QUALITY boffer construction?

Requiem

Newbie
I am making a pair of Alliance-legal boffer axes for someone, mimicking a pair of replica double-headed axes they actually own. It's going to be a birthday gift, so I'm looking to pull out all the stops, short of going latex.

1) What is the highest quality core material, and what width do I need?

2) Will standard 5/8" pipe insulation work with it, or is there a better material I could use?

3) The rulebook says that the head needs to be open-cell foam. I've seen some really poofy-headed axes that looked cartoony as heck, and I've seen some axes that looked pretty good. The latter seem to sort of cheat and just make the entire striking surface out of open-cell, while giving it some shape with closed cell. What can you guys suggest for head construction?

4) What's the best place(s) to get the materials? I'm on the West Coast, so 5/8" pipe foam is a bit of a rarity...

Thanks a ton for the help, in advance!
 

Druk

Rogue
I'd go with Ultralight core from Goodwinds or Tap plastics. It's much lighter than PVC, but more expensive. Be sure the OD you buy has the same ID of the pipe insulation you buy.

For the pipe foam, you can order it online from Do it Best Hardware and pick it up at a local store (they have them all round the US). They have the 5/8", there is also a store in the Portland Metro area that carries 3/4" foam, one of our players could pick some up for you and bring it to a game day or event.

For the head, there are different densities of open cell foam, a denser foam is easier to work with for blunts, in my opinion. Message me with the dimensions you're looking for and I'll see what I can find in the scrap bin at work.
 

Requiem

Newbie
Still waiting on exact length and head dimensions I'm going to be attempting to replicate - I've enlisted his girlfriend to measure for me when he isn't home - but in the interim, should I be going for a carbon or fiberglass core, and what thickness core is best for a non-2handed weapon? Other topics I've found all seem to be discussing staves and spears and polearms, but I sincerely hope to be making a pair of max-length short axes. They might be long axes, but they're still not going to be incredibly whippy no matter what...
 

SkollWolfrun

Squire
Oregon Staff
I ordered 5/8" thick foam from here, but I actually have an Ace Hardware near me that carries 5/8" foam now.
http://www.doitbest.com/Pipe+insulation ... 402699.dib
http://www.doitbest.com/Pipe+insulation ... 402702.dib
http://www.doitbest.com/Pipe+insulation ... 402710.dib

Cores: Go with the .505 and .524 inches in diameter for 1 handers.
I went to .745 for quarterstaff. The finished quarterstaff is crazy light for a 6 footer and still has very little flex.
Goodwinds
http://www.goodwinds.com/merch/list.sht ... fiberglass
Tap Plastics:
http://www.tapplastics.com/shop/product.php?pid=144&

Another good core is pretty much any graphite golf club. Will cost you a bit more, but it is more available at local shops than the non-tapered cores at Tap & Goodwinds.
 

Chasmania

Artisan
Goodwill often has the graphite core golf clubs. Sometimes they're even 50% off! Usually around $1-$3.
 

Wraith

Newbie
I always mistrust those, though. They're tapered, and if you're scavenging from broken ones, they're much more likely to break again than a kite spar core. Not to mention that they usually splinter in sharp ways rather than snap.
 

Requiem

Newbie
In this very specific case, I don't mind spending the money for the good stuff. Like I said, I'm making them as a birthday gift for one of the coolest people on the planet.

So .505" width Fiberglass Kitespar, 5/8" pipe insulation, and dense open-cell foam for the head. Once I actually have pictures and measurements on the head, then I'll probably have more questions about the head construction. I'm told there can be major issues with balance if you use foam that is TOO dense. Then again, I've seen axes that literally looked like the inflatable ones you get at carnivals, and I want to avoid that too...

For the "min shaft" measurement, are you supposed to measure from the top of the grip to the bottom of where the axe head ATTACHES, or the very bottom of any part of the axe head?
 

Warlok

Adept
Charlottesville Staff
Shaft length is measured from the grip to where the head attaches. It sounds like you're going to make a head with a curve on the "bottom", though. Just be careful that they won't hook other weapons too badly.

-Luke
 

Requiem

Newbie
So here they are...

Overall length: 38.5"

Tip: 5"
Length of wood section: 24"
Length from butt to base of head: 30"
Smaller-side blade is 7" tall, and measures 2.5" out from shaft
Larger-side blade is 12" tall, and measures 5" out from shaft


The bad news is that they are TOTALLY long axes, and I'm aware that there is no way for a PC to dual wield long axes in Alliance. However, shortening them should actually improve their balance significantly, so it's looking like it's not catastrophic...

