2021 JordanCon Costume Contest

2021 JordanCon Costume Contest

We know that many of you have been working on that perfect costume for over a year now. We’re excited to say that we WILL be hosting the always-popular Costume Contest this year despite reduced programming! Sign ups will be slightly different, so please see below for details. We can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with.

General Guidelines

  • Contestants may choose to compete for juried awards or only for Judges Choice/Audience Choice
  • Due to time constraints, we will be limiting the number of entries to the following:
    • We will accept the first 20 contestants to sign up who wish to be considered for juried awards. (Best in Show, Best in Class, or Best Workmanship)
    • We will accept an additional 10 participants for Judges Choice or Audience Choice awards only, but these will not be pre-judged or considered for the “Best of” categories.
  • Mandatory pre-judging for juried entrants will take place at 4 PM in the Main Programing Room (Dunwoody Ballroom). Please arrive early or you may not be eligible for juried awards.
  • Participants who are not being pre-judged should arrive by 5 PM.
  • Each entry will have approximately 1-2 minutes to present their costume while the emcee reads your pre-written description. Please write descriptions clearly and provide pronunciations, otherwise the emcee will ad-lib at their own discretion.

Awards

The following awards will be given at the end of the contest:

  • Best in Show– The best overall entrant from all classes.
  • Best in Class– The best entrant from each class that is not also the Best in Show.
  • Best Workmanship– The entrant with the best workmanship who has not also won Best in Class or Show.
  • Judges Choice–  Each judge may choose to present an award to any contestant that does not also receive a “Best of” award.
  • Audience Choice– This award will be chosen based on audience reaction.

Classes for Juried Awards

  • Entrants may enter one of the 3 classes (below).
    • Novice– Anyone who has never won an award before.
    • Journeyman– Anyone who has won 2 or fewer Best in Class awards or no more than 1 Best in Show.
    • Master– Anyone who has won Best in Show more than once or Best in Class 3 or more times.
  • Classes are determined by placement in previous JordanCon Costume Contests only; however, entrants may choose to enter in a higher class based on other factors.  Entrants may not enter a lower class. Group entries will be classified by the highest entrant in the group. 

Criteria

  • Entrants will be judged on the following equally-weighted criteria.
    • Accuracy (how well it matches the source material) 
    • Craftsmanship (how well constructed the self-made pieces are)
    • Presentation (the overall look and appeal of the entry) 

Conduct

  • Entrants are expected to abide by the JordanCon Code of Conduct.
  • Contestants should provide their own handlers for any large or obstructive costumes.
  • Contestants should be aware of any part of their costumes or props that may cause damage to the facilities or other contestants and take necessary precautions. If your costume is considered a problem by the organizers, you may be asked to leave.

Registration

  • Registration will take place online via the Eventeny ticketing system. Only 20 tickets will be available for juried awards. An additional 10 openings will be available for Judges Choice or Audience Choice awards only. Tickets to enter the costume contest are free of charge.
  • Entries will be taken on a first come, first served basis.
  • Tickets/entries for the Costume Contest will go live July 14 at 8:00 AM EDT. Please only sign up for ONE type of participation ticket/entry. The link provided below contains tickets (entries) for both types of contestants.
  • No entries will be taken after 1:00 PM Saturday or after the online tickets have been filled, whichever comes first.
  • Link to tickets for the JordanCon Costume Contest Awards is here.
Charity Events Donations

Charity Events Donations

Every year JordanCon features a Silent Charity Auction on Saturday for the Mayo Clinic. This year we’re moving back in with the Art Show and Dealer Hall. Our normal space is too small to maintain appropriate social distancing.

The auction will run while the room is open on Saturday. We’re still working out the details for those times, but we already know about some amazing items again this year.

