A couple months ago, my son suggested I try to make a Legend of Zelda Master Sword which I added to my ever-growing project list and finally got around to it this week, just in time for his birthday. I always find prop-making to be super fun and enjoyable. Mostly, it’s fun to try to come up with ways to replicate the details. Most prop-making is done with foam and other materials and shaped with CNCs, laser cutters, and 3D printers. Since I don’t have any of that, I made this one almost entirely out of wood and it gave me an opportunity to use a lot of different tools and techniques.
Designing the Master Sword
Not knowing a whole lot about the Zelda games, I looked at a lot of examples of the Master Sword and discovered that there is a bit of variation among them. Most have a bluish purple handle and hilt, but some are black. I liked this version, so based mine on it.
I quickly realized is would be much more challenging to make a Legend of Zelda Master Sword than my previous sword, Jason’s machete from Friday the 13th. That one was a fairly simple shape and I could make it out of a single board. The Master Sword is all about its ornate details and Zelda tradition and legend.
After a lot of consideration, decided the best approach was to make it out of three pieces: the blade, the handle and the hilt. It might be possible to make the blade and hilt out of a single board, but it would need to be pretty wide. But mostly, carving the curved hilt would be difficult and cumbersome.
Starting with the hilt
I started with the most challenging part: making the two curved hilt pieces. I made these out of 1/2″ (12mm) thick birch lumber. I chose birch because it is soft enough to shape and carve and has a light color for painting, but it’s not as soft as pine, which tends to splinter.
I attached two templates using spray adhesive then scored the outline of each with an X-acto knife. Then I drew in lines where the beaded curves would go.
Using a sharp chisel, I carved out some “guide” channels. Someone skilled with chisels could just carve these completely out, but I just needed starter routes for my Dremel rotary tool to ride along. Without a guide, it’s hard to direct a Dremel; it tends to wander.
With the grooves carved out on one side of each piece, I cut them out on my bandsaw. Once they were cut out. I carved out the grooves on the opposite sides. I had to do this after cutting out the shapes because I didn’t have any easy way to line up the cutting template on the opposite side before cutting.
With these rough shapes cut out, I shaped them using my 1′ strip sander and hand sandpaper.
Turning the sword’s handle
Turning the handle on my lathe was pretty easy and straightforward. I made up a turning template to show me where to make the various decorative transitions. I used birch lumber for this.
Making the Master Sword Blade
The blade is pretty thin, especially along its “cutting” edges, so I chose to make it out of maple because it’s very hard and won’t splinter or possibly break. First, I cut away two faces of the board, thinning it down and stopping before the end.
Next, I attached the cutting template and cut out the shape of the blade, sanding to refine the shape.
Creating a beveled cutting edge
The easiest way I found to hone a cutting edge in the maple blade was to use a cabinet scraper. This is a really handy tool: if you haven’t used one before, it’s just a piece of metal. You don’t really sharpen it, but rather create a burr on the edges, kind of like a little hook that planes the wood. You could also use a sander to make the bevel, but it may appear a little more rounded over.
I used a chisel to cut out this part of the sword. The illusion here is the the thin blade will appear to slide into the wider, thicker hilt.
I drilled a hole into the end of this piece and glued the tenon of the handle into it.
And glued the two carved hilt pieces to the sides.
Making the shield
The shield is a single board that I cut out on the bandsaw. I added a chamfer along the edges using my router.
I drilled two shallow holes to hold dowels for the sword to hang on. I cut a couple of thin squares and glued them to the tops. (I didn’t glue the dowels into the shield yet, but just used the holes to hold the dowels up while the glued squares dried.)
I stained the shield a dark color and spray painted the edges black, allowing the paint to overspray a little onto the stained face of the shield.
I had a really hard time finding two simple square “rubies” for the hilt. I found an assortment of gems at the craft store, but not a single one was red and square. Next, I went to about six different stores that sell costume jewelry trying to find earrings I could use. After a long search, I found a pair of earrings at Macy’s on sale for $6. I had no idea these would be so elusive! I was able to pry them out of their seats with a screwdriver.
I made two thin squares, painted them with a gold paint pen, and glued the gems into place.
I went to a local sign shop and had them cut the Triforce logo out of gold vinyl. This requires a vector file which I have included with the templates you can download. I applied this to the shield.
I glued the gemstones onto the hilt and drew the logo onto the blade using a black sharpie. I lightly sprayed silver paint over this to tone down the black ink. No matter how you want to make a Legend of Zelda Master Sword, the fun is working on all the details!
I attached one end of a black leather strip to the handle with a small brad and wrapped the strap up and back, keeping it very tight and tacking town the other end next to the first. I painted the heads of the tacks black.
Finally, back on the shield, I glued the two sword hangers in place.
Free Templates to Make a Legend of Zelda Master Sword: