Wooden Sword and Shield Project

This classic toy will delight any adventurous child, and is a great way of using up any scrap pallets you have in your workshop. Stay home, get creative and make your very own sword and shield!

Part 1 - Select your materials

By their very nature, pallets are tough. They are usually very difficult to break down, plank by plank. However, this sword and shield project only requires one full length plank for the sword and a number of shorter planks for the shield. These are easily cut using a handsaw or a jigsaw if you have one.

The Sword, let's get started...

Part 2 - Cut & shape the sword blade

Overall, the sword will finish at around 540mm from blade tip to pommel.

Firstly, mark out and square off along the length of the board at 130mm. This will be for the handle, known as the hilt which consists of a guard, grip and pommel. Then mark out at approximately 530mm for the full blade.

Next, decide how wide you want the blade to be. In our example, we chose a 70mm wide blade. At this stage, the board will probably need cutting down to 70mm along the length. For this task, a bandsaw is the perfect choice, however a handsaw would also be suitable.

Once you have the desired blade width, mark a centre line along the length of the board. In our example, this was at 35mm.

To form the handle (hilt), mark out a central section on the handle. For this part, it needs to be equal to the pallet wood board thickness. In our example, this was 22mm highlighting the scrap/unwanted areas.

Now, using either your bandsaw or handsaw, cut the handle (hilt) carefully following your marked pencil lines.

Once you have cut the rough handle (hilt) shape, use a wood rasp and abrasive paper to round off the corners a little. Be sure to take care not to remove too much material as this has to fit a 25mm central hole in the cross guard. Here, we suggest drilling a 25mm hole with a forstner bit in a piece of scrap wood to test along the way.

To mark out the curved tip of the sword, use a compass or something around the workshop that will give you a nice looking curve to the blade. In our example, a dinner plate was perfect!

Next, carefully cut the curve by hand or on the bandsaw and then sand to a smooth equal looking point.

Finally, for the sword blade use a spokeshave and abrasive paper to shape the blade edge to a point. As this is a child's toy, don't make it too sharp. Sand the blade using 150g abrasive.

To create a more authentic sword, look why not carve or rout a small V groove down the length of the middle of the blade? This is known as a 'fuller' which not only looks great but also helps to lighten the blade.

Part 3 - Cross Guard

Using the off cut end from the blade board or a small section of the pallet boards, mark out a 100mm x 40mm rectangle. Mark out the centre point by joining the corners with the rule and pencil.

Next, cut out this rectangular cross guard by hand. For this part we used a Japanese crosscut saw however you could use your bandsaw instead. Once cut to size, sand round the top edges leaving the bottom side flat.

Finally, drill a 25mm central hole in the cross guard with the forstner bit and try for fit.

Part 4 - Pommel

The pommel is the top of the hilt. It is there to stop your hand from sliding off in use. In our example, we decided on a round bulbous pommel with some detail in the centre.

As this was quite a chunky part of the sword and the pallet wood we had at 22mm wasn't really thick enough, we decided to glue two small pieces together to later cut to size on the bandsaw. Using a good PVA glue, clamp firmly two flat pieces of the 22mm pallet wood leaving a 44mm thick piece to work with. Leave for a few hours.

Once removed from the clamps, mark out a 50mm circle with a compass. Next, carefully cut on the bandsaw. If you don't have a bandsaw or prefer to do it by hand, you could use a coping saw instead.

Drill a 25mm dia hole, 20mm deep using the same forstner bit as the cross guard into the round of the pommel then dry fit to the hilt to check the overall fit.

Now it's time to add some detail...

Here, we drilled a 2, 4mm deep x 20mm holes into each side of the pommel and sand. These will later receive a coloured plug.

To make the decorative plug for the pommel, use a length of 20mm beech dowel rounded off at the end using a sander. Next, carefully cut on the bandsaw to a length of 6mm. When you insert into the pommel around 2mm should protrude.

Part 5 - Assemble and finish the sword

Firstly, apply your selected wood dye to the cross guard and pommel. Doing this before the final assembly will ensure that it looks cleaner and the edges look good when the components come together.

Next, colour the plug for the pommel. Here, we used a green felt tip pen before gluing in place with a little PVA glue.

Glue the cross guard to the handle and the top shoulders of the sword. Use a small panel pin to hold in place. Then glue the pommel in place making sure that all is in line and straight. Wipe off all excess glue with a damp cloth as you go and then leave to dry for an hour before the finishing touches.

Finally, wrap the handle using cord, string or tape then apply a couple of coats of good tough oil to complete.

