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sword01.jpg

Way back in the day when men wore codpieces — and used words like “fortnight” and “thou” — there were swords.  These swords were carried in battle and on tours of duty throughout a soldier’s carrier.  When the soldier would retire, the sword would often be mounted on a plaque on the wall to forever symbolize the nobility of the soldier’s carrier and service to their king and country. 

My glory, of course, is in the shop rather than on the battlefield.  But, being a hopeless medieval geek, I have a small collection of swords.  I chose to mount my Excalibur replica on the wall because, well, swords are seriously freak’n cool and I found that they aren’t near as cool wrapped in a blanket in the closet where no one can see them.  So I needed a sword plaque.

And, being Toolmonger, I decided to make it myself.  Read on past the jump for details and lots of pictures.

The first step to making a sword plaque was selecting the type of wood from which I’d built it.  Since Excalibur was an English longsword, I went with Oak; it was a traditional English favorite, and of course they stock it at the local big-box.

Excalibur is 46” long and 9” wide at the “hilt” or crosspiece. So an 11” by 6’ plank of Oak fit the bill perfectly.  To get an idea of how big your plaque should be, lay the sword on the wood and allow for a few inches on the top and bottom for clearance, then mark a line.  This will be the length of the plaque.

Note: Click the smaller pictures to view larger ones.

sword02.jpg sword03.jpg

The next step is a highly personalized one: the choice of the overall shape and design of the plaque.  I have seen many sword mounts in my time and know what the general shape needed to be, but I wanted something different than I had seen before.  Specifically, the design in my head required some curves.

Since curves are hard to freehand, I created a large “compass” by taping some fishing line to a construction pencil with electrical tape.  By placing the pencil on the wood in the center of my desired arc and holding the other end several feet away from the pencil end, then moving the pencil along the arc, I created some nice — and very accurate — curving lines.  After several tries with different shapes and designs, I arrived at a shape I was happy with.  This step is of course completely up to the designer (you) and subject to your own creative whims.

sword04.jpg sword05.jpg

After marking up the outline it’s time to start cutting out the rough shape.  First, make a cut along the bottom line to remove the extra wood you won’t be working with.  Then cut out the rough shape – a jigsaw is mighty handy here. Just follow the lines you marked and remove the excess wood.  If you’re like me and end up trying half a dozen lines and have trouble finding the right one, you can mark your “golden arc” with a Sharpie or go over your line a few times to make sure you’re not confused.

sword06.jpg

Also remember that if you’re unsure how it will go or are not used to how your saw works,  you can err on the cautious side and cut a little outside the line to get familiar with it first.  Leaving too much is fixable.  Cutting too much off means starting over!  You can always cut again to trim it down or sand later to gain the perfect shape.

sword07.jpg  sword09.jpg

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12 Responses to How-To: Make a Wall-Hanging Sword Plaque

  1. Rick says:

    Nice..

    I’ve got one I put together in HS for my sword that I brought back from Spain one trip. Interestingly enough, I doubt I’d be able to bring it back these days.
    I’ll see if I can get a picture of it online at some point.

  2. Jeff T says:

    Very nice!

    I was wondering what you were making in the jigsaw & router reviews!

    I love swords, but with my daughter and kids around my wife won’t let me really get into it, but for good reason. One of those in my living room would look seriously killer.

  3. Looks nice, but needs some shimmering samite.

  4. Trevor says:

    Rick: you can ship swords as checked luggage. No problemo.

    Jeff: where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you are fortunate enough to find a sword-arts teacher nearby (I study Toyama Ryu Battodo, a/k/a traditional Japanese swordsmanship) begin diligently attending classes. After 6-12 months, start dropping comments about how it’s bad for your practice weapons to sit out in the garage, and how you hate to clutter up the house with your bag-o-gear. Next thing you know you’ll have authorization for a discreet sword rack/cabinet inside the house. :)

  5. nrChris says:

    Very nicely done. I have a little OCD about unfinished surfaces–even ones that you cannot see like the wall face of your sword mount. That is my only complaint, and it is not really a complaint.

    Why did you drill the holes from the back to front? I have always been told that you work from the finish surface down. I know you must have used a small bit with no tear out in the end, and anything would be covered by the brass standoff on the hooks, but it seems odd to me.

  6. Sean O'Hara says:

    Good question Chris. Actually, I forgot to put a sentence in there. I drilled them half way from the back first to make sure that the hooks would hold the sword correctly and it would hang in the correct position. Then I drilled them all the way through.

    That way if I hosed it up I wouldn’t have to use filler or putty on the other side and no one would know what a bonehead I was. As it turned out I was dead on and pushed them through.

  7. Paul says:

    Making the plaque might be fun, but I need the sword first, so I think that making the sword would be better! One of these days I’ll have to give swordsmithing a shot.

    As I read your article when I came to the part where you mentioned using the string for a compass technique it reminded me of something I made once, a really big compass. You see I’ve done the string compass trick, and while it works I find it rather clumsey at less than a walking distance. I prefer even a beam compass to the string trick. A few rip scraps, a few screws, and some rough work will net one a really big compass pretty easily though. Think the capitol letter “A” and you get the idea of how the compass should be designed.

    When I made my gigantic compass I had one of those really goofy, look what I did moments, with a minimal amount of effort, and materials invested. Pricing large compasses can make one feel even better about their handiwork too. The string trick is good for laying out really big landscaping projects, I find it awkard for it laying out woodworking though.

    Another handy, and easy to make layout tool is a bow curve. With a very thin rip, bending it with a piece of string gives you nice curves to play with for layouts. The curve may be varied by tightening, or loosening the string, or using an uneven thickness rip as the bow.

    Just some thoughts from a guy who steps back, out of the box, often to make shop fixtures.

  8. Michael says:

    Paul, why don’t you make a wooden sword?

    http://www.instructables.com/id/EBVCAA3HYAEV2Z4MUC/?ALLSTEPS

    They’re fun and pretty simple to make.

  9. Sara Wilson says:

    Excuse, and what you think concerning forthcoming elections?

  10. Tima says:

    nice photos on this blog

  11. Caleb says:

    I’ve been meaning to make a couple sword plaques for some time. I know this post is rather old, but I was wondering what kind of router you used on the project? Any help would be appreciated very much.

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