Posts for the month of October 2021

Pool noodle PVC swords

Swords are cool. Sword fights, doubly so. But sword fights are dangerous, so we don't let kids do that for fun. Unless we make the swords out of pool noodles. One approach is to wrap one end of the pool noodle in duct tape to create a "light saber" style sword; but that design is hard to swing well and devolves towards treating it like a cross between a sword and a whip.

The main complaint with the pool-noodle-as-sword approach is that swinging a limp noodle does not work well. So let's reinforce the noodle with a section of PVC pipe. But if we do that, we can add a sword hilt while we're at it. We also want to make sure that the PVC pipe end won't injure a playmate from an enthusiastic thrust.


Parts to make 5 swords:

Item Price Qty Total
10' 1/2" PVC pipe (pressure pipe, thinner wall than schedule 40) 2.98 x 2 5.96
1/2" PVC cross fitting 1.51 x 5 7.55
1/2" PVC end cap 0.51 x 20 10.20
pool noodle 0.97 x 5 4.85
duct tape, 45yards 5.28 x 1 5.28
4oz PVC primer+cement pack 7.70 x 1 7.70
Grand total $41.54

That works out to $8.31 per sword. (Prices circa 2021-Q3.) This should not consume the entire roll of tape, nor all the of the PVC adhesives, so if you have those on hand or have additional uses for them you can reduce your costs accordingly.

If I were to do this over again, I would also buy a single 1/2" PVC coupling to turn into a cutting tool instead of using a short bit of PVC pipe.


Cut one of the 10' PVC pipes into four 30" sections. Cut a 30" section off the other pipe. That gives you 5 blades.

Then cut ten 3-3/4" sections to use as hilts.

Then cut five 9-1/2" sections to use as handles.


Cement an end cap to one end of each PVC section.

Cement two cross-guard assemblies opposite each other in each PVC cross fitting.

Cement one handle assembly in each PVC cross fitting.

Cement one blade assembly in each PVC cross fitting.


Measure the shoulder of the cross fitting. Cut a circle near one end of the pool noodle, so that the edge of the hole is that distance from the end of the noodle. There are a few options here. You can just hack a hole into it with a sharp knife, or you can get a 1/2" PVC straight coupler fitting, and sharpen one end of it, and use that to cut the circle. Or you can use the small leftover chunk of 1/2" pipe to cut the circle, though that yields a hole that is slightly under-sized.


Slit the pool noodle from the end to the hole so that it can be pushed over the cross-guard.


Slide the noodle down over the PVC blade.

Measure 40-1/2" from the base of the noodle, and cut the noodle to that length.


Tape the noodle around the base of the cross guard with a piece of duct tape, cut to about 1/3rd the typical width of duct tape.


Optionally, you can take the excess foam cut from the blade, cut it in half, and use it for a foam-ensconced hilt.



Optionally cover the entire noodle with duct tape to improve its durability. Without this, energetic sword fights can tear small bits of foam out of the blades.


This could be taken up a level with some tennis racket handle wrap on the handle to make it more grippy and less obviously made from PVC. In my hands, the 1/2" PVC pipe is a bit too small; were I to build one for myself, I would consider a larger diameter for the handle, which would imply a reducing coupling, and the junction with the cross piece might be awkward or look odd. The coupling, and a second size of pipe would also increase the cost.

As for concerns over durability, five kids playing with these for a couple months has yielded no broken swords or requests for repairs. I'd rank that as pretty good durability.

Ready. Set. Fight!