framing a sword

J Phipps TN

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jul 14, 2004
Kingsport TN
I have a very large and heavy sword to put in a shadow box. I am using a good heavy frame that I know will hold the weight. My question is, It's going to be hanging vertically and I'm wondering what is the best way to mount it.

I plan to use a black suede mat, and put a piece of ply board behind that for strength. Then maybe put two dowel rods under the handle(painted black) and let it rest on that. Then silicone the sword in place and maybe top it of with very thin wire somewhere in there.

Any suggestions or is there anything I haven't thought of?


I would not recommend using silicone to hold the sword in place! There are many other ways to make brackets that will hold the weight and not allow it to fall forward.

One technique is to incorporate a piece of coroplast behind the matboard. I would go to Home Depot or Lowes or Home Depot and buy a piece of 3/16" brass rod. You can cut and bend the rod to whatever shape you choose to hold the sword around the hilt area. I would put a "U" shaped saddle in 2 rods that would be mounted on either side of the hilt and just deep enough to seat the sword evenly in the saddles. On the other end of the hanger I would bend about 2" of brass into a right angle and mark the 2 places on the matboard where the sword will hang.

Now the coroplast comes into play. Cut it to size with the flutes of the coroplast running vertically. You may want to adhere the coroplast onto the matboard for added strength. Punch 2 holes through the mat and the coroplast where you marked them. Now take an Exacto knife and cut out each flute in the coroplast to form a trough from the hole downward for a distance to equal the length of the right angle bend you put in the brass rod. Push each brass mount through the corresponding hole and allow that "leg" that you bent to lay down in the flute of the coroplast that you cut open. Now fill that flute with hot melt glue or epoxy glue and also glue down the coroplast flap that you had when you cut the flute open.

After both hangers are glued in place you have the option of gluing this package to the ply board backing for even more added strength and I am quite positive that this will hold your sword.

I am building the same kind of mounts right now to mount an autographed Fender solid body guitar in a 2'x4' shadowbox that will have a heavy Roma moulding hinged to the front of the box so the owner can open it to remove the guitar.

If you want to pad those brass mounts to minimize any chance of scratching the object, you can use heat shrink tubing available at Radio Shack or ask about a plastic product at Lowes called "Plasti-Coat" or "Plasti-Dip", it comes in a tall can (like a tennis ball can) and is available in black, red, and maybe blue. You can dip the brass hangers in this stuff and, when it dries, you have a nice plastic coating on the hanger that should protect anything that is hung on it. This stuff is used for replacing the plastic grips on hand tools when they wear out or come off and is really neat stuff.

I was going to point out that this forum is really intended for people to post pictures of their really cool designs and that a question like this one would be better posted to the main Grumble forum 'cause nobody would see it here and our Kiwi Moderator would probably move it for you except he's sleeping when the rest of the world is Grumbling 'cause he lives on the bottom of the planet.

But that was before FramerGuy gave you the half-day tutorial.

Never mind.
Thanks framer guy,

Thats just what I was looking for and I appreciate you taking the time to answer. I'm going to print your instructions out and head to lowes!

I know that took time and I thank you again :D

There is a clear plastic product called "Mighty-Mounts" available from United or LJ. They have a gun mount that works great for swords. All the mounts come with a stem on the back. You simply poke a whole through the backing board and mat, stick the stem through and push on what looks like a washer with teeth. Then cut off the excess stem.

The gun mount has two pieces that are tightened around the object with a small screw.

Very neat, strong, easy to use and reversable.
Here's how I framed a sword. First, check to see if a magnet will stick to the sword. If it does, then I used 2 cobalt magnets behind the blade to mount the sword. These magnets are so strong that I put one of them on the handle of my filing cabinet and opened it by pulling on the magnet. The magnet is 1" square by 1/4" thick. They come in different sizes if that is too big. I epoxied the magnet to a small block of wood and attached that to the plywood backer board with wood screws from behind. The backer board was wrapped with a dark green velvet and the front was hinged to allow access to the sword. The sword was floating in the frame with no visible means of support. It looked great.
I'm telling ya, Jennifer, nobody is going to see this here, so don't expect any responses.
I was thinking of the Earth Magnets from Lee Valley when I saw framah's post. They have many sizes and they are very strong. They also have "Plates" with screw holes. I haven't mounted a sword myself, but my first try would be to mount plates screwed through mounted fabric to a strainer in the back with earth magnets between the plates and the sword.

Essentially what framah said except using the plates and mounting screws.
The rare earth magnets are a fine idea for mounting that sword if you can figure out a mounting method that will place the magnets flat against the sword blade. Most sword blades are offset from the thickness of the hilt and handle and won't lay flat against the backing board.

You could possibly build some pedestals into your backing board design to compensate for this offset and mount the rare earth magnets onto these pedestals.

You could also offset an area at the top of the mounting board to accept the handle and hilt, thus allowing the blade to lay flat against the backing board. Both of these techniques would require additional engineering and might add to the overall cost of the shadowbox though.

The rare earth magnets are very powerful little guys. A 1/4" by .10" rare earth magnet by itself will lift a 2 1/2 lb. block of solid steel. By mounting it in a special steel cup that Lee Valley also sells, it increases the effective power of the magnet by a factor of 4! That means that a magnet about the size of just the very tip of a pencil eraser can effectively lift a block of steel that weighs 10 lbs.!! The 1" magnets are so powerful that, when you get them, (only in packages of 5), there are special instructions for separating them!! I couldn't pry them apart using my fingernails and I am not a weak guy! BTW, they can either be mounted using the cups offered by Lee Valley or epoxied in place by themselves. I usually use a small Forstner bit to drill a shallow depression in the frame when using epoxy.

