Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Replica Prop Gun [part1]

I have been following Adam Savage's exploits at and have become fascinated by the replica prop movement in America. So I decided to make myself a Replica movie prop gun. To do this I had to learn hard edge sculpture. I have no idea what I am doing, so if anybody have some tips, please leave a comment below.

I decided to replicate one of the revolvers used in Raiders of the lost Ark.  The weapon in question is a 1917 model Smith and Wesson 45 acp revolver. All the dimensions for the gun was taken off images from the internet, by scaling photos relative to the cylinder.

The process I used was to cast blank forms in a F16 plastic that I could then glue and machine to the required shapes. 

I started by making a base tile that formed the side of the cylinder. I made a silicon mold of this plasticine tile and casted six. 

The tiles I made was originally made for a 38 special, so it was too small for the 45. I taped the outside with packaging tape and filled the gaps with more F16

I then shaped the final drum on my makeshift lathe.

After some testing I found that it would be best to make the front and back of the cylinder from two separate discs. Using silicon molding was to expensive to cast the blanks, so I used plasticine clay for the molds.

I sanded the front and back and drilled the holes.

I casted 6 domes for the bullet points. I placed the machined front over these, formed a retaining wall with plasticine and poured F16 into the center hole. This set and solidified the unit.

I did the same with the back of the cylinder. I did not like the back of the bullets and later replaced them with washers of the correct size. With all the shaping and filling the groves and slots had to be re-machined. All that tile work for nothing...

I made the center shaft from a stainless steel rod.  All the fittings was cast in plasticine and machined on the lathe.

Assembled it looked pretty good against a scale cut out of the gun.

I poured a mold for the cylinder out of Mold max 20 silicon.

This method turned out to be a bad idea as bubbles trapped on the underside of the cast and formed an uneven texture.

I casted the cylinder out of F16 with aluminium filling. When sanded the finish looks exactly like metal.

Due to the bad quality of the mold, end result looks like a seriously worn piece of metal.  Not what I was looking for, but quite satisfactory on another level. I have subsequently made a new mold for the cylinder that works wonderfully.

Now that the cylinder is done it is time to move on to the body of the revolver. Stick around, and I'll show you how I did that in the next post.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Constructing a rudimentary lathe

I'm currently working on a hard edge sculpture that I will share next week.  This sculpture required machined cylindrical forms and I do not have a lathe, but I do have a drill and a bench vice...
So here follows the steps I took to construct a lathe. It is not the most accurate of lathes, but for my purposes it worked.

The materials sourced from my off-cuts box.

Cut and shaped base. The width specifically sized for the drill's clasping area.

The top part cut and shaped.

And we are done.

This worked fine for the chubby small cylinders but the long ones did not track center, so I had to make a center end peg. This was done ramming a tapered and sharpened metal rod into a block that then gets clamped to the bench.  This metal rod was shaped with the base lathe, there by using the lathe to make it self.  The height of the rod is vital.  To make the wood slide over the metal, the sharpened rod was lubricated with oil.

All the shaping is done using files and sanding paper. Some day I might attempt chisels, but that will be a whole other story.

PS. I found that I needed a place to do scroll sawing work, so I constructed this wooden block that fits into the same bench vice. The fact that the vice swivels on itself, turns out to be really handy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What was inside R. Spies's Box?

I bought a toolbox.

It belonged to a maker who died several years back. His widow is moving house and needed the space. She graciously sold me the box as well as all the tools inside.

I decided to lay out all the tools on a red door to take stock.

The quality of these tools blow me away. They were clearly loved, well used and well cared for. I am deeply honoured to make them part of my set.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Pallet Trestle

The first project I made from the pallets I bought was a pair of trestles for my my wife.  The design are basic and it should have taken a lot less time than it did, but sanding the wood down took forever.

I had to make clasps that held the planks while they where planed. These I made from off-cut angle iron, bolts and a stabilising blocks.

The ruff sanding I did with an angle grinder.

The assembly was quite easy after all the sanding.

Then on to the painting. White PVA, on both sides.

Finally attach the webbing strap, and we are done.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


In my PC parts box there are three pairs of broken headsets. I have tried fixing them but the construction is such that you can't solder the fluff they use as wire. Also the construction causes the wire to twist inside the ear pieces causing them to break.

This gave me the idea to make my own.  I wanted to make them look hand made, and steam-punk. I used a lot of brown leather and wood, copper and stainless steel. I decided to make the ear pieces round, harking back to the aviation headsets.

For the materials I used off-cuts that I collected form workshops, as for the speakers and volume control, I cannibalized an old 'broken' headset.  The new wire and audio jacks I got from an electronics store.

I had to design the wooden earpieces around the speakers that I got from the old headsets. The blocks that clasp the headset shaft went through a lot of design. In the end I shaped them out of a solid stainless steel block.

For this project I bought a soldering kit.

I used leather to cover the hard parts of the headset.

All done.