Reference image used to make my template.
Vector template drawn with Adobe Illustrator. I find it easiest to place a line down the center of the reference image and draw one half of the template, then copy and flip the template to the other side, making one complete symmetrical template.
basic handle shape
I poured polyurethane into a piece of PVC pipe and let it cure. The cured piece was put into my lathe and turned to shape.
I used a small metal ruler and calipers to gauge the correct ring widths and distances in the handle. The benefit of polyurethane compared to a block of wood is the lack of wood grain. There is a downside though; without a pressure pot there are air pocks to be filled in the final piece. To hide them I leave the piece on my lathe and use spot putty/filler to fill in the air pocks. Once the putty is cured I turn the lathe on and sand the putty smooth with a high grit sanding sponge.
My final step in hiding the air pocks is filler primer. 2-3 coats of filler primer on the piece, then wet sand the primer with a high grit sanding sponge while the lathe is running.
All of the extra handle details were made of polystyrene plastic. For the butt details, I first made a paper template and then traced that onto two pieces of polystyrene.
The first piece of polystyrene was attached to the butt of the handle. The second piece had the middle cut out to fit properly and form a "plus" shape.
All of the gaps in these pieces were filled in with spot putty. They were then smoothed out and rounded off with different grits of sand paper/sponges. I forgot to photo document this step.
I also forgot to photo document these detail pieces. They were done the same way as the butt pieces. Paper templates first, then transferred onto pieces of polystyrene plastic. I made a center line down both sides of the handle to properly align these pieces. Any gaps were filled in with spot putty.
The spots where the gems would be mounted were first marked, then drilled out with a hand drill. The bigger holes were slightly irregular, so I used spot putty to make them more symmetrical.
My last step for the handle was to check for final touch ups. I put primer paint on it so it would all be the same color. This makes finding problem spots a lot easier. I checked and fixed the problem areas, then wet sanded the whole handle for a smooth finish. A wooden dowel was adhered to the top of the handle to form the pour spout of the mold.
handle mold making
I rolled out a schlab of non-sulfur clay big enough to fit the handle and leave room for registration keys for both the mold and the mold jacket. I put the clay onto a piece of foam board so I could move it around as necessary. I laid the handle on the clay and "traced" it out with a sculpting tool. I then dug out the unnecessary clay. I make the dug out hole slightly smaller than the piece that's going in it. This makes smoothing out the seam line easier.
After the piece is pressed into the clay, small clay worms are laid where the clay and handle touch, then smoothed out to fill in the seam line.
After the seam line was finished, I added registration keys to the clay. These keys are to insure proper alignment of the two mold halves.
First print coat of Smooth-On Rebound 25 silicone. I do 1-3 print coats before thickening the silicone for brushing on.
A few coats of thickened silicone, along with registration keys. These registration keys are to insure the mold is properly aligned with the mold jacket. This silicone is thickened with Thi-Vex from Smooth-On.
The outside edge of the silicone was cut off to make a clean edge all the way around the mold. I then cut mold jacket registration keys out of the clay for proper jacket alignment and then the mold jacket was added. I made the mold jacket for this mold out of an epoxy clay called Free Form Air, another product from Smooth-On. I usually make fiberglass jackets, but for this project I needed to work inside my house which isn't an option with fiberglass because of the mess and toxic fumes. Free Form Air was a perfect option because it's 99% less messy than fiberglass and has no fumes. I colored the jacket clay with blue pigment.
After the jacket clay was cured, I turned it over and pulled the clay off of everything and cleaned the clay from the seam line. Everything got a coat of Ease Release 200, which prevents side B of the silicone and epoxy clay from sticking to their side A counterparts.
Side b of both the silicone, and epoxy clay go through the same processes.
Finished mold and mold jacket.
I used 3/4" MDF for the base of the crossguards build. Using my template, I first cut out the crossguard shapes. Next, I drew a taper guide on the tops of the shapes, and cut-tapered the pieces on a band saw.
