Introduction: The Living Severed Hand!

Picture of The Living Severed Hand!

A severed hand that twitches and grabs at those who come near! Make a convincingly gruesome addition to your Halloween costume or a tool for the perfect April Fools prank:

Of course, it isn't really severed, it's just an illusion! What you are going to make is a special glove that will make it look like you are holding a living, moving, human arm. In actuality, what people are seeing is your hand, passing straight through a "dummy" glove with an attached fake stump of an arm.

While the project takes a few hours to make (or more, depending on your attention to detail), it is silly-cheap and has a great effect!

Step 1: Material List

Picture of Material List

Things you are going to need for this project:

Main Components:
*a pair of heavy gloves (I opted for dollar store work gloves)
*shampoo bottle
*fabric (to be your "shirt" on the limb)
*pillow fill
*a sheet of white paper
*some nice squishy foam
*a wire coat hanger
*blood colored paint

*some nice sharp scissors
*hot glue gun
*wire cutters
*packing tape

*"Sculpey" or other clay that you can bake in your oven
*super glue

The gloves that you pick are going to be the most important part of the project. Theoretically, you only need one glove- but the effect is best if you are wearing two matching gloves. You'll want to buy or find some that are thick, sturdy, and have longish cuffs. Having no extra gloves laying around, I bought mine for only a buck and they worked pretty well.

Every item besides the gloves I had around the house already, meaning a total cost of $1. If you already have some gloves that you could use, the project could be practically free!

Total time spent on this project was in excess of 10 hours, over the course of several days. This includes all the trial and error that you will be able to avoid, thanks to this Instructable, however! More than one day will be needed, to allow for the paint to dry. Time that you will require depends on how much attention to detail you take.

Step 2: Prepare the Glove

Picture of Prepare the Glove

First you're going to have to choose the hand that you are going to be sacrificing. This is important since you won't really be able to use that hand for the rest of the evening while wearing the "fake arm" glove. I arbitrarily chose the right glove.

You are then going to begin to cut the glove. Lay the glove palm-up on your workspace, and make a cut up the middle of the palm. You will then continue to cut in a "V", as indicated by the pattern in the second picture.

Cut away any unnecessary linings in the glove that might get in the way.

Step 3: Filling Out the Glove

Picture of Filling Out the Glove

Since you aren't going to have your hand in the glove, something needs to be inside of it, allowing it to maintain its shape and look realistic. I opted to use some nice squishy foam that came with some electronics I bought. It was about 1 cm thick.

I cut the foam into 1 cm wide strips, each slightly longer than the length of each finger except for the thumb. A fifth strip was cut to the length across the knuckles of the glove.

Using wire cutters, cut a piece of a wire coat hanger a little bit shorter than the length of the index finger's foam.

Push the section of hanger carefully into the center of the foam, this will be the "skeleton" of the finger, allowing it to hold its shape.

Next, you are going to bulk up the finger and give it some more shape using fill. I did this by arranging the fill on the top of the foam, and then unceremoniously wrapping packing tape around the entire thing, being sure to get tape on the ends in order to prevent the hanger from potentially poking through.

All pieces are then put into their appropriate places inside of the glove. Arrange the piece of foam that you cut to the length of the knuckles below the foam for the fingers and when you are happy with the location, hold it in place using dots of hot glue. The foam in the fingers shouldn't slip, so you won't need to glue them.

Stuff the thumb with some fill. You won't need to worry about it coming out, we'll deal with that later.

Finally, bend the index finger of the glove to a "C" shape for grasping your wrist when you wear the glove.

Step 4: Begin the Stump

Picture of Begin the Stump

For the arm "stump," I used a shampoo bottle that was approximately the same shape as my forearm.

Cut off the top at an angle, such that the front of the bottle is slightly higher than the back, and the left of the bottle is about 1.5 cm taller than the right (this is for the "right hand" glove, reverse this if you are choosing to make a left handed glove).

Next, I put a thin layer of pillow fill around the bottle to change the shape of it slightly, to make it more like an arm.

I wrapped the bottle, encased in a thin layer of polyester fill, with a sheet of white paper that was cut to the correct width, and then wrapped around and taped into place.

Note how it is beginning to look a bit more like an arm's shape now. The white paper will also prevent the labeling of the bottle from showing through if your fabric that you use in the next step is too sheer. The fill will also give the arm a nice "give" when squeezed, making it that much more realistic.

