Wanna Steam up a plastic gun? Or just make a more "Yar!-worthy" prop gun? Here is a couple common cheap plastic pirate-themed guns you can paint to look like wood and aged metal that could be the perfect piece-de-resistance for your costume.

Step 1: Gather your supplies

Picture of Gather your supplies
What you will need:

For Aged Metal:
  • matte black spray paint
  • black model paint and a brush
  • your choice of metal Rub n' Buff (Rub n' Buff is a brand name for a wax with metallic powders and pigments used to gild household items. Or Steampunk guns. ;) In this tutorial, you will see examples of antique gold and pewter)
  • paper towels or a rag
  • sandpaper (fine or medium grit)
  • matte finishing spray/sealant

For Wood Grain:
  • yellow or cream colored acrylic craft paint
  • paper towels
  • matte black spray paint
  • matte or semi-gloss red spray paint
  • matte or semi-gloss brown spray paint
  • sandpaper (fine or medium grit)
  • matte or semi-gloss finishing spray/sealant
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pyratenyte2 years ago
Awesome instructable. Thanks for the effort!

I've been using this one for a while. Here are some pics. Enjoy!
TribalDancer (author)  pyratenyte1 year ago
Wow these look fantastic. Sorry I didn't see them until now! Great job!
How do you remove the glued on orange safety cap from the pirate pistol? I have one of the ones you pictured on the first page actually. Not the short one with the ornate handle, but the longer one. I tried to get mine off only to find it is glued on. I actually used a dremel to half it so I could get both halves of the pistol apart before I realized it wasn't simply just stuck.
TribalDancer (author)  Amara Deegan1 year ago
Sorry I never saw this comment. Yes, sometimes they are glued and I would just use a Dremel to hack it off. Hope your gun turned out well!
amynadler1 year ago
Awesome job, both pistols look great! I'm curious, what paint did you use differently that made the pistol with the gold/bronze accents so much red-er and lighter? I plan on steampunking a sawed off buzzbee for halloween and your tutorial is by far the best I've found - thanks!
TribalDancer (author)  amynadler1 year ago
Hi Amynadler! Glad the tutorial was helpful.
I simply used more red in with the paint layers described in Step 5. Hope that helps!
VonViolet2 years ago
This is EXACTLY what I was looking for! Thank you so much for making this! Now to figure out how to remove the spring loaded part without breaking it. X'D
I'm pretty sure toy guns are required to have the red safety cap by law - at least they are here in Oz. I mean chances are it won't be mistaken for a real gun, but you could still get into trouble with the police.
Here in California if it's sold with a orange tip you can't remove while in state. If the tip was removed out of state and brought in then it is ok.
By law if it to be SOLD it must come with a blaze orange cap or making at tip of barrel. There is nothing stopping you from taking the tip off of YOUR toy. UNSAFE but nothing illegal. So as long as you don't go walking around town out of costume, I doubt someone is going to mistake it for a prop costume piece.
thehamman5 years ago
What do you mean by "Sand all surfaces with the sandpaper"? What surfaces are you tlking about exactly?
TribalDancer (author)  thehamman3 years ago
I can't believe I didn't reply to this! All surfaces means all exterior surfaces. The entire outside of the plastic toy.
I did something with the exact same toy- I'm using it in a short movie I'm making! I left the gold part alone because the paints I have don't work on metallic-coloured surfaces and made the barrel brown, like wood. Yours is definitely better though.
Ian324 years ago
When working with the Rub 'n Buff on a project like this, I found that one of the most useful tools to have on hand is a handful of q-tips. They're great for softening the edge of the metal finish in places where your fingertip can't quite reach.
MrSalvador5 years ago
OH my! I cant wait!! I have needed a good 'able for making a steampunk gun but most of them required welding :) I'm making a steampun costume for halloween, using 'ables like the steampunk shutter shades
koleypunch5 years ago
 Here is my first attempt using this technique. Not bad for my first try. Thanks for the instructions!
TribalDancer (author)  koleypunch5 years ago
Looks great! Glad it was helpful!
azshrial5 years ago
awesome gun!