Any suggestions on how I should scale things down? I figure I can cut 2" off of the tip without trouble, and then I have the option of downsizing EVERYTHING by 20% (I think that will still meet the minimum head requirements...), or just shaving a little here and there...
 

markusdark

Knight
The first issue you're going to have is the main blade being out on the two extensions. My suggestion for that is to make the 'cutout' much smaller, maybe only an inch wide, with at least 2 inch wide extensions. The cut downs on the blades are also quite extreme. You'll want to go with something that has less cut down. I'd also add some foam as strips to enhance the idea of bands holding it to the shaft (the light blue).

I'm also going to echo the fact that the lower blade point can accidentally hook. A couple of ideas is either tho shorten the point or even attaching it directly to the shaft.

 

Requiem

Newbie
Added a (scale) mockup to the same album I linked above.

6" ==> 2" Thrusting/Waylay Tips, with 1" of pipe insulation for stability
5" ==> Anchor area for the head
12" => Minimum distance between grip and anchor area
8" ==> Grip length
1" ==> Marshall's tape measure is somehow different than mine

= 32", short axe

2" x 4" x ~9.5" = 76" volume (large side)
2" x 2" x ~5.75" = ~23" volume (small side)

= 99" volume, assuming I used every cubic inch of what I have blocked. Well within parameters.

***************

Your suggestions look really good, Mark. Keep them coming!! I'm thinking of making both blades out of the same hunk of foam, and then cutting a too-small hole to push the haft through in order to get the light blue strips to behave right. I'd need to be really good about taping, or I'd have to worry about the foam ripping and the head falling apart...

Blade shape is about the only x-factor left right now. I agree that some modifications need to be made, but how much of the source material can I keep and not lose integrity? Hmmmmm....
 

markusdark

Knight
My suggestion would be to cut a slit in the side of the head of the blade where the hole is and use contact cement to glue the head to the shaft. It would be much more stable as the only thing that would be holding the head to the shaft with just duct tape would be the very top and bottom of the blade along that small line where the head touches the shaft.
 

Talen

Adept
One trick I've seen is using a thin leather template that's glued to the core and used to reinforce the axe "blade" slightly without adding any rigid (and bad) reinforcement to same, while helping keep weapons with a head from having the foam pull away from the rest of the weapon.
 

Wraith

Newbie
Talen said:
One trick I've seen is using a thin leather template that's glued to the core and used to reinforce the axe "blade" slightly without adding any rigid (and bad) reinforcement to same, while helping keep weapons with a head from having the foam pull away from the rest of the weapon.
And this passes your weapon marshals? I thought weapon heads specifically could only be open cell foam, no closed cell or other materials beyond tape to stiffen them.
 
Well, honestly, if something passes safety without a marshal catching it as an issue, it may well just be 'safe.'
I don't really mean things that get missed accidentally or in a hurry ("oops, I didn't push my thumb into that waylay tip to see if there was a closed cell plug before the core" or "oops, didn't notice that that was an inch over size because I didn't have a tape measure on me"), but things like a little piece of leather in the open cell. There's a guy out here that has a piece of thin rubber hose in the head of his axe to help it maintain its shape, but you'd never know it when you check the weapon, and it's at least an inch into the foam. Unless he told you it was there, you'd pass the weapon. I know it's there, and I'd pass it, because I honestly can't tell. I surmise that this leather bit is the same way.
 

Wraith

Newbie
obcidian_bandit said:
Well, honestly, if something passes safety without a marshal catching it as an issue, it may well just be 'safe.'
This is a really, objectively terrible standard to use. I can think of a half dozen exceedingly unsafe things I could build into a weapon that a marshal would pass on a cursory check. We have rules on weapons construction for very good reasons, and like the rest of our game, they operate on the assumption that players aren't out to intentionally try and get away with cheating them.

I know, that doesn't always work in practice, but I get yelled at here for working of the assumption that people will take advantage.
 
