Introduction: Wolverine Costume With Retractable Claws

Picture of Wolverine Costume With Retractable Claws

This year's theme for Halloween was super heroes, so around the beginning of October I set out to design a Wolverine costume. The outfit is based on the X-Men movies, because it's a lot easier to look cool in black leather than yellow spandex. The claws I based on the comic books, with thin claw-like blades coming out of studs on the backs of my hands rather than knives coming out from between my knuckles as they did in the movies. That was both because I like the more animal look of the original and because it made it a lot easier to make the claws retractable.

Step 1: Grow a Beard

Picture of Grow a Beard

Step one: start growing a beard. Depending on how hairy you are, you'll want to leave anywhere from a month to 14 years to do this step. It can't hurt to start putting on muscles at this point too, but I find I grow hair a lot faster than I grow muscle.

Step 2: Painting the Jacket

Picture of Painting the Jacket

Next, pick up a black leather jacket, black leather pants and gold fabric paint. I got a cheap jacket at Good Will, "Scribbles" 3D paint from Beverley's and already owned the leather pants.

For the front design I borrowed most heavily from the first movie, with this page as my main template. Starting with the second movie Wolverine loses the spiky design (which was a nod to his original comics costume) and gets a big X on his chest that I don't like as much. The more angular design on the arms I stole more from the third movie. All three movies have a really dorky back design, so I just made up my own for that. Don't forget the little "x"s on the collar and the bigger one in back.

For the belt buckle I just used a button maker and yellow and black construction paper, and attached it to the belt that came with the jacket using a strong rare-earth magnet. The color was a little cheesy looking in good light, but it worked fine in the dark.

Step 3: Retractable Claws (equipment)

Picture of Retractable Claws (equipment)
Now for the claws, Wolverine's signature piece. I played around with a few plans for automatically retracting and extending claws (including a pulley-based system) but eventually went with a simple gravity-based system: flick your arm down and the claws extend, raise it up and they'll retract. They can be held in their current position by pushing your knuckles against the claws, either to block the end tubes or to hold the extended claws in place.

For each hand you'll need:

  • three tubes, about the length of your forearm. I used the plastic handles from some cheap pitchforks they were selling at the local Halloween store.
  • three metal-looking end tubes that are slightly smaller diameter than your main tubes. I used metal joiners from an old tent I had salvaged for last year's costume.
  • three wooden dowels that will fit into the main tubes
  • a Dremel tool or the like to shape your dowels to look like claws
  • metal foil tape or silver or chrome paint
  • three end plugs to close off the backs of your main tubes (I used a quarter-inch piece of PVC tubing)
  • two spacers to keep your claws separated (more pieces of PVC tubing)
  • black leather gloves
  • a piece of black leather (I salvaged some from a leather backpack that had finally fallen apart)
  • an old sock (any color)
  • and of course, duct tape

Step 4: Retractable Claws (claws)

Picture of Retractable Claws (claws)

Now take your wooden dowels down to the workbench and have at them with the course sanding tip of your Dremel tool. This is where the artistry comes in -- I started by flattening the bottom and bringing the top to a point, then smoothing out the edges until I had a kind of oval animal-claw shaped top. Then I brought the tip down to a rounded point, with a curve to the end to give the illusion of a slight curve to the claw even though it was actually straight until the tip. Here's the illustration that was my main inspiration.

As for technical details, you want the claw to just fit inside your arm tubes after you've added the stoppers to the back and the metal end tubes to the front. That will allow the claw to slide freely without having the front of the claw catch on the metal end tube, which is a smaller diameter and thus creates a slight ridge. Make sure the claw slides freely through the tube and end tube up until the last couple inches (you may have to sand it down so it will slide freely, and don't forget to account for any paint or foil you'll be adding). You'll want the last inch-and-a-half to two inches of the claw to be of larger diameter, big enough to pass through the main tube freely but too small to fit through the end tube. The transition should be abrupt, with a lip that will strike the inner tube head on. You can wrap electrical tape around the end of the claw until you get the necessary thickness.

Finally, make the claws silver. I used metal foil tape, which is kind of a pain to work with but makes for a great shiny finish. You can also use silver spray paint, though that doesn't give as nice a metallic look. (There's probably a good chrome paint out there that would also work, though I didn't look.)

