There are a lot of different ways to make a shield. There are two basic types: a Center Boss, where there is a single handle and you move the shield with your hand and wrist, or a strapped shield where it is strapped to your forearm and held by a handle. Strapped shields are good because your whole arm is carrying the weight of the shield. They are pretty good at crashing into a shield wall. Center Boss shields are good because they let you hold the shield further away from your body and thus reduce the target area of your body. They are very agile but take more arm and wrist strength to hold. It is good to try out both shield types to determine what is best for you. I have used both but seem to be favouring Centre Boss these days.
When deciding on the materials for the shield, you need to decide if it will have a curved surface or not. Strapped shields are more effective if they have a curved surface. They will also tend to last longer. In order to make a curved wooden shield, you will need two pieces of 1/4-inch plywood. Draw the shield pattern on one of them and set it aside. DO NOT cut out the pattern- leave the plywood as a square or rectangle. You can then use a centreboard (1-1/2″ is a good size) on a flat surface to allow you to bend the sheets of plywood at the same time:
The basic steps are:
- Cut two rectangles of equal size to fit the shield pattern
- Mark centreline and trace pattern on one sheet of plywood
- Coat inner surface of shields with carpenters glue
- Screw shield blanks centreline to the centreboard. 2 Screws should do it.
- Screw 1×3 or 2×4 down to the table along the edge of the bends. You should be able to avoid screwing through the shield blank. Screw each one down 1/4″ at a time evenly
- Let the glue dry for at least a day before unscrewing.
- I like to stain or paint the back of the shield at this point. Usually one coat of stain and a couple of coats of clear. Shields tend to sit out in the rain so make them waterproof if you can
- Cut canvas or a durable fabric 1-inch larger than the shield pattern.
- Plaster a generous layer of white glue to the plywood shield pattern area. Put the canvas over it and rub it so the glue soaks into the fabric.
- Staple the outer edge down and let it dry
- Cut the shield pattern out with a jig/reciprocating saw
- If you have a center boss, this is a good time to cut out the hole
- It is now time to paint on Heraldry. I use a good primer first and then use exterior paint.
- I like to use white rawhide to protect the edge of the shield.