I wouldn't use it as a 'standard,' but we're the game that says that NERF darts aren't safe enough for us. As soon as we let in latex weapons, any idea of a uniform standard we may have had went right out the window. Most latex blunts and axes are closed cell foam, but they get allowed in all the time, because some marshal decides that they're 'safe enough.' We can't stay in this 'these rules for latex, these rules for boffers, and some kinda feeling on other stuff (homemade partial latex, etc)' sort of limbo for very long before something gives. My concern net comes down to safety, and that's what is eventually what we've got to look out for. (Sure, you could probably cover a core in broken glass and it'll pass the first time, but I still assume that someone isn't intentionally trying to sneak something unsafe in and won't lie to me when I ask them questions about their construction method.)
 

Inaryn

Knight
Talen said:
One trick I've seen is using a thin leather template that's glued to the core and used to reinforce the axe "blade" slightly without adding any rigid (and bad) reinforcement to same, while helping keep weapons with a head from having the foam pull away from the rest of the weapon.
I do just this when I build headed weapons, though I use camp mat since it's foam. It absolutely improves resistance to shearing, which is the number one way that headed weapons fail in the field.

I've never had one of these weapons fail on first inspection.

The key is to only use as much as needed to reinforce the head. You really need to make sure to leave a minimum of 2 inches of pure open cell around the insert in order to ensure that the weapon will pass.
 

Wraith

Newbie
obcidian_bandit said:
I wouldn't use it as a 'standard,' but we're the game that says that NERF darts aren't safe enough for us. As soon as we let in latex weapons, any idea of a uniform standard we may have had went right out the window. Most latex blunts and axes are closed cell foam, but they get allowed in all the time, because some marshal decides that they're 'safe enough.' We can't stay in this 'these rules for latex, these rules for boffers, and some kinda feeling on other stuff (homemade partial latex, etc)' sort of limbo for very long before something gives. My concern net comes down to safety, and that's what is eventually what we've got to look out for. (Sure, you could probably cover a core in broken glass and it'll pass the first time, but I still assume that someone isn't intentionally trying to sneak something unsafe in and won't lie to me when I ask them questions about their construction method.)
This has been an ongoing gripe since the latex ruling was put in place. I admit, short of a national-level 'accepted brands' list there's no good way to write an effective spec for latex weapons, but we could really use a hard definition of what is and isn't a boffer for rules purposes. As it stands, I could carve an axe out of closed cell foam, splash a couple coats of tool dip on, and pass it under the latex weapon rules if I wanted something with a sturdier head than a standard boffer, and that points to a serious gap in our standards.

That said, weapons safety is primarily dependent on the person. There are people I've fought with that I'd let come at me with a piece of rusty rebar, and people who I don't trust to fight safely with an overengineered PVC boffer.
 

Talen

Adept
Wraith said:
obcidian_bandit said:
I wouldn't use it as a 'standard,' but we're the game that says that NERF darts aren't safe enough for us. As soon as we let in latex weapons, any idea of a uniform standard we may have had went right out the window. Most latex blunts and axes are closed cell foam, but they get allowed in all the time, because some marshal decides that they're 'safe enough.' We can't stay in this 'these rules for latex, these rules for boffers, and some kinda feeling on other stuff (homemade partial latex, etc)' sort of limbo for very long before something gives. My concern net comes down to safety, and that's what is eventually what we've got to look out for. (Sure, you could probably cover a core in broken glass and it'll pass the first time, but I still assume that someone isn't intentionally trying to sneak something unsafe in and won't lie to me when I ask them questions about their construction method.)
This has been an ongoing gripe since the latex ruling was put in place. I admit, short of a national-level 'accepted brands' list there's no good way to write an effective spec for latex weapons, but we could really use a hard definition of what is and isn't a boffer for rules purposes. As it stands, I could carve an axe out of closed cell foam, splash a couple coats of tool dip on, and pass it under the latex weapon rules if I wanted something with a sturdier head than a standard boffer, and that points to a serious gap in our standards.

That said, weapons safety is primarily dependent on the person. There are people I've fought with that I'd let come at me with a piece of rusty rebar, and people who I don't trust to fight safely with an overengineered PVC boffer.
Honestly, this is one place where looking outside might be a good plan. There are groups that have to do weapon checks for a wide variety of latex-built gear, but since it's relatively rare over here, you'd have to write over to the UK or Germany to get a good idea of a "standard" for safety checks. Even there, I'm betting there's some common grounds for "safe" and some that varies by the checker, but they'll have more samples for X brand or foam style and suchlike.

And of course, some people will be a danger regardless of what they use. But minimizing how much damage they can do beforehand is a nice idea, no? :)
 
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