Step 5: Dressing the Stump

Picture of Dressing the Stump

For the "sleeve" that of your arm stump, you are going to need a section of fabric and a hot glue gun. I chose an old pillow case for my fabric, because of the nice wide hem that was already stitched in, looking like a cuff on a sleeve. I aligned the hem on the cut side of the bottle.

The section of fabric will need to be at least 3 inches or so wider than the bottle is tall (see the first picture) and long enough so that it can wrap completely around the bottle.

I affixed the fabric to the paper outside of the bottle with dots of hot glue as I rolled it around the outside. Be careful to not use too much glue or it may be visible on the outside of the fabric. Pay special attention to the edges, so that they cannot pull away, revealing the bottle.

Finally, you are going to shred the fabric hanging off of the bottom of the bottle. This will further the effect that the limb was viciously torn from someone's body. I made cuts with scissors and then pulled out the threads with my fingers.

Don't worry about the bottom of the bottle- we'll be taking care of that in the next step.

Step 6: Bloody the Stump

Picture of Bloody the Stump

For the fleshy bottom of the stump, we are going to use some more of that great polyester fill, red paint, and my favorite tool: the hot glue gun.

Glue on patches of fill onto the exposed bottom of the bottle using dots of hot glue. I used extra dabs of hot glue to make a chunky texture out of the fill, making it look that much more like the texture of torn muscle. I left a little bit of space in the middle so that I could have some nasty bones sticking out.

Once you are happy with the coverage of the fill, you are going to paint it using a nice, blood-colored paint. I used some red enamel that I had lying around. It took a while to dry, but it worked nicely.

When you are satisfied with the look of the flesh itself, give some love to the rest of the sleeve: let some of the paint soak through the torn fabric and put little splattered dots of blood elsewhere. Also paint some blood on both of the gloves. Let the paint dry overnight.

In the meantime, I chose to make some chunks of bone to have sticking out of the arm using Sculpey brand clay. I sculpted two, baked them in the oven according to the instructions on the box, and let them cool. I then painted them to look bloody as well.

The next morning, the bones fragments were glued to the space left in the middle of the fill using a dot of super glue for each piece.

Step 7: It Starts Coming Together

Picture of It Starts Coming Together

Now that we have the two main components of the glove, it's time to begin the assembly!

First, glue the last three fingers of the glove together using hot glue (pinky, ring, and middle finger). You are going to want to avoid glue being seen on the outside (knuckle side) of the glove.

Next, you are going to lay down a line of hot glue just below the fingers on the palm of the glove and affix the stump. Be careful! You only have one shot at this! With the palm of the glove, the fleshy end of the stump should be facing outwards (the side of the pinky of the glove). The open end of bottle should line up with about the center of the middle finger.

After you have done, hot glue the fingers (only the 3 that are glued together!) to the stump.

As a final shaping structure, we then cut a piece of scrap cardboard, such as a cereal box. I folded the cardboard so that it was doubly-thick, and then cut it at an angle roughly the same as the slant of the knuckle-line on the glove.

The piece of cardboard is inserted into the glove, on TOP of the foam chunks, but below the flaps of your glove's palm. It is then glued into place. Remember the fill in the thumb of the glove? This will also prevent that from coming out. If you really want to go above and beyond- you could cover the cardboard in fabric.

Step 8: Velcro Patches and Loose Ends

Picture of Velcro Patches and Loose Ends

The final step is attaching the Velcro patches that will hold the glove on your arm and in its proper shape.

The Velcro that I used was intended for keeping toddlers out of cabinets, and therefore had VERY strong adhesive backing- meaning that I did not have use anything else to hold the patches on. You may, however, need to use additional glue (or stitching) to keep the Velcro from pulling off.

First, you are going to affix the largest piece of Velcro, which will do the brunt of the holding- I recommend a 1" x 2" piece. The "furry" side of the piece went on the inside of the left part of the glove, and the "catchy" on the outside, located on the right side of the palm. This allows for minimum visibility of the patches. A smaller strip was used on the wrist of the glove just to keep it from flopping open.

Also on the palm is a triangle of Velcro, placed on the triangular flap that you cut on the palm of the glove (see picture).

For the "sleeve" of your stump, you are going to remove a triangle of fabric, with the bottom of the triangle measuring approximately 2" and facing the palm of the glove. Fold the remaining flap of fabric upward and glue it in place. Affix the the other side of the triangle-shaped piece of Velcro on the inside of this glued flap, facing inward.

Glue any seams that appear to be falling apart on the glove, and survey your work... you're done!

Step 9: Wear Your Work, Enjoy the Reactions

Picture of Wear Your Work, Enjoy the Reactions

Congratulations! You can now freak out trick-or-treaters, family, and friends with your seemingly-living severed arm!

To wear your glove takes a little bit of technique. Put your hand into the glove, and put your wrist at a right angle. Your hand should be grasped between the thumb and forefinger of the glove. Velcro relevant patches together, including the triangle piece that you glued to the "sleeve" of your limb.

For the best effect, you will need to keep your wrist at this right angle. Take a break every once in a while if it starts to get sore (I never really had any problems). Put on the other matching glove, and a long sleeved shirt to really have a strong effect. Try applying some makeup to your hand to make it look more "fake" and therefore scare people that much more when you move it.

Have fun with it! Have your arm hold a drink at parties, grab peoples wrists when they touch it, or point at its supposed murderer!


javajunkie1976 (author)2010-09-28

This was the one I made last year. It always amazes me that the home-made costumes have more "life" than the store-bought ones. It was hilarious to watch the parents freak out while it didn't faze the kids one bit. I guess that says something about the younger generation!!

" It always amazes me that the home-made costumes have more "life" than the store-bought ones."

Lol, I see what you did there ◖|◔◡◉|◗

jbrune made it! (author)2017-10-31

Thanks for the instructable. I threw it together in one evening pretty much. Like others I used an old sleeve for the fake arm. Even without makeup on my hand people were fooled on which one is real. Looking @MarkC109's video below I see that practicing with the hand can make it even more creepy/realistic.

SamF98 made it! (author)2017-10-22

It turned out really cool looking. (This picture is from 2 years ago and I hadn't finished the thumb yet.)

Borniet made it! (author)2016-11-10

Thanks for a great instructable!

chapmanb1973 made it! (author)2016-10-27

Awesome design! I modified mine slightly to incorporate an old shirt sleeve but essentially the same.

rmuga made it! (author)2015-11-01

Thank you sir for the instructable. it was just perfect ;)

kdruken13 made it! (author)2015-11-01

My daughter wanted to be a mad scientist for Halloween. I had something like this when I was her age but it was store bought. She had a lot of compliments on it!

Markc109 (author)2015-10-22

Made my Daughter one, she loved it :)

SirCooksalot (author)Markc1092015-10-27

WOW your arm came out really good! How did you get such a realistic fleshy looking severed arm? You've got to share your recipe for that part,that's awesome.

majid sidd (author)2015-10-24


JWDIYguy made it! (author)2015-03-19

Very original! I made this last Halloween and freaked out people! I used my Freddy mask as well as a dagger and a lumber jacket to make it even better!

BLASTFEMI (author)2014-10-24

That's so badass!

NamedJohnny (author)2014-10-20

that is more than original!

dodo91 (author)2010-10-26

heres some photos! i had to do a little testing with the velcro to see where it goes. thats the only part i think u could explaing better. very good quality. using it while typing right now! I LOVE IT!

HarpoMaster (author)dodo912014-10-18

Dude! That looks amazing! It really looks real.

Raitis (author)2014-10-18

After adding some more things this will make a great Halloween costume for me!

script_coded (author)2014-10-18

Wow! Really cool!

ruberns (author)2014-10-18

Brilliant, wish I had known how to do this a couple of years ago! X x x

Chillout (author)2014-10-01

awesome! I used this as an inspiration for my Addams family "thing" suit, pictures of my first prototype included. in the final version, it will be a nice box instead of a coffee box. It will be held by Gomez, who's wearing some fancy white gloves. Anyone who opens up the box, will find Thing inside.

wafflemaker878 (author)2014-09-14

This is really cool!

yellowcatt (author)2014-04-02

Using a torn or cut shirt sleeve on the stump is a good idea.

You should be able to get that for free or a small donation from a charity/thrift store, just say what you want it for and they will probably let you have something from their rag pile of clothes too substandard to sell.

xallie (author)2013-11-02

Had a hard time understanding where to cut and where to put Velcro by looking at the pictures. Think I got i wrong, but manage to make it look somewhat good by using the thumb on the glove to hold up the stump.

xallie (author)xallie2013-11-02

Hmm, images does seem to be working. Link to the finished product :) --->

jasonsj (author)2013-10-31

I think that using an old shirt sleeve gives a greater effect, since giving the arm the same sking colour of your own hand would be really hard. the sleeve would solve that problem instantly. GREAT JOB!

keitre (author)2013-10-30

hey, how about placing a real meat on the other end? chopping a short pork leg then insert it on the other end to look more real..

keitre (author)keitre2013-10-30

and it would look more realistic if you chop an end of a long sleeve to cover the severed fake arm.

Raf-ael (author)2009-11-03

This living severed hand was created by the Magician Kevin James from Las Vegas. He performed it on America got talent & he gave Marvins magic (UK) tye right to sell it in their magic set "freaky body illusions"
So all the credit goes to him for creating this wonderful illusion!

stringstretcher (author)Raf-ael2013-10-30

I have had mine for twenty years...

kdruken13 (author)Raf-ael2011-10-28

I had a plastic one of these in 1993.... I think Kevin James copied that one

Arghus (author)2013-10-30

that is great

Bettybstt (author)2013-10-30

Wow. If I were going Trick-or-Treating, this would be my pick! Great instructable - thanks for doing all the inventing.

thesnowtheriver (author)2013-10-30

this is amazingly awesome i am so impressed! thanks for sharing. Originality? A+++

CompGeekie (author)2013-10-21

Awesome! I'm going for a "fake" look! I've seen these rubber fake hands(with sleeves ) in the local Euro Giant, and I was thinking of buying one of them, so it actually looks like I'm holding and incredibly fake hand, but since my hand will be inside the rubber part (like a glove!) I will be able to move my fingers, and I won't have to cut off my tell-tale long nails. Hope that makes sense,lol!

E43ltlArbiter (author)2013-03-28

am ii the only one that thinks this is GROSS!!!!!!

SeaWingedSiren (author)2012-10-11

This is super cool! The man in the very top instructable is also handsome :) LOL

rjs899 (author)2009-11-01

This was great. At least a dozen kids were too scared to even take the Halloween candy i was offering.

For the bone piece, I used a 1" rawhide bone dog chew. The coloring and texture was perfect, and i made it stick out about 2" from the fake arm. A little blood on the bone made it very realistic.


Brian Henderson (author)rjs8992012-09-25

Oh this is perfect. I was wondering what to use for the bone piece. Thank you for the tip!

rjs899 (author)rjs8992009-11-01

I meant to say that the rawhide was 1" thick, and about 8" long.

dlcain (author)2011-10-14

I made one of these the other day, and my daughter wore it to her halloeen choir concert. She got a lot of comments about it, and it was funny to see her up there wearing it. She had a short solo part, and she used the "severed hand" to hold the mic. I heard a couple of laughs from the audience. GREAT IDEA!

HVahead (author)2011-10-03

you could also use some 1 inch thick sticks and break them so they splinter, then paint them white...

gplett (author)2011-09-04

Great idea. If I end up doing this, I think I'll grab a plaid flannel shirt from the thrift store and cut a sleeve from it for the stump. But totally a classic costume!

willrandship (author)2011-02-10

Couldn't you keep using the hand, as long as no one's looking?

wkortum (author)2010-11-11


kayla9 (author)2010-11-10

Best instructable ever! I tell everyone i found it in the parking and they're like let me see then i wiggle my fingers and they alost wet themselves! Thanks

mark2u (author)2010-10-31

I keep my hand still and when people ask me how I made such a realistic hand, I tell them I made a cast of my real hand. I suggest they touch it to see how real it feels and when they do... I wiggle my fingers. Don't do this if the person you are doing it to has a heart condition... because the reaction is sure to make them wet themselves! Great fun.

mberg (author)2010-10-30

sweet instructable man. my severed hand is awsome. the only trouble i had is the velcro because I didn't really understand how you did. the problem i have NOW is the glove swivelling around my wrist(its not that big of a deal).

Dreex123 (author)2010-10-30

that's great, it's a good idea for halloween ! , This is the best instructable of Halloween.

Greetings from Chile

Slightly Askew (author)2010-10-30

Thanks! This was a hit at our party last night.

Procrastinateher (author)2010-10-28

Thankyou for this Instructable, it's a pretty neat idea.

Might I just add for anybody following this Instructable, that the hot glue gun makes a LOT of difference. I used PVA glue (applied liberally and secured tightly whilst drying), and I can't get my severed arm to sit at the right angle for the maximum illusion effect.
Might have something to do with using a too-short piece of plastic from a plastic severed arm thing...

I used black ribbon instead of velcro (like the back of a corset), it looks pretty good if the edges of your glove don't quite reach.

I was going to make my version an edible one, but ran out of time to do much with it. You could use almond (royal) icing and dye it for flesh if you're thinking about it, but most foods might be a bit too heavy for this costume and your arm.

It's definitely a project I will attempt again though, when I have access to the right tools and a semi-appropriate occasion :D

About This Instructable




Bio: Jus' living the good life.
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