Introduction: Quick and Easy Crowbar Prop
This is a lightweight crowbar prop made from PVC pipe. I built it for a Gordon Freeman costume for Dragon Con 2014. So why not use a real crowbar? The 'con has some (IMHO, very sensible) rules regarding weapons and I figured it would violate the spirit, and quite possibly the letter, of those rules to brandish a real crowbar. Plus real crowbars are heavy and I'm going to be sweating enough under all that EVA foam all day.
Did I mention it was quick? Took me about 2 hours to build, not including painting. Material cost should be well under $10 USD.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- a real crowbar (optional)
- pipe cutter
- heat gun (I use the Harbor Freight 1500w model -- it's a LOT cheaper than some others I've seen. I think I got mine on sale for less than $10)
- vise or clamp with wide, flat jaws. I used my dinky little 6-inch woodworkers vise.
- 1/2-inch PVC pipe (about 3-1/2 to 4 feet) (most of the pictures are of my first attempt where I used 3/4 pipe, but it was a little bulky; I re-did it in 1/2 and got way better results)
- electrical tape
- some scrap 3/4-inch-thick wood
- spray paint
Step 2: Make Curve Patterns
Option 1: If you have a real crowbar
Lay the actual crowbar on the scrap wood and trace around the two curves (I'll call them the "hook" and "pry" curves). You don't have to trace all around the entire thing; it's really only important that you trace the inside of each curve.
Option 2: If you don't have a real crowbar...or are just lazy
Download the pattern attached to this step (pattern.PDF), print it out, cut out the two curves patterns with scissors, then transfer the curves to scrap wood
Once you have the curves traced onto your wood, use a jigsaw to cut out the pattern pieces, leaving enough wood that you can bend the pipe around the pattern. The last two pictures show how the patterns should be cut.
Just so you don't forget later, it's always a good idea to label each piece.
Step 3: Prep the Pipe for Bending
Cut the pipe to length based on your real crowbar. Mine was about 46 inches.
Mark and label where each curve will start on the pipe. The nice thing here is you can make your prop longer or shorter than the real thing; mine's actually a bit shorter.
Next, cap one end of the pipe with electrical tape, fill it about 1/2 way with sand, then cap the other end with electrical tape. The sand helps to minimize the amount of crimp the pipe experiences when it's bent.
Step 4: Bend It to Your Will!
Use a heat gun to heat the area for the hook curve. I would notice the plastic would start bulging out a bit when it was hot enough. Once that happens, carefully bend the pipe around the hook curve pattern. Hold it there until it cools (maybe 30-60 seconds). Repeat for the pry curve.
Make sure you keep the pry curve in the same plane as the hook curve!
When the curves are cool and rigid, un-tape the ends and pour the sand out.
You'll notice in the pictures that the hook-end experienced some crimping on the inside of the curve. This was my first attempt where I used 3/4" PVC. When I re-did it with 1/2" I didn't get any crimping.
Step 5: Making the Flat Ends
I recommend you practice this step on a piece of scrap pipe. You'll even notice my first three pictures are from my own "practice round."
Start by opening the vise up just enough that you can get the end of the pipe in it. Don't open it too wide -- you'll have a fairly short work time, so don't waste it closing the vise.
Heat the end of the pipe with the heat gun until it's soft, then clamp it in the vise to get the flat. Again, practicing on some scrap once or twice will help you get the look you want, as well as get the timing right.
You'll want a flat on both ends. When you're finished, use a hacksaw to cut a nail-puller notch on the hook-end's flat (as shown in the third picture).
Step 6: Paint It
I was going for a Half-Life look, so I started with a base of flat black spray paint. Once that was dry, I masked off the ends with blue tape and paper and used red spray paint for the grip section.
And now it's all ready for menacing headcrab zombies!