Ladies and gentlemen, behold: what I spent last weekend building. Yes, it is a kite shield, complete with cut-out on the leading edge, and no it’s not a mirror image; I’m just left-handed.
I’m going to find it very hard not to punch the living shit out of people with this thing this coming weekend at Legacy.
The process for building your very own shield is surprisingly easy, provided you have a few simple tools and materials. First, you need to go shopping with a list written on the back of a piece of cardboard at your local home improvement store, where you can find only about half of the materials you need. Out of that half, 50 percent of those items have to be the wrong type or size, which will necessitate you going back the next day in order to exchange them for the correct ones, but before you do that, you need to go to one other home improvement store and a craft store before finally losing patience and just buying the rest of the shit you need at Wal-Mart.
Once you bring all this crap home with you, the next step is to find someone who has access to a two-foot by four-foot slab of corrugated aluminum he’s not using. This is important, as trying to construct your shield out of cardboard cereal boxes or the contents of your cat’s hair brush will inevitably fail, even though you’re doing the right thing in using biodegradable and renewable resources. Not only that, but aluminum is mostly fireproof, and a mohair kite shield will most likely ignite after the first time you get caught with a red dragon’s breath weapon (Reflex save for half damage).
Now that you’ve selected your friend with the scrap metal, make sure this same friend has power tools capable of cutting said scrap metal. A jig saw with a blade designed to cut metal is best, though you could always use harsh language if you wanted. Most likely you will use a combination of the two, especially if you slip on one of the curves you’re cutting and end up with a glaring dip in your arc.
Once you’ve got your slab of razor-sharp edged aluminum cut into a rough amalgamation of a shield shape that looks nothing like what you saw in your head when you were struggling with the jig saw, you can set that down for a moment, because it’s time to administer intense heat to a piece of PVC pipe in order to shape it into a handle for your shield. This involves you getting a carpal tunnel syndrome from moving a heat gun back and forth for 20 minutes straight while your friend rolls it over a piece of brick until it’s soft enough to bend into an oversized handle. It’s very important to let this handle cool before wrapping it with hockey tape for a grip, unless you’re planning a jewelry store heist later that day and need to burn off your fingerprints – if so, then go right ahead, because that bitch burns hotter than a Scotch Bonnet pepper stuffed up your back hatch.
Once your handles are cool enough to prevent you from looking like that one creepy dude from Raiders of the Lost Ark, you drill some holes in your shield give your handle a test-fitting, and discover that you bought the wrong sized hex nut for your bolts, even though they were labelled as five-sixteenths when you bought them. At this point you’re losing light, there are some seriously threatening storm clouds beginning to roll in, and you’ve got to get your shield painted before the heavens split open, so there’s no time to get new hardware; instead you print out a generic-yet-still-someone-else’s-property horse stencil in order to commit trademark infringement (because you can’t draw to save your life), tape it down to the front of your shield, and begin whittling away with an X-Acto knife for hours. Don’t worry, you’ll finish just in time for the thunderstorm to completely destroy any chance of getting your shield painted.
At this point it’s ridiculously late, there are people kayaking down your street in the rain, and you find an overhang somewhere just wide enough for you to completely screw up your spray primer with dozens of tiny little water droplets that you won’t see until the next morning, when you put the color down on your way out to pick up the right size hex nuts. Of course, your paint job won’t be dry by the time you get back because it’s so damn wet out, so you go and get that heat gun that nearly melted your fingers off yesterday and blow-dry your shield so you can actually mount your hardware. If you’re careful enough, you’ll only burn yourself once or twice on the superheated metal surface of your shield.
Take heart, adventurer, because you’re nearly done! The only thing you’ve got left to do now is to take some foam pipe insulation and line the razor sharp metal edge of your shield so you don’t slice your own fingers off picking it up. Tuck the stuff around your shield and tape it into place every two or three inches or so, and then go along the entirety of it with layer after layer of Gorilla Tape. Oh, and make sure you don’t get the shield wet while you take it to and fro in the middle of wrapping it, even though it’s started raining cats and dogs again, as not even Gorilla Tape will stick to rain-soaked foam insulation. Once that’s done, just trim off the excess on both sides of the shield, take a picture of it, and post it on Facebook saying, “easy as pie!”
Then, drink heavily and wonder what the hell you were thinking agreeing to go to a LARP at the age of 34.