Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tutorial: Kairi's Keyblade

Hey Everyone!

For Fanime 2009 Alaurei and I first went as Roxas and Kairi from Kingdom Hearts II, and I had finished a preliminary and unstable version of Kairi's keyblade. I decided to remake her keyblade for Fanime/AX 2010, and along the way made this tutorial in case anyone was wondering what materials I used. Thanks for reading, and be sure to post any comments/questions at the bottom.

I also have a video that accompanies the tutorial, if you want to see how each of the steps looks. Feel free to comment on the youtube channel as well.

[edit 8/14/2010: Tutorial is complete!]

  1. 36" long wooden dowel, approx. 3/4" thickness
  2. 3/4" thick pine or plywood board, big enough for handles
  3. Sandpaper (60 grit & 220 grit, 320 grit optional)
  4. Air-dry clay
  5. 5 wooden wheels with 3/4" holes drilled
  6. Paint (Red, Yellow, White, Black, Blue, Gold)
  7. Wood Sealer
  8. Floral tape
  9. Plastic hosing, about 1/4" to 1/2" thickness
  10. Small piece of Balsa Wood

Step 1: Sketching

I had my old keyblade from last year as a reference, but it's important to have a reference picture handy while you're making anything like this. I used a picture I found on deviantart from RedShotRonin that was very handy in making a drawing. My last year's handle was hastily made from a styrafoam heart in a craft store, and this year I wanted to make it from solid wood. I used pine to cut out the handles, and I'm happy with how it turned out. You could definitely use any kind of lightweight wood for the handles though, purchasing scrap wood if you want to keep the cost down.

Sketch the outline of the easiest handle first, I used huge graph paper. Once you have the basic handle done, cut it out and outline it again on the graph paper, creating the other handle with the waves. Drawing the waves by hand is hard if you're not artistic (like me), but just do your best to adhere to the reference picture.

Step 2: Cutting Out Handles

Take your cutout of each handle and outline them on your board, being careful to get the details right (more important for the complicated wave handle). Cut it out with a jigsaw power tool, practicing to make tight corners if necessary. I had my dad help show me how to use it first, and then I went ahead and made a lot of the cuts too. One tip I found is to not let the tool go ahead and cut (it tries to pull you ahead), and to guide it yourself, stopping if you need to turn back and make a cut inwards. It doesn't do tight corners super well, but you can slowly cut out more and more of it until you cut the basic shape out (Sandpaper and iron files will fix any jagged edges). Eventually you'll get this:

Step 3: Filing/Sanding

This is probably the most tedious step, but well worth it for the results. I used iron wood files that sanded down the sharp corners very well. After I filed it with the iron files I used first 60 grit sandpaper (pretty rough) and then 220 grit (finer) to end up with a very smooth result. This step will take a long time, but is necessary to get the best looking result. This is a picture of one handle smooth and the other still sharp, arranged like it will be in the final result:


my dad slotted the end of the pole

toy car wheels that a larger hole was drilled out of

*Note: the wooden dowel was slotted at the end by my Dad using a tool he had at work. I had it slotted to insert a piece of wood with wood glue to have the flowers rest on, something that I didn't do last year (that was a problem) The Wheels were toy car wheels found at D&J Hobby, with a hole cut out to the width of the dowel. You can try to emulate the best you can using tools that you have, and/or find other shapes to use for the decorative circles on the keyblade.

Step 1: Sealing/Sanding

My pole in the pictures was already painted from its use last year, but an important step before painting wood is to seal it, something that I didn't do last year. It's a small change, but without it your pole will show the wood grain more. I sanded the pole, sealed it, and sanded it again to remove any kind of sticky chunks that might have been left, and it was using 220 or 320 grit sandpaper (very fine). I also went ahead and sealed and sanded the wheels too, just to be safe before painting it.

Step 2: Painting the Wooden Dowel/Handles

I have no artistic talent in painting, so if I can paint a gradient so can you. :3 You want to start with your lightest color (yellow) and keep addling a little bit of the red until you work your way to the deepest color you want. It helped me to use a clean brush that was slightly damp to brush downwards to blend all the colors towards the end too. Eventually you'll end up with this:

Note*: you may want to appy several coats of yellow for the upper half, or apply a primer before beginning the gradient, yellow takes the longest to show over the wood.


I used something called Crayola Model Magic, it's reasonably inexpensive and you can make all of the flowers using 2-3 packages of it at around 4 dollars each.

2 worked fine for me, I've made the flowers two separate times buying 3 packages and I never use the third one. I don't have any recommendations for making these besides experimenting with how you want your flowers to look. I do, however, have a suggestion of using some sort of plastic rolling pin (I used a paint bottle) to roll over your petals to make them look flat. It made all the difference the ones I did this for. These are some of the flowers/leaves I made, before painting them.

