There are any number of ways to go about making a dagger for cosplay. If you’re a beginner and you want an easy first project to try your hand at prop making, this tutorial is for you. It is a basic, cardboard dagger or knife that you can use to add a prop to your costume and make it a little bit better.
You can change the design or add details to the dagger to make it look exactly as you need for your costume. This tutorial is meant to give you the basic step-by-step that you can elaborate on for slightly different designs.
If you’re looking to create a more realistic or more intricate knife or dagger, I recommend using EVA foam or Worbla instead of cardboard.
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- Paper, ruler, and pencil
- Hot glue
- Acrylic paint
- A strip of leather or cloth
- Metallic tape or metallic paint
1. Draw your dagger design
The first step is to take your pencil and paper and draw out the design you want for your dagger. It’s really helpful to use a ruler to help you make the dagger the length that you want and keep the lines for the blade straight and proportional. I made my blade approximately six inches long with a hilt that was about four inches.
If you are not confident enough in your drawing skills, you can enlarge an image of the dagger you want to create and print it out. Then all you have to do is trace the details so you have clear, unpixelated lines to create your dagger pattern.
2. Cut out your dagger pieces
Now that you have your pattern, you want to separate the pieces to cut them out of the cardboard. Create three separate pieces from your pattern, the blade, the crossguard, and the hilt. You may also want to create a separate piece for the pommel depending on your dagger design.
Now comes the slightly confusing part, you need to cut multiple pieces of each part of your dagger. This is because you will stack the pieces and glue them together to create three-dimensional thickness. You also want some pieces (like the crossguard) to act as a ridge, requiring them to have more layers glued together.
For the basic dagger that I created, I cut:
- 2 blade pieces
- 2 hilt pieces
- 4 crossguard pieces.
3. Assemble the blade
First, let’s get the blade assembled, then we’ll work on attaching the hilt. Get out your hot glue and dab some along the middle to glue your two cardboard blade pieces together. Let the glue cool and check to make sure the cardboard pieces are thoroughly stuck together.
Now it’s time to give it a metallic look. You can get metallic paint and paint the cardboard to make it look like a blade. Alternatively, I found this metallic tape (basically aluminum foil tape) that I wanted to try using to make the blade look shiny.
If you use paint, make sure to apply a couple of layers of primer first (mod podge or something similar will work just fine). This will keep the paint from seeping into the surface of the cardboard, making the metallic paint more effective with fewer layers. Try to use a soft brush when coloring your blade so that you won’t have as many brush strokes on the final product, and don’t be afraid to use as many layers of paint as you need. You can also add a varnish finishing paint at the end to give the blade a little more shine.
This was my first time trying to use metallic tape, so the results came out a little sloppy. But from what I learned, you want to sandwich the blade between two layers of tape. Make sure the tape is as flat against the cardboard as possible. Press out any air bubbles so you don’t get any lumps under the tape. When you wrap the tape around the edges of the blade, make sure to cut the tape right along the edge to avoid those ugly bumps I got on mine.
4. Assemble the hilt and crossguard
While you’re letting the blade dry, it’s time to assemble the hilt and crossguard. Stack the four crossguard pieces and use your hot glue to glue them together. Then do the same thing with the two hilt pieces before attaching them to the center of the crossguard. With the hilt glued together, you can now add it onto your blade.
A tip, use more glue than you think you need when gluing the edges of cardboard together. Then keep the pieces pressed against each other until the glue has fully cooled. The sides of the cardboard reveal the perforated interior, which has lots of gaps. This gives the glue less surface area to hold onto, so the hold isn’t very secure unless you use more glue. This is also why it’s difficult to work with just one layer of cardboard, rather than the two or more that I recommended in step 2.
5. Paint and wrap the hilt
Now that your dagger is fully assembled, it’s time to work on the finishing touches. First, we’ll want to paint the hilt and crossguard so that they don’t look like plain old cardboard anymore.
Before painting, be sure to apply one or two layers of primer. This keeps the acrylic paint from being absorbed into the cardboard surface. In the end, you’ll use fewer layers of paint and it will be a bolder or more vibrant color. After the primer, paint on a few layers of your hilt color (you can make it gold, metallic, black, wooden, or whatever color you want). Make sure you also apply paint to the sides and as far inside the cardboard as your brush will go.
Now, to give the dagger a little more dimension, consider wrapping the hilt in some kind of cloth or even tape (like sports tape). This will make the sides look a little more rounded and less like squared-off cardboard edges.
I used a strip of faux leather and glued one edge to the side of the dagger. Once the leather is securely attached to the cardboard, tightly wrap it around the hilt. Once finished, tuck the end of the leather under and glue it in place. Now you’ve finished your new prop dagger.