Larp Boffer notes

| Nov 10, 2022


  • Measuring tape -
  • Sharpie -
  • Utility Knife: A retractable blade, found at any hardware store. Keep replacement blades handy and replace them very often. They dull quickly when cutting foam and can tear the foam if they are dull.
  • Hot Wire Foam cutter: Very very good for making weapons assembly line style. Can be adjusted to a consistant cut in order to do repetitive work. I own the model from woodland scenics at but I am considering buying the Pro set from Hot Wire Foam Factory
  • Straight-edge Ruler: Any ruler with a hard edge that you can run the utility knife along without damage. Many people use a steel t-square.
  • gridded plexiglas quilter’s ruler is also a good choice.
  • Electric Knife - Traditionally used for carving hams or turkeys. It’s a knife with a reciprocating edge. It can cut through foam like butter. Buy one from Goodwill
  • Big Flat Headed Screwdriver: You might not think you need one, until you need to open a can of DAP or change a utility knife blade.
  • Hand Drill. When working with wood for shields to affix bolts
  • Crecent Wrench for tightening the bolts.
  • Hacksaw: Used for sawing through pipes, fiberglass rods and arrows, and graphite golf club shafts. You can buy a tiny hacksaw blade frame that gives you more control over the cutting for about $5 at Home Depot. I have had a lot of luck using a razor saw for these tasks but I have not been thrilled with the longevity of the blades.
  • Heat Gun: This is good for making duct tape stickier and for heating up Butyl Tape so that it’s easier to work with. Cheap at Harbor Freight. You don’t need any better than that.
  • PVC Cutter: If you make many PVC weapons, this is definitely worth getting. This cutter has ratcheting jaws and cuts the pipe straight and clean. About $10 at Home Depot.

Weapon Foam

Story time… When NERO started it was not supposed to be as big as it is now. It expanded to the south where the foam diameter is often thinner becaue hte pipes do not need to be as well insulated. Often in pittsburgh you will see foam that is only 3/8" thick and that is too thin for larp use. The minimum that youshould think of using is 5/8" wall diamter.

The foam is often sold with an option for the foam to have an adhesive coating along the slit or to not. I generally get the adhesive backed for anchor points and the unadhesive for my blades. The adhesive makes the cost of the foam a bit more but it’s worth it for some appications. Right now there are 2 big options for foam. 3/4 Inch Wall foam from McMaster Carr or 5/8 Inch Wall foam from a hardware store. The McMaster Carr foam is really good in that it fits correctly on Kitespar and it is thicker so it lasts longer. It’s not quite as good for CPVC weapons though becing that it’s the thicker wall size it will be a thicker weapon.


  • Pool Noodle - These break down very very fast. they are lighter than other foams because of the huge bubbles in the foam.


  • Unifoam - Mcmaster carr 85735K66: “POLYURETHANE FOAM SHEET, 2” THICK, 24" X 48", CHARCOAL"

Tubular pipe insulation

  • 5/8" Wall thickness foam - used for CPVC boffers
  • 3/4" Wall thickness foam - This is availible from mcmaster carr and is what I use for my Ultralight swords

Order Foam from: ships fast from 3-5 days

This is a thicker 3/4 inch foam that is commonly availible now. The spec for NERO Weapons requires 5/8 inch foam which is being phased out by hardware companies due to changing laws. Part # 4530K161 for .414 and .505 UL core (1 handed weapons). Part # 4530K162 for .610 UL cores (2 handed weapons). which has an inner diameter of 1/2". This will be snug on a .505 and a tad loose for anything smaller Part # 4530k163 has an inner diameter of 5/8", which is going to be a bit too large for .505 kite spar or smaller.

