Introduction: Articulating a Skeleton

Picture of Articulating a Skeleton

Need to pose your skeletons, but too cheap to pay for those movable joints? Then articulate some cheap, non-bendable ones!

I found some half-price mini skeletons ($2 each!) that I thought would work great as an invading horde, but they had inflexible elbows and knees. That just wouldn't do. So I gathered up some materials...

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
  • skeleton (any size) with non-bendable limbs
  • wire (I used 18 gauge steel wire, since I had it on hand)
  • wire cutter/pliers
  • saw (hand or power)
  • drill and small diameter bit (similar to wire gauge)
  • utility knife

Step 2: Cut at the Inflexible Joints

Picture of Cut at the Inflexible Joints

I cut the first leg with a small hacksaw, and discovered that the knee was solid plastic, so I decided to do the rest of the knee cuts with my mitre saw, since it was right there anyway.

The elbows were less than 1/8" thick, so I used my wire cutters on those. Depending on the thickness of your skeleton's plastic, a utility knife or hacksaw might be needed for the elbows, too.

Step 3: Knee Joints

Picture of Knee Joints

The solid knees actually had a remnant of their molding process, a little bubble I suppose, so I used that as a starting point for my drill bit. I drilled on an angle (roughly 45º) with the skeleton facing up. Likewise, I used the same angle on the lower leg. This way, the wire joint would be on the back of the skeleton.

I used about 3" of wire for the knee, which I curved slightly before sliding it through the two pieces to reconnect the leg. Be sure that you have the correct lower leg; watch your toes!

I then twisted the wire and trimmed it up. Since I wanted to be able to bend the skeleton's legs into various poses, I didn't make the joints too tight.

Step 4: Elbow Joints

Picture of Elbow Joints

I drilled holes very carefully for the elbows, since the plastic was so thin here (less that 1/8"). I was sure not to get too close to any edge, in case twisting the wire to tighten it would rip through the plastic (this happened to me on one joint, so I just did a second hole further up).

I used about 1-1/2" of wire for the elbow, and shaped it like a squared off "U", approximately the same size as the span I wanted between the holes I had just drilled.

I next inserted the wire into the two parts, twisted the ends carefully, and trimmed any excess.

Step 5: Surgery Complete!

Picture of Surgery Complete!

I now had a fully adjustable skeleton, to pose any way I wanted.

I repeated this process for the remaining skeletons, and then posed the horde climbing up my front porch and trying to break into my second floor window.

If you found this useful, please consider voting for me in the Halloween Decor contest.

Happy Halloween!

Comments

amberrayh (author)2015-10-14

Nice! They look really cute crawling all over your porch.

cweaver5 (author)amberrayh2015-10-16

Thanks. I'm happy with how they turned out, though I'm already thinking about getting larger skeletons for next year!

ArticAkita (author)2015-10-14

awesome surgery knee & elbow on a few plastic stiff legged bony guys, good instructable! voted for ya! ?

cweaver5 (author)ArticAkita2015-10-16

Thanks! I have to admit that amputating their legs and arms was strangely satisfying, too. Hrrrmmmm...

fishhead455 (author)2015-10-12

I have that same skeleton and it will soon become a mannequin...thanks to your efforts and clear explanation. I shall also articulate the head.

cweaver5 (author)fishhead4552015-10-12

Great! Let me know how yours turn out.

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-10-11

great way to mod a cheap prop.

Thanks, Jason. Greatly appreciated coming from you.

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