How to make a Scottish Broadsword Trainer


So this week I have decided to write up how we in the AHA make broadsword trainers. They are not the greatest or prettiest but they have allowed hundreds of students to train in the Scottish broadsword and are still all in service except one. The baskets are disposable and cost £2.50 from B&Q if you live in the UK. The blade we designed in conjunction with Paul Bennett as the Corsair Broadsword blade and it allows us to easily turn the blade into an arming sword with another attachment we make from leather. We can provide the blade for a small charge if you don’t want to make one yourself, but this gives you all you need to make your own. You could also retro fit these for the Rawlings synthetic blades but this I have not tried yet as the goal of this project is to make things cheap as possible for a person to start training. The main benefit of these is that they allow you to train Scottish broadsword with something that resembles the weapons handling characteristics much more than the Rawlings synthetics manage at a fraction of the price. Will they last forever? No. Are they cheap, cheerful and suitable for early training? Very much.

Pictures are now fixed although the original pictures were lost sadly so these are redo’s I hope they help 🙂

Also this is Encased in Steel’s 100th post HOORAY 🙂

You will need:

Bakset –

1 x 6” plastic Ball cock/float (these are available in B&Q in the UK and are bright orange in the plumbing aisle, I am still looking for a good US supplier and will update when I find one)

6" Ballcock

Paper for creating hole markers

Glue or blue tack


Sharpie or other permanent marker

Suitable cutting device such as a rotary tool with cut off disk attachment or Leather Shears.

Metal or wooden pin for securing blade to basket (I advise a 2” nail)


Blade –

1 x Ash plank. This should be about ¾” thick and about 6” wide by 40” long. You can find these from online wood suppliers relatively cheaply (be sure to ask for a nice straight grain)

1 x length of paper for measuring out your blade and then cutting out a paper blade.



Suitable saw for cutting out blade.



Step 1 (Measuring)

The blade should be made from ash where possible with as straight a grain as you can get. You will want the blade to be no longer than 36” from pommel tang to tip. The shape is below . We find that having defined edges really helped students much better than a round stick managed to.

Ash Broadsword Blade

Once you have a paper copy of the blade then you will want to cut it out and tape or glue the paper blade to your piece of wood going with the direction of the grain.

Step 2  (Cutting)

Always use caution when using power tools (only you are responsible for your actions). You will want to cut the blade out using a jigsaw or other suitable power tool, if experienced you could manage with a hand saw but it will take much longer.

Once the blade is cut out be sure to give it a good sanding with sandpaper to remove any burs or particularly square edges.

You should now have one acceptable training wooden Corsair blade.


Step 1 (Marking)

The first thing I like to do is mark where all the holes are going to go  which is best done with a sharpie or other product of marker do beware that the marker does have a habit of smudging a little on this plastic and if you try to mark each one separately the dust of the plastic will just clog the marker up.

Where to mark 2

Where to mark 1

Remember these involve three holes and it is important that you mark each one in the right space. I have seen some more organised people draw a line all the way around the ball going to and from the screw cap so that everything is done on a straight line, this helps but I find eyeing it just as easy.

Step 2 (Cutting)

The hand hole should be a circle and it is easiest to do this on paper with a compass and then attach it for marking. You want to position this close to the screw cap and I find cutting this out first makes it easier to visualise the location of the other two holes.

I use my dremel with a cutting  disk in it and treat it much like a compass to do this in a single smooth pass, I have made hundreds of these though and it wasn’t so easy the first time. Just make sure that the cutting disk is spinning fast if you use this method otherwise you risk it getting stuck in melted plastic. Be prepared for dust to go everywhere and for the hollow inside of the ball to amplify the noise quite a bit.

If you don’t have a dremel a hand saw or other serrated blade is probably your best bet, leather shears can manage but it is hard  work (aviation snips just make a ragged mess).

Once you have the hand hole cut out you will want to cut the blade hole. If you have a Corsair wooden blade then you will want to measure its thickness and width again at the point where the ball and blade will meet which is under the bulge and use this as a guide to this hole which will be rectangular. This hole should be placed on the opposite side of the screw cap from the hand hole and should be perpendicular to the edge of the hand hole that is next to the screw cap.

I often do this by pushing the cutting disk in to the ball on the two short edges of the rectangle first and then cutting out the inbetween edges. Remember with this it is better to cut out too little than too much.

All three holes

If you are using a round stick such as hawthorne or ash then you will want to cut a circular hole equal to the diameter of the stick at the point the basket will be sitting. This can be done with a drill or with a dremel and cutting disk as you see fit.

Once your blade can fit snugly into the blade hole it is time to cut out the pommel hole which for the Corsair wooden blades should be a square shape. This should sit above the initial hand hole but relatively close to the upper edge of the hand hole (if it is too far from this edge the edge will dig in when practising). If cutting the square check to ensure it matches the thickness and width of the pommel tang on your blade then cut it out with opposite edges cut first.

If you are using a round stick for your blade then again this may be drilled out or cut out as you see fit.

Once all parts are cut out you can insert your blade. If the blade is moving about or the basket is not secure then you will need to put a pin into the pommel tang to secure the basket in place. On the Corsair blades this is easily done by drilling a small hole and inserting a wooden or metal pin when the sword is assembled which will keep the basket from moving too much. If you are using a round blade then you will need a pin at the top of the basket as well as something like duct-tape wrapped around the blade under the basket to stop the basket slipping down the way.

Securing with tape

Your new broadsword trainer will manage hours of service but you can extend the life of your basket by wrapping it totally in duct tape (both inside and out) this will help it stand up to repetitive strikes, it also makes it look nicer which say s just how ugly the ball cock is on its own.

Be careful and train hard. In total this project should cost you £12 ($15) if you make an ash blade to go with it or £3 ($5) if you use a round stick for the blade.

Till next time go and check out the new version of Corsair’s Wares for HEMA kit: