Introduction: DIY Hawk Helmet

About: Science Teacher. Maker. True-Believer.

Here's a killer bird helmet for you fans of the feathered heros!

You can either download the files to laser cut or print, trace and cut your own cardboard or other ~1/4'' material.

Note: Use gloves to avoid paper-cuts from laser cut cardboard (and hot glue). Sand the edges a bit for less risk of injury.

Materials needed:

  • PDF file linked above. 18" x24" (use acrobat to print it to multiple sheets if you are using a smaller printer)
  • Three 18" x 24" cardboard sheets (if using the files linked above) OR cut the pieces from a case of beer for a super silly birdman.
  • GLOVES! Laser cut edges are sharp! Use gloves especially if working the the laser cut kits and hot glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Hot glue
  • Wood Glue
  • Masking tape or packing tape
  • Metal straightedge ruler
  • Scissors or a xacto knife
    • If you want to do these projects with kids, or just don't want to work with a sharp blade, check out Make-do Safe Saw: and other similar tools.

  • Rolling pin or cylinder for shaping curves

Step 1: Some Tips for Folding and Gluing

Let's start with a few tips for gluing as you start on the helmet's main dome. Curl each of the prongs of the dome around a rolling pin to loosen them up and begin to help them get into shape. As you can see in the first image, I used a paint roller for this build. I rolled all of the prongs along their length, and then rolled the sides of the mask inwards (perpendicular to the previous rolls). See the second image for the result.

When gluing, apply the glue into the corrugated edges (image 3) and either hold or tape the edges together as the glue dries/ cools. Gluing into the corrugated edges is my preference, but it also works well to hold the edges together and glue along the back (image 4). In this case, I did both.

Personally, I think wood glue gives the cleanest and most sturdy finish, but hot glue is faster. Hot glue can also be more forgiving as you can re-heat and re-glue if you're unsatisfied with your seam.

Step 2: Fold and Glue the Helmet's Dome

Use the techniques from the previous step and the pictures in this step to fold and glue the dome of the helmet. Start with the two center prongs, go slow and work from the base of each prong to the end, one at a time.

Then glue the sides into place as seen in the third image. They will need to be curved outward, but we'll force them into place when we attach the wings.

As you can see in the final image, I use masking tape to hold the seams together while I work. This helps the build go a little faster, but don't rush through. Take your time and let each seam dry/ cool in the right place or you'll end up out of alignment for the next pieces.

If the folds get confusing, trace the part onto a sheet of paper and tape it together. This should help you understand how the part works without wrestling with thick cardboard or damaging your laser cut pieces while trying to figure out the folds.

Also, there really is no set order for assembly, so look over all of the remaining steps and feel free to take your own path.

Step 3: Assemble the Wings

This is going to be the toughest part, so let's get it out of the way. By the end, you're going to be the cardboard whisperer!

Please make sure you're wearing your gloves, especially if you're using the laser cut double ply cardboard from one of my kits. These feathers are SHARP and the gloves will also help you wrangle hot glue into place easier.

Start by identifying the six (three for each side) wing pieces. (images 1-3) Begin folding the wings into shape by following the first 5pictures. Identify the inside and outside of the wings using the photos here and create folds along the 90 degree edge of each feather. Use long thin part show in the 6th picture to guide your folds as well. This thin part forms the front face of the wings, so it shows you very clearly where to fold to flare the wings out a bit.

You really don't have to get everything perfect, you really just need to loosen up the cardboard (as we did with the roller in the first step) and mold it into the general shape. You'll really impose your will upon these wings when you apply the glue.

Line up the tip of the triangle shape of the front feather and apply glue to the flat surface of the cardboard (not the corrugated edge as we did before). It's pretty important to line up the very tips of the triangles as you glue or these parts will become increasingly difficult to align. Usually I work from one side to the other (front to back or left to right) when gluing, BUT in this case I glued the front feather, middle feather then second from last feather. These feathers need to be folded and pressed tightly when glued so jumping around worked best for me.

Step 4: Fold and Attach the Sides to the Dome.

