Introduction: Thor: the Dark World Mjolnir
First Prize in the
Halloween Props Contest
First off, confession. I'm really not a big Thor fan.
I like the character just fine, but most of that has to do with the movies. I still remember being surprised by the cheers for the end credits scene in Iron Man 2 ("That's got to be the first time anyone shouted "*bleep* yeah Thor!!!"). And then Marvel did a great job bringing to life this character that I would never have thought could be successful in a movie. Two thoughts entered my mind when I watched Thor and Avengers. "Hey, Thor is cool" and "That hammer is really cool".
So for a character that I like but not crazy about, I spent an odd amount of time crafting his main weapon four times (3 completed). The first one I did was primarily made of mdf and was just okay. I wanted to make a better version, but at the same time didn't want to spend all day in a wood shop. This is the build I'll be describing. All in all I worked on it off and on for under 3 weeks and only used two power tools (a power drill and a scroll saw). With some cleverness, those could probably be eliminated too.
Styrene sheets: One 8-pack of .060 (1.5mm) should be enough for the hammer head. A single sheet of .118 (3mm) will be used for the capstone on the top if you have a scroll saw to cut (order an extra 1.5mm sheet if not and use a circle cutter instead). Also, it'll get you over $25, so free shipping. Cool. Can also be found at most hobby stores.
Garage sale sign: Any hardware store should carry them, with the small sizes usually a dollar or less. This will be used to create the detail lines on the sides of the hammer and also give you a base for the pommel.
1" pvc pipe and two bushings: Any hardware store with a plumbing section. The pipe will act as our handle with the bushing being the way to connect it to the hammer. The bushings will also double to help you create the "metal" coupler where the hammer meets the handle.
Puffy paint: Any art store or Wal-Mart. This will create the Norse(?) scrollwork on the sides of the hammer (I also used it to mock up some fake stitching on the handle and back side of the strap). Any color will do, but I'd avoid lighter ones for clarity's sake.
Apoxie sculpt: Used to create the trim and corners on the hammer head, the rings around the handle, sculpt the pommel and design, and fill in any large holes. Literally my favorite stuff to work with. A 1lb container should be enough, but I love the stuff so much that I bought 4lbs. Just remember that a little of it goes a long way. I suggest using any excess to make little coins with polite (or rude, up to you) sayings.
Brown belt (1" wide or less): Used for our strap. This one might be trickier to find. I found mine at a Goodwill in the ladies belt section (that got me some stares) for $0.51. If you flat out don't have one you can use, I suggest searching second hand clothing stores.
Imitation leather: Used to wrap the handle. The product I used is actually intended for binding book covers. It's durable, feels great, and thin enough to cut easily with a decent pair of scissors. Alternatively you can check out fabric stores, use real leather, or even just paint the handle with acrylics.
Paints: I only used Krylon Fusion Black Satin spray paint, Design Masters Modern Metals Champagne Silver, some black acrylics (just used to weather the hammer head), and Testors Silver Enamel. Jo-Ann Fabrics should have the Design Master paint, but be sure to check out any local or discount art stores first for potentially a better deal.
Super glue: The main thing that will initially hold the whole thing together.
Great Stuff expanding foam: Used to fill in the hammer head to add weight and give support and structure. Follow all directions on the can and use in a well ventilated area (outside is best).
X-acto knife and metal ruler: These are the most used tools on the whole project, so have some extra blades handy. This will score and cut all the styrene for the hammer head, make smooth cuts through Apoxie when sculpting the trim and designs, and trim up the belt for the strap. They're also cheap and readily available. X-acto knives are super sharp, so be careful.
Linoblock cutter: This will only be used to carve in the runes on the capstone using the small v blade. They're fairly easy to use and not too expensive. If you've never used one before be sure to practice on some scrap styrene.
Circle cutter and compass: The compass will be used to mark out a guideline for the runes. Mine was an $0.88 one from an art store. I used the circle cutter to create an opening for the handle and bushing to fit inside the hammer head.