Step 5: Retractable Claws (putting It Together)

Picture of Retractable Claws (putting It Together)

Now splay your three main tubes out at a slight angle, place your two spacers between them to keep them angled slightly apart, and duct tape them in place. (Note: I found my spacers would occasionally pop out from between my tubes in spite of the duct tape; you might want to reinforce with Popsicle sticks or glue the spacers in place to avoid this problem.) Plug the metal end tubes into the tips of your main tubes. Make sure the end tubes are firmly in place, and most importantly make sure that they're straight so the claws still slide freely. Then tape the leather piece over the top of the main tubes so that it hides where the main tubes and end tubes join. The leather piece will come out of the jacket sleeve and lay on top of the glove. Finally, load your claws in through the backs of the main tubes, and plug and duct tape the back ends.

Step 6: Retractable Claws (wearing Them)

Picture of Retractable Claws (wearing Them)

When donning your claws, first put the wider piece of sock / elastic band just above your elbow. I actually used the heal of the sock to fit around my elbow. Then put on the jacket, and slip the back of the claw apparatus down the sleeve and into the sock so it's held to the arm. Next, put on the glove and use the thinner piece of sock / elastic band to secure the base of the leather piece and apparatus itself to your wrist. If you've sized everything properly, the elastic band will be hidden by your jacket sleeve and the metal end tubes will be right behind your knuckles. My jacket had zip-up sleeves which helped secure everything in place.

Depending on your jacket you might find the claws make odd bulges at your elbow. If so, just tell people they're muscles ;-).

Step 7: Beard and Hair

Picture of Beard and Hair

Aside from the claws, the most recognizable thing about Wolverine is his hairstyle and mutton chops. In the comics Wolverine's hair and facial hair are often drawn to follow the same lines as his mask, with mutton chops following the sides of his mask and his hair tufting up in "wings" along the sides to follow the lines of his mask's horns. They toned that down in the movies (especially the first one), with Hugh Jackman sporting thick mutton chops and stubble / peach-fuzz for the rest of his beard rather than going for the hard line, and I went for something similar.

His hairstyle was also toned down for the first movie and got progressively more and more styled (see here for where it's gotten to now). For hair, I used serious "hair spike" gel and lots and lots of hairspray while my wife helped brush the sides of my hair into curls with a cylindrical brush. As you can see even then one of the curls didn't hold, but it still worked pretty well. The general cut is apparently called a "duck" cut, and was popular back in the 50s -- check out this page for detailed instructions on how to cut and/or style Wolverine hair.

Step 8: Resources


King_of_Creepers101 (author)2016-11-27

great idea!

King_of_Creepers101 (author)2016-11-27

this is awesome!

MrSalty (author)2016-03-14

btw i'm the biggest wolverine fan ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MrSalty (author)2016-03-14

can you make one and mail it to me?

jeanniel1 (author)2015-10-25

I LOVE that it's not a computer-based set of claws!!! Awesome work, and great look!

Naveendddd made it! (author)2015-09-07

Hi I am Naveen from an Indian village, love making stuff from junk materials. Have a look at my add-on claws, if you like it, please do vote for me!

starwarsgeek1 (author)2015-06-25

you look like Hodges from the TV series Bones

fordchick (author)2014-08-26

awesome replica

ylpihs (author)2010-10-12

My friend you really look like Wolverine :D

skipernicus (author)2010-09-05

A good way to make you hair stay in an unnatural configuration is to use hairspray coupled with a blow dryer. Go slowly, one section at a time.

imakebigpoops (author)2010-09-04

you should have made a willy wonka suit... you look more like gene wilder haha

soulcalibur (author)2009-09-16

only intiresting thing i see is those claws....

Jyssa (author)soulcalibur2010-03-14

are you kidding??? Maybe you should actually LOOK at the rest of it too: this is a brillo instructable!! He looks very Hugh Jackman-as-Wolverine-esque. It's pretty damn hot!

The claws are awesome in their own right, yes - but the rest of the costume takes them from "interesting" to plain AWESOME.