Good luck, and be patient! For perfectionists out there this step is frustrating because Model Magic doesn't allow you to use water to smooth out imperfections. Also, WARNING: this clay air dries quickly, while working on an open package, reseal it in a plastic bag while working on it for long periods of time.


You'll want to do the same method on the wave handle as your did for the pole, painting a gradient from light blue to dark blue on one and gold on the other. Both have gold tips, too.

For the waves themselves, I did a light outline around the edge of a lighter blue, and just followed my own intuition of where the waves should go. Final Paint Job example:

NOTE: once you finish both the handle and pole, varnish both in a glossy coat to protect the paint (acrylic paint peels away so very easily, this will save you heartache) and to make it look nice

Painting the flowers was done using a reference pic (I used last years flowers, but you will need a reference picture or a conceptual idea of what you want) And was pretty straightforward. Many many coats of green was needed on the leaves (T______T many!) and depending on the kind and color of paint you buy the lighter colors might need many coats too. Most everything is one solid color except for the larger flowers with their orange/yellow gradient.

Here are some pictures of my process:


Another aspect of Kairi's keyblade is the vine that wraps around the whole thing. Last year I used ugly twine, and wasn't happy with how it turned out. This year I decided to try something different. I used PVC tubing and covered it in floral tape before painting it gold:

I didn't take pictures of me painting it gold, but it involved me hanging it from a lamp and painting it that way, haha. I used a paperclip that I punctured the end with to hang it and it worked very well.

The wheels also had to be painted, and glued onto the body. Here's the process of that:

I used Elmer's Wood glue and it dried clear overnight, and seems to be holding up just fine :) To attach the handles I drilled holes into the wheels after they were dried and attached, and then put wooden dowels with wood glue to attach them and be solid.

To attach the flowers I first laid them all out on the floor and chose how I wanted them to look. An important part of this step is to make sure that the flowers are symmetrical on both sides, you want an even amount of everything.

final result

To begin attaching them to the keyblade I took a piece of balsa wood, cut it to the shape of my slot and painted it green to match with the leaves. I used this as a base for the flowers to rest on and make it a lot sturdier than my keyblade from last year. I'm very happy with how this turned out.

After putting the flowers on, just attach the the vine with a fake plastic leaf painted gold, and you are done!

*cue Victory Fanfare music*

Here are pictures of the completed thing:

Thanks for reading or looking through this tutorial, let me know in a comment what you thought about it or if you had any questions about a step. Check out our other tutorials too!


  1. that is epic! that really helped thx alot

  2. Thanks so much! Glad I could help

  3. Thank you =D
    is ist also possible to do the handles out of modelling clay ? :3

  4. this is really helpful thanks !
    I found it easier though to make the whole flower instead of the petals separately . :3

  5. Wow, this helped me so much! I've already finished my Kairi costume and just needed a keyblade to complete it and this helped me out SO MUCH!! Thank-you ever so much!! ~~<3

  6. Thank you so much for sharing, I wanted to make this for my daughter for valentines day this year, if it comes half as nice as yours she is going to flip... I'm so excited, tytytyty!!!!

  7. Thanks so much guys! I know how hard it is to start something without a tutorial, I followed a guide on certain aspects but wanted to make my own for my own version for people just like you.

    Good luck making one, and let me know if you have any questions! :D

  8. are there any alterations that i could make to make the keyblade as light as possible? i plan on carrying it all day for comic-con, and i dont want to get tired of holding it. Yours looks amazing, im so inspired! Thanks!

  9. and now I know what I'm doing when I get money for the materials... I just hope I follow the directions correctly

  10. This was helpful. I used it as a reference for the flowers but I did notice your handles are backwards. Blue one should have been on the left of the keyblade while the flowers are on the right side (opposite). Other than that small detail in the handles, this was invaluable in creating the top part for us. Thanks!

  11. Thank you very much for posting this tutorial! I've been looking everywhere for a good refrence for Kairi's Keyblade. (I've been wanting to make one for a while now and couldn't find any tutorial with in-depth instructions). And about the flower part of the Keyblade, when you used the small wood for support, how deep of a sleet (I think that's what it's called) did you cut into the dowel?

  12. I followed this, but used fake flowers instead of making my own, and this really helped thou, I wish I read the part about the floral tape for the vine, bc i just painted it and it chips and looks kinda bad, but oh wells overall i love it thank you!

  13. Where can you find wooden wheels?

    1. We found the wooden wheels at our local craft store, Michaels. You can also find them at hobby stores like Joanns, or Hobby Lobby. All of those stores also sell their products online if you don't happen to have one in the area. :]

  14. did you glue the wooden handles or nail it together?

    1. The handles were attached with a combination of wood glue, and dowels. A slot was created in the base of the keyblade where the dowels were inserted and secured with glue. I hope this helps/makes sense!

  15. would you be willing to make one for me?