Some traditional hardware stores stock the 5/8 Inch foam but being that it’s a specialty product you are probably going to need to order a case of it for around 100 dollars Indvidual packs of 4 Black Foam EVAlite Foam - Heavier than campfoam but far more durable. Mcmaster Carr Part # 86095K24 for 1/2"

Foam Butt Caps “Tapered EVA Butt Caps” Order Part EB-1 Length 2 1/2 1/2 1 3/4

Foam Sheeting

* Blue Camping Foam (Walmart Ozark Trail brand) - Available at Walmart. Majority of Dagorhir weapons are made from this foam. Believed to be a form of non-cross linked polyethylene foam. Density is about 2.4lb/ft3. - 5.86 a roll

Thrusting Tips

When making boffers for NERO you will often want to use open cell foam that is commonly sold in sheets in at Jo Ann’s. You can also buy it through mcmaster carr because of course you can. Mcmaster Carr Part # 85735K66

Weapon Cores

Don’t try to get too creative with your core designs. Most of the issues that I have seen with new players making their first props is that they want to use something different than what is being used right now and innovate. While this is a noble goal most alternate materials are not particularly good for one reason or another.

As was mentioned early on, keep in mind that PVC is usually measured with the inside diameter, whereas regular fiberglass rods are outside diameter. So 1/2" PVC will easily slide over 1/2" fiberglass.

Bad Weapon Cores

Good Weapon Cores

PVC Pipe~~

There are MANY kinds of PVC pipe and without being a plumber the numbers on the pipe can be confusing. Usually measured by INSIDE Diameter. The big numbers we are going to be the if the pipe is standard PVC or Coldwater PVC also known as CPVC. Both pipe types will also have a rating for what PSI the pipe is rated at. The higher that rating the heavier the core is so generally you will want a lower rating there in the 200-300 range. When cutting PVC pipe there is a tool that you can purchase that is made for cutting pipe that spins around the pipe. This tool will make very very good cuts for PVC but will shatter kitespar.


Origionally used for kitemaking. These tubes are very light and strong. They can snap if enough force is put on them but for any larp fighting they will hold up just fine. Really “kite spar” is a fancy way of saying pultruded fiberglass tubing. Glasforms makes the industry standard and uses a common part number for their parts which is priced radically differently at different vendors. Most are not good for ordering one or two spars at a time from so it’s generally best to order a large batch in a go.

  • FL-414 - Best for One handed swords use with McMaster Carr foam part number NOT for 2 handed weapons(it will snap)
  • FL-505 - Best for heavier one handed swords or one handed shortswords NOT for 2 handed weapons(it will snap)
  • FL-602 - Use this for 2 handed swords. It is not good for one handed swords. It doesn’t have enough flex at that length and although it’s light for a 2 handed sword it’s of comparable weight to a PVC longsword. FL505 $9.59 FL602 $11.44 FL414 $8.29 Product ID 007017 .414 kitespar for one handed swords
FL-602-60 $14.99 Product ID 007037 .602 Kitespar for 2 Handed swords

Shipping is about 10 bucks for 3 cores.

~~Tape –Bad Gorilla Tape - Heavier and more expensive than normal 3m or Duck brand duct tape. Better for holding things together but I would not reccomend it for weapons. Buy it at Home Depot

Gaffers Tape - Available in lighting supply stores, similar to duct tape but does not leave as much of a residue when removed. Recommended for holding covers onto weapons. Very suseptable to cold. lt will freeze and fall off.


Dacron Kite Tape - Cloth style tape that while much more expensive than duct tape has a very good feel to it and still gives you some of the weight benefits of the more advanced tapes. Nylon Kite Tape - The lighter of the two kinds of kitetape. Tends to wrinkle if left in the sun and decreases weapon durability. Nylon Ripstop with Adhesive $7.50 for a 25 foot roll Item: W903 :: Nylon Ripstop tape 25 foot roll Price: 1 to 5 $9.00 6 to 19 $7.65 20 or more $6.75

Size 1-3 Microfiber tights with a toe. - Walmart is the best cost/durability. Three packs are cheapest, but you usually have to get three different colors for that. Remember to not get ones without toes or with multiple toes.

Misc Applications

Strapping tape. - A cellophane tape with string running along it. Sometimes used as an alternative to athletic/hockey tape. Very good for adhering corssguards and reinforcing foam to anchor points.
Hockey tape. Good for having adhesives stick to it. Also it’s good for grips on swords Electrical tape- Very very cheap good for grips when money is an issue



Any kitespar weaon will need to have the grip of the weapon built up. It’s not required as per the rules but if you actually plan on swining the thing it is essensial. I like to either wrap the gip area in rope put some Butyl tape on it and slide a pvc pipe. Electrical tape Sharpie

Anchor points

the foam needs to somehow be adhered to the core that you are using for the boffer.


