Introduction: Argus, the Sentinel: a Prop Pistol
Have you ever just been traveling the dystopian underworld and just been having a really bad day. Or fighting for survival at the edge of civilization, perhaps even had pirates attempting to board your airship? You wouldn't have to worry if you had your trusty Sentinel sidearm at hand.
This project was in essence I wanted to create something. I had been browsing steampunk galleries of firearms and was impressed and wanted to again make my mark. Of course I feel I completely missed the mark, even though I have been told "Steampunk is what you make of it" I fail to achieve any features distinct to the genre. None the less I'm satisfied for the time being.
Step 1: Selection and Breakdown
So while I wanted to make a pistol, I didn't want to start from scratch as I've done before. I wanted something that looked good and felt good but wasn't all the work. I went to the neighborhood thrift store, looking for maybe a bb gun or somethign similar. I did happen to come across a hot glue gun that jumped out at me though, and as cheap as it was, seemed as good a place as any to start.
I hope this goes without saying, but DO NOT have this plugged in.
The case had 3 screws in it, although the fact that it was a glue gun made it a little harder to crack open than just that. Undo the screws, and take a razer, I used an xacto knife, and work along the seem. Cut any glue that may be holding it shut and you might have to work it a little to get it to pop open.
Once I got it open I took a chance to pull everything out and get a look at it. First thing I did was take off the yellow caps and disconnect the cord. The wires were just twisted together and caps like that only screw on so it wasn't difficult. The tip screwed in, and had the glue holding it in, but some work with a wrench got it loose. The rubber sleeve and spring, probably a heatsink, probably didn't need to come off, but it made the next step a little easier.
Step 2: Cleaning Out the Heating Element
So this step is one you need to be very, very careful. You will have, ELECTRICITY, HOT METAL, and BURNING SUBSTANCES. Be sure you take every precaution.
Never interact with the wires once they are connected and plugged in.
Have an apparatus set up so you don't have to handle the heating element once you plug it back in.
Make sure you have a window open. I know glue guns generally operate under safe parameters, but in this step you aren't playing by the rules. When you plug this thing in it will go, and I had some smoke coming off of mine. Make sure the area you're working in is properly ventilated.
Now all I did here, was I stood up the heating element in a little glass candle holder I had laying around. After that I reconnected the wires to the ones on the plug. Then I had it set up by a window, and made sure it was stable and not going to rock or fall over. Then I plugged in the cord. Same as always the metal heated up, only now the glue drained out of the case, leaving it clear all the way through. Aside from the leads that melted the glue itself. An unanticipated obstacle that was dealt with later.
Step 3: Bodywork
Well, there's no getting around the fact that its a glue gun. I had to change a little bit about that before it could become my newest .
In my usual fashion I clove something important off before taking a picture to explain it later. If you recall from earlier pages there was a nub near the front that originally had a wire stand going through it so that the hot tip would not come into contact with things while the gun was active. That went away. I used my trusty xacto knife, although I'm sure a dremel or small saw would work just as well if not better. Sand smooth.
In addition, there is a small ring at the base of the handle. I'm not sure what purpose it served, but it went away as well. Once again just slice it off in your preferred method and sand it down.
I would advise not using my method. I use xacto because I don't have a dremel or some type of craft saw. They are very sharp and I have been known to nick myself from time to time. I do not recommend them unless you have a more stable and safe environment.
Step 4: Adding Some Heft
Now, while the heating element, I left it in, you don't have to, adds some decent weight I like my toys to have a little more umph to them. A weight so that you don't pick it up and go, oh its just a toy, even though it is. So I went down to the hardware store and found a big chunky carriage screw. I had to hollow out the handle a little to make room for it, but a little more time spent with my knife and a file had it nestling in, in no time.
Step 5: Trigger Guard
Personally I'm not happy with a pistol if I can't spin it. Its part of the fun, and adds a little extra to the design. This just happened to be another one of those steps that didn't get photographed until it was finished. But anyway.
I got a small bracket for modular shelving at the hardware store. I measured it against the handle some, then cut a piece off. From there I curled the edges in. I didn't want to have the corners where my finger would be, comfort is part of the design. Then I added two notches so it would bent more easily where I needed it, and curled it into the correct shape.
To attach it to the gun, I carved a notch in the underside, and along the handle so it would rest more easily.
Step 6: Putting It Together
Now I was just going to use super glue to hold the guard on. However I was already going to use an epoxy putty on the bottom of the handle to fill in around the bolt so I just used it all around. It worked better than the super glue did anyway.
Just go ahead and knead the putty till it becomes a uniform color and just press it in where you need it. Don't worry about having a little excess. It will allow you to sand and shape and smooth later.
Step 7: Filling in the Blanks
Now there's a big empty spot where the glue stick used to feed into the machine. I found a small aluminum tube, although anything that is roughly the same size will work just fine.
When I cut off the length I wanted I glued a screw into the hole so it wouldn't just be open. Then I took a sleeve and slid it around the tube so that it would fit better inside the slider.
I originally had it cut down to be flush with the back of the slider when I had it inserted, but when I put the sleeve on it to make it fit better, it wouldn't go in all the way, just about halfway up the sleeve. You could always file down the inside of the slider, but I liked how it looked better this way so I left it as a pleasant surprise.
Step 8: Decor
I had a small sheet of aluminum. I cut out some panels out for the side of the gun to cover some indentations in the design. These I just super glued on.
Step 9: Touch Up
Well no design is without flaws. I took a fine sanding block and some files and went to work fixing up little things here and there. I softened some of the edges in the bracketing, and worked out some of the tool marks, as well as cleaning off and stray epoxy or glue. After that I took some black paint and silver rub and buff. I used the black to cover up any epoxy that was spreading onto the main body of the gun, then I used the silver on the epoxy near the metal guard, and near the head of the carriage screw in the handle.
Step 10: Completion
Since I had most of the sheet left over, as well as some of the bracketing I threw together a "magazine" It reminds me of the blanks used in combustion nail guns in that its a strip with the shells on it, simply held in a rail that feeds into the gun. The shells were just compression inserts for tubing. All I did was I cut a piece of the sheet so that it would fit inside the rail. then I drilled holes in it for the inserts to slide into. A piece of electrical tape along the back helped hold everything in place and a small lip to catch into the holes of the bracket keeps it in. I would've liked to have it so I could take it in and out, but in mounting the rail to the gun I did pinch the sheet so that it won't move anymore.
I plan on making a case for it, inspired by one of the finer pieces I saw in my traveling, but that will be another project for another time. Until then farewell, have fun, make something special, and be safe about it.
(edit): Case has been made, following my same found material and improvised design strategy.