i am starting my own project tonight! thanks! ..i like the india pale  in the supplies pic...i think its a critical part of the process as well...lol

What can i use outside of rub 'n buff, similar products. Could you give it a gold/brass undercoat with a black overcoat, and then sand through the black? Or wont it give the same effect?
I'd think you could paint it allover with metallic craft paint, then rub/daub dark paint into the cracks, let it set a minute, then wipe it with a soft cloth? I've done that before for antiquing wood with varying paints and stains, I'd bet it would work fine on plastic as well. Just make sure you put a clearcoat on over the acrylic craft paints, because those will wear pretty quickly if it's on something you handle a lot.
I was wondering the same thing. Would doing a drybrush with metallic paint have a similar effect? I'm kinda working on the super, super-cheap here.
TribalDancer (author)  digitalmerc6 years ago
I hear ya on saving da' cash. But you buy rub n buff once and you will be able to use it for tonnnnnns of projects. It goes a long way!
TribalDancer (author)  Billy mahony6 years ago
That is a really good question. I like the rub n' buff partly because of the texture of it, and control of it. But just like with miniatures painting, I do imagine that if you did a metallic undercoat you would be able to water down black paints and get the effect on raised areas. I am not so confident you would get the same effect as on the barrel, where it is more striated looking. But try it and report back!
MeZergy6 years ago
This is so gorgeous!! I'm modding my own gun right now (it's not as piratey, though... in fact, with the black coat of paint on it, it looks a bit more military... I hope it doesn't look to silly when I'm completely finished with it!!). This is surely a great inspiration to me. Thanks for the amazing idea. I'll be sure to post pictures of my own gun when I'm finished (maybe even my whole steampunk costume!!). ;)
MeZergy MeZergy6 years ago
Here it is!! I just finished it today. :D It isn't really "wooden" looking, but I think your tutorial helped my first mod to be a success! <3
elyador MeZergy6 years ago
wow. I would never have tried this on a gun like that. it came out amazing.
Wow. I like the pirate gun, but that's fabulous too. You both inspire me.
That's a flint lock blackpowder pistol, most popularly used by pirates but flintlocks were used also in the American revolution both by Americans and the British. The pre-1840's mountain men also used them but the flintlock shared glory with the caplock during this era. The caplock is more like our modern guns using a "cap" instead of flint being thrown down harshly shaving of pieces of steel creating sparks to ignite the blackpowder cache in the barrel building up pressure propelling the projectile.
wow, a cyberpunked squirtgun
That's what the author used in this i'ble...
TribalDancer (author)  MeZergy6 years ago
Wow! Fantastic job! Congrats, and thanks so much for stopping by to share it!
Darter766 years ago
did u make the fancy design parts or did u have them laying around?
TribalDancer (author)  Darter766 years ago
There were no fancy design parts. The gun came just as is, and I only used paint techniques to fancy it up!
i mean the metal parts on the sides
TribalDancer (author)  Darter766 years ago
There are no metal parts. It is all plastic with paint effects, and all came on the original plastic squirt gun. Are you talking about my Instructable? Or someone else who has posted here?
oh they look metal and yes i am talking about your instructable basicaly saying how real it looks
TribalDancer (author)  Darter766 years ago
You can see the before and after pictures in the Instructable:

These show that nothing was changed except the paint finish.
o i did not look at all the pictures. nice job painting
Kaelessin6 years ago
Just wanted to say two things:

First, AWESOME job on these . . .the wooden one is incredible! (in the truest sense of the word . . .it's actually hard to believe that that isn't wood!)

Second, THANKS! this ible lit a fire under my butt so to speak and inspired me to create something including the use of that rub n buff stuff!

I hope you don't mind . . .I included a link to this ible when I talked about the rub n buff. Here's mine . . .
TribalDancer (author)  Kaelessin6 years ago
WOW! Great work! And yeah, isn't Rub n Buff the best?! Keep rockin!
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