Speaking of donations: do you have something you’d like to see in our auction? We’ve had everything from memorabilia from Robert Jordan’s personal collection, to signed books, to prints of the Wheel of Time eBook covers, to hand-made crafts, and every year we receive more amazing items from people all over the world. If you have something you wish to donate, let us know by filling out our Charity Events Donation Submission Form. We will not be accepting any items that were not submitted beforehand. The cutoff date for submissions is July 9, 2021. If you’d like to donate something but will not be attending JordanCon this July, please contact CharityEvents@jordancon.org to arrange shipping details. We can’t wait to see you all in July.

-JordanCon Charities

Fondant!  The Play-doh of Cake Decorating

Fondant! The Play-doh of Cake Decorating

By Deana Whitney, Workshop Director

In every artform, it takes time and practice to develop skills that result in wowing others and yourself.  Because let us face it, the maker can see all the flaws, while most of the appreciative audience does not.  Makers, we should all try to be less hard on ourselves; let’s all spend some time having more fun and celebrating our wins this year.

To encourage this, let talk about cake decorating!  In this artform I would call myself a skilled amateur, far from being a pro, but it is something I have fun doing for myself.

Making cakes pretty is a different skill than making cakes tasty. The bakers and decorators that mange to achieve both are highly skilled individuals. The internet as a whole can teach you about baking yummy cakes. (Sidenote: the extra time it takes to make Swiss meringue buttercream icing is totally worth the time.) As a skilled armature baker/decorator I have learned a few things about working with fondant if you want to add extra visual wow to your treats.

To learn to work with fondant cheaply, grab some play-doh. Or make your own salt-dough with cream of tater in the recipe.  Like play-doh fresh out of the container, fondant needs to be kneaded a bit before shaping or rolling it. If you can build a shape using play-doh, you can make it in fondant, and probably easier, since fondant has a more refined texture. The main thing is to get your head and hands into thinking “I can do this!” Play like a kid again making snakes, trees, hearts, swords, crowns, or anything else you can think about.

 

Tools Needed:

Cake tools

Tools useful in working fondant.

Upper row: plastic rolling pin, toothpicks (2 styles), drageés, fondant combs, and shape cutters.
Middle row: Luster dust, icing tips, ruler, food-safe paint brush, and a small dish with vodka.
Lower row: Flower press mold with petal cutter, and cake spatula.

 

I’m a firm believer that amateur cake decorators don’t need to buy many fancy tools. However, I have found several more specialized items to be helpful, such as cake spatulas and a collection of small shaped cookie cutters. A smooth rolling pin will be needed, wooden rolling pins can transfer textures to the fondant and tend to stick more than plastic ones. Any paintbrush used for cake decorating should be dedicated to food use only; store it far away from regular craft paintbrushes.

When attaching two pieces of fondant together, they need a glue. Water can be used, but vodka will produce better results. No flavor or alcohol is transferred.  It evaporates more quickly than water as well.  This is very apparent when applying luster dust for added color.  Sometimes clear gel icing is useful as glue. Note, it leaves the pieces with glossy edges if extra is on the edges, which should be seen as part of the design.

For extra tools, use what is available to you. Pizza cutters, dull knives, toothpicks, cookie cutters, forks, or even the fancy shaping tools and texture pads.  Just play; let your imagination go wild making large flat panels into 3D phonebooths.  You need to become comfortable kneading and rolling your materials. Realize it is more forgiving as a sculpting medium than many realize. Fondant can be reshaped many times while it is fresh.  Do keep unused portions of fondant wrapped tight by plastic wrap and in an airtight container.  This will help retain its flexibility longer. After opening a package of fondant, if stored correctly, it can keep its fresh flexibility for weeks. If not stored correctly, it can harden overnight.

Sometimes older fondant can be used to create smaller items after it has hardened. The best results happen if the fondant was stored in a rolled-up ball.  The store-bought brands of fondant can often be returned to workable condition by microwaving it. Place a moist paper-towel next to the fondant on a dish. Heat up the fondant 10 seconds at a time, check in between rounds of heating. You want the fondant to be smashable again to knead and shape it. Older fondant can develop rough hard edges that should be cut off and thrown away.  Those bits have dried out too much. If worked into the rest of the fondant, they create weak cracking points and bad textures. Older fondant needs to be worked within 10 minutes of softening it, before it hardens again. I’ve been able to re-soften older fondant twice before trashing it as too hard and brittle.

 

marbling fondant

Image text: Steps to marbling fondant – snakes of color, twist together, mash and ball up, roll it out.

 

Marbling Fondant & Edible paper:

One of the easiest things to do with fondant is to cut out flat designs, either by using cookie cutters or by making a printed template.

For the smoothest surface texture, you will want a plastic rolling pin.  Even if your rolling pin is a serialized piece of PVC pipe. For elements that will be supported, the fondant can be rolled thin (i.e. less than 2 mm). Elements that support themselves should be of thicker fondant (i.e. over 4 mm).

Extra color dimension can be added by marbling two colors of fondant together.  take small amounts of each color and knead them together until the blend you want is achieved. For a quick even blend, make two snakes of color, twist them together, and start kneading or rolling. This works well with the metallic and solid color fondants to create shimmering fondant, as shown in the photo above.

Roll and blend until happy with the mix. Next, cut out the shape you want. Cookie cutters are great for this.
When you need something more irregular, find a reference image to print on paper. If you can, use software to resize the image to fit your needs.  Lay the cut-out paper shape on top of the fondant, then trace with a sharp tool to cut around the shape.

After it is cut out, smooth the edges with your fingertips or a tool like tooth-picks, chop sticks, or the special cake tools. This is how the whale seen in the header image was created.

 

Roshar Cake with fondant gems and edible map

Roshar Cake with fondant gems and edible map.

 

Edible Images:

Since most decorating amateurs don’t have a printer dedicated to edible ink, you will need to find a bakery or cake supply shop that can produce them. Blank edible paper is sold, as are markers with edible ink. If you feel up to the artwork, freehand a design using them to place on your cake.  Me, I tend to create images using Photoshop then place an order with my local store.  Note the pages are sold in standard paper sizes, so you can add multiple small images onto one sheet to save sheets and money.

When using printed edible paper design, place it on the fondant first, then add the fondant onto the cake. Cut out the design, remove the plastic backing of the paper, then lightly brush vodka on the fondant where the paper will go. This is a very light brushing of liquid. Too heavy of a hand will cause the edible paper to distort and possibly ruin your design.  If you went too light with the vodka, the edge will lift up, so you can lightly brush the underside of the paper and tap it into place with a dry finger or blunt tool.

For the Roshar gem cake, I used a clear sparkle gel icing as the glue.  This added an extra shine and glitter to the gems.   The map shown is a large edible image placed on top of the buttercream. It adds great details to the cake with minimal effort. Often an icing border can be placed around edible images, but for these applications I did not see the need for one.

 

Flower molds.

Steps to flower press molds – cut out, place, press, lift out, dry, add extra decorations if necessary.

 

Silicone Press Molds:

Flower and leaves press molds are specialized tools, so I’ve only bought a few when I had a design in mind that required them. Most kits come with a cutter and a two-piece mold. To make flowers using a press mold, start by rolling the fondant thin, 2 mm or less.  Use the shape cutter, then press the fondant with the related mold. I find it best to mark two sides of the mold to line up the design best.  Extract from mold using a toothpick or similar tool to lift it out.  If the flowers keep ripping, roll the fondant a touch thicker.  Transfer the flower to a support surface to let dry, empty egg carts or bunched up foil work well for this purpose.  After they are dried, luster dust or dragées may be applied to add extra color.

Luster dust is applied two different ways.
Dry:  Using a dry food-safe paintbrush, dip brush into the dust container.  Brush it over the surface you want it to cover. Best done before the fondant has fully dried. Good for a widespread light application of color.

Wet: In a small container, mix a bit of vodka with small pinches of luster dust. Dip paintbrush into mixture. Paint the areas you want to color.  If you’re not seeing the color intensity you want, add more luster dust to your wet mixture and repaint.  The vodka will evaporate, leaving just the color behind.
The purple and yellow-orange flowers shown above were made using this technique.

