Introduction: Make a 1950's Ray Gun

Picture of Make a 1950's Ray Gun

Having started making simple props for photo shoots and body painting accessories, I am now embarking on making some other weapons.

I wanted to make a space blaster or ray gun, and I thought it would be fun to try and make a 1950's style prop gun.

A search of the net produced some really nice designs, and as ever I have amalgamated three or four for this gun.

Step 1: Materials and Design

Picture of Materials and Design

The materials used for this gun were whatever old crap I had hanging around in the shop. I found some old sections of PVC pipe for making the barrel. An old plastic 35mm film cannister, some metal rings from old hard drives, and a few other bits and bobs.

Basically use anything you can find, beg borrow or steal (well not steal), to keep the costs right down.
You will need some cutting tools, various glues, card, plastic card, paints, whatever else you can think of.

I began by making three basic grip templates. These are generic and can be used on a variety of weapons. I used some thin card to create the templates and sized them based on my own hands.

Next I evaluated the little collection of junk I had assembled. I chose a length of 20mm PVC for the main barrel and used the film cannister for the muzzle break.

Any self respecting 1950's ray gun needs disks of metal round the barrel. Three aluminium rings from old hard drives were super-glued to a section of 25mm PVC to form these. this was slid down the barrel and then hot melted in place. The cannister was also hot melted to the end of the barrel.

Next I cut two sections of 40mm waste pipe to length, and using some sponge lagging disks I centred the larger diameter tube onto the barrel by forcing the sponge into the gaps. the sponge disks were then given a fillet of cyanoacrylate which will soak in and go off rock hard.

The centre of the 35mm cannister was glued to the butt end of the barrel and the whole thing left to dry overnight.

Step 2: Completing the Barrel

Picture of Completing the Barrel

Once the main pipework is completed it's time to add the chamfers. These were built up using car body filler, allowed to dry and then sanded back using various grades of sandpaper and fine wet and dry papers.

Next we need some basic detailing. I used some plastic rods bent to shape with a candle flame, these were then super glued into holes I drilled in the barrel cylinders.

I will add finishing details once the main construction is completed.

Step 3: The Grip

Picture of The Grip

For the grip I chose one of my three templates and drew around it on to some dense card 1/16" or about 1.5mm thick. I made two copies and cut them out to form the sides of the grip.

Next I cut some strips of card 3/4" or 15mm wide. These were used to build up an internal framework for strength. I deliberately didn't take the framework right up to the edges of the grip because I needed room for hot melt glue at the top and car body filler around the edges to shape them later.

I joined the two halves together to form the basic grip.

Step 4: Completing the Major Structure

Picture of Completing the Major Structure

Once the grip had set I did a quick search of my scrap box for some plastic do dads. I found some bits that had come out of an old printer that looked interesting. I selected one for a rear sight and one for a trigger. I also found a couple of small wheels that looked good.

Next the grip was hot melted to the body using the little 'trough' in the grip as an area to hold the glue. Once it had tacked, I ran a fillet of glue around the joints.

Next I cut a couple of sections from an old sponge camping floor tile for the sides of the grip. These were thinned with a sanding drum to about 1/8" or 4mm thick and cut to shape. These were glued on using general purpose glue.

Then the grip edges were filled with car body filler and sanded back to a smooth finish.
The little bits of plastic, the little wheels and some card squares were then glued on with superglue as some detailing and the gun is now ready for paint.

Step 5: Painting Weathering and Finishing.

Picture of Painting Weathering and Finishing.

I began by giving the gun a set of base coats. I used acrylic hobby paint using colours that would be mid-range or slightly darker than the final effect I wanted.

Next I added some shadows using black and sepia applied with a sponge and airbrush.

Then I dry-brushed with lighter colours to raise the details, this serves to darken the base colours and shadows further increasing 'depth'

A final dry-brush with even lighter colours, a few minor coloured details and then a light weathering with pastels.

Over spray with cheap extra hold hairspray just to seal the pastels and then leave for 24 hours to dry.

Job Done!


ghunt4 made it! (author)2017-07-04

I was in a Sci-Fi themed stage show so made this as a gift for the director. I took inspirational cues from Ryan Nagata's Rayguns (

sarrocks (author)2015-07-12


dark clerick (author)2010-10-17

its called steampunk

LintBallz (author)dark clerick2015-06-01

It's retro, not steampunk. There's a difference

Vaughn235 (author)dark clerick2012-06-05

It's not called Steampunk if it's based on a 1950s design.

POPSICLEstickSTUFF (author)2013-03-31


The Rambler (author)2012-03-26

Very nice build. One day I'm going to get around to building a raygun style prop and I like some of the ideas you've used. One question though, what is a sponge lagging disk?

marshon (author)The Rambler2012-03-27

I cut a disk of material from a length of foam pipe lagging. it's the stuff you put over water pipes to stop them from freezing in the winter. This stuff:

The Rambler (author)marshon2012-03-27

Oooh, okay yeah, I know what that stuff is. I just didn't knnow it was called that. That's a good idea, and something I could have used when I built my lightsaber prop. I might have to pull it out and rework it with that foam/glue technique to make it more sturdy.

jowens11 (author)2011-07-09

what are the exact listed materials for this gun?

marshon (author)jowens112011-07-09

The exact listed materials are: 'Whatever I had lying around the workshop'. Mostly some 40mm plastic pipe, some 20mm plastic pipe, and some unidentified bits of metal from a bunch of old computers.

