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Picture of DIY Small LARP Shield in Under an Hour!

Getting started with LARP kit can be an expensive and absolutely daunting process. Your character ideas change, kit is super expensive and, if you have no previous crafting experience, the idea of making your own gear can be absolutely daunting. This tutorial aims to provide the absolute beginner with a basic 'biscuit' shield that can be assembled in under an hour, and on a budget. It provides a blank canvas that can be filled with almost any character design, and also gives you a starting point to springboard into other shield shapes by using the same basic technique.

This shield design passes the basic safety requirements for all the LARPs I have access to, however it's important that you check with your own group's guidelines to make sure this fits with their safety requirements, and what size category it falls into. Modifications to ensure safety can be made to this design with minimal fuss. This particular shield is also ridiculously light, making it a practical option for younger players, highly active fighters, and players without the ability to maneuver heavier shields.

Most of all, it gives you a fantastic starting point for diving into the world of making your own gear, whether you're a complete newbie, or a seasoned fighter, and a chance to truly personalise something to your own kit. Happy making!

Note: This is an image-heavy tutorial. Please take the time to look at all the pics carefully as they'll help you along your way. As ever, please feel free to leave a comment with any questions or suggestions you might have!

Step 1: You Will Need...

Picture of You Will Need...
  • 45cm x 55cm sheet of 9mm plywood. You can use thicker, up to marine ply, but since the group I'm a part of doesn't allow any kind of shield-bashing, 9mm does just fine for a light-weight, sturdy shield. Do not use MDF. This size makes it the largest 'small' shield you can make within our group's rules.
  • 13x13mm K-flex pipe insulation. ( This is the brand we use, however any similar pipe insulator will work. The important parts are the thickness of the foam walls, and the diameter of the center hole. We used 2 single-metre lengths for this project.
  • Garden hose. You'll use 2m for this project. Make sure you buy it new as old hose is too brittle to use.
  • EVA foam matting.
  • Calico fabric. We bought a piece that was 1m long, by the width of the roll, which was about 1.2m. We specifically bought calico for this project because it'll give me a great base to paint on once it's sealed, and it's a pretty neutral color. You can realistically use almost any cotton fabric for this project, so long as it'll stand up to the rigours of fighting, and so long as it doesn't stretch. This is incredibly important. If you want something with colour, I suggest looking into broadcloth, drill cotton and cotton duck. I love the idea of someone out there running around with a Disney-princess-themed shield. If your fabric is too thin, you can follow the same instructions, but just double your fabric over when you go to wrap the shield.
  • Gaffer tape.
  • Cotton webbing, the same stuff that they use on canvas bags and some totes. You should be able to find this at any haberdashery or fabric store. The width is entirely up to personal comfort, but a 2m length should see you through the project.
  • A craft/Stanley knife
  • A staple gun and staples. Your staples need to be thinner than your plywood. You to NOT want them protruding through the other side. 8mm staples work well, we found.
  • Scissors
  • Contact cement. Not pictured because that stuff is super stinky.

Everything we needed, we were able to purchase by going to both a fabric store, and the hardware.

keturah4 months ago
Great instructable! We're planning new gear. If we use your tutorial we'll post pictures.
partemis (author)  keturah4 months ago
Thanks very much :) If you go with it, I'm keen as heck to see pics!
MichalB208 months ago
Why do you use so soft and fluffy material for edges of that shield? Do you use it as a weapon? It's usually enough to use some leather or even cut goose if you are in peace with it's ugliness. It will prevent wood to chip on impact and to cut people behind or in front of the shield. And also it looks so much more authentic.
ArlisT8 months ago
The first step under what you will need should be that you will need to know wha the hell LARP is, since nowhere in this article do I give you any indication whatsoever.