Scroll saw: I used it to cut out the capstone. This is more of a specialty tool that I happened to already have. If you don't have one, I suggest cutting the capstone out of the thinner 1.5mm styrene with the circle cutter and layering some pieces together and then sand into shape.
Riveter and rivets: Used to hold the side caps in place and to hold the strap into place. Alternatively you can probably use bolts and nuts.
Power drill: To drill holes for the rivets. I think it's fair to say either everyone has one or access to one, but if not it's a good investment.
Things like Spot Putty, JB Weld or Bondo, a hacksaw. Readily available and fairly cheap.
Step 1: Assembling the Hammer Head
The majority of the hammer head is constructed out of 1.5mm styrene. I bought mine on Amazon in a 12"x12" 8 pack which was more than enough.
Using an X-acto knife and a metal ruler, I cut 6 pieces in 6"x6" squares with the corners cut to a 45° angle. Our side pieces (as well as the top and bottom) will measure out to 4 1/2"x 7". Using a circle cutter I cut out the centers of four of them. They'll allow me to spray foam the inside in a later step. The other two pieces will act as our base for the side caps. Since I know I'll be riveting the side caps on, I marked them and the braces as A and B and drilled holes for my rivets. Now they'll match up.
For the bottom, I used five pieces total. It needs to measure 4 1/2"x7" to match all the other sides. The center is 2 3/4" wide and the sides are 1 3/4". They're held together by super glue. The bottom and top also have holes cut out to allow room for our handle and the bushing that it will attach to.
In order to get the engraved detail into the sides, I cut out the raised portions from garage sale sign (It's virtually the same material as styrene, if not exactly the same) and glued them on.
After all the pieces are cut, they're carefully glued into place.
Step 2: Making the Capstone and Spray Foaming.
The capstone is very straight forward, just time consuming.
Using a compass, I drew a circle with a diameter of 3 3/4" on 3mm styrene and then marked some guidelines for the runes. I sketched the runes (as well as my initials) in with a fine point sharpie, then stained over it with a blue marker. The blue let's me see exactly what I'm carving out and helps me see how well it looks. As for carving, I used a Speedball Linoblock carver with a small V point.
Once it was completed (about 3 Steam Train episodes), I superglued it to some scrap 1.5mm styrene (for added thickness) and cut the circle out on my scroll saw. If you go the scroll saw route, I suggest using a thick rough cut blade and move steadily. Using a finer blade or going the wrong speed will only result in melting your cut back together.
Now that it's cut out I drilled a hole directly in the center so I could draw out a guide to glue my 1" pvc bushing on to. There's some raised lettering on the bushing, but some low grit sandpaper will remove it quickly for a nice flat surface to superglue it to.
Then I glue it in and add the 1" pvc pipe that will act as the handle. After that I used Great Stuff expanding foam on the inside, being careful not to add too much. Not only does the expanding foam give the hammer a little weight while still being manageable, but it helps hold the hammer head itself together by reinforcing the structure. After it sets all that's left is to blend the seams with JB Weld and sand it smooth. It's a good idea to put some masking tape over the detail on the sides before you add JB Weld. That'll keep it out of our nice crisp lines.
Step 3: Making That Little Coupler Thingy
That silver little thing directly under the hammer head is a cool touch that's deceivingly simple to make. Using a lathe seems like the most obvious solution, but remember, I didn't want to go to a woodshop again. All you'll need is Apoxie sculpt, a small piece of 1" pvc pipe, two bushings for the pipe, some tin foil and scotch tape.
First, tape one layer of tin foil to the pipe. Don't overlap it too much.
Then, press your bushings on so there's a gap about 3/4" in between them. Don't push too tight, you're going to need to be able to easily remove them. Cut the pipe down if you have to.
