Making Boffers

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In order to ensure players are making safe boffers for use at Dark Prospects, we wanted to provide a tutorial for how we make them ourselves. While we don't have images available at this time, I intend to make some from the next set of boffers I make. For now, here's a textual description of what we do, and what materials we use.

Material Selection

Boffers can be made from a large number of different materials. We'll discuss some of the common ones below.

Cores

DO

  • Carbon tubes are recommended and can be purchased online from a number of sites. It has very little whip and is very light.
  • Fiberglass tubes are my personal favorites, and can be purchased from stores like Tap Plastics in a variety of sizes for relatively low cost. It has very little if any whip and is very light. You'll need to make sure your thickness will work well with the padding you use, but also be comfortable in your hand.

DON'T

  • While PVC piping is a viable material for making boffers, we do not recommend using PVC piping. PVC is heavier and creates a good deal of 'whip' when swung. This means in order to achieve light touch, you need to swing even softer with PVC than with some other materials.
  • Wood is similarly recommended against due to its weight. A wood core tends toward heavy, though less whippy since they are solid.

Length Padding

DO

  • Polyethylene pipe insulation - this is our general recommendation. The biggest problem here is ensuring you find the right dimensions, since many sites list them in odd dimensions. You can find it pre-slit and we highly recommend doing so, since it will be easier to wrap around your cores. Once you know the inner diameter of your insulation it's much easier to find the correct core tubing. We recommend 3/4" wall thickness and at least 1/2" inner diameter (total thickness: 2")
  • Pool Noodles are cheap and easy to get hold of. You'll need to get a hollow core noodle if you use these, and while they may be cheap they tend to be a stiffer material. In general, while they are often viable, we recommend alternatives.

DON'T

  • Fiberglass pipe insulation - absolutely do not use this. It's not padding.
  • Rubberized pipe wrap - don't use this. It's garbage. It tears easily and weighs quite a bit compared to alternative materials. Even pool noodles are better than this stuff.

Tip Padding

  • Open cell foam comes from a variety of places, but is often sold simply as that. It is a softer, lighter, more cloud-like foam than the length foam.

Tape or Glue

There are only two tapes I've seen used, and of them I have a strong preference.

  • Duct Tape - strong, silver, and pretty sticky. It's good stuff.
  • Gaffer's Tape - strong, but won't stick to you. Comes in a variety of colors including simple black. Holds well but can be removed if need be. This is my preference, and I use it on every boffer I've made.
  • Friction Tape - excellent for wrapping grips, provides a "no skid" surface. Tends to be thinner than Gaffer's tape.
  • Double-sided Carpet Tape - with the fiberglass weave, it's impossible to tear, making it ideal for holding things together.
  • Glue - there are glues designed to bond foam to other materials, and I've seen them used to some effect, but I would recommend tape as a general rule. You may want glue as well as tape, as a bonding agent to attach the tip to the body foam.

Skin material

  • Thick stockings in black, silver, or brown.
  • Cut cloth in black, silver or brown, cut and sewn into a closed tube shape.

Tools

You'll need either the following tools or similar ones in order to build your boffers.

  • A hacksaw or other saw to cut through the core material. Depending on your material, a pipe cutter can also work.
  • A boxcutter or other tool designed to cut the length padding. You can also use this to cut the tip padding, though there are other tools that may work better there.
  • Tape or glue.
  • Scissors
  • Not required: Sand paper.

Building your boffer

  1. Start by cutting the core material.
    • Your core should be at least 4 inches shorter than your overall boffer length, and we recommend going a little shorter in the process.
    • Use a tape measure or other device to measure the core material. Use the tip of your boxcutter to score the core at that length.
    • Place the core material in a location where you will be able to cut clean through it, and ensure it's firmly and securely held in place - clamps are good for this, but you can use simple help if need be.
    • Do your best to ensure you cut your core perpendicular to the pipe itself.
    • Cut through the core and if you've got some sand paper to use, smooth the end out with it. If not, we're covering the ends anyway, so it's not that big a deal.
  2. Next cut your foam.
    • Determine your grip length. Grips should not be significantly longer than the width of your palm.
    • Using the box cutter, cut one piece of foam approximately 2 inches long, to act as a pommel.
    • The other should be the length from the top of your grip to 1 inch past the end of your core.
    • Cut a two pieces of body foam to cap your boffer with - it will help prevent coring out.
    • Attempt to cut a 2" long piece of the soft foam for your tip, and work to shape this similarly to your foam body.
  3. Pre-tape the the core.
    • One of the major reasons we recommend tape is that you can use it to slightly adjust your core thickness to make it closer to your foam inner dimension if need be.
    • Peel the end of your tape away from the roll and place it around the core about 1-2" from the striking end.
    • Make at least 3 full wraps of the core to ensure that it will not easily come unwrapped later on.
    • Extend the tape at least 12" beyond this - I recommend 16-18" and use the box cutter to cut the tape from the roll.
    • Make sure the tape is held free from obstructions while you do this a second time, about 2" from the grip end.
  4. Attach the pre-taped core to the foam.
    • Place the body foam around the core so that the tape sticks out the slit side, then snugly (not overly tight, but tight enough that the foam won't move around) wrap the tape around the body foam.
    • If your foam is self-adhesive, remove the adhesive cover from the areas that aren't covered in tape and stick them to each other. Run some tape the full length of the slit in the foam.
    • If your foam is not self-adhesive, run some tape the full length of the slit in the foam.
  5. Attach the tip to the body.
    • Here's where glue comes in handy. Glue the foam cap over the end of the boffer. Use two pieces of tape to provide additional support, crossing them over the tip in an "X" and running at least 3" down the sides.
    • Glue the soft tip foam to the cap. You can do this with tape instead if need be. You can tape over these ends the same way as the cap.
    • Do the same at the pommel end, minus the soft foam.
  6. Wrap the boffer with your wrap material. If you're using cloth, it should be sewn rather than taped.
    • Once the material is wrapped, secure it to the grip using tape. In order to improve your grip on the boffer, we recommend also wrapping the grip itself with tape.

That's it. You have a fully built boffer.

At this point, you may need to paint a white marking on the end of the boffer to mark it as a claw or tentacle, otherwise leave it plain as a fist boffer or weapon boffer, depending on the color and length.