I am currently working on Ginryu, Kurogane's sword from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. What a pain in the bootay. The head is actually turning out well for me, I'm super pleased about it, but the actual sword... Ugh.
I started off following a tutorial from James H. Fullmer because I really liked the idea for the basic structure of the sword - a pvc pipe and a pool noodle. I used the Level 1 Sword tutorial because I already had a pool noodle on hand, but I probably should have done the Level 3 Sword tutorial. To adjust it to my needs I left the pipe bent for a day to give it the curve of a katana. During that time I started cutting down the pool noodle, hoping I could make it more slender. Since I couldn't get it as slim as I wanted I decided, fine, it'll just be "sheathed" the whole time. Kurogane's not supposed to kill anybody anyway. Of course, who cares about accuracy at this point, Kurogane gave the sword away at the very start of the series and should be using a completely different one anyway. But Ginryu looks so cool...
After cutting down 90% of the pool noodle it still looked too bulky. So I started duct taping it 1. To squish down the foam and 2. To hide how choppy my cutting was. I was pretty happy with it at first but now I'm feeling it's still too big. It's supposed to be a katana, not some amorphous club!
So now I've cut strips of upholstery foam and am wrapping it tightly around the pvc pipe, tying it down with shoe laces to hold it in place while I glue it and wait for it to dry. If this works then next I'll take a strip of craft foam and fold it in half over the upholstery foam for the blade. It may still be too bulky and might still have to look infinitely sheathed, but it's got to be better than my pool noodle monstrosity.
Of course, then my hilt will also probably have to be reshaped to match the size of the blade because it too, was cut from the pool noodle. And if I do that then I'll probably have to completely remake the dragon's head as well since I sized it to fit with the hilt which was the same size of the pool noodle blade.
Then I have to figure out a way to shape all the individual scales, which I'm saving for the very end so I don't have to do those all over again.
All because I don't want to buy a wooden katana because I want it to be foamy and soft so I can smack people with it.