Materials question from a newbie foamsmith


After an absurd period of time after my first weekend, I plan to come join this September weekend.

I've been making my weapons and for friends who can't make this month but plan to join the October event.

For all the weapons I've made so far, I've used an 1/2" PVC pipe with 3/4" insulation. Which has worked fine for the longswords and shortswords I've made.
The one spear I made is a little on the wobbly side, and a bunch of my friends want polearms which need to be longer, and I assume yari style fighting is frowned upon :p . What would be recommended for a two handed core which won't be wobbly or too heavy?


3/4" PVC works for a polearm, but it's a lot heavier than most people prefer. The .745" fiberglass tubing on this page is what most people go with for polearms - it's a few inches shy of max length, but it's fairly strong and way lighter than PVC.


Thank for the answer.
New question. A battleaxe and a halberd are on my to do list. Any advice about making an axe head materials wise? or simply just go nuts on a chunk of soft foam?


Chicago Staff
Just make sure to use "open cell foam" aka soft foam like from a sofa cushion. The most important thing to remember is to poke enough holes in the tape to allow it to bounce back from being smushed.


Yep, in fact a sofa cushion is literally what I have been using for thrusting tips and such. I'll make sure to stab the crap out of it for proper squishiness.


best stuff to use IMO is the 2" pillow foam (green foam) from JoAnnes or other craft store. I just like the fact that it is 2" thick to start with. Seems to make life easy for me. The other thing I guess it that I have moved away from shaneking the foam (and tape) I kinda just cut off some corners or something now. I have seen too many weapons get "tipped" from afore mentioned method. Heck I saw it happen this weekend. Anywho that's my thoughts. As an FYI I do sell weapons and I am going to the next Chicago game. let me know if you need some.



Chicago Staff
for my tips I am currently using the 2 inch joannes foam too and its working very well.... always remember when making odd shaped axe heads to try to not over lap the tape too much and as rob said poke LOTS of holes.



I'm testing out using a smaller pipe core, in which it feels like a rapier, so I want to try to give it a cross guard of the same nature.
I've looked around and was thinking of trying the basic shapes like in this picture:

I was thinking 1/2" to 1/4" of a slightly larger pipe foam insulation for the "cup," 6" length of appropriate pipe insulation as the crosspiece, and then bending another from below that to the pommel.
Any thoughts on if that sounds good, or better idea?

Also: not necessarily a materials question, but about the 'battleaxe,' in which I assume my friend wants the traditional two handed, double headed "greataxe." Would that fall under two handed edge or polearm? Both in terms of skill purchase and construction guidelines.

Also also: thank you all for the input. This has been greatly helpful.


So as I've learned this past event, the pipe foam insulation for the smaller pipe is not thick enough. Would wrapping another tube of foam insulation (of a larger diameter) around the existing foam work or would there be problems with compression?


For non-carbon fiber core for polearms, look for 1 1/4" thin wall PVC, SRD 21 or something like that. The larger diameter gives you a higher sectional modulus, so it is stiffer, and thin wall keeps the mass down. ... dimensions

For the use of a small core, with larger pipe foam, I recommend going to Wal-mart or joanns and getting the thin craft foam sheets with adhesive, and wrapping those around your core until the diameter is appropriate for your pipe foam. Gives you a better fit, lighter weight per cross sectional diameter, (assuming your core is stiff), and more margin between the person and the pipe. ... s/24603552

If you want build something up like a rapier hilt, its a smart way to do it. The foam is only 2mm thick so around 12-13 layers per inch.