Kiteman (author)2010-10-15

That's really nice, but you know what's spooky?

I have the same cutting mat, drawing pen and glue-gun.

hammer9876 (author)Kiteman2010-10-17

Oooo. Kiteman and marshon are twins!

jowens11 (author)hammer98762011-07-09


red-king (author)hammer98762010-10-18

or... the same person with multiple personalities. o.O

martzsam (author)Kiteman2010-10-16

Creepy... O_o

stringstretcher (author)2010-10-15

Nice job! You are a fine model maker. Here is one of mine. Hope you like it.

dav1d908 (author)stringstretcher2011-04-14

Looks good, bro.

Now attach a burning laser to it. :D

hshook (author)hellstudios2011-01-11

No, seriously you could put a laser pointer or something in it. that would be cool

Jollyrgr (author)stringstretcher2010-10-17

Fantastic job on your ray gun. Is that a vacuum tube or a projector bulb on top?

stringstretcher (author)Jollyrgr2010-10-19

In fact, inside the moisture trap is an automobile headlamp! I forgot about that!

stringstretcher (author)Jollyrgr2010-10-18

As Marshon noted, it is a moisture trap. Inside it sits a small gemstone, "grytanium", which of course, is the power source for this Discombobulator. Curtain rod end, air pistol, candle stick... they are fun! I hope I am not intruding by posting another pic... under construction this one.

ToniRose (author)stringstretcher2010-10-15


marshon (author)stringstretcher2010-10-15

Excellent! I love the creative use of parts with other functions too. many years ago I worked in a very large factory machine shop. The guys were forever making 'stuff' for their kids with U/S crap.
Love the look of the airline moisture trap on this.

nudgefudge (author)2011-03-19

this has to be one if the coolest instructsbles out there!

one way to make a raygun would be buying these water guns for $6:

and spraypainting the big purple one

saffron69 (author)2011-01-05

oh how awesome you make this too =)
my 6yo son has been eyeing this off... ive been keeping a lookout at the recycling shop and the 2nd hand shops for ... well ... anything to do this.
I was looking at your dragon mask too earlier
how awesome and clever are you?
very creative and amazingly talented =)
thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas and inspiring me.

Biggsy (author)2010-12-28

Thats a real nice looking prop! welldone!

RussianGirl2000 (author)2010-10-22

Good model. However a copy of the A3-21 Plasma Rifle of Fallout 3 I like more, but the style is similar.

marshon (author)RussianGirl20002010-10-23

Wow, that's a cool looking weapon.

itgasht (author)2010-10-23

I love this! It looks great

marshon (author)itgasht2010-10-23

Thank you.

awsomehighvoltage (author)2010-10-20

great for a coilgun!

mikeanator55 (author)2010-10-17

hmm...what i think would be cool is if you put a laser in it...if i had a spare $300 laying around i would DEFINITELY get this:

If not, i would just put a laser in there, such as this one, for $80:

Or this one, for $50:

And if not either, just a cheap 5.00 dollar one from CVS lol :P

How about a 1 watt IR laser diode for $20 on ebay. Of course it would need a laser module and a power supply.

The spyder 3 is a little big though, but it would be cool in a laser rifle.

slice_rulz (author)2010-10-18

that glue gun would make a nice ray gun by itself. nice work on your gun too.

mr.squeakers (author)2010-10-17

Very cool

marshon (author)mr.squeakers2010-10-17

Thank you.

1hotpilot (author)2010-10-17

As mentioned by many, the painting is very realistic, maybe too much so. Unless you have a death wish, you best paint the pointy end with a florecent red to prevent a cop from thinking this could be a home-made but functional/real firearm. Toy guns have had to do so by law for obvious reasons for many years now. Have fun, but don't be a victim of your own ignorance.

DIY-Guy (author)1hotpilot2010-10-17

Good idea to paint the tip orange, but the way the legal system works it's the toy manufacturing companies who feel obligated to put orange on the tip to avoid lawsuits from silly people who point their toy at real cops.

Most props like this one will be used in situations with costumes such as Sci-Fi conventions, or will gather dust on a shelf until a like-minded friend visits to see the G-dzilla collection or something.

To the Author of this Instructable: GREAT WORK! I never knew bondo could look so realistic.

marshon (author)DIY-Guy2010-10-17

Thanks for the nice comments. No I won't be painting the tip orange or anything like that. It's a prop to be used in a stills / video shoot and won't be leaving the studio.

lemonie (author)2010-10-17

I like it, do you have an outfit to match?


marshon (author)lemonie2010-10-17

No, this prop along with the Pulse Rifle I'm working on are for an android body painting

jnscollier (author)2010-10-16

Reminds me of the a gun from the video game Fallout 3. If a nuclear holocaust ever happens, you'll be a step ahead of the rest of us! Nice work.

mckeephoto (author)2010-10-15

great finish! I wanna make one now... just need to find the time!

supersoftdrink (author)2010-10-15

I love this! It looks great.

kelseymh (author)2010-10-15

Great project, and wonderfully, er, "realistic" :-)

About This Instructable




Bio: Untidy, disorganised and a bit silly. I am a photographer, artist, body artist, sculptor, prosthetic maker, model engineer, and general idiot who likes making stuff ... More »
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