Before we can attach the wings to the dome, we need these side parts. Notice that they fold along the slits. The back bit folds 90 degrees around to form a conical shape. The first two images show how to fold and glue these parts, and give you a look at the outside and inside so you can see how I do it. This part can get annoying for the wearer, so sometimes I just cut the folded sides off completely.

Now attach them to the dome by lining up the sides that match (see image 3).

Step 5: Attach the Wings to the Dome

Line up the font/ bottom of the wings with the dome and sides as shown in the first image. Don't try to glue the entire seam here, as we'll need to do some shaping as we glue.

Once you've got a good fit with the first edge, push the cardboard into shape from the inside as you glue. Hot glue is probably your only option here, as holding wood glue in this shape long enough for it to dry would be exhausting. Once it's in place, re-enforce the seam by gluing and taping this seam from the inside.

We're not going to finish attaching the wings just yet. Instead we'll attach the lower back "tail" of the helmet in order to help with alignment when we close everything up.

Step 6: Fold and Attach the "tail"

The lower back of the helmet adds a little flair that should fold out and under. We'll call this the tail. Fold as seen in the first image in this step and the attach it to the lower back end of the dome part (image 2).

Then glue the faces of the three tail feathers to their corresponding feathers on the wings. (image 2).

Step 7: Finish Attaching the Wings to the Dome

I used a wooden spoon to help create a little depth in the wings before gluing everything together in this step. Insert something to wedge the hollow area of the wings outward and help the wings reach the dome. This area doesn't need to line up exactly, as you can really glue the wings onto the dome anywhere you can get them to line up. Depending on how much you flared the wings outward, you'll need to do a little forceful molding as you glue to get everything to work together. In this build I kept the wings pretty vertical, so I'm going to have to wrestle with the wings to get them into place.

I actually prefer to stop at this step. I think this helmet looks great with the open face mask, but for this build, lets go ahead and add the facemask.

Step 8: Fold and Assemble the Facemask

The facemask can be really tough. It is intended to create a brow that recedes into the eye sockets. This can be a pain to shape and uncomfortable to wear. So, build it, see how it fits and trim as you see fit. I'll show you how I trim it to make it more comfortable.

First, fold the beak as shown in image 1 in this step. Curl the ends around a cylinder to loosen and mold the sides up a bit.

Curl and shape the brow as seen in image 2, and glue the two parts together. Start with the square at the end of the nose. At first it seems like it doesn't match up, but fold the little square tab back and glue the part from the first image behind the end of the beak.

Don't glue the ends near the tear ducts yet, you'll need a little wiggle room to get the facemask into position.

There is a triangle shaped part in the pattern that I've left out here. It goes underneath the beak. If you include it, you'll have a tough time getting this helmet around your nose. BUT you can use it to see exactly how the beak should be folded.

Likewise there are two curved parts that extend even further into the eye sockets. Leave these out unless you do not plan on wearing this helmet.

Step 9: Attach the Facemask and Add the Final Trim

If you line up the brow exactly, the facemask will probably recede into your eye sockets too far to comfortably wear. So, extend the brow out from the helmet a bit when you glue the brow (image 1).

Glue all the way around the brow and the sides before gluing the nose (image 2).

Pull the nose/beak forward by squeezing the sides of the helmet inwards and glue the beak to the brow (image 3).

Notice in the final image in this step that I've trimmed the corners near the tear ducts to avoid being poked in the eye.

Step 10: Finish!

Nice work!

That was tough, but you've done it! Your helmet is ready for paint/ bondo/ wood filler or just take it to the streets.

Before wearing I recommend attaching some elastic straps to the long side pieces to help keep the helmet in place and more comfortable. I also attach elastic straps or foam behind my head to keep it in place.

In the final image here, you can see that I've finished mine with black paint, glitter spray, faux leather and black feathers.

The helmet from the cover photo was used in an episode of Hulu's "Deadbeat! Check out the last photo!

Halloween Costume Contest 2015

Participated in the
Halloween Costume Contest 2015