Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sci-fi Pistol Prop Build Log: Day 8

Day 8: Thursday, May 1st 2014

Lots done on day 8! So much so that writing about it all would take far too long to both write and read, so I’ll do more of a photo essay…

Photo May 01, 9 40 40

First thing to do this morning was attack the filler covering the holes in the vents of the front piece, since it stopped the magazine from slotting all the way in properly. I added superglue to the filler so that the thinner material wouldn’t get knocked out so easily. A simple piece of card or thick paper would probably have been better than wood filler, since the area is flat anyway.

Photo May 01, 9 43 21

Now I can’t really see anything else to do, I’ve basically filed and sanded every surface I could find, so now it’s officially time to Make It Whole!

Photo May 01, 9 43 28

Added lots of wood glue everywhere so that it would connect together over any cavities I’d missed, and hoped it would be enough at the front where it’s hollow above the magazine.

Photo May 01, 9 59 06

This was pretty exciting, seeing it all in one piece for the first time.

Photo May 01, 9 59 40

But then I found that the magazine had been grinding on the wood filler because that section leans to the side! I couldn’t sand the mating part any more- partially because I’d already sanded it too much and it was affecting the fit, and partially because it was now of course covered in wood glue. So I had to tilt the whole receiver area and try to hold it in place with little dabs of superglue and filler

Photo May 01, 10 00 09

This left a rather huge gap, which I tried to stuff wood glue in.

Photo May 01, 10 00 21

I also tried to throw in some little shims of scrap wood so that I could fill around them.

Photo May 01, 11 41 30

Except, after a couple hours drying like that… I realised that the entire receiver section wasn’t off at all, because now the grip was wonky. It was just the magazine! What an idiot.

Photo May 01, 11 55 55

So I had to crack out the wood pieces and then I slid the superglued parts by clamping it up and ramming that pressure until it was back in place, then left it like that for a good long while.

Photo May 01, 12 23 09

While it was clamped, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I decided that it looked too plain and I needed to add some dimensional decoration to it before final sanding and priming. So I dug the scrap box out again and started playing with random bits and pieces.

Photo May 01, 12 51 57

It came out of that little escapade unharmed, so now, I present to you, ta-da! The complete construction!

Photo May 01, 16 25 44

I was rather proud of it so I took another picture on a custom photographic background I’d been working on.

Photo May 01, 16 27 48

…Except it wasn’t quite the complete constuction. There was a fairly obvious piece missing….

Photo May 01, 16 41 33

Yep, the barrel. 1/2″ SCH40 PVC cut with ratcheting PVC cutters to somewhere around half an inch long- I just eyeballed it since I didn’t know how deep it was going to sit yet.

Photo May 01, 17 06 15

I then marked by eye a couple of parallel lines and divided them into eighths. I drilled holes at the intersections on the top line, and in the gaps on the bottom line. It came out… Ok. With a drill press I’d have actually taken the time to be accurate, since it wouldn’t tend to skate around like the hand drill does.

Photo May 01, 17 08 25

Next I eyeballed where it should sit on the front, based mainly on where the slide is, and drilled a 1/8″ hole in the centre. I worked my way up the drill bit sizes and the hole wandered around a little bit.

Photo May 01, 17 19 37

It took a number of attempts with the 1/2″ twist bit, sometimes at speed, sometimes from stationary, but I finally got it to bite dead-on and not shake the gun around or throw itself off. It just so happened that it bit dead-centre, too.

Photo May 01, 17 26 14

So I needed it to fit in the barrel like this, between the drilled hole and the marked circle. So I used a Dremel rough grinding bit. It was shaped like a brandy or port bottle with a crisp edge, so depth was easy to maintain. I just kept working my way around, and it came up nicely.

Photo May 01, 17 26 24

Then I needed to actually glue it in there despite its imperfect fit. I figured wood glue wouldn’t stick very well to the plastic, even after sanding, so I figured this stuff sitting on the shelf would do it:

Photo May 01, 17 49 30

I only used a tiny amount, but apparently it was way too much, so I had to come up with a use for the rest of it. I decided a nice sculpted curve by the front end would help tie the compound curve and linear design language together from front to back.

Photo May 01, 17 57 36


Photo May 01, 18 04 57

It was now looking distinctly impressive, for a first attempt, but my perfectionism knows no bounds, so obviously it needed some more detail at the front. Unfortunately, the Dremel router base doesn’t work as well as it seems it should. Or maybe you just aren’t supposed to use the keyless chuck with it. But the bit ended up drifting lower and lower for no apparent reason, so I ended up with this mess.

Photo May 01, 21 17 19

After the chaos of the receiver gluing, this was more stress that wasn’t really needed. However, I decided it could be rescued without too much effort, I just needed to fill the narrow channel in that I couldn’t continue routing out, and create a simple plate to fit over the larger section that would replace the wood I’d just removed.

Photo May 01, 22 35 19

It’s a little hard to see, but this is what I came up with, just superglued on, and decided I’d had quite enough for the day so I left it at that. I could complete it on day 9.


Painted Studio Backdrop Mk. I WIP Sequence!

After completing the how-to article for Phototuts, I still have a number of images and sequences to show from the month-long project. I wanted to show my most recent completion as a sort of how-to sequence, showing how I worked it and how the paint builds up over the layers.

It’s not yet perfect, but I’m pretty happy with it and it’s definitely a positive direction.

Photo Apr 30, 14 45 03
The couple layers brushed in, just like I did on a test piece which worked out well.

Continue reading Painted Studio Backdrop Mk. I WIP Sequence!

Sci-fi Pistol Prop Build Log: Day 7

Day 7: Wednesday, April 30th 2014

Aka: “So much for a weekend project”

Not a huge amount was done on day 7, really. Lots and lots of sanding and filing as I approached the final two “big glues”. This being the case, I’ll keep this entry brief and to the point.

First task; filing down the safety switches to make them a little rounder. Not too much, just make sure they’re not too angular.


Then I grabbed the belt sander and 120-gritted the sides of the magazine. This time it didn’t get all snapped up, thanks to all that glue and filler.


Then I moved on to the slide, sanding down the faces, which did result in one minor snappage…




…But that easily glued back in place. I also reinforced the other three, just to make sure.


Once the slide was sanded smooth, I moved on to the front part. My dry-fitting of all three parts wasn’t going perfectly, so I gave the indents more of a working-over with the files.


Then I went back to the slide and filled in the bottom to avoid voids and help the gluing later.  Notice how I don’t really work in any kind of order? I’m not sure it’s as fast, but it does alleviate boredom.


Then I moved back to the front piece, getting all kinds of deliciously crisp angles sanded and filed in on the visible parts:




Since I wasn’t going to have access to it for much longer, now was the time to make sure those little holes at the front were filled. I just smushed it in from inside, and used a small flathead screwdriver on the outside to keep it smooth. I use that same screwdriver on a lot of filler jobs, either to force the filler into a tight crack, or to smooth over once it’s in.

I didn’t aim for perfection here since it could be filed down later to get a better finish.

Finally, I couldn’t really come up with anything else to do to put it off, so I did a major gluing! Slide to front piece. Pretty exciting way to end the day, I thought.


Not much left to go now, just one more major gluing of the grip and receiver section, and then some detail additions, before it’s ready for… Prime time!