Introduction: Sokka's Weapons
Recently, Avatar: The Last Airbender was re-added to Netflix. My wife and I grew up watching it and finished the whole series in about a month! Many of the weapons in that show are so iconic and interesting to look at so I just had to try and recreate some of them.
I chose Sokka's weapons because they seemed simple enough with some cool intricacies to look at. In this Instructable, I will be teaching you how to make 3 of Sokka's weapons. The machete, and two of the clubs he uses throughout seasons 1 and 2. Yes that's right 3 items for the price of one Instructable. Now that's a steal!
For this project, you will need:
- One 2' x 4' x 0.5" thick MDF sheet
- White spray paint/primer
- White 3" Styrofoam balls x 2
- Blue + White Acrylics (for color mixing - or you could just buy the exact color)
- 150 grit sand paper
- Pleather 6" wide x ~ 4.5' long. (At JOANN's fabric, they will cut it to any size you want so even though the fabric is $19/yd, you only really end up spending around $2.)
- Power Drill (newer version of the one I use)
- 5/16" and 1/4" drill bits.
- 0.235" diameter dowels. (I picked these up from my local dollar store - I feel they work best for this project)
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Step 1: Reference Photos / Draw / Scanned Images
When you make props of any kind, you want accurate reference photos so that you can match the accuracy of item you are trying to replicate. I would include the images I used but I don't want to be penalized for copyright issues. However, I will say that if you type in "Sokka's Weapons" into google, you will find everything you need! (Colors and designs may vary depending on the reference photos you end up choosing.
Once I found my pictures, I started to sketch out what those weapons would look like while playing around with dimensions so it would be a reasonable size.
To get the accurate size of the balls that are to be mounted, I took one of them and cut it in half. That way, I could get the exact outline of the ball. As a result, the ball will fit perfectly later on.
I have taken these sketches and uploaded them as a PDF for your convenience you don't have to go through trial and error like I did.
Step 2: Tracing
Next, once you have printed out the stencils, carefully cut the shape out with your exacto knife. Now using the cut-out stencils, trace the outline onto a piece of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF). You may want to use some tape to help keep the stencil from moving around while you are tracing. Try to space the tracings out a little bit more on the wood so you can clamp down an extra edge while you are cutting.
I made the mistake of trying to conserve wood for future projects but it made cutting an extra challenge.
Step 3: Cutting
With the MDF clamped down to a secure surface, carefully cut the traced wood.
When using a jigsaw, keep the bottom flush with the board. if you don't, you might start to rattle and dislodge wood which isn't very safe. Also, keep your hands clear from the path you are trying to cut.
You may have noticed some very tight curves in the weapons. When this happens, you want to make relief cuts so that you can make these types of cuts a little easier. To do this, I started away from the edge and went straight into the curve so that I had a series of lines going towards the curve. Then, I slowly removed pieces away from the curve until I had a clear shot to finish the cutting.
Relief cuts make complex shapes easier to cut and reduces the chance of accidentally cutting into the actual piece.
Step 4: Drilling
In total, you are going to need to drill 7 holes. 3 of those holes are going to decorative holes below the handles. Drill these holes completely through the weapon. Another 2 holes will be drilled into the two, 3 inch spheres. This is where they will be mounted on to the wooden dowel. Finally, the last 2 holes will be drilled in the cross section of wooden pieces indicated in the image. Drill these last four holes about 1/4" deep.
The 3 holes below the handles will use the 5/16" drill bit.
The remaining 4 holes mentioned will use the 1/4" drill bit.
When you have finished drilling it is time for some sanding.
Step 5: Sanding
MDF is a material made up of old saw dust and bonding adhesives.This makes sanding very easy which also opens up the opportunity for over sanding. Be sure to wear face/mouth protection while you sand. The particles that come off MDFs are very small and can be harmful to your lungs - so be careful!
With your 150 grit sandpaper, start sanding away at the ridges that may have appeared as a result of the cutting step. When I did this, I tried not to sand the edges too much so that the weapons would remain more blockish/cartoonish. If you want to bevel the edges, that might be a cool look too!
With that same sandpaper, sand down the seam found on the two Styrofoam balls to make the sphere smooth. Also try and remove any pieces of extra Styrofoam sticking out from the main surface. Styrofoam can easily pull apart though so be careful when sanding.
You can tell what a big difference sanding makes in this step!
Step 6: Fill in Seams on the Styrofoam Balls
After the balls have been sanded, I sealed the cavities with Quik-Seal. To do this, mount the ball onto the small wooden dowels and spread the quick seal on to the ball with your finger. Smooth out any irregularities until the ball is completely smooth. After that, I took mod podge and covered the surface of the ball with two coats. Then, I finally sealed the ball with some spray paint/primer mix.
All of this makes sure that the ball ends up smooth and seamless and ultimately protects it from dissolving when it comes into contact with spray paints, acrylics, etc.
Step 7: Prepping the Wood / Spray Painting
When everything is sanded, take a paper towel or a rag and wipe as much sawdust off of the wood as you can. Extra sawdust on the wood can cause paint not to stick or to dry unevenly. However, if this happens, you can always sand away the excess and try again. (And no I'm not speaking from experience..... maybe)
* DO NOT * use a damp paper towel or rag to wipe off sawdust - MDF is very susceptible to fraying when exposed to water.
I gave each of the weapons three coats of flat white paint/primer mix and still had plenty of paint left over. Be sure to get under the curved surfaces and in between cracks.
Step 8: Decorative Paint
For the blueish accents found on the weapons, I just took basic blue acrylic and mixed it with white until I achieved the correct shade. I lightly traced the borders of where I wanted to paint I then applied the paint according my reference photos.
Note: the color/ shading of your paint may be subjective to the reference photo you selected at the beginning of this Instructable. My photos were according to a certain photo where the balls ended up slightly darker than the one in the show. Like always, how you approach this step is entirely up to you.
Step 9: Grips
Once everything has been painted and has dried, take the leather/pleather material and cut it into strips. When I was cutting these strips I tried to make the edge as clean as possible. I cut them to be about 4.5 feet long and about 1" wide. (You don't need a lot of material - I spent about $2 on fabric and I still had tons left over) Then I applied glue on the shaft and wrapped the pleather around the hilt. I would recommend a singe layer wrap. However, if you are using a thinner material, 2-3 layers might be better.
Repeat for all 3 weapons
Step 10: Mounting the Spheres
And finally, the last thing to do is to mount the two spheres on the weapons. To do this, take the small wooden dowel and trim it down so that there is about 1/4" extending from the ball. Check to make sure that the dowel will fit in the hole such that the ball will lie flush against the weapon. Next, hot glue one end of the dowel into the styrofoam ball and glue the other end into the hole in the main body.
Make sure that the piece is well supported so that the super glue dries completely. This will make sure that the sphere does not become loose or removable at a later time.
Once you are done mounting both spheres you should be 100% done with this project!
Step 11: Photos
Now you are done with this project, it is time to take on the Fire Nation! - with the help of your amazing new weapons of course.
Thank you for taking the time to check out this Instructable! I hope you had as much fun making it as I did.
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See you on the next one!
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