By Paul Bielaczyc
Want a nice way to properly display your Heron Mark Blade on the wall… and all the other swords in your collection? This step-by-step guide will show you how to make a magnetic sword mount using some basic products from your local hardware store… and a little bit of time, which most of us all have plenty of right now!
You’ll have to excuse some of the photos. Many of them were taken after the project was complete, not during the construction of my original project. And during these crazy times, I didn’t want to go to Home Depot to buy more.
- 1”x8” decorative trim board, 25” in length. I suggest poplar.
- Decorative chair rail moulding, about 8′ in length. I used this particular one from Home Depot.
- Magnetic tool holder. This one is super powerful and works great.
- Wood glue
- Black electrical tape (narrow width preferred)
- Stainable wood putty
- Wood stain (or paint)
- 2 Flat head screws, #10 or #12, 5/8” long.
- 2 Drywall anchors. These are the ones that I prefer.
- Black acrylic craft paint.
Below is the list of tools that I used for this project. However, I will also list non-power tool alternatives in case you don’t have access to some of the ones I used.
- Miter saw (alternative: miter box with hand saw)
- Router (alternative: wood chisel)
- Brad nail gun (hammer and brads)
- Dremel with various bits (alternative: keyhole hangers)
- Clamps (might not be necessary)
- Sandpaper (200-300 grit)
Step 1: Cut and Mark the Trim Board
Cut the 1”x8” board down to 24”. I recommend cutting both edges, as the raw edge from the store can be very rough and almost impossible to sand. You will want both ends to have a nice, smooth surface for staining. I recommend cutting off a thin sliver of wood from one end, and then cut the other end at 24”. Use some sandpaper to clean up any splinters from the bottom edge of the wood (seen in the photo below).
Cut 1 piece of moulding at approximately 25 inches in length. Laying this along each edge of the poplar trim board, mark a line for the inside edge of the moulding. Using these 4 lines, position the magnetic holder on the board, and mark the areas that will need to be recessed in Step 3 so that the length of the magnetic bar will lay flush against the poplar.
After cutting, the Poplar should now be approximately 7.25” by 24”.
Step 2: Cut the Moulding
Using your miter saw or miter box, make the first 45-degree angle cut in the moulding.
After carefully measuring and marking based on the length and width of your 1”x 8” board, proceed to cut 45-degree angles in alternate directions, until you have 4 trapezoid-shaped pieces of moulding. Make sure the narrower edge for each piece of trim is along the same edge of the trim. (After making all these cuts, you should be left with a bunch of small triangular scraps since the 45-degree angle cuts have to be alternated.)
Clean up any splinters and rough edges with some sandpaper, sanding in the direction of the grain (always!).
Even with a good miter saw, the 4 boards might not perfectly form a tight rectangle, but that’s okay, that’s why we have wood putty.
Step 3: Mount the Magnetic Holder
Before we mount the angled trim from Step 2 to the board, we need to prep and mount the holder to the board. Take a strip of black electrical tape, and cover the ugly yellow tape that is on the magnetic holder. This way your swords and the trim are the focal point of the sword mount, not a gaudy yellow band.
Now we need to carve out the 2 recessed areas so the magnetic holder will mount flush to the board. I used a handheld Ryobi router, but not everyone has one of those available. A simple wood chisel set should suffice. Remember that it is okay if the recessed areas are larger or slightly deeper than necessary, that will be mostly covered up by the moulding anyway.
After you are done routing (or chiseling), position the magnetic holder on the board. Use a piece of trim cut in Step 2 to ensure that the tabs are countersunk such that they don’t prevent the moulding from sitting flush to the poplar. Also make sure that the magnetic holder isn’t crossing any of our marks from Step 1.
Once this is verified, mount the magnetic holder using 2 flat head screws.
And finally, one last time, take a piece of trim and ensure that the screws don’t prevent the top piece of moulding from resting flush against the board.
Step 4: Mount the Trim
Now that we have mounted the holder to the board, it is now time to mount our 4 angled trim boards. Using a liberal amount of wood glue, adhere the 4 boards in position on the 1”x8” Poplar. At this point, we are only using glue so that we can adjust and reposition the moulding to get the tightest joints possible.
Once we have the 4 pieces aligned as best as possible, carefully use your brad nailer (or old-school hammer) to tack each board in place. I suggest shooting a single brad closer to the end of one of the shorter boards. Make sure the boards are all still in alignment, and then shoot a second nail at the other end. If using the Moulding I suggested, aim for the little dots or any recessed line in the pattern to help hide the divots created by the brads.
Double check the alignment of the boards after securing the first piece of trim, and shoot the first brad into one of the adjacent longer trim boards. Check alignment, and shoot the second brad at the opposite end. Continue doing this for all 4 boards, making sure to check alignment at each step!! This helps ensure that you don’t get to the 4th corner to find all your boards are horribly out of whack!
Note: It is better to play with and align the 4 boards all at once like what is described up above, than to align each corner with a perfect snug fit individually. One way will get you 4 pretty good corner alignments. The other will get you 3 great alignments, and one pretty ugly one. Trust me, even with an awesome miter saw that can assist with those 45-degree angle cuts, they probably aren’t going to be perfect, and thus you won’t have a perfect alignment on all 4 corners.
