The Needlefelt Combat System
Needlefelt Combat Rules and Weapon Construction
Re-Creating the Atmosphere of Ancient Battle
BASIC Needlefelt Combat System Rules
Every participant understands the risks inherent and takes them on him or herself. A signed waiver is required before combat can commence. Clash of iron does not assume any responsibility for injuries recieved during or as the result of Needlefelt combat. This is a fully voluntary system.
Participants should understand the rigors of mock combat and be in good health. The IRPA will not be liable for injuries, accidents, or health problems brought on by NFS Combat or personal health issues. These are the basic rules of NFS, site specific rules may apply.
Every participant must use:
2. Thick Focalae (not neccesarily leather)
3. Appropriate Armor for impression
4. Approved NFS Weapon (Foam Cosplay swords are approved for use if
in appropriate style (Roman or Celtic).
5. Common Sense
Every NFS weapon will be tested for design and safety. These
weapons will be checked for excess weight, construction, and will be
thrusted and struck against a solid object multiple times in an
attempt to cause it to fail. Any NFS that shows inner rods or
excessive wear will not be allowed.
The NFS has always been a "counting coup" strike system.
This is based upon honor and the ability to "place" a hit on your
opponent instead of striking them. Heroic over the head shield
crushing strikes or diving into formations with sword swinging
without regard for the safety of your fellow human will get you
If all of us are very careful, accept any "good hits" that are
dealt us and respect each other we can have a good time. If
you are a roman and a celt spears you in the chest for the second
time...(lorica be damned.. this guy has skill...) FALL Down...take
We are having FUN.
Intentional head strikes are discouraged, torso strikes and jabs preferred.
No intentional strikes to the face.
No Intentional strikes to the groin.
No Intentional strikes to the neck.
No participant will intentionally try to harm another.
NF Combat Spear Construction Guidelines
1. Spears must be constructed within these size and weight parameters —
a. Light infantry javelins (throwing spears used primarily for long distance missile combat):
Shaft outside diameter (OD) — 1/2 to 5/8 inch
Total length including head — Between 60 and 40 inches
Weight: Less than 6 ounces (170 grams)
b. Medium infantry spears (shafted weapons which are used for both throwing and thrusting, including Roman pila):
Shaft OD — 3/4 to 7/8th inch
Total length including head — Between 90 and 64 inches.
Weight: Less than 14 oz. (397 grams)
c. Heavy infantry spears (shafted weapons which are used for thrusting/standoff defense but never thrown):
Shaft OD — 1 to 1.125 inch
Total length including head — Between 102 and 90 inches.
Weight: Less than 24 oz. (680 grams)
2. No mock weapons with shafts of wood or PVC pipe should be constructed after the date of the publication of these regulations, nor new designs submitted incorporating these materials. The recommended material for all spear and pilum shafts is cross linked polyethylene (PEX) pipe.
3. All NF spears must be tipped with heads that have a combination of shape, softness, and flexibility sufficient to prevent injury or shock from the impact of the weapon when thrown or thrust. Heads must be covered with materials that do not present edges that can cause paper cuts or other lacerations.
5. Medium and heavy NF spears must be tipped or enclosed on the butt end by rounded caps or blunt cones made of pliable materials.
6. NF spear shafts must be colored or covered to simulate being made of painted or natural wood.
7. All NF spear designs not specifically described in Clash of Iron guidelines must be approved by the Triumvirate, including all new designs and designs used prior to 2012.
8. NF weapons may be inspected and rejected for use if flaws or damage which could pose a safety risk are observed.
Needlefelt Sword Construction
Disclaimer: TheClash of Iron does not assume responsibility for injuries sustained due to mistakes, poor instructions, simple hazards, or accidents during the coinstruction of or use of needlefelt swords. Motor Skills Morons should not attempt needle felt construction. Complete responsibility for construction and use is up to the individual user. If you do not agree to these terms, stop reading.
Construction of the Needlefelt Gladius obviously starts with supplies: We purchase 12" *36” adhesive backed 1/4" thick grade F-3 wool felt from www.mcmaster.com (this will make 6 swords)
Needle Felt Sheets 12” by 36” from
Part Number 87255K73
$25.32 cents each sheet. Each will make six swords
Length x Width
12" x 36"
lbs. Per Square Yard
Secondly we use epoxy bound fiberglass kite spars, .298" OD 32.5" long, type RET40 from www.kitebuilder.com/kitestudio.html :
Epoxy .250" x .298" x 32.5"
Click to enlarge
Epoxy Tube: E40
Weight: 20.7 Grams
This spar fits inside the RET75, RET370
This spar fits over the RET248, RET20, RLG2400
To build the sword, we cut the felt into two inch felt "blade" pieces, 22-24 inches long. We used the actual blade of a Deepeeka AH4211 for shape. We then cut two pieces of the fiberglass tubing to length 6" longer than the felt and bound them together with quality duct tape, 3M Tartan Cloth tape from Home Depot. We then took a simple cigarette lighter, and, after walking outside, melted the plastic binding the fiberglass fibers together away for approx 1/2" of the rods, making a soft tip. This end was then wrapped over the top three times and around twice to help insure the fiberglass wouldn't penetrate the tip with thrusting. The adhesive backing was then removed from one of the felt pieces and the rod pair was laid into the center with the tip stopping about 1 1/2" from the tip. The remainder of the tubes protruded from the rear to form a tang for the grip (Alternatively, you could use the felt to form the handle as well, we chose to go with a more traditional Roman pommel). The second piece of felt was added and the whole thing got a crushing along the edge in a bench vise to ensure proper grip of the adhesive.
A standard wooden guard was made from 2" wooden balls for the pommel, 1/2 of a 2" wooden ball for the guard and either a drilled out 3/4 inch wooden dowel, a piece of hollow dog chew bone, or slid on 3/4inch PVC for the grip. The Pommel ball held it all together and it should be polyester glued (Gorilla Glue for example) together.
Alternatively the needlefelt can be cut to the sword shape including the handle and and pommel, and the rods done the same and the entire structure stuck together. If this is chosen, you can use 2 tone leather to make a nice looking handle and guard assembly.
We then run a stitching awl all the way around the edge of the weapon, about 1/4" in. We used a standard Leather Factory Sewing awl purchased at Michael's Crafts Store, or available from www.tandyleather.com They are also available from McMaster-Carr on page 3249 of their online catalog for $17 or so. Black polyester thread was used for the prototype and looks ok, grey upholstery thread will also work quite well. On some swords we used a red hot poker to make the holes for the thread, as needlefelt is very thick.
A light layer of glue spread along the edge will also help preserve the layering of the needlefelt, but seems unneccessary when it is properly stitched.
These work great for thrusting weapons, for slashing we have managed to break 1 of 24, it simply went limp, and was actually quite funny. No sharp edges potruded or dangerous points. Simpled flopped over when the gladiator came up for the next strike. Do not slash at shield edges. leave that to the Barbarians.