Introduction: Make a 1950's Ray Gun

About: Untidy, disorganised and a bit silly. I am a photographer, artist, body artist, sculptor, prosthetic maker, model engineer, and general idiot who likes making stuff and messing about. I give hands on workshops…

Having started making simple props for photo shoots and body painting accessories, I am now embarking on making some other weapons.

I wanted to make a space blaster or ray gun, and I thought it would be fun to try and make a 1950's style prop gun.

A search of the net produced some really nice designs, and as ever I have amalgamated three or four for this gun.

Step 1: Materials and Design

The materials used for this gun were whatever old crap I had hanging around in the shop. I found some old sections of PVC pipe for making the barrel. An old plastic 35mm film cannister, some metal rings from old hard drives, and a few other bits and bobs.

Basically use anything you can find, beg borrow or steal (well not steal), to keep the costs right down.
You will need some cutting tools, various glues, card, plastic card, paints, whatever else you can think of.

I began by making three basic grip templates. These are generic and can be used on a variety of weapons. I used some thin card to create the templates and sized them based on my own hands.

Next I evaluated the little collection of junk I had assembled. I chose a length of 20mm PVC for the main barrel and used the film cannister for the muzzle break.

Any self respecting 1950's ray gun needs disks of metal round the barrel. Three aluminium rings from old hard drives were super-glued to a section of 25mm PVC to form these. this was slid down the barrel and then hot melted in place. The cannister was also hot melted to the end of the barrel.

Next I cut two sections of 40mm waste pipe to length, and using some sponge lagging disks I centred the larger diameter tube onto the barrel by forcing the sponge into the gaps. the sponge disks were then given a fillet of cyanoacrylate which will soak in and go off rock hard.

The centre of the 35mm cannister was glued to the butt end of the barrel and the whole thing left to dry overnight.

Step 2: Completing the Barrel

Once the main pipework is completed it's time to add the chamfers. These were built up using car body filler, allowed to dry and then sanded back using various grades of sandpaper and fine wet and dry papers.

Next we need some basic detailing. I used some plastic rods bent to shape with a candle flame, these were then super glued into holes I drilled in the barrel cylinders.

I will add finishing details once the main construction is completed.

Step 3: The Grip

For the grip I chose one of my three templates and drew around it on to some dense card 1/16" or about 1.5mm thick. I made two copies and cut them out to form the sides of the grip.

Next I cut some strips of card 3/4" or 15mm wide. These were used to build up an internal framework for strength. I deliberately didn't take the framework right up to the edges of the grip because I needed room for hot melt glue at the top and car body filler around the edges to shape them later.

I joined the two halves together to form the basic grip.

Step 4: Completing the Major Structure

Once the grip had set I did a quick search of my scrap box for some plastic do dads. I found some bits that had come out of an old printer that looked interesting. I selected one for a rear sight and one for a trigger. I also found a couple of small wheels that looked good.

Next the grip was hot melted to the body using the little 'trough' in the grip as an area to hold the glue. Once it had tacked, I ran a fillet of glue around the joints.

Next I cut a couple of sections from an old sponge camping floor tile for the sides of the grip. These were thinned with a sanding drum to about 1/8" or 4mm thick and cut to shape. These were glued on using general purpose glue.

Then the grip edges were filled with car body filler and sanded back to a smooth finish.
The little bits of plastic, the little wheels and some card squares were then glued on with superglue as some detailing and the gun is now ready for paint.

Step 5: Painting Weathering and Finishing.

I began by giving the gun a set of base coats. I used acrylic hobby paint using colours that would be mid-range or slightly darker than the final effect I wanted.

Next I added some shadows using black and sepia applied with a sponge and airbrush.

Then I dry-brushed with lighter colours to raise the details, this serves to darken the base colours and shadows further increasing 'depth'

A final dry-brush with even lighter colours, a few minor coloured details and then a light weathering with pastels.

Over spray with cheap extra hold hairspray just to seal the pastels and then leave for 24 hours to dry.

Job Done!