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How to Make Auron's Blade - The Cosplay Armory

As promised, James of the Cosplay Armory shares his knowledge on how to make Auron's Katana from the game, Final Fantasy X. I have been very excited for this as I followed his page as he worked on the blade. I hope you enjoy it! - VFire

Auron's Katana Build by James

A note before I start. I will be mentioning the use of several machines that I have the luxury of having in my shop that I am well aware not everyone has. This project is definitely easier with them than without but everything I describe can be done without them or with simpler tools. I will also include steps that I do that are not necessary in parenthesis()

I was commissioned to build the Auron Katana by Lolita Zombie Cosplay and knew immediately that I wanted it to be light, yet durable. The first step to building any prop is figuring out what you’re going to make it out of. A lot of prop makers use light woods like poplar and MDF and while I have used some wood I decided it would be my first sword that I built entirely out of EVA foam a new challenge for me since my swords are typically made out of sintra plastic. However, looking at reference photos it was clear that Auron’s blade was quite thick so I decided it was about an inch and a half at it’s widest. With materials figured out and a general idea how to start the build in my head I proceeded to templating.

Reference Image

In order to make the template I had to find a decent, render of the sword’s side. Top and bottom are helpful as well to give you an idea as to how thick it is but a side shot for the props width and length is the most important part. After I found a decent reference I took the picture into photoshop, cropped out all unnecessary background. Since it was originally a .png render the background was already transparent which makes clean up much easier. After it was cropped I resized the image size to the appropriate length. She wanted the prop to be 5’2” so I changed the image size to 62 making sure that the proportions were scaled. To save on ink I typically switch the color mode to greyscale but that is optional. I then proceeded to print the prop out and assemble my full template. After the template was assembled, I removed the handle section from the blade. I would reference the handle part later in the project so I held onto it.

Because of the size of the blade, it was too long to just cut out of solid material so I had to figure out how best to divide it onto my foam mats. If you haven’t worked with EVA foam before it is commonly used as a floor covering and is sold in puzzle-piece edged mats that are designed to interlock. These mats are usually about 2’x 2’ in size. After figuring out how to divide up the blade I cut the template into the needed pieces and began to prepare the foam pieces. Using a utility knife I cut out rough boxes that would be large enough for the pieces. I had to cut each box out twice for the two halves of the blade pieces. After I had the boxes cut I took them to my belt sander to remove the textured underside(this isn’t required but it makes gluing them together easier and allows for a more seamless unity of the halves) After that, I taped the corresponding pieces together and traced the template on them. The tape held the pieces together as I then cut them out on my bandsaw.(the pieces could also have been cut individually with a knife but the bandsaw allows me to cut them both the same and at the same time)

EVA foam is a resilient yet flexible material, in order to be used for a sword blade it had to have additional support, preferably internal. I had chosen to use a few lengths of 1/4” square dowel as my internal support, strong enough to grant strength yet thin to remove as little material inside as possible. I had to carve in a groove on the inside of the foam pieces on both sides so that it lined up properly when it would all be glued together. (wish I had taken a picture of this) I used my rotary tool and a smooth stone head to carve in the slot. Afterwards the pieces that made up one half of the sword glued together using contact cement (Weldwood Contact cement in my case or Barge Cement) to make up the entire half of one blade. The dowel was then glued in place with hot glue. I did the same process with a 5/8” dowel to allow me to add my handle to it. The exposed end of the handle was wrapped in 3mm craft foam to thicken it so it would snugly into my 14” piece of 3/4” PVC pipe which would make my handle.

This is a sample of what to do.
This is not Auron's Katana but it is an example.

After that Contact cement was applied to both halves and after the glue was ready with a little help from my wife(the blade pieces being so large made it hard to control by myself) we stuck the two halves together. Because of the way I had designed the blade the sword was now in two sections, the top with was the widest part up and the bottom which had the base of the blade and the handle. I then had to cut a small section out of both parts to incorporate a section of 1/2” PVC pipe that I had cut to fit into both parts. This would allow me to glue a 3/8” dowel again wrapped in craft foam to fit snugly into the bottom part and that would slide into the pipe section on the top half.

This is where the project came to my first major problem. Because of the way the I sectioned the blade it turned out the absence of the structural dowel where the gap was cut for the PVC pipe resulted in the blade being structurally weak. when I put all of the pieces together for the first time the blade became a floppy fish.(as I like to call it) I tried to save it, adding more pieces of dowel in places I knew would be hidden later to try and support it. However, my original design was ultimately a catastrophic failure. There was nothing left to do but return to square one. Thankfully I wasn’t under a terrible time crunch so I had more than sufficient time to remake it.

I wasn’t satisfied just having to deal with making a box to hold the katana in one piece which would have cost a lot more to ship. So my second attempt involved having the coupling be at the base of the blade and just making the handle removable. A good day’s work and I was back to where I had been ready now ready to move on.

Next came probably the most challenging part which was beveling the blade. To those who are unfamiliar with the term beveling for swords is to basically create the edge. To do this I used my belt sander and the process is not unlike how you would grind an edge into an actual blade. I wish I could describe the process but it really is something you just have figure out how to do on your own and just be patient with it. It was a challenge to wrangle the 4 foot long blade since my shop’s ceiling is actually fairly low as it is my basement. After the blade was beveled to my liking it was time to add the raised portions to the blade. This was done exactly as the original base had been made, except this time it was done using 1/4” EVA foam. The templates were made by removing the needed part from my printed template, then traced and cut out. The separate halves were then glued together and then added to the blade with contact cement. The elegant scroll work near the base of the blade was traced and cut out of 3mm craft foam and then glued in place using super glue. (I rounded the edges very on the scroll work and and beveled the edges of the raised portion very slightly with my dremel)

The next step was to add the pommel and the collar to the handle. I did this by wrapping a band of 3mm craft foam cut to the right width around the top and bottom. I then added a cap to the pommel by cutting a disc out of sintra and gluing it on with superglue. The last part for the pommel and collar were the raised bands which were cut out of 2mm craft foam and then glued on with super glue. This completed the assembly portion of the build.

The next step was to seal the EVA foam to make it sturdier but also to allow it to be painted. I used Plastidip which is a spray on rubber coating that works really well for foam props. I didn’t coat the entirety of the handle as it was going to be wrapped it takes about 5 layers or so all around to ensure a good solid coat I chose black since the vast majority of the blade is a dark color. With the sealing done it was time to move onto paint.

Painting was done in stages and layers since the blade is black, dark grey, and silver. I started with the dark grey. I used Rustoleum brand Flat soft iron. Then taped that area off to paint the rest in a gloss black.

The next challenge was to figure out how to create the simulated hamon line on the edge of the sword as I had never tried anything like that before(the hamon line is the wavy pattern) I ended up laying out strips of painters tape and cutting the edge to make the bumps and waves and then applied that to the blade about an inch or so from the edge so the waved part would be in the right place. I then sprayed that with a silver enamel spray(doesn’t have to be enamel) After a bit of touch up on the base colors I moved onto painting the raised scroll work and the pommel and collar with enamel gold.

The final step was to add the katana or ito wrap to the handle. This was also a challenge as I had never done it before. I used green ribbon to lay down a flat horizontal wrap of green first using hot glue to tack it down and help hold it in place. I then added the red katana wrap over that(plenty of tutorials on line for how to do so) and the Auron Katana was finally complete.

The person who commissioned it made a review video of it which I will provide a link for below for you all to check out and see the katana in action.

- James of Cosplay Armory

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