If you want to make a bazooka / grenade launcher / some other nondescript weapon of canon-like doom but you don't have superior sculpting or woodworking skills, fear not! This is the perfect tutorial for you! (Please note that, if you do have any of the aforementioned skills, you are by no means excluded from using this tutorial.)
In order to begin making your non-functional weapon of minimal destruction, you will need to acquire a few things:
- wide-mouthed pvc tube (I believe the one I have pictured has a 3" diameter.)
- any other pvc bits you feel might look cool and will work with your pipe size (I got a cap for the end, but that was it.)
- cheap plastic guns, nerf or otherwise
- other tidbits/knickknacks you may have or want in order to add some texture to your gun (For example, the lip around my gun is the rim of an ice cream bucket, and the bands around the gun are also strips from the ice cream bucket, save for the one up front which is a scrap of vinyl from an earlier project for Hiccup's weapon.)
- air dry clay
- good adhesive (I used a combination of contact cement and hot glue. I wanted pvc glue but the hardware store closed minutes before I got there.)
- primer (Although I love my gesso, I went with a spray primer for most of it because I didn't want to lose the detailed textures from the guns.)
- clear sealer (I'd suggest using either a matte or eggshell/satin finish. You can use gloss if you want, but that will make it look really shiny and I didn't want that when I was giving it a rusted look.)
- fresh air/ventilation
*Please note that this is for looks only! It will not function, and just so that no one has any misgivings about this project, I don't know diddly squat about guns! This is a costume prop so I don't mind if it doesn't quite look real. I'd rather not get in trouble with the authorities for toting a realistic-looking gun around in public without a permit.
Step 1: Acquire Your Main Body Parts
- Get a decently sized piece of pvc pipe as the main base for your gun. As I mentioned in the material list on the intro page, the piece of pipe I got had a 3" diameter. I'm not going to say that you need to get one that is this exact size, seeing as this is a very flexible project and you can customize it in whatever way suits you!
- If you'd like you may also get other pvc parts that fit your pipe to help add some pizzazz.
- Find some nerf/other cheap plastic guns. I got these two guns at Goodwill. (You may notice that one of them was a Buck Hunter game gun...I hope you can forgive me for what I'm about to do.)
Step 2: Slice and Dice, Then Pretty It Up!
PLEASE note that you will want to do these steps in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. You may also want to wear protective gear like a face mask just to stay best buds with your lungs. (I'd hate for you two to go through a rough breakup.)
- Take some sandpaper and sand your pvc until the smooth, shiny outside isn't shiny anymore and has a slightly textured feel to it. Primer and paint won't stick very well to its surface otherwise, at least until you rough it up a bit.
- Saw the parts you want off your cheap plastic guns. Note that if you do this outside, your neighbors will more than likely stare at you. Trust me, you should have seen some of the looks I had out on my apartment's lawn.
- You can use a few different saw types depending on what you have on hand. I made do with a Stanley hacksaw, because unfortunately that's the only saw I have and I don't have a garage where I can keep a nice, snazzy table saw. Oh well.
- Take your gun bits and assemble them in whatever fashion suits you. I changed my mind after this picture, but you should at least get the concept.
- Once you know where you want your pieces to be, glue them on.
- While I would have preferred to have some pvc glue, the hardware store closed a little bit before I managed to get there so I went home and used what I had instead. First I used contact cement, and once that dried I use copious amounts of hot glue.
- Do not be afraid to use a lot of hot glue if indeed you're going that route. It may gush out the edges a little and you'll want to try and keep that to a minimum or have a scrap of something nearby in order to smooth it down quickly before it dries, but it's better to make sure that your pieces won't come off.
- Personally, I didn't mind the fact that I had some glue gushing. It helped make my rusty paint job easier, seeing as rusty metal parts will bubble and flake.
- Plug your holes! These cheap plastic guns may look cool but you'll quickly find out that, after sawing them, that's merely a veneer for a vastly hollow interior. Smaller holes are easy enough to fill with hot glue and I did that on the small handle, but with larger holes merely fill them with air dry clay.
- This is an optional step, but if you'd like to add more texture to your gun, don't hesitate to do so! I ended up dismantling an ice cream bucket and using the rim and a couple strips from it as bands encircling my gun, but you can take other things you may have on hand and glue them to your gun as well. (nuts, tacks, etc) I'm sorry that I didn't get a final picture of all the little extras on my gun before I primed it, but you'll see what I mean with my images on the next page.
Step 3: Prime Your Weapon/Pose Like No One's Business
- Once all the glue is dry, use a primer in order to make the various surfaces easier to paint. I'd suggest using at least two coats.
- If you have nowhere to really set your weapon while it's drying or you were simply too eager to prime it all in one go, feel free to take some badass poses. You may need some assistance if you didn't plan on doing this before you got stuck with a drying weapon on your arm for half an hour.
- For your own safety, PLEASE only use your arm as a drying rack if you feel comfortable doing so and will have the ability to take it off. I don't want anyone going to the hospital to get a pvc pipe off their arm just because they wanted to look cool for 10 seconds!
Step 4: Make It Pretty!
- This is your custom weapon, so paint it the way you want it to look! I do not in any way want to stunt your creativity.
- (If anyone asks, it says "BOOMBURST" because this weapon is for my sister's Pokemon Noivern steampunk outfit. Boomburst happens to be its signature move.)
- If you want to make your weapon look a little rusty or worn, note that rust tends to form where parts join, along cracks and around screws, etc. Rust bubbles and flakes, so because I had bubbles on the edges where I glued my parts on, I made sure to paint the biggest bumps with a purer brown and blend it down the further I got away. Google rusty textures if you'd like a reference to look at.
Step 5: Finish It Off!
- Using your choice of finish, make sure to use at least 2-3 coats. (I used three on this one.) Once again I'm not going to tell you that any finish is right or wrong, just know that if you're making it rusty like I am, it would be best not to use a high gloss.
- Allow your weapon time to dry according to the directions for your finish. You made it this far, so the last thing you want is a nice thumb print smudged into the clear coat or pet fur sticking to your gun because you set it on the ground for a picture before it was fully dry. (I didn't do that last bit, but I'm trying to come up with some good reasons here!)
- Enjoy your new weapon prop!