 

Sculpted Fondant examples

Examples of fondant sculptures.

 

Sculpted Fondant:

Besides whole fondant covered cakes, when most people think of fondant, they think of the elaborate sculpted decorations made from the edible clay. This is when many people start thinking “I can’t do that.”  First, give yourself a chance to try. Play with playdoh to see if you can get close to your desired shape.  Break the piece down into its simpler geometric components before worrying about the extra details, as seen in the leaf pin above. Also, try watching some YouTube videos of professionals making similar shapes. No, you won’t recreate their work first try, but their way can help guide your work. If you provide the framework, often the brain will read the intended design without elaborate additions.

To help inspire others to build 3D shapes with fondant, below breaks down the making of a few fondant decorations.

Examples:
Pokemon Ball – Roll two balls of red and white, then cut them in half. Stick them to the opposite color with a dab of water or vodka on each side. Cut a thin strip of black to put around the middle.  Add a small white circle to one side. The circle was cut out using the small hole from a #3 icing tip.

Doomslug details

Details of a fondant Doomslug.

Doomslug – Make two short snakes of yellow, one should be smaller in plumpness than the other. Flatten, until both look more oval than cylinders, curve to mimic Doomslugs upright shape.
Roll blue fondant about 2 mm thin, cut an oval shape, as seen in the photo.  Pinch the sides to stretch out the oval more, until it matches the shape of the yellow pieces.  In the photo you can see, I needed to use a second piece of blue fondant, but it just added to the ruffles. If you have a fondant ball tool, use it to give ruffles before attaching it to the worms. Or use your fingers to pinch the sides to thin out the outer most edges and make ruffles.   Attach it to the lower plumper oval portion. Cap with the upper oval worm.  Let it dry a few minutes.

Spines – Roll blue fondant extra thin (1 mm).  Cut into narrow strips 3-4 times longer than the slug body.  Accordion fold on your working board.  Bush vodka in a strip along the body’s back where you plan to place the stripe, one at a time. Place folded strip and adjust until you like the look.  Repeat for the strips you want.  Let dry.

Eyes were cut using a #4 icing tip. Edible marker made the smile.

Swords – For items like swords or lightsabers, wrap the fondant around a tooth pick for long-term stability and extra playability with the items. Unsupported rods of fondant are prone to breaking. Wrap the blade fondant first, then wrap the handle. If there is a cross guard do that third. Last is adding the extra details needed to suggest the exact item you are making.

Building a Tardis

Details in building a Tardis.

The Tardis – I made mine by rolling out dark blue fondant to about a6 mm thick slab. Then cut out three rectangles. Glue together with vodka. Set aside to dry.  Place a square on top to cover the seams; make it slightly smaller than the overall demotions. Form a small cylinder of white, then top with a small ball on top for the light.  Place in the center of the square. I recommend placing the light last, but in the photos you see I placed it early in the process.

Roll out white, blue, and black fondant extra thin, 2 mm. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife and ruler to cut thin strips and rectangles for the windows, coffers, and signs of the police box.  Cut two signs of white as 1-4 black “Police” signs.

Place the windows first. As you rotate the four sides, make sure the working space remains dry.  If there is too much moister, the blue color can transfer to the white fondant.

Place the strips to build the coffers. The long vertical lines go on first, then cut the short horizontal lines to go in between the vertical ones. Place on one side at a time, giving each side 3-5 minutes to set before rotating to the next side.

The window and sign rectangles can be written on with edible ink markers or Sharpies, if you don’t plan to eat the fondant* (see disclaimer below).
The last step is to roll out the platform to a size about 2-4mm larger all around then the base of the Tardis. Glue the box to the base and leave to dry.

Making a serpent.

Details in making a golden serpent.