Polystyrene was used for all of the crossguard details. To make sure the pieces look the same, I cut them out, hold them together and sand all the edges to the same shape/form. I really could use a laser cutter and will happily except a free donation!
I adhered all the detail pieces with cyanoacrylate (super glue). Once all the detail pieces were on I sanded all of the edges flush with one another. Polystyrene sands down very easily so I used high grit sand paper/sponges for minimal touching up.
I used spot putty to even out gaps and fill in anything I couldn't make flush by sanding.
eye of thundera base
The base was cut out of 1/2" MDF. Polystyrene was used for the front and back details, adhered with cyanoacrylate.
1/8" thick pieces of wood were added to the sides.
I penciled in guides on the bottom of the base to start the detailing. These areas were filled in with Milliput, which is a two part epoxy putty.
A piece of 1/8" thick wood was centered and added to the base. I penciled in more guides for the next addition of Milliput.
I roughly shaped the Milliput within the guides and let it cure.
Once the Milliput was cured, I sanded each side to the proper shape.
The edges of the Milliput were cut off flush with the wood with an X-ACTO knife.
eye of thundera
The base of the Eye was made from PVC pipe and polystyrene.
The polystyrene was adhered to the inside of the first piece of PVC with cyanoacrylate.
The second ring of PVC was added to the polystyrene ring. I then attached the Eye base to its respective piece.
I used a strip of faux wood blind to build up the space between the PVC rings on the outside of the Eye ring.
The "wood grain" pattern gets hidden in a later step.
Polystyrene discs were cut out slightly bigger than the hole they would be sitting in. I adhered them to the PVC with cyanoacrylate.
To make the dome in the disc, I heated the disc with a heat gun just enough to make it pliable and pressed into the center of the disc with a round object until it cooled. The opposite side was harder to do and I had to end up shaping it up correctly with Bondo body filler.
All of the gaps were filled in with spot filler.
Spade shapes cut out of polystyrene.
The spade was cut in the middle and adhered to the base.
Center guide made of polystyrene.
Spade filled in with Milliput. I shaped the Milliput close to the desired shape of the spade. Once cured, I sanded it to the final shape.
Eye made of polystyrene was added.
The base of the blade is polystyrene, cut to the shape of the blade. I used the edge of a faux wood blind, slightly tapered, to make the spine of the blade.
The frame of the blade was filled in with Bondo body filler.
The first details of the blade were cut out of polystyrene. I glued the ends together and made a sleeve that would slide onto the blade making sure the two pieces were properly aligned.
Polystyrene triangles were adhered to the blade, then the sleeve was adhered into place. All gaps were filled in with spot putty. The bigger gaps in between the sleeve and the blade were filled in with Milliput.
I used the same PVC pipe that I used to make the Eye to mark the sleeve for cutting.
I used my Dremel with a sanding drum and sanded this piece to the proper shape. Ready to attach to the Eye.
I primed and wet sanded this piece before adding the textured areas because I didn't want the texture to lose any detail. The textured areas were made with a medium grit sandpaper. The most efficient way to prepare sandpaper pieces like this is to mark them using their respective detail pieces, before the detail pieces are glued into place.
The blade was adhered with two part epoxy adhesive.
dagger mold making
The same exact procedures used to make the handle mold were used to make this mold. Clay pancake with the dagger traced and cut out of it. Seam line created and registration keys added. I did have to make a second level on the clay pancake because of the height difference of the blade compared to the eye.
Several layers of silicone with registration keys. Silicone edge trimmed and registration keys added to the clay.
Free Form Air support shell.
Clay removed from bottom and everything is given a coating of Ease Release 200.
Castings made with black pigmented polyurethane. These mold turned out really well, with the only flashing showing up at the top half of the blade.
I forgot to photo document the assembly of the dagger. I will do so on a future assembling of another dagger.
lets make it!
If you enjoy the step by step process of how my replicas are built, and/or want to build one yourself, this is the place to see how they came together.