As you can see in this photo, I assumed my cuts were going to be perfect, and when I got to the 4th corner the gap was pretty obvious and required a good amount of wood putty to fill.
Step 5: Prep the surface
Now that the trim is mounted to the poplar, it is time to do any necessary clean-up to the raw wood before we can paint/stain.
- First thing, clean up any wood glue along the seams that might have oozed out when the boards were nailed together. A damp paper towel works fine.
- Second, if anything doesn’t look like a tight fit, you can use a variety of clamps to press the boards together snugly. If you do use clamps, you will probably need to wipe off any excess glue again. If if didn’t squeeze out before, once clamped, it will!
- If you do need to clamp the boards together, set it aside for about 2-4 hours (read the instructions on your particular wood glue for working time).
- The next step is to fill any voids using wood putty. Make sure your putty is stainable, not all wood putty is! I prefer to use wood based products found online instead of the DAP plastic wood options found at Home Depot. The smell and Prop 65 warnings are a little scary on plastic wood. Use the wood putty to fill in any gaps in the corner joints, or in any gaps between the trim and 1”x8” Poplar board.
- Set the project aside depending on the working time for the particular putty product used. When it’s time, come back with some high grit sandpaper and clean up and smooth any areas that required putty. Also go ahead and sand the entire surface and sides that will be stained just to clean up any rough patches.
Step 6: Staining and Painting
Follow the directions on the stain, and apply the stain to the front and sides of the project. Try to avoid getting any stain on the magnetic holder, as it will leave a sticky residue on the metal.
Typically after applying stain, you will leave it on the surface for a few minutes and then wipe it down with a paper towel or rag. When wiping, try to wipe perpendicular to any grooves in the moulding (grooves highlighted in green). This technique will wipe more stain from the raised areas of the wood, while leaving more in the grooves, resulting in darker recesses.
After the stain is dry, use some inexpensive black, acrylic craft paint to paint any of the recessed areas near the magnet that are not stained. Unlike stain, if you accidentally get some acrylic paint on the magnet, acrylic paint will dry and can be easily scrapped off, instead of being a sticky mess!
After staining the sword mount, I like to leave the project in an out of a way place for a few days to allow the stain to off-gas and fully dry. A covered back porch or a basement both work well.
Step 7: Cutting a Keyhole Slot
We want our sword mount to be flush against the wall. First this looks very clean and professional, but a flush mount is also more secure as the mount is more solidly resting against the wall behind it.
There are a few options for making these keyhole slots:
- They make a keyhole router bit for routers and Dremels. This option is pretty self explanatory; follow the directions that come with the bit.
- You can use a drill, a Dremel, and a few more common Dremel bits to achieve the same effect. You will need a larger drill bit, a smaller drill bit, a Dremel cutter bit, and a Dremel straight router bit.
- Drill a large hole with the larger drill bit.
- Drill a second hole with the smaller drill bit approximately .5 inches above the larger hole.
- Use the straight router bit to connect the 2 holes along their centers.
- Finally, lower the cutter bit into the larger hole, and follow the same line as above. This will create a groove for the screw head to slide along.
- Lastly, if you don’t have access to a router or Dremel, you can use something like this piece of hardware to achieve the same effect using only a chisel (I think).
Step 8: Mounting to the Wall
Most likely you will not have wall studs directly behind where you cut the keyhole slots. Even if you space the 2 keyhole slots 16” apart, to center your sword mount, they probably will not align with hidden studs. But that is fine. That is why they make some truly incredible drywall anchors. These are my personal favorite. Rather than drilling a hole and tapping them into place, they are self drilling, and stop once they are flush with the surface of the wall.
Once you shoot the screws into the anchors, they split open and lock the anchor into place. You can also play with the depth of the screws in the anchor to ensure a nice snug fit between the wall and the sword mount. Some other types of drywall anchors don’t give you the flexibility to adjust the depth of the screws, another reason that I prefer these.
Step 9: Mount the Swords
Now it’s time to hang your collection on the wall.
A few things to keep in mind to avoid injury or a scary crash in the middle of the night.
- If you used the recommended magnetic holder, it should have no problem holding the weight of most swords, allowing you some play in positioning them higher or lower on the mount.**
- If you use a weaker magnet, the cross guards might have to rest on the upper lip of the wood. This can severely limit the space on the mount, which is why I suggest the holder that I listed up above.
**No matter what, this is IMPORTANT… you want to make sure that the weight of the portion of the sword above the magnet is about equal to the weight below it. If you attach the swords too high so that the swords are top heavy, a good door slam, or any vibration really, can cause the imbalanced sword to pivot like a pendulum with the magnet working like an axle. As it swings, it will most likely knock the others swords around, or off the wall, stabbing anything and everything around. I speak from personal experience. I had to patch a 2 inch gash in the drywall (and put on a clean pair underwear!) after hearing a frightening crash about 10 minutes after proudly hanging the swords on the wall.