Wood Glue - Turns hard and crunchy and is not particularly good at holding foam to the pipe. Elmers glue - Same as wood glue


Double sided duct tape - You often end up with the join failing if you put any real force to it but it will hold up to normal use. carpet tape Fiberglass Indoor/Outdoor - Slightly better than double sided duct tape. Butyl Tape - I ended up with a stockpile of this stuff and have found that it’s really really good for anchoring foam to kitespar or pvc. It’s a black tarlike substance. it adds a good deal of wieght and makes a bit of a mess. I woldn’t reccomend it if you need to search it att out but it’s fine if you got it anyways.


Weldwood DAP Contact cement in a Red Can. - Cons: Requires 10 minutes or more to be ready. Has a very strong odor and must be used outdoors or in a very well ventilated area FAR from an open flame. Try to make it so that you are doing a couple weapons if you end up using this because the fumes are so bad. Does not bind to duct tape very well. To use this apply to both materials that you are sticking together and wait 15-30 minutes before sticking them together. 1 coat - 10 minues then second coat.

If in a hurry you can also use Super 74 Spray adhesive from 3M. Use turpentine to clean.

When doing foam to foam use a spray glue. When doing foam to pipe use DAP contact cement.

Size 1-3 Microfiber tights with a toe. - Walmart is the best cost/durability. Three packs are cheapest, but you usually have to get three different colors for that. Remember to not get ones without toes or with multiple toes.

Clear latex wears out and needs to be re-applied

Longsword Pricing for resale Generally Ultralight longswords go for 35 dollars this breaks down to 8.29 + Shipping for ultralight core 5 Dollars for Kitetape (1 dollar a yard) 5 Dollars + Shipping and Handleing for foam 1.00 for Open Cell foam from either Jo Ann Fabrics or an Army Surplus store. 2.00 in duct tape for anchor points and waylay bits. 5.00 for a tennis grip(optional) about 1.5 hours in time. Total materials approximatly 20 bucks and about an hour and a half in time. If you make 2 swords the time and cost per sword goes down .

Making shields for NERO

Most people make shields out of either 1/4 inch plywood or Corrugated Plastic. Plywood and Corrugated plastic come in 4x8 sheets and you should be able to get 6 shields from a sheet. To do this you will generally need to have a cutout of the pattern that you will be using and tracing it on the material that you are cutting out. Also if you are painting your shields (which I reccomend) you want to do a base coat before you cut them out. I like to apply paint to plywood with a roller usually i do 2 coats on each side waiting a half an hour in between coats for it to dry. For corrugated plastic I think that you can get it in different colors I havent' found it myself. When I need to paint it I use Krylon Fusion Spray paint which is pricy but worth it it bonds directly to the plastic. After the shields are cut out I make sure that the corners of them are rounded off and padded out with closed cell foam. I then attach the handle and strap for holding the shield. I try to angle it so that the weilder doesn’t need to move their arm as much to block but that’s preference. Remember that left handed fighters need to have the grips reversed. I use garage door handles for my shields but I have seen people use other handles as well.

Max Area = 351 square inches Longest Dimension = 36 inches Maximum Perimeter = 92 inches

Cut Plywood with a jigsaw or circular saw then sand the edged smooth. Most NERO shields have a handle and are then strapped to the wielder’s arm. use Garage door handles for the handle and bolt them to the plywood. I also use bolts for the belt or pice of fabric that I use for the strap.

Cut Corrugated plastic with either a jigsaw or a pair of heavy duty scissors or snips. Krylong Fusion - If you are spraypainting plastic this is the best way to make sure that the paint stays on. It’s expensive about 10 bucks a can but it actually fuses to the plastic and will last for a long time.

Woodland scenics hot wire foam cutter

I have also seens people use Pink Foam for their shield but I feel that that is a really bad choice.