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.
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.
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.
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.