Making a shield

Hi, I’m new to empire and I know the weapons and armour checks are very stringent, and therefore I’ve bought a sword and armour so I can be sure they’ll pass inspection. However, I’d really like to have a shield for my character but they’re difficult to find for a price I can afford. (I’m a student) So I’ve started making a shield. I’ve carefully read the shield safety requirements but would like some advice on how to ensure it passes inspection.

I’ve made it out of EVA foam with a disk of cardboard encased in the centre. (completely covered in foam) The back is covered in a soft faux leather upholstery material. The handles are Leather and are securely fixed to the shield and measured to my arm so the shield will not flap. My concern is the edge, as it has to be padded but I’m not 100% certain how thick/soft the padding has to be.

I’ve made Larp and cosplay weapons before, just never one that has to pass inspection! Thanks to anyone who can help :slight_smile:

Welcome along Phoebs, to the game and the forums! :slight_smile:

Shields are expensive, so I can understand you wanting to make your own, Where, out of interest, did you get the weapons and armour from?

Final decision on this is made by the weapons checkers on site, but it sounds like your shield is erring on the side of caution in it’s construction. Which is a good thing.

I’ve not made shields myself, but in my inexpert opinion…

No spiky rivets, wooden edges, wing-nuts? Foam over cardboard for a little stiffness…

So you have, from the front, foam, cardboard, and then the leather backing, then your handles? I’d suggest an inch or so of foam around the edge, flat to the “sandwich” of materials, so as to hold it all in place. A padded edge is to stop any tough materials sliding out and cutting into someone. If you can headbutt the edge of your shield with no damage to anything but your dignity, that’s probably a safe edge.

I suspect there’ll be some other kitmakers along to give some advice shortly…

How are you decorating or colouring it? (I’m assuming you aren’t leaving the foam raw…) I’ve seen good results with a cloth cover, painted or sewn design on the front, held on via a drawstring or elastic at the back…

There was a similar discussion to this not long back, it may be of interest:

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Thanks! I got my sword and armour from ebay, but I couldn’t find a good shield. I’m creating a navarri character and a lot of shields are better suited to dawn. I only managed to get a couple of pieces of armour but I’m going to build it up over time.

I may buy some foam specifically to cover the rim just in case. As for decorating it, I’m doing the same as I’d usually do for cosplay weapons: Sanding any rough edges with my dremel, spraying it with primer and painting it with acrylic. I’m pretty decent with paint so I reckon I can make it look good! I have a crystal clear matt sealant to spray it after its finished.

I saw that post and saw all the warnings about making your own, hence why I’m only attempting the shield! Thanks again :smiley:

I’m currently also working on a sword and shield for E2. So still unsure as to how safe my weapons are.
I’m following Empire’s own Robert Ashley Burden’s videos.

They are a great resource in making a shield for Empire, and Robert has been very friendly and helpful to me in the past answering questions.

I also have worked a lot on cosplay stuff in the past, definately the finish of the end result is very different, just acrylic and sealant probably won’t cut it since the weapons will repeatedly be hit, definately not if they’re going to be used in rain etc.
Generally latex with a bit of acrylic paint added is used for color and then a final coat of isoflex roof sealant to seal and protect everything in the end.

It sounds like you are doing well so far, going around the rim as Geoffrey suggests is a good idea. Im not sure how well a cardboard former will stand up to combat though? Can it take a hit without folding, because at some point someone will belt your shield (Though they reeeeeeaally shouldnt) and it would suck to put all the effort in only for it to immediately die :frowning: Speaking from experience here :confused:

Nothing about the the method you’re describing screams ‘unsafe’ to me - and ultimately that’s what the weapons checkers are looking for - to make sure that nothing gets on to the field that might end up hurting someone.

That said weapons construction and safety checking isn’t a precise science, it’s a set of basic guidelines with lot of applied common sense and experience. I had a shield failed once because a leather strap was at risk of separating from the shield foam. The checker pointed out that it might break in the coming battle. I replied that if that happened I’d simply stop using it. Didn’t go down too well…

Back on topic, the method you’ve laid out isn’t how larp shields are normally made though as long as it’s safe then surely it’s alright. Given the materials and techniques you’ve in mind, I wonder how long this shield will last? I think, however, making larp stuff whether costume or weapons is always about thinking of the next, improved version of whatever you made before - so if this shield is were to be perfect, you’d never have anything else to make!

My only real suggestion would be to think about covering the front with canvas, it’ll strengthen the whole thing, makes a nice surface to paint and totally looks the part.

Happy crafting,

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Thanks for everyone’s advice! I think I’m going to invest in some latex to decorate it rather than just acrylic as suggested. Does anyone have any tips on how to make the shield more sturdy while still being safe? I may double up the cardboard, but I guess ideally I’d need something more durable.

My current approach is using 3 layers of 8mm thick LD45 foam glued together with flexible contact cement and adding some ridges to the back like in Robert’s videos.
Currently only have 2 layers glued together and it already feels sturdy so 3 should definately be good.
Instead of cardboard I glued some canvas to one side of the foam, then made a mixture of wood glue and water and applied that to the canvas to stiffen it. Now I’m about the glue attachments for leather straps to that and then glue the final foam layer to sandwich it all together.

The canvas is more of an experimental approach though, I’m not sure if it adds that much more rigidity, it does feel very safe.

Use two or more layers of foam glued together with contact adhesive will give you a strong shield. Evostik impact is the obvious brand but I’ve always used Wickes own brand as it’s half the price.

Using layers let’s you get a slight curve in the shield which will add rigidity without needing to use a rigid core.


I built a number of large shields for Empire at various points - I used heavy linen interlayered with LD45 foam and curved when gluing. Add some bracing on the back as required. The composite construction gives a lot of stiffness without much weight, and will still deform under heavy impacts for safety.