I have not tried to epoxy them into foamcore but I'll bet that they would tear out a chunk of foamcore before the glue joint broke. For a heavy object like your sword I would use something more substantial to mount the sword.


Do you suppose we should wake up the kwiet Kiwi and have him move this thread??

I am afraid that Jennifer isn't going to get her problem solved here!!

He could move it to the geek forum and we could suggest that Jennifer NOT put those special magnets on top of her computer or monitor.

The only way to wake Lance up is to stand on your head and play Reveille. Can you do that?
Honestly, Denny, I'd be concerned about the log-term consequences of using mighty Mounts with something as heavy as a sword.

There is some evidence that the plastic can weaken with time (possibly from UV exposure) and fail. I've had some plate frames returned with busted Mighty Mounts and I think others have mentioned similar experiences.

The failure rate doesn't appear to be high, but the consequences with something very heavy or very fragile could be serious.

That's why I would use ATG.

Just kidding with that last line.
(Normal voice)Thanks Ron, I wasn't aware that could happen. Now I'm going to lay awake at night wondering if the shadow box I did with three fishing poles is going to come back to haunt me.
I knew I should have used ATG, darn.

I really do love this place.......
Magnetic sword hangers are available online; basically just a magnet with a mounting bracket for the wall. In this case one would want the magnet to be mounted to the backing, though not with something so heavy. What I would do, and have done before, is use a piece of wood that attaches to the top and bottom of the frame, down the middle, and is wide enough to accomodate the sword hanger. I suppose this could be called a strainer, but I'm not sure. If one should be curious how I made use of such a process, feel free to contact me and I could provide instructions.
I would not suggest Mighty-Mounts, they will not fit many frame jobs for shadow boxs. The last time that I mounted a sword it was necessary to carve wooden mounts and cover them with the same suede used on the backboard. Try hard not to use a black color; it is a ______to keep clean and to remove all of the little pickies that seem to cling to it. Fabric (mooreman) is available by the yard from most suppliers.

Magnets will not be very effective on stainless steel; actually they will not work at all. Your best sollution would be a clamp made of wood a attached with screws to the backing. I like to use 1/4" plywood, sealed.

I have several packagages of mighty-mouses that I would be willing to donate to a worthy cause. The gun mounts are very weak and do not fit any gun that I have mounted.

Jack Cee
There is a company in Spain called Marto. They make many of the collector type swords you see in knife shops. They also make a small bracket that grips the sword by the blade just under the hilt. The can be bought at any shop that sells their swords. The brackets cost around 5 bucks retail. I have about 10 of these in my house. They work great. The easy way to use these is to hinge the front of your shadowbox or make the front removable using the rare earth magnets. Hang the box on the wall, hang the sword on the bracket, close door/add front. They work great.
Hmmmm...Framerguy's suggestion sounds familiar. I guess I'd do it his way.

Except I'd suggest using .055" diameter spring steel "music wire" (aka piano wire). It's smaller diameter would be less conspicuous, and it would be stronger & less likely to fatigue with bending, than brass.

Shrink tubing is, IMHO, better than Plasti-Dip, because the dippy stuff is thicker & softer, and might compress or split over time.

Rare earth magnets are very useful for some jobs, especially those where there's access to the item being held. In this case, the weight of the sword might be a problem in handling, as the magnetic hold could slip fairly easily, even if it won't let go completely.

Coroplast is a good mount board for bent-rod mounts, as Framerguy perfectly explained. For a bigheavy thing, you might want to use two thicknesses of the board laminated together, with the flutes crossed for best stiffness. For one thickness, I'd go with 10 mm Coroplast; for two thicknesses, 4 mm would do nicely.

Mighty Mounts are OK for lightweight things but, as Ron said, the plastic fatigues over time. I don't know how much affect light has on the acrylic, but I, too, have seen them craze, crack, and fail on items as light as ceramic plates.
Double Hmmmmm, ........... guess I should either update my supplies or take that class of yours again, eh Jim??

Just curious, where do you buy piano wire?

(And please don't tell me to buy a piano and cut out the size I need.)

What key should I buy it in??

Originally posted by Framerguy:
...Just curious, where do you buy piano wire? (And please don't tell me to buy a piano and cut out the size I need.) What key should I buy it in??
Most shops that sell model airplanes, boats, trains, etc., and modeling supplies, will have the piano wire/music wire in several sizes, as well as a selection of brass rods and bars. I buy them in 3 ft. lengths.

No, don't take the wire out of the piano. Frame that thing whole!
Which key? I like the tone of "G-Whiz".
I guess that not many of you own swords. You can go to the nearest mall, and find one of those stores that sell blades. THEY SELL DECORATIVE BLADE HANGERS!!!!! They are not only beutiful, but they are built to hold the weight of the swords. Some actually are made to match the decoration on some of the collector blades.

The store in our area (and I've seen them elsewhere) is Chesapeake Knife and Tool. They also recomend piano wire.
Jennifer, Sorry I was so late finding this thread. 99% percent chance the sword you have is a 3'+/-, Broadsword. Ruled the known (Europe) world for about 400 years. And is the sword of choice for SCAers. Weights roughly 3 pounds. Just seems heavier along about the second minute of fighting.

With all that being said, follow Jerrys advice and you won't go wrong. ie: go to the mall. Mastro had made those sword holders for over 100 years. And in the world of those of us who have made, wheilded, collected, and fought with swords; Toledo, Spain is the Mecca of all things swords/knifes/dirks/daggers . . . you get the picture.
WOW, Thanks so much for all your help. I am working on it now and it looks like I'll be going to the model shop to get piano wire!

I want to look into that magnet thing though, theres just not enough time to hunt for it before the customer comes to pick this thing up but I will be ready next time!