Serpent – Start making a thick rope of fondant.  Leave one end thicker as you roll it back and forth under your hands. Work to extend the back end into a smaller point. When it’s the length needed, start shaping the head.  Look at photos of the type of snake you want. I started with the mouth placement, then moved to eyes and kept refining until satisfied.  Toothpicks can be very useful for sculpting if you don’t have formal tools.
Once happy with the shape of the snake, add texture by lightly pressing into the fondant with a tool.  For the texture shown, I used small cookie cutters.
To get a golden look, use food color spray to deepen the color.  Place on your cake with the help of a wide spatula.

 

That’s all there is!  Go forth and play with the edible clay fondant.   If you make something or have questions, please email them to: Workshop[at]jordancon.org

*Disclaimer: Homemade marshmallow fondant tastes better than every kind of premade fondant you can find. It also takes significantly longer to harden.  If you are trying to create 3D shaped figures, it is better to use store bought types.  Overall, I think of fondant as a type of technically edible Saran Wrap on cakes.  Thus, I do not make fondant-covered cakes.  I will make buttercream-covered cakes that use fondant decorations as accent pieces.

Seven Stripe – Not A Stole – Scarf

Scarf and supplies

Scarf and supplies

By Amelie Downing

No man may wear the Amyrlin’s stole.  Fine.  This isn’t a stole.  It’s a scarf.  I came up with this pattern as a quarantine “thinking of you” gift for a friend.  I liked it so much I made one for myself.

Here is what you will need to make one:

  • US size 8 needles on an 30” chord
  • About 65 yards of medium weight yarn in each color. I used Loops & Threads Impeccable and have yarn left over on all 7 skeins after making 4 scarves.
    • Brown (18920 Soft Taupe)
    • Grey (01757 Classic Gray)
    • White (1005 White)
    • Red (1532 Claret)
    • Yellow (01616 Gold)
    • Green (1242 Deep Forest)
    • Blue (35011 Lapis)
  • Suggested but optional – stitch markers

Start by casting on 250 stitches in brown.  They will bunch up and probably twist a bit on the chord, but that is OK.   I put as many stitches on the needles as I could fit.  You can place markers to help keep count while casting on, but you don’t need a specific count and will want to remove them once you start kitting.  This is the length of the scarf so don’t be stingy.   But since there is no repeating pattern to the stitches, you can make your scarf with as many or as few stitches as you want.   If you want more length and can find longer needles, I say go for it.

Start by casting on as many as you wish.

Start by casting on as many as you wish.

The pattern is 6 rows repeated once per color.

  1. Knit
  2. Purl
  3. Knit
  4. Knit
  5. Purl
  6. Knit

You’ll end up with two strips curling in opposite directions – one facing the right side, the other the wrong side.  The purl bumps will be on the wrong (back) side at the color change.

Color change line

Color change line.

 

Color change line

Color change line reverse view.

Work from the bottom up in color order

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • White
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
Color two change.

Color two change.

2 color change.

2 color change, reverse view.

3 color ring.

Three colors, the scarf is starting to flatten.

At first there will be gaps between the color strips.  As they come off the needles and the overall shape of the scarf flattens, the curls will constrict together.

5 colors with ends.

Halfway done with loose end.

 

6 colors

Almost done with 6 colors.

After completing the pattern in blue, bind off knitwise.

I averaged about one color a night while watching TV and knocked this out in about a week.  Yes, that probably means I have been watching too much TV while social isolating, but I take productive where I can find it these days.  That leaves weaving in the ends.  As you can see, I had a break in the white yarn and had bonus ends to weave in.  But no blocking is required.  The end result…

Two Views

Make with scarf / stole and JordanCon tiara

 

RPG Module Writing Contest

RPG Module Writing Contest

The module can be in any D20 system and can be in any setting, though it must conform to the theme. This year, the theme of the Module Contest is Piety/Zealotry. Bring the light, regardless of if they wish it or not.

