The Big Book of Weapons

General Boffer Weapon Construction

Text and drawings by Tim O’Neil

This overview should give you a fairly good idea of how to make a basis melee weapon. For the more exotic, inventive and missile weapons, speak with a club member, or your chapter’s Safety Officer. These are guidelines only. If you have a weapon design in mind, or want to experiment with a longer or wider blade speak to your chapter’s Safety Officer, and something can usually be worked out.

All melee weapons start with the same basic structure of a PVC tubing core wrapped with closed cell foam. A pommel and thrusting tip are added to the ends and then the structure is covered with a layer of duct tape. Swords, generally, only require this basic core and a guard to be used. By adding identifying features to this core you can create a mace, club, axe, spear, pole-arm etc. The core uses grey electrical PVC tubing, the diameter will vary depending upon the length of the weapon being built – the longer the weapon the larger the diameter (one hand weapons – 3/4″, two hand weapons – 1″ minimum). The white potable tubing used for plumbing applications can be used but it is considerably more expensive. In general the PVC core should be cut at least 4″-5″ shorter than the overall length of the weapon to allow for a 1″-2″ pommel and a 3″ thrusting tip. Long weapons will be cut back more to allow for their unique application, ie. staves have thrusting tips on both ends and spears can have heads that extend slightly beyond the thrusting tip.

With the PVC core cut to length you now need to cap the ends. A simple way to do this is to cut a wine cork down to a diameter that will fit snugly into the PVC tube as shown in fig.1. You can leave 1/4″ sticking out or you can trim the cork flush. Other methods may be used depending on your preferences so long as the end result is the same. Heavy metal weights in the PVC are strictly prohibited. With that done you will need to put 2″ long roll of closed cell foam (which is to end up the same diameter as the PVC tubing) on the tip end (or ends) as shown in fig.2. Closed cell foam can be purchased in the carpeting departments of places like Home Depot. It can come in 2′ and 4′ wide rolls and is used as a carpeting underlay. Cover PVC core and tip with closed cell foam as shown in fig.3. Do not wrap too tightly. Wrap foam until it is at least 3/4″ thick. This will give you a core for one hand weapons that is from 2.25″-2.5″ across (this, of course, will be larger for two hand weapons). Cut the excess foam away as shown in fig.4. A solid cap of closed cell foam should extend 1″ beyond the end of the PVC pipe. Cover the entire creation in a layer of duct tape (not book binding tape), including a piece over the end. Small knife cuts need to be made into the duct tape to allow the tip to ‘breath’ (expel air on impact to soften the blow). Standard grey or black is to be used for metal weapons and brown duct tape is to be used for anything made of wood. If your weapon has been silvered, a strip of white electrical or duct tape of at 1/4″ width must be applies to the length of the cutting edge (or equivalent). Pommels need only be a firm protective covering for the base of the weapon. It could be made in the same fashion as the thrusting tip with the following alterations to construction: the thickness of the closed cell foam need only be 3/8″-1/2″ thick and no open cell foam needs to be added to the end. Axes, hammers, maces, etc. are created using this core and adding a form of opened cell foam made to the appropriate shape and covered in duct tape. Pole-arms and staves are also similar but use a core of 1 1/4” PVC minimum. See a club official for the special requirements for these and throwing weapons.

Bladed Weapons

  Pommel Grip Guard Blade Overall
Dagger 2″ 1 Hand Not Mandatory 8″ – 12″ 14″ – 20″
Short Sword 2″ 5″ 2″ x 5″ 18″ – 24″ 27″ – 33″
Long Sword 2″ 5″ 2″ x 7″ 30″ – 36″ 39″ – 45″
Bastard Sword 2″ 8″ – 9″ 2″ x 7″ 32″ – 38″ 44″ – 50″
Bastard Sword (wide blade) 2″ 6″ 2″ x 7″ 30″ – 36″ 40″ – 46″
Two Handed Sword 3″ 12″ 2″ x 12″ 36″ – 46″ 53″ – 63″

Cut PVC 4″-5″ shorter than the overall length to allow for a thrusting tip and pommel. PVC should be 3/4″ overall diameter for all weapons, except for the two handed sword, which should have a 1″ outside diameter. Long swords must have a narrow blade and are intended only to be used with one hand. Bastard swords must have a narrow blade and can be used one- or two-handed. Broad swords must have a wide blade and are intended to be used with one hand. Curved blades can be made by heating and curving the PVC pipe before wrapping with poly-foam or adding the pommel or guard. There must be at least 5 wraps of 1/8″ poly-foam around the PVC for a total thickness of 5/8″ and a total diameter of 2″-2.5″. Larger is permitted but not smaller.

