Sword Theater Prop

Author: captchemo, published on 2013-06-13

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My son was in the school play this spring and they needed several prop swords. They were using wooden yard sticks wrapped in duct tape with a Popsicle stick for a hilt… Besides being ugly, they kept breaking during rehearsals.

3D printing to the rescue! I designed these sword hilts to be used with standard 1.5x.25 in. boards I found at Lowe’s. I ended up using oak so they would be more durable. Also, the hilts can be removed if the blade breaks.

I tried to design a cutlass style hilt, since the play was about pirates, but I needed something I could print quickly (I had to make many swords in a short amount of time) and would allow for removable blades. The medieval cross type hilt was easier and quicker to make…

I’ld like to revisit the cutlass design and make one that can be easily printed.


Printed on a Replicator 1 in ABS. I used minimum fill (5% to shorten print time), and 2 shells to beef up the strength. Three shells might improve the ball’s strength and print quality. Print the handle with the ball end down and watch the first few layers. I actively cooled the first .25 in of height to get a better surface on the curve.

To assemble, I used acetone to glue the handle and cross pieces together. Slide them onto the blade to make sure they align properly, apply acetone to both, then press together for a few seconds to seal.

I painted the hilt with a spray paint made for plastics. You can also use a primer designed for plastics as well. (You can see the paints in one of the photos). The hilt is designed to fit tightly with the blade. you may need to sand the blade a bit and be careful to not apply too much paint. When the swords were finished and assembled, I applied a good coat of spray polyurethane to protect the finish.

For the blades, I cut the board down to 36 in. to match the existing swords they were using. It could have been about 6 in. shorter… Also, using 1/2 in. boards would substantially beef up the blades, though the blades I used held up well.

After fitting the blade, I pre-drilled then inserted a small screw to one side of the cross piece to keep the blade from coming out.

License: Creative Commons – Attribution – Non-Commercial

Tags: prop, sword, toy