The Module must:
• Conform to the theme of Piety/Zealotry; it can be motivation, source of conflict, or a backdrop for the adventure
• Contain at least one combat encounter
• Contain at least one social encounter
• Contain at least one puzzle or mystery
• Be 7,000 words or less
• Conform to the Layout Template Provided
• Have premade characters for players to choose
• Be playable to a conclusion in 2 hours time
• Have all information and handouts necessary to run the module within (no refer to book x for table stats on y, etc.)
• Setting Agnostic; do not rely on back story to sell the scenario

Submissions must conform to the family-friendly standards of JordanCon and should conform to the intended audience (see the JordanCon Anti-Harassment, Diversity, and Inclusion Policies) :
• The intended audience is someone ages 13 years of age or older.
• Wheel of Time Fans are the primary audience.
• Objectionable material is grounds for disqualification; this could be disrespect for the genre, an IP, a fandom, or real people or people groups. Context is key; satire or parody is allowed but being disrespectful is not.

Modules will be judged by Jon Hermsen, Ryan Szesny, and Sean Hillman on the basis of:
• Clarity – how well your points come across on the first reading; a reader should be able to pick it up, read it once start to finish, and understand how the module is supposed to flow. It should be clear from the reading who this module is intended for, what kind of genre it is meant to be, and what sort of character, item, or setting restrictions are required (i.e., a low magic setting for a module should mention that a whole party of wizards is not intended).
• Creativity – how unique or interesting the scenario is. This could be an interesting idea for the scenario, an interesting antagonist or characters, or just approaching something from a unique perspective (i.e., a war campaign from the warg’s point of view in the Battle of Five Armies).
• Playability – how useful the module document would be in a game; this includes game flow, balance, and how well the mechanics are laid out. I.e., if all the players have a one percent chance of survival for the first encounter for a light action romp game, it is out of balance.
• Ease of use – how well the module stands on its own and supports itself; less words can leave a lot of questions and over explaining a topic causes important information to be buried in text. I.e., the GM shouldn’t have to flip 3 pages for a single encounter if they were using the document as their only source document.
• Aesthetics and Layout of Information – how well the layout minimizes flipping and cross referencing; the stat blocks should be able to be picked out with a quick flip, there should be a logical flow to the module that puts sequences in the order they are likely to appear, and things must be organized so that one doesn’t have to read the whole document to find specific information about a general topic with all information in one location.

Scores will be tallied by each judge awarding a score of 1-5 in these five categories with the highest overall score winning.

Although all applicants will receive feedback based on the reading and play test of their submissions, all modules will be judged based upon the first submission. Contestants each get one attempt to compete.

All participants will receive constructive feedback and a participation badge ribbon, and the winner will receive a certificate.

Submission deadline is March 1, 2021.

Making a Decorative Sword Mount

Making a Decorative Sword Mount

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.

Supplies:

Tools used:
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

First board cut

First board cut

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).

Rough board, pre-sanding

Rough board, pre-sanding

Smooth board, after sanding

Smooth board, after sanding

Line up the molding.

Line up the molding.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

First 45-degree angle cut in the molding

First 45-degree angle cut in the molding

Moulding profile

Moulding Profile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.)

Trapezoid-shaped pieces of moulding

Trapezoid-shaped pieces of moulding

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

Magnetic holder

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.

Magnetic strip covered.

Magnetic strip covered.

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.

Start of routing out the magnetic holder.

Start of routing out the magnetic holder.

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.

Position the moulding with just glue.

Position the moulding with just glue.

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.

Design elements for screw placement.

Design elements for screw placement.

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.

Alignment of corners.

Alignment of corners.

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.

More stain will remain in the recessed areas.

More stain will remain in the recessed areas.

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!

Black paint to hide missed stained areas.

Black paint to hide missed stained areas.

 

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:

  1. They make a keyhole router bit for routers and Dremels. This option is pretty self explanatory; follow the directions that come with the bit.
  2. 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.
    Needed Dremel bits.

    Needed Dremel bits:

    • 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.
  3. 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.

Finished Sword mount

Finished Sword Mount

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