Long Weapons

  Max Length
Staves 72″
Spears 78″
Polearms 84″

Spears must have at least 4″ of soft foam as a thrusting tip before the spear head is put into place. Spears can be used to parry weapons as a stave but only do damage with the spear head. Spears look best with done with a wooden shaft and a metal head (Brown duct tape and grey duct tape). Spears call for metal damage and are NOT to be thrown. Staves must have thrusting tips on both ends. Staves can be shod with metal tips to be able to call for either wooden or metal damage. Staves should be done in brown to start. Pole-arms must have a blade that is at least 6″ x 18″. The drawing below is one of the most popular and recognizable pole arms. For best appearances pole-arms should be done with a wooden haft and a metal head.

Blunt Weapons

  Overall Length Head Shape Head Size
Sap 12″ Ball 3″
Club 19″ Teardrop, Ball 3″ x 4″
Mace 20″ Ball, Flanges 6″
Footman’s Mace 30″ Ball, Flanges 9″
Hammer 30″ Hammer/Cylinder 6″ x 12″
Warhammer 38″ Hammer/Cylinder 8″ x 14″

Hafts should be made first, than the flanges added. Ball shaped heads should be attached directly to the PVC. All weapons must have a thrusting tip and a pommel. Grips are not mandatory, but are strongly suggested. Saps must be made with no PVC core, and must be made to look like metal. Clubs must be made to look entirely wooden. All other blunt weapons must have metal heads and look good if they have wooden hafts.

Hafted Weapons

  Haft Head Size Suggested Shape No of Heads
Hatchet 18″ 4″ x 6″ 1
Hand Axe 24″ 5″ x 7″  1-2
Battle Axe 34″ 12″ x 12″ 2
Greataxe 42″ 15″ x 10″ 2

Axe heads must fit the dimensions given, as if a block was cut first and the axe head was cut out of that. Axe heads should be between 1″ – 3″ thick depending on the size of the axe that you are building. Hafts should be built first and then have the heads attached. Hafts must have a thrusting tip and a pommel for safety. A grip is not mandatory, but strongly suggested. Hafts should be made with brown duct tape to simulate wood.

Throwing Weapons

  Overall Length Head Size
Throwing Dagger 6″ – 8″ N/A
Throwing Hatchet 12″ – 18″ 4″ x 6″
Throwing Dart 4″ x 6″ N/A
Shurikken 3″ – 4″ Diameter N/A
Javelin 30″ – 40″ N/A

No throwing weapon should have PVC pipe built into it at all. Black poly-foam pipe insulation makes for good hatchet hafts and javelins. Blue camping foam makes for the best daggers and shuriken. Small Nerf-type darts make the best throwing darts. The javelin, the shuriken and the throwing hatchet all have super balls built into them to provide a little weight that they may throw farther and more accurately. The super balls should however be entirely surrounded by foam. The throwing dagger has a 3/4″ steel washer at one end to provide a little weight that it may be thrown farther and more accurately, but it should be covered by foam.

Missile Weapons

Light Crossbow Designed to be fired with 1 hand; has no stock
Heavy Crossbow Designed to be fired with 2 hands; has a stock
Shortbow Shorter than 48″ tip to tip when strung
Longbow Longer than 49″ tip to tip when strung

All arrows must have aluminum, plastic or fiber glass shafts. NO WOOD! Nerf-type bow & arrow counts as a short bow. All other Nerf-type weapons will be counted as cross-bow and described as Dwarven bolt-throwers in game. All real bows and cross-bows must have a draw strength of less than 30 lbs.

Parts of an Arrowhead

Figure 1 shows a penny or some other disk of metal taped or bolted to an arrow shaft that has the tip cut off. Figure 2 shows the shape to cut the poly foam. A piece of tape 4″ long should be placed along the edge marked “Y” so that the poly-foam may be taped to the arrow shaft. The peny should line up within the slot that was cut )represented by the dotted line). As seen in Figure 3.
Then roll the shaft, tape to seal, add thrusting tip to finish. The final diagram shows all the parts of a completed arrow head.


Shields historically are weapons used to do damage as well as defend against damage. In EPOCH, shields only defend. Anyone seen charging or striking with their shield will, in no uncertain terms, be asked to leave the game. Shields can be made out of almost any large flat material. Keep it as light and strong as possible. Materials to consider are 1/4″ – 1/2″ plywood or Masonite, several layers of corrugated cardboard, round disc toboggans, or if you feel you can afford the expense, plexiglass or lexan. All shields must have at least 3/4″ of poly-foam padding around the edges and on any bolts that may be stuck onto the face.

Small Shields Up to 1 foot
Medium Shields Up to 2 feet
Large Shields Up to 3 feet
Extra Large Shields Larger then 3 feet

Suggested Shapes