Introduction: Tie Fighter Sculpture (Made With Hand Tools Only)Wooden Star Wars Model

About: Random Acts of Craftsmanship

This is a really fun and easy wood sculpture that virtually anyone can make with very limited tools and experience. All the tools and materials have been sourced from amazon. I have provided links to exactly what I used to make this Star Wars model.


The Tools and Supplies needed to make this sculpture!

1 bottle of Gorilla Super Glue Gel

1 pack of 8 sheets of Birch Plywood 1/8 x 12 x 12"

1 Double Edge Razor Saw

1 Stainless Steel Ruler

1 Can of Krylon Fusion Black Spray Paint

1 Can of Water Based Wood Dye Ebony

1 Pack of 1/8 Wooden Dowels 12"

1 pack of 1/4 Wooden Dowels 12"

1 1" x 36" Hardwood Dowel

1 pack of 2" Wood Disc

1 pack of 3" Wooden Ball

1 12-Pack box of Utility Knife

1 Silver-Streak Metal Marker

1 roll of 3/4 in Pro-Grade Masking Tape

1 pack of Waterproof Sand Paper

1 pack of Foam Sponge Paint Brush

OR 1 pack of Chip Paint Brushes -

Optional but helpful - 1 Self Healing Cutting Mat

Step 1: Prepare Your Paper Prints.

To begin you will need to download and print the following Tie Fighter Image. It has been scaled to the correct size so that the cockpit matches the 3" wooden balls. Make sure you print the image at 100% scale. It will take several pieces of paper, each one will have part of the total image on it. You will need to trim the edges of the pages and tape them together in order to make one large image. This image will serve as your guide for this build.

Step 2: Trace, Cut Out and Mark the Ion Engines

Now that you have your paper template cut to shape, apply it to the 1/8th birch plywood. Center the template and trace around it with a pencil. I like to use the paper template along with the Stainless steel ruler to help keep my lines crisp and straight. After you have the perimeter traced carefully use the stainless steel ruler and utility knife to score and cut the plywood out. This will take time and you will need to be patient to produce good results. Carefully run your utility knife down the length of the stainless ruler keeping your fingers clear of the edge. It will take several passes with the knife to cut through the plywood. Take your time on this step and you will end up with clean edges.

After you have both engines cut out take your ruler and lay it from corner to corner and draw a line, marking the center of the Engine. After you have located the center take your utility knife and bore a small hole in the center of the engine. If your knife gets dull you can easily snap the blade along a score line to reveal a fresh, sharp edge.

Step 3: Stain the Ion Engines

After Cutting both of your Ion engines out, place them on a large piece of cardboard or news paper and get your Water based Stain out. Shake the stain well and apply it liberally with either the Chip Brushes or foam brushes to both sides of the Ion Engines. This may take 2 or 3 coats in order to achieve the desired, dark finish. After the Stain has fully dried, sand the rough finish down with the sand paper. If your sanding reveals the wood tone you may want to re apply the stain.

Step 4: Draw the "SnowFlake" Pattern on the Engines

In the real screen used studio model that ILM made they used a product called CoolShade to give them this texture and pattern. We will simulate it with the Silver-Streak Metal Marker. Using the Stainless ruler, replicate your original corner to corner lines that you made before you stained the engines. I like to start my marks in the center of the engine and mark the length first. Separate your lines approximately 1/4 (.250) of an inch or what ever looks best to you. The key point here is to keep the spacing consistent and start each line at the diagonal corner to corner line. The best way to describe these lines is that they run perpendicular to the outer edge of the engine and terminate at the diagonal lines that run from the corners of the engine. Please have a look at the Photos for a better understanding. Take your time and have fun with this. As long as you keep your spacing roughly consistent, there is no wrong way to do this. If you don't like the silver, any other paint type of pen can be used. Mark both sides of both engines.

Step 5: Apply 2" Disks to Engines

Fetch your bag of 2" wooden disks and Super glue. Apply several drops of glue to the center of the Ion Engine and carefully glue a wood disk in the center of each Ion engine. Repeat this procedure on both sides of the Engines. After you have 1 disk securely glued to each side, repeat the process on 1 side of each engine so that you end up with a stack of 2 disks on one side of both Ion engines. The side of the engine with the double stack will be the inside of the Engine and attache to the cockpit. The double stack of disks will help space the wings out and add shape.

Step 6: Cut and Glue Engine Support Spars

Each Ion engine has support spars radiating from the center disk out to the edge of the engine. To make them you will need your pack 1/8 Wooden Dowels, bottle of super glue and Utility knife.

The Wooden spars radiate out from the center of the engine along the corner lines that we drew earlier they are each made from three 1/8" dowels, one in the center and 2 on either side. They start at the edge of the 2" disk and run to the corner edge of the engine. They are separated approximately 3/4 of an inch apart where they contact the disk and come together at the corner of the engine.

To size the two outer spars, place them against the center disk slightly off the corner line and then cut them at the corner edge of the engine with the Utility knife. You will repeat this process for all the spars. I recommend cutting all the spars for one side of the engine before beginning the gluing process. This will allow you to adjust the spacing before you glue them down. To glue the spars down, place a drop of glue gel at the point where they contact the edge of the disk and drop of glue where they come together at the corner edge of the engine. Hold them down by hand for a few seconds then add 2 weights to hold them in place while the glue cures.

Inner side of the Engines (the 2 disk thick side)

After all the glue has dried take your 1" dowel and center it up on the side of the engines that has two disks. This the inner side of the engines (where the cockpit will attach). Draw a circle around the 1 inch dowel in the center of the disk