Fill that gap with Apoxie and smooth it out with water. Etch a line into it with a sculpting tool or even just the edge of your metal ruler. Then let it set over night.
Once it hardens, pull the bushings off and you can easily twist the Apoxie off. The tin foil keeps it from sticking to the pipe. Then just sand it into shape, slide it on the handle and glue it in place. A cool touch and no lathe needed.
Step 4: The Side Caps
I'm making names up as I go along. Bear with me.
We're going to need to make a structure for our side caps to stick on to. We need to cut out 16 of those little guys in the second picture. Glue them together and then to our bases that we marked as A and B in the first step. To account for the design panels and the trim, I left a gap all around the border.
Then, using some wooden skewers, I lined them up to the ends of the hammer, glued them down and riveted them in place. The glue gives a good hold, but the rivets make sure it won't come apart again. After that, cut two end pieces to cover our structure (the corners cut to a 45) and carefully glue them in place. Then it's time to spray foam again. Be sure not to add too much. Once it starts setting you can carve away the partially cured parts if it looks like it's expanding where you don't want it to.
The design panels were done by transferring the knots with carbon paper and going over them with puffy paint. Another method is using puffy paint to put them on stencil paper and gluing it on our panels. Either way is fine. Once the expanding foam is completely set, glue panels in place. They won't be very sturdy, but the Apoxie we'll add in a later step will reinforce them.
Step 5: The Handle and Trim
There's many different ways to do the handle. Some prefer the Thor movie style, some the Avenger's style, and some the comic book style. I'm shooting for the Dark World style.
The first thing I did was make a stencil out of some scrap garage sale sign. For the leather look I ordered Dark Chocolate imitation leather from a store called Hollanders. They actually specialize in book binding supplies, and I think the material I got was about spot on.
Using my stencil I traced the design out on the back of the fabric, numbering each one up to 11. I cut them out slowly with a good pair of scissors and taped them in order on the handle. Using some Apoxie I sculpted each ring individually with the imitation leather acting as a guide. Once it set I carefully sanded them uniform. Go slowly and take your time. Apoxie sticks well but it is possible to break the rings loose. I did rough up the handle with some low grit sand paper to give the Apoxie something more to grab on to.
The trim and the corners around the side caps was also done in Apoxie and sanded flat.
For the pommel I glued strips of styrene on the bottom of the handle and then glued garage sale sign cut to shape to act as a base for the Apoxie. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of this part. I sculpted out half of the pommel, sanded that into shape and then added the strap. The strap is really a brown leather belt I got at Goodwill for $.50. A wooden puck was cut out, the belt riveted to it, and then the puck glued in place. The remainder was sculpting out the design and trim in Apoxie and sanding it in shape.
Step 6: Painting and Final Touches
After some spot putty and a few touch ups, the hammer is now pretty much constructed. Before painting I washed the hammer clean with some dish soap and warm water. Once dry I taped off the strap and gave it a couple good coats of Krylon Satin Black Fusion. The strap is strong enough to hang it up to dry.
Once I'm positive the paint is set I sprayed the whole thing in Design Master Modern Metals Champagne Silver. Lots of light coats. That paint can be pricey (always check discount art stores first, I paid $3 more than I had to) but I like the sheen it gives and unlike chrome spray paint it won't dull to a flat gray under a clear coat. Speaking of clear coat, before weathering I clear coated the whole thing up, with quite a few coats on the handle.
After that sets over night I used some black acrylics and a damp paper towel to weather the hammer head. This is the part I enjoy the most. Once that sets hit it with clear coat again. For the designs on the side caps I went heavier with the black paint. Then I traced out the design with Testor's silver enamel. Save the silver enamel for after the clear coat, since that will dull it to a gray.
Once all the paints and clear coats have set I superglued on the imitation leather, mocked up some stitching with black puffy paint, and then it's done! It took about three weeks of off and on work, but I'm super proud with how it turned out. I hope this inspired you, dear reader!
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