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Plastic Barrel Shields
Manny is Reinventing the Concussive Wheel

Hi James:

Thank you for the inspiration on the 55-gallon plastic drum-into-shield project.  Photos are attached.

I haven't yet made the round top and bottom into anything.

I cut the barrel body into halves as suggested, but found that it was too big and the long edges were really floppy.  I cut that half into quarters, but that seemed too narrow for the scutum type wall-shield I was thinking of.  I think 1/3 of the barrel is a good size.  I am 5'8" and 175lb. I believe each third was about 26 inches in width. Some of the attached photos show the difference between 1/4 and 1/3 barrel cut.  The 1/4s might work with skinnier guys.

You mentioned the shield boss in the comments to "smoke weed".  Those are a little pricy online.  I am looking for some sheet steel to hammer into a metal boss.  I was going to use one of those metal salad bowls from the dollar store but thought better of it. I didn't think it was worth compromising the shield.

In the meantime, I found this  thick steel gate handle from Home Depot, and bolted it on. You can see it in the photos. There is a finger-worth of clearance between the shield and my knuckles with this handle.  I centered it at first, but the shield really tipped toward the face and stressed the wrist, like you mentioned.  I moved it up 1 inch at time and found that the best balance is the lower bolt at the center and the top at the other spot. Balances pretty nice.  I cut the sharp corners off of the shield.

I will keep you updated with any new information on this project.  I may cut the 1/4 barrels again and try to make some type of small buckler.  I also have the top and bottoms to try some work. One with a steel boss will hopefully follow. You are welcome to anything from the inventory FOC.

Your suggestions or comments are always appreciated. Thank you for your outstanding writing. You can put any of this on your excellent website.

Best regards,


Manny, excellent work.

[I cannot post the twelve photos you sent me but they were very illustrative—liked the nice patio too.]

I am afraid that the oil drum you are using is thinner than the old black version Robert and Sam cut up ten years ago.

Your work on the handle is sound but the best handle is actually part of the boss structure for this kind of shield. Ideally you would cut a hole matching the inside rim of a Cold Steel Polyethylene buckler, then bolt that sucker between the two panels of your shield, but that is expensive.

I suggest, since this plastic is more flimsy, that you do a two-ply shield, that will look like a scutumn but handle like Zulu shield. Most of my shields I built were composite construction. That one panel will shake too much. The weakest grip for a shield is face-on hand grip. You made this functional with your adjustments, but when you start crashing into antifa faggots, well, they have weight and that will apply to your handgrip. The answer is below.

Bolt your panels together along the rim, one inch in.

Take a length of robe and tape it around the entire rim. Use duct tape covered by electrical tape. This will help deaden the shakes and flopping and will give you an edge you can strike with.

This shield will take anything on its edge, even a real sword.

Before you join the panels you must cut a hole at your gripping point to admit your knuckles under the boss which will be bolted to the outside, covering the hole.

Get a wooden hammer or hatchet handle, or saw an axe handle in two for two shields and bolt it over the hole on the inside. That is your grip imparting weight to the shield and placing more mass at the point of control and also dispersing stress along the length instead of placing it all on your wrist.

Get two to four stove top burner plates.

Get a package of 12 plastic plates from the picnic section in the grocery store.

Mount the burner plate on the plate package with duct tape and cover with electrical tape. [This is total junk but made our most durable bucklers.]

Drill six holes through the rim of this, a half inch in from the boss rim and a half inch out from the hand hole, through boss and shield, three to each side of the handle, and then bolt this on.

I also made a buckler out of four burner plates which I faced with iron bailing wire tied to holes in the rim. I even wove a handle out of bailing wire that gathered from the face. This is super time-consuming. I made the second pair and third pair with plastic plates and they were indestructible and real good for punching.

The round top and bottom. You should stack these into a two-play shield, bolted along the rim an in inch in, with the rim built up. This should be an arm-strap shield with no boss. These guys would flank your shield wall.

To make the arm strap mound a handle as you did on your scutumn between the center and forward rim. The forward rim is what you punch with. Fold up and tape a wash cloth against the face as a knuckle pad.

Take a capless knee pad [for the elbow sheath] and a soft elbow pad [for the wrist sheath] to construct the arm slide, which you strap to the face of the shield by cutting slots in the inner panel that are used to run an old belt through as your arm strap.

This kind of shield feels real nice on the arm and encourages punching and head shielding. You can see Cory using it in the video below. Ideally guys this size would have vertical shields to protect their legs and apply their weight. Note my entire strategy against him is getting him to shift his legs away from cleaves so tat his head will drop into my strike zone. Brad Putt did it in Troy, but going over that shield rim is dicey, you can het a broken hand or elbow easily.

I should indicate that the inside guts of the shield, handle and arm assembly, are all attached to the inner panel, which is then covered by the face panel by being bolted on. This is my favorite kind of shield. When I was a teenager I built one out of an old Impala carborator cap.

Over the course of the following three bouts you will see an expensive shield get destroyed—I had to pry my hand out of it—and a homemade oil drum lid shield unscathed.

I know that this looks really crude, but Cory bent that shield around my hand, broke one of my knuckles and destroyed all $100 of that Windlass Steel Crafts merchandise. His plastic shield survived without a scratch. He had a better shield and decided on destroying mine, as he’d never been able to touch me in shield and sword. The other aspect is, you want to clobber the guy’s shield if your weapon can stand it so that his shoulder tightens and gives you a half-beat to exploit. People who have not fought with shields do not understand this aspect. Also those Cold Steel polyethylene swords hurt so much more than the dull steel machete in the second and third bout.

Note how boring the combat is when two guys are trying not to get stabbed.

Starting at about 2 minutes on the second video you get a good look at the oil barrel top shield.

The third video is a better bout in which both of us handle our weapons better. I have switched from a forestry machete to a bolo machete. He still has the cold steel double-edged machete. You will note that I am having trouble getting to his sword side, away from his shield. That plastic shield has teeth cut in it and broke my radial bone once in 2012 on the right hand when I tried to stab under and he caught me.

Being a Bad Man in a Worse World

Fighting Smart: Boxing, Agonistics & Survival

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MannyMay 5, 2017 8:09 PM GMT+4

I appreciate the additional info James. I'm having fun at this project and will update you when appropriate. Thanks for the compliment on the patio too. Just sitting here finishing Paleface Sunset. Going to start on War Drums soon, which a friend was kind enough get me. Best regards, Manny.