DIY Daryl Dixon Crossbow Part One

EDIT: After taking this to a con, it’s not quite stable enough.  I did get tons of compliments on it.  I have a few things I’m going to differently when this current one goes out.  If they work, I’ll update this tutorial with the changes.  The main change: for the stock, instead of using 3 layers of foam, I’m going to do a piece of wood sandwiched between two pieces of foam.  I think that will solve the stability issue without adding too much weight.

I am super stoked about this tutorial.  It’s going to be three parts because I want to get something up, AND it’s really long.  My boyfriend asked me for help making his NERF crossbow a little better for his Daryl Dixon cosplay for MegaCon.  I decided, why not just make one out of foam??  So I’m working on it!  Here is the progress so far.  Part two and three will be up next week, finishing it out.

This is for Season 4 Daryl Dixon crossbow.

First, materials:

  1. Foam matting, such as gym floors often have.  I got mine from Lowes.  4 pieces, $20.
  2. Exacto knife.  It makes your cut edges so much nicer than scissors.  Buy one!
  3. Chalk, for outlining your design.
  4. Measuring tape.
  5. Hot glue.
  6. Dremel.  You could do all the sanding by hand, but my goodness, why?  You can get a cheap dremel set from Walmart for $20.  Do it!
  7. Sand paper.  Even with a dremel, you will have to sand a little by hand.  I recommend 100 and 220.
  8. Elmers glue, to seal the foam.
  9. Paint (I used acrylic; black, white, and neon green).
  10. PPE (personal protective equipment)!  Face mask and goggles please!  Especially while sanding.
  11. Paracord (black).
  12. Dowel rods (5/16, probably 2 depending on length, and 2 3/16 rods 12″ length)
  13. Hand saw.
  14. Craft foam.
  15. O rings or D rings.

Alright, let’s go!  Lucky for me, my boyfriend actually has a crossbow (it’s really heavy and MegaCon is kinda anal about weapons, so that’s why we’re not just using that).  If you do not have a crossbow, get yourself a reference picture of the model you want to make (make sure you have many angles).  Using chalk, and your foam set at an angle, outline the stock.

 Have a damp washcloth nearby in case you mess up.  Chalk wipes away pretty easily.  Now, using your exacto knife, cut out your stock.

Please be mindful of your flooring.  When I was close to cutting through, I lifted my foam up and cut the last little bit in the air so as not to cut my carpeting.  Using this piece, trace out 2 more copies.  Remember, if you trace with chalk to use the inside edge of your chalk line so the sizes are correct.  They don’t have to be perfect, we’ll fix that later.  Also, for the two copies, I omitted the trigger guard so it was a bit more realistic.

Using hot glue, glue the pieces together.  You can also use spray adhesive, or really almost anything you want (except super glue).  Foam is really easily glued and doesn’t come apart once glued without ripping.

Using your exacto knife, clean up the edges so it’s mostly cohesive.  We’ll be coming back at it with the dremel, so it doesn’t need to be perfect.  Also, you need to cut out the hand grip.  You can do this before, I simply forgot to do it, so I had to do it after.

Now, you need to cut out some other parts.  I apologize because I completely spaced on taking pictures of these parts.  First, you need the crossbow portion.  I did 5 parts.  A center piece 4″X2″, and 4 arms 14″X1″.  You will see how this comes together later.  Next, you need two circles with a diameter of 2″.  Use a compass, pencils and string, or just free hand it like I did.  Then, you need to cut out the handle.  I made an image in paint with the dimensions I used (I measured the crossbow handle).  The image below is NOT to scale.  I made the thickness 1″.

After you have everything cut out, you get to use your dremel!  The dremel I have is not strong enough to do everything in one sitting, so I broke it up into stages.  You can do it however you want.  I started with the crossbow arms.  Use the dremel to sand all the rough edges.  Also, one side of the foam has a pattern on it, and that needs to come off.

Also, on the top of the stock, you need to put a groove for the firing bolt to sit.  It should start right after the trigger and run the whole length.  I didn’t take a picture of it, so this one is from the glue stage, but it helps you get the idea.

My dremel started to die after these 5 pieces, so I plugged it in to charge.  After using the dremel, go over all the pieces with 100, then 220 sandpaper.  This helps smooth it out.  Then, using a damp washcloth, wash all the grit off the pieces.

In order for the paint to not just suck into the foam, you need to seal it.  This will also help give it a smoother finish, like the plastic a crossbow is normally made out of.  To do this, I use a 50/50 blend of Elmer’s glue and water, then paint it on.  This is going to take multiple coats (I will let you know how many in part two).

That’s it for part one.  As soon as I finish the crossbow, I will post part two.  It will definitely be done by Wednesday next week at the latest.  I’m hoping to finish this weekend.

Until next time, keep cosplaying!



Questions or requests?  Leave in the comments below.