How to make shoulder armor out of foam? There is a mechanical arm pattern and though it looked pretty epic by itself, it would be even better if it was a part of a larger mechanical body armor piece. Those were the roots behind this steampunk shoulder armor, though it holds it’s own very well all by itself, and, more than that, works well as a base for many different fantasy armor cosplays. Made from inexpensive EVA foam floor mats and hot glue, it is not beyond the skills and budget of the average crafter to make a costume piece worthy of a blockbuster movie.
Tools and Material to make a Shoulder Armor out of Foam
5-8mm Eva foam (paid link): This can be foam from a camping/exercise mat or the denser EVA foam found in anti-fatigue floor mat.
2mm Eva foam(paid link): The larger the sheets, the better. This allows you to cut the long strips without needing to splice shorter ones together.
A very sharp knife (paid link): If it is not really sharp you will have a terrible time when you are cutting the foam. I use a surgical scalpel.
Gluing Surface: A surface that the hot glue won’t stick to – The ultimate surface is a silicone baking mat – nothing sticks to silicone!
Hot glue gun (paid link): I highly suggest a glue gun that has adjustable temperature. If you use a temperature just a little bit higher than the melting point of the glue, you will have fewer burnt fingers, and not have to hold pieces together as long as they cool.
Paint: I like to use artists acrylic paint. It tends to remain a little bit flexible when it dries. I used Liquitex Basics: Mars Black and bronze as well as DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics: vintage brass, silver, and Pewter (paid Links)
Vinyl Tubing (1/4” outside diameter): 50 cm is plenty.
2 old pens or a bit more (or 25 cm of 1/4″ vinyl tubing)
Wire: I used 3m of old telephone wire.
Webbing: 25cm long x 25mm wide.
D-Ring: The width of your webbing.
Old Power Cord: 25cm.
Belt: Something you can cut up.
Corrugated hose: I used an old dishwasher drain hose – 20 mm diameter.
Blowdryer: Used for heating the foam so it can be shaped.
Rubber Gloves: Used for applying the metallic paste.
Gift Card: For making grooves in the foam.
Coarse sandpaper: To roughen up the foam and belt to prep for gluing.
Hole punches (paid link): 4mm, 6mm, 9mm, 12mm
Pliers: To bend the wire.
Super Glue: For gluing the wire to the foam.
5 minute two packs epoxy (paid link): For making decorative rivets.
Cutting Surface: Somewhere to cut where you won’t be destroying anything.
How to Make Shoulder Armor out of Foam
Some EVA foam contains a chemical called formamide. There are some people that say there isn’t enough formamide in EVA mats to be harmful, and others that say there is. Do your research and come to your own conclusions. At the least, I would say it is a good idea to open your foam mat up and let it sit in the sun for a day or two, as most of the chemical will off-gas from the foam. Or buy foam that is labelled formamide free.
Sharp knives and hot glue can cause cuts and burns. Be sure to use in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Read also: How to Make Coloured Wool in Minecraft
Print the Pattern
Print the pattern pages of the PDF. Make sure the scale is set to actual size. Once printed, measure against the print guides to know that the scale is correct. Some of the pattern pieces are larger than one sheet of paper. For these, line up the “+” marks and tape the sheets together. I find it is easier to line up the marks if I hold the papers up against a window so that the light coming through the window allows me to see through to the lower registration marks.
There are three sizes included in this pattern.
Print pages 17-26 for size S, pages 27-38 for size M, and pages 39-53 for size L.
Cut and Trace the Pattern
Cut the pattern out of the paper, cutting as close to the line as you can without removing the line. Place the pieces on the foam and trace around them with the ballpoint pen, holding them firmly so that they don’t move while being traced.
These are general tracing instructions, but I woud advise only tracing and cutting the pieces mentioned in the next step so that you can be sure you have the right size before cutting any other pieces out.
Piece 3 will need to be flipped over and traced again as indicated on the pattern. This is especially important if you are using foam with only one smooth side. Label the flipped piece “3a”
Make sure to mark all the alignment marks, and once you remove the pattern, extend these lines to the inside of your foam pieces so that they remain on the foam once it is cut out.
** Quick tip** If you trace right on top of the alignment marks while there is a sheet of foam under the pattern, it leaves an indentation in the paper. This is handy when you flip the paper, because then you know where your alignment points should go. You could also just hold the paper up to some light so you can see through it, and then transfer the marks to the back side.
The dotted lines on the pattern show where you will be making indentations later with the gift card, so use your pen and a ruler to mark the lines onto the pattern. To mark where the dotted lines intersect in the middle of the pattern, push your pen tip through the paper to leave a mark on the foam.
Punch through the paper in the centre of any holes that need to be punched.
There are also light grey lines on the pattern. These are just guidelines that show where different pieces will eventually go.
More Foam Bits
Glue piece 29 over the end of the wire that runs down onto piece 4.
Glue piece 30 over that same wire a little further down, and another piece 30 over the long wire around the power station.
Cut two 12mm discs, stack them up and glue them together. That stack gets glued in the centre of the Power Station Device nut.
Cut two parallel vertical slots partway down through that foam disc, and then join the cuts horizontally at the bottom until you can remove the little strip of foam in the centre. That should make your foam disc look like a screw head.
Strap It Down
Find an old belt and try it on with the shoulder. You need to figure out where you want the buckle to end up, so think about what type of clothing you will be wearing it with. If you want the buckle out of the way, you might want to consider placing the buckle at the back, however you will likely need help whenever you want to put the shoulder on or off.
I chose to have the buckle at the front with the buckle attached to the longer back strap. That way, when the belt is done up, the extra strap hangs down rather than going up and covering some of the shoulder piece.
I found that the front piece worked well being attached at the same angle as the line of the neck. For the back I found that the angle of the strap needed to be a lot more horizontal. Again, you will need to find what fits your body type the best.
Sand the foam where you will be gluing the strap as well as the portion of the strap that will be glued in order to get the best bond possible. Once you are really happy with the placement, you can build up some hot glue around the edges and slightly overtop the back of the strap, just for some more holding power.
Glue a piece of elastic to the inside of the flappy bit in order to keep it attached to your arm while wearing it
Put the Pieces Together
Attach the flappy bit to the pauldron by using the two hinge rivets you created already. Insert the tubing from the outside towards the inside.
Cut the excess off the tubing, leaving the tube protruding about 3mm from the foam.
Use your glue gun to heat the end of the tube and flare it with the back of a pen or other slightly rounded object.
Thread your webbing through the D-ring on the pauldron, and then feed both ends through the slot in the top of the shoulder. Cut the webbing so that it doesn’t extend past the edge of the foam. Now glue the webbing to itself and then down to the foam.