I started designing the Master Sword with Solidworks. I went through a few different designs, but got hung up on the wings. First the CG Ocarina model, then the poster Ocarina model, and I ended up deciding on using the Skyward Sword art model as it was just released. This process took over a couple years.
At my day job, I design parts and fill out orders an in a steel cutting shop. I’ve made many professional contacts there. I traded some design work to get the mold CNC milled from my Solidworks design. The hilt was cast with a two-part liquid plastic in a wooden mold.
My second sword was much better – I changed to 3/16″ steel and the surface was Blanchard ground shiny smooth instead of painted. The Triforce was engraved with an engraving machine, instead of just scratched into the layers of paint with a Dremel. I took some proper pictures too. Making the hilt from two halves was proving to be a challenge. While all my replicas so far were full tang, this one had oak on the handle instead of welded pipe, and I think the braided handle looks pretty good.
This gave me the opportunity to change the model of my hilt to closer match the in-game model. Instead of working from 2D art, I started by pulling the actual in-game model using Skyward Sword and the Dolphin emulator. Here is the evolution of the model, from in-game low poly, cutscene high-poly and my first 3D printed model. The last hilt model is for future runs.
The gems and tongs were now separated, which really helped with painting. After a handful of upgrades to improve my printer’s accuracy, these small parts can be easily produced with a little clean up. The biggest change here is that the blade are now CNC machined themselves, instead of with an angle grinder. This one is proudly on display as part of a client’s Zelda collection.
I also designed and 3D printed some fancy tongs and filigrees for the Twilight Princess variant. I’m really happy with how this one turned out. Did you know that the polygonal in-game model is identical between Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword?