Introduction: NES Stepping Stones

The Nintendo Entertainment System rocked the world with 8-bit goodness when it first came out, but it has faded in use as the years have gone on. I got a ton of use out of my own, but now... not so much.

Even though I don't play retro games, I still love the old box and figured that it should be honored in some way. Thus a concrete version would be great since it could live on in my garden as stepping stones. That way it would still provide a path for me to enjoy,

Here's how to make them.

Step 1: Prep the NES - Part 1

All you need is the top half of the NES. Fortunately, it comes off easily with a Phillips-head screwdriver.

After you get the top off, you'll see a few plastic posts that stick out. Cut these off with a Dremel. You now have a top half that will lay flat.

Note: some people are shocked to see a NES console cut up. The machine still works and the top can be reattached if you want. But still, they sold over 60 million of these things and barely any are used these days. Relax.

Step 2: Prep the NES - Step 2

The next thing to do is to make the NES as water-tight as you can so that the mold won't be able to flow through. This means going crazy with a hot glue gun. Seal up the vent on the top, the door, and any other spot you can see.

To find more places that need glue, hold the NES up to the light. See a leak? Glue it! Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Step 3: Mold!

The mold-making here is extremely straightforward thanks to the slightly tapered rectangular shape of the NES. Glue the NES to the bottom, build a box around the NES, and coat everything with mold release.

I left a 1/2" margin around the NES and used Smooth-On PMC-746, 1.5 qt. set for the mold itself.

Making the mold was pretty standard stuff. Mix the two ingredients thoroughly, slowly pour, tap to release any bubbles, and then leave it for a day.

To get it out, just break apart the box, pop the whole thing off of the bottom, and slowly peel the mold off of the NES.

Step 4: Casting

All right, time to get serious! Yup, it's time for the cement.

The cement I'm using here is Duracal and it mixes with a 4:1 cement-water ratio. Cement is tough stuff so you'll want to mix it up with incrementally larger amounts. What I did was add 400g of Duracal to 100g of water and stirred that for a while until it was well mixed. Then I would add another 400g of Duracal and 100g of water and keep on mixing again until it was well mixed. For each stone, I used about 2.2kg of Duracal.

If you look at the 1st and 2nd photos here you'll see my first attempt. Two things went wrong here: the cement wasn't mixed well enough and the mold had undercuts in the vents that broke off when I pulled the mold off. The first time I mixed the concrete I tried it all in one go. It took forever to mix it up and even then it was uneven. It looks distressed, which is kinda cool, but not what I was going for.

I also went over the mold with a razor blade to clean up the undercuts and got much better lines on the vent.

The Duracal was supposed to be able to be removed from the mold after 2 hours. I waited 3-4 hours for these two. It needs 24 hours to dry out most of the way and I was told that it takes 30 days to completely dry out.

Step 5: Set and Enjoy!

When the stepping stones are dry, just drop them where you want them. You can paint them, seal them, or add color to the cement if you want. Personally, I like the gray look. As stepping stones, they're great and there's an added bonus if you look down and recognize them.

Other consoles that would work for this: Dreamcast, the original PlayStation, the original Xbox, 3DO, and GameCube (small stones).

Big thanks to the folks at Douglas and Sturgess in San Francisco for helping me out with all of my mold and casting questions.

Comments

author
Jedi_zombie85 (author)2015-11-17

just found these and they are epic

author
darman12 (author)2013-08-24

Those look sweet!

author
moonchylde (author)2013-04-04

I currently own two of these consoles (one's slowly becoming a computer, and the other's still in use) . Looks like I'll be purchasing another one in the near future.

author
moonchylde (author)2013-04-04

I currently own two of these consoles (one's slowly becoming a computer, and the other's still in use) . Looks like I'll be purchasing another one in the near future.

author
ninjatesshin (author)2012-10-26

I don't like they are destroying old NES's in there finland them are rares

author
timwikander (author)2011-11-04

these are great! instantly recognizable in the concrete grey color. way to make an ordinary object more fun!

author
raith2006 (author)2011-04-19

should add some paint to these

author
Aquilla (author)raith20062011-09-22

I was thinking the same thing. Splitting the mold into 2 parts to allow the use of a black dye in the aggregate of the smaller part would make the the stones more recognisable.

Though for the time and effort a better effect might just be to instead make similar molds for the SNES, N64, and Gamecube - perhaps even a Wii if a broken one can be found cheap enough.

I think progressing along the stepping stones would make for a nice idea, but I wouldn't like trying to stand on an N64 stepping stone if its icy; plus the wii and Gamecube would be really small too. I'd hate to hear someone broke a hip on one of these.

They might work ok in a rock garden or in crazy paving though, so long as the height of each of 'em of match up.

author
reginaron (author)2011-03-04

hi

I didn't read anything about you adding any reinforcement bar,to this mix
Stepping stones, are usually made of Concrete, not cement.

cheers

author
lcorriveau (author)reginaron2011-03-20

Cement is the powdered stuff you use to make concrete. & I think rebar *might* be overkill for stepping stones... :)

author
reginaron (author)lcorriveau2011-03-21

hi
As my post states, stepping stones are usually made from concrete.
cement is an adhesive. Adding even something, like chicken-wire, or coathanger wire, in the form will add a little bit of (reinforcement), sturdiness to plain concrete. :)

author
timweaver17 (author)reginaron2011-06-19

cement: A powdery substance made by calcining lime and clay, mixed with water to form mortar or mixed with sand, gravel, and water to make concrete

concrete: A heavy, rough building material made from a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, cement, and water, that can be spread or poured into molds and that forms a stonelike mass on hardening

author
raith2006 (author)2011-04-19

this is an awesome idea, I might have to try it, though instead of just using the NES I could probably try an old xbox, or some other systems if they are the right shape

author
indomitable (author)2011-03-07

these are awesome, so subtle and cool.

author
kelseymh (author)2011-03-01

These look an awful lot like Frank Lloyd Wright's textile blocks. Was that intentional?

author
fungus amungus (author)kelseymh2011-03-01

By the original industrial designer? No idea.

As for me, my motivation was that the NES was a great size for a stepping stone. I was looking at molds at Home Depot and thought I should make my own instead. The NES popped up as an option right away.

After seeing the finished item, though, I really like the lines on it way more when it's monochromatic. It looks cool even if you don't know the source.

author
kelseymh (author)fungus amungus2011-03-01

Oh, no. I meant intentional by you: They are really reminiscent of the Ennis House (see Blade Runner), for example.

The monochromatic concrete with the linear textures is great, in a very pure American A&C style. They would not look out of place at all in any of the Craftsman bungalows off of Telegraph or Solano Ave. The fact that they derive from a mass-produced plastic electronics enclosure introduces some wonderfully ironic tension for those who recognize the design.

author
indomitable (author)kelseymh2011-03-07

o_O

author
reginaron (author)2011-03-04

hi
Wouldn't be easier, to build a wood mold for the cement,pour it in, wait until it's alomst stiff, then just press in the top of the NES ,into the cement, with mabye a layer of cellophane inbetween?
No need to take the Nes apart either.

cheers

author
fungus amungus (author)reginaron2011-03-04

Then you'd have an indentation of the NES, a negative instead of a positive. You would also lose a lot of the detail.

author
reginaron (author)fungus amungus2011-03-05

hi

u r right, detail? I don't know, I don't have an NES to do this.

author
mslaynie (author)reginaron2011-03-05

That's not a bad idea, but it won't be anything like what the author is actually going to end up with. With the author's project, you'll end up with a cement replica of the NES lid. With what you describe, you'd end up with a cement block that has ridges in it, if they didn't get stuck in the top of the NES lid. Totally different end result.

Still, it's good to think about these things. :D

author
reginaron (author)mslaynie2011-03-05

Hi
It all depends on how good of a finisher you are.

cheers

author
CropJ (author)2011-03-03

How clever. "Stepping Stone"... I get it.

author
fungus amungus (author)CropJ2011-03-04

You do?

author
kmbrmom (author)2011-03-03

I was attracted by the photo, I had no idea what NES was—not a gamer, so I never would have made the connection to nintendo if I saw these on a path. That part makes them more interesting, though. The design is very bauhaus, and the cement is perfect for the subtle lines. Clever you for seeing the potential in an old beige box.

author
bsgolob (author)2011-03-03

Cool.

author
Senior Waffleman (author)2011-03-01

NICE!!!

author
TOCO (author)Senior Waffleman2011-03-01

I own one too but I wont take it apart for this. I still play it in spare time over the summer.

author
Senior Waffleman (author)TOCO2011-03-01

You replied to the wrong person -_-

author

That was awesome

author
Vynash (author)2011-03-01

Great!!! I still own one :-)

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Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at supamoto.co. You'll like it.
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