electrical tape was a nice boarder to hide where the grey and brown duct tape meet. It looked great, but fell off pretty quickly. And the finished product. Looks pretty nice. And it is tons of fun to use in combat!
As a quick addendum. While teaching a class on boffer shield construction at the Framingham Makerspace, I built another shield with a different kind of strap. With no awesome dog collars on hand, it seemed like a good opportunity to make the straps. These straps are bolted to the shield.
At the very first practice where this shield was used, one of the bolts came off. Although much cheaper, I would not recommended using this method. Or at least not the bolts that I used. Locking bolts might work better. Look, my workbench!
Some less expensive Walmart collars seem to be working well. We shall see how they hold up. Also you can see how much rougher the edge looks without the black electrical tape.
Check out the start of the process here. Or check the step by step for everything all in one place. It has more detail, so it’s worth checking out. Boy it is nice to have moved from a condo to a home. Also having a workshop. So much better.