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List Poles

List poles provide a support for ropes used to enclose an area for medieval combat or other activities.


I expected I’d find existing plans I could copy for this purpose, but ended up designing my own because I couldn’t find any that fit our needs.

  • Self-supporting. In some places you can simply pound stakes into the ground, but here in New York City, a design with legs will allows us to hold events on asphalt, or in public parks where we’re not allowed to make holes in the lawn.
  • Compact and portable. When we’re not at events, these are going to sit in a crate in our small apartment, and then be ferried around in a van packed full of passengers, so they need to collapse down to a reasonable size.
  • Simple. I built six of these one a weekend in my home office with a couple of hand-held power tools.
  • Affordable. I spent around $40 on materials for the six poles ($30 lumber, $10 paint), plus $30 for 100′ of rope.

Continue reading List Poles

Youth Weapons Stand

This stand is designed to hold SCA youth combat  “boffer” swords and similar foam-padded weapons.


I looked at a number of racks for steel and rattan weapons and then came up with a custom design that combined several elements with the following criteria.

  • Support an assortment of SCA-approved youth swords and pole arms, which are typically between 2″ and 3” in diameter, and anywhere from 15″ to 72″ in length.
  • Pack down compactly to an easy-to-carry unit that can be loaded into the van along with other youth combat gear, carried to the site, and then set up quickly.
  • Simple to build using stock dimensional lumber and basic hand-held power tools.

Continue reading Youth Weapons Stand

A Bender Tent

Editor’s Note: This writeup was originally posted to LiveJournal in 2014, and then migrated here when I set up this site. I’ve since added a few more notes and pictures.

Building A Bender for Pennsic: A DIY Tent Using a Timeless Design

This summer we built a simple but spacious tent for use at Pennsic, an SCA medieval camping event held annually in late July near Pittsburgh.

Below I outline the historical and contemporary sources we used for the tent design, detail the materials we used, and describe the construction process we followed, with photographs of the finished result.


Our tent design choice followed from several criteria:

  • We wanted something we could build ourselves with only a few days of preparation, put up for two weeks at Pennsic, then store for 50 weeks of each year before being set up again.
  • We wanted something distinctive, not one of the pavilions and wall tents that are pervasive at Pennsic.
  • We wanted it to suggest a family of villagers camping at the annual fair, not a noble household or a military encampment.
  • It should be reasonably period in appearance, meaning that we would use modern tools and materials, but hoped to not stray too far from the forms that might plausibly have been found in a Welsh village a thousand years ago.
  • We needed a large space for use by two people for two weeks, to serve both as our bedroom/dressing room and also as a sitting room on rainy days, with lots of headroom so that we could both walk around inside comfortably without ducking down.

We settled on a “bender” design, using poles bent into an arch and half-dome, with canvas draped over them.

Although not common at SCA events, this type of tent has both an ancient history and a modern DIY tradition, outlined below. Continue reading A Bender Tent