Monday, September 1, 2014

Custom build: Legend of Zelda Inspired Shield (Part 1)

For this build, I was commissioned to build a sword and shield that might exist in the Legend of Zelda universe, but that didn't necessarily already exist. I'll split the two builds up into different write-ups so as to not have a SUPER long post. This is just a "part 1", if you will, as both are currently waiting for the go ahead to start the painting process. When that stage as done, I'll create new blog posts to cover my process for that. With all of that, here we go!

First up, I drew up some blue prints for the shield. I traced that onto some 1.5 inch insulation foam. The foam will serve as a majority of the inner body of the shield. This will be epoxied to mdf. Using these will help reduce the overall weight which is important since it will be carried around for several hours at a time.

Why stay cooped up in the shop when it's so nice outside? Moved the belt sander outside to enjoy some sun and warm weather while working. The shield was cut out using both my band saw and scroll saw. And yes, I used the belt sander to bevel and curve the edges of the shield. It takes patience and being careful, but it worked!

Gettin' those smooth sides and sharp top edges! Coming along nicely so far... So far...

So deadlines started to approach rapidly during this project and I started to forget about taking pictures of each step. I'll try and fill in the gaps with descriptions which you can feel free to skip if you'd like.
At this stage, I traced out the inner details onto craft foam and then epoxied that onto the main body. It was fine initially, but moving forward I plan on using some kind of plastic for the details. The foam ended up not being strong enough during some of the steps and created dips that had to be filled in later. Doing that cost a LOT of time that could have been used doing other things. Results may vary, though.

The foam was layered to add depth and detail. This was planned in the blue prints.

THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP FOR ANYONE WORKING WITH NEW MATERIALS. Sorry for the caps, but this point has been brought up by many people and especially the pros, so DO IT. If you're working with materials you have never worked with before, test that material with small pieces of anything you'll be applying it to. The resin used here is Smooth-On's Epsilon resin which was designed for foam, but you should still test. The time spent testing will always trump the time spent having to remake things. I'm glad to report everything checked out fine with these (as I expected).

*resin bath* I'm ready for my close-up! 

Wait, uneven areas?? DON'T LOOK AT ME! DON'T LOOK AT ME! No worries, some bondo will be what does ya right!

Now we're getting into the serious sanding stages. Prime, sand, putty/bondo, sand, repeat. I only went up to 400 grit sand paper here; enough to get a nice smooth edge, but no need to get it crazy smooth (it is a shield after all).

Missed a spot. Missed another spot. And there. And there. And there...

A little bit better... Time to repeat!

I added a raised lip of mdf as well as grooves along the back to make it look like planked wood.

Almost done! Next up I added a handle for the wearer to hold on to. The final addition will be a leather strap to go around the forearm and that will be it!

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