The completed sword

Now it's time to make the Shield...

Part 1 - Cut materials to size and glue up

As we've mentioned before, this sword and shield project only requires one full length plank for the sword and a number of shorter planks for the shield. The pallet timber is easily cut with a handsaw or jigsaw.

By cutting the pallet as above, you'll end up with timber around 400mm in length. This is perfect for this project as the final size of our shield was around 370mm.

Next, lay the boards from the pallet edge to edge. You need to get an approximately 370mm circle cut from them, making sure you don't end up with a very small piece at the edge of your circle. Also, you won't the position of the growth rings to alternate, i.e. one up and then one down. This will help to keep the glued up timber flat. Once you are happy with the position of the boards, make clear location marks to aid positioning when you glue up.

Due to the fact pallets are typically made from rough sawn timber, a little planing is required before you glue up. This will give the sword a cleaner, flat face with a clean square edge. Here, a small bench plane is perfect for this task.

Once the timber is clean and planed, it's time to glue up the boards, edge to edge. Use a good PVA glue and three sash clamps.

As always, preparation is the key especially when it comes to gluing up!

  • Ensure that all faces that are to be glued together are smooth planed and clean.
  • Make sure that you have the clamps laid out ready in exactly the right position.
  • Ensure that you have a damp rag ready to wipe off the squeezed out excess glue. This will make it easier to clean up now instead of chiselling off later.

Working systematically, apply a liberal amount of glue to one edge and start the glue up process. Be sure to align your pencil marks as you go. Next, apply light pressure until you see glue just start to ooze from the joints then apply another clamp over the top to prevent the boards from popping up. Tighten the clamps bit by bit, clamp by clamp then set aside to dry for a few hours.

Part 2 - Make the boss

The central raised bit of the shield is called a boss. This part of the shield is made using a small section of the pallet board.

Plane up a small board so that you have two flat sides and mark out the circular boss. In our example, we felt that a 100mm dia boss looked about right. Luckily, we had a roll of tape handy to draw around however, a compass could be used to achieve whatever size you prefer.

Next, cut the boss out using a bandsaw, scroll saw or coping saw. Afterwards, sand and round over one side to create a smooth round disc.

To fit the boss centrally to the shield, use PVA glue and locate with an 8mm dowel. Drill an 8mm blind hole into the underside of the Boss but ensure that you don't go all the way through.

The boss is now complete so it's time to go back to the shield which should be ready to remove from the clamps.

Part 3 - Shape the shield

Remove the clamps before planing off both surfaces of the shield using a bench plane. Mark out the outer diameter of the shield using a compass.

Next, carefully cut out the circle on the bandsaw and sand up the outer edge.

Mark out the centre point of the shield (it should be marked from the compass point) and drill an 8mm hole using the lip and spur bit, as used to drill the boss. Here, we drilled all the way through to give us an idea of the centre on the back side of the shield.

Here, you may wish to cut, glue and screw on two back support strips to help keep the softwood shield flat. This is because it may try to move over time.

Back support strips

Part 4 -  Cut and shape the handle

As we used the cut off from the shield's outer edge, the handle is already partially cut. Here, the curve is perfect to form the handle however, try to avoid any knots or obvious weak spots for the handle.

In our example, we used a bandsaw to cut handle to 15mm thickness with the top point of the curve measuring around 45mm. The overall length of the handle was 265mm. Next, it was spoke shaved and sanded to 120g. This was so that the grip in particular was round and smooth.

Part 5 - Finish and assemble the shield

Next, carry out a final sand to 120g. Wire brush along the grain before applying a coat of water based dye to give the shield an aged appearance.

Now drill, dye, glue and screw the handle centrally in place. At this stage, make sure that the screws do not come through the front of the shield.

It is now time to add some colour to your shield. In our example, we painted the boss black and applied some metallic silver wax to give it a metal appearance. The boss was then glued in place with a little PVA, centralising with the pre drilled dowel.

Next, add any more detail you wish. Here, we created a more authentic look by adding some wooden plugs which were equally drilled in around the edge of the shield to look like larger rivets. If you choose to do so, simply round off the end of a length of 20mm dowel. Afterwards, cut off at 8mm drilling in only 4mm into the shield so that the plugs protrude beyond the surface. Finish in the same way as the boss section which in our example was with black paint and silver wax.

Lastly, apply two coats of toy safe hard wearing oil for added protection.

Completed sword and shield

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If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, keep an eye out for our next woodworking project for kids as part of our Beat The Boredom series. Watch this space for more details! Furthermore, why not take a look at some of our previous projects below?

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