Kudos, Bug!! :)

jayfly95 (author)soulcalibur2009-09-18

If your gonna put down a well put together idea, at least hide the umm.. things? you made. Cmon, you should be more disappointed with what you made yourself instead. Good job Bug!, looks great

mg0930mg (author)jayfly952010-01-28

What do you mean by "um" things?

texter9 (author)2010-01-28

Ther like brothers!!!!!

flipmee (author)2009-10-17

i literally LOLed when i read this first step xDD

_-MacGyver-_ (author)2009-10-11

wow you actually look alot like him to begin with

nice work!

denzey55 (author)2009-09-30

Oh so cool man,I was going to buy a costume but once i found this i decided i would just make it

Pie_eata (author)2009-09-29

great instructable. well done and laid out.

soulcalibur (author)2009-09-19

i'm trying to combine different, yet somewhat simular things to make a new costume. i'm looking some kind of glove right now.

Hoaxinmi (author)2009-08-27

wow great job. my brother made some out of foam board and a leather glove. didn't retract though.

knex gun maker (author)2009-06-21

sweet wolverine coppied ur style man u didnt copy his

kshivamsh (author)2009-05-21

You look similar to wolverine and did a nice work.Good instructable

elbaloo83 (author)2009-05-19

are you that guy from "bones"

jamiespark (author)2009-02-25

also some moded vamp teeth would improve it he has curiously sharp teeth

bobhill125 (author)2008-12-23

my uncle used copper for claws an painted it silver

Trekmogui (author)2008-11-18

Awesome! Just one thing missing... MAKE A ANGRY FACE! xD

Brother_D (author)2008-11-10

"...and I already owned the leather pants." ... No comment.

Tachyon (author)2008-11-09

Now for someone to do a Mystique costume. ;')

geoper2 (author)2008-11-06

nice and u can add a detail ... the cigar hehe details make the difference ;)

Bug (author)geoper22008-11-08

I thought about that, but decided it would be too much of a pain to carry around. (Besides, they taste nasty :). But you're right, details do make the difference.

Bats22 (author)2008-11-06

Very nicely done, Dr. Bug! Man... I should find an excuse to make it out to the Bay Area for some Halloween sometime!

floorwaxdesserttopping (author)2008-11-06

Very cool. But needs something instead of dowels which don't look quite sntichy enough (;

camilaustral (author)2008-11-06

wow thats really good! and i don't care about automatic claws, i think this ones work great! thank you very much! :)

imrobot (author)2008-11-04

could you try to make the claws automated so come out by a button or fist clench

sumlittlepunk (author)2008-11-02

you, my friend, are hairy. sweet beard though.

 (author)sumlittlepunk2008-11-03


eskimojo (author)2008-11-03

If you're willing to go the extra mile for an effective look, pomade is the way to go. Murray's(the cheapest:yet very effective) will get you there:WARNING it's nearly impossible to get all pomade out in a single night or even week sometimes. You can get pomades that are water/soap washable but most of them don't hold as well.

dkfa (author)2008-11-02

Some one should do an Assassin's creed retractable dagger/blade

pindalanderz (author)2008-11-02

You should make the claws with switchblade mechanisms... that would be way cool. otherwise though, great instructable! 5/5.

Chard (author)2008-11-02

Nice work, maybe ill put up an instractable for my beast costume i did a year or so back, cost less than £20! that said i was picking blue fluff out of my dreadlocks for weeks. 2nd hand store leather jackets are awesome!

Bug (author)Chard2008-11-02

That's fabulous! Be sure to comment here with a link when you put up the instructable!

arctic_tortus (author)2008-11-02

Best i've seen yet on the X-men front guys :) this is my mate and i as V and Rouge, my attempt was rather rushed, poorly carried out and by the end of the night i looked like an off duty builder! but with a bit more effort and a little less alcohol it could be easily transformed i'm sure! for the next party i'll put up an istuctable. XXX

mg0930mg (author)2008-11-02

Nice! Might do this next year.

jessyratfink (author)2008-11-02

This is so good! You rarely see a Wolverine costume this nice! You, sir, are a hero! :D Most guys end up looking like Frank Quietly's version of Wolvie, all lumpy and deformed. :P

The Jamalam (author)2008-11-02

really good! shame halloween was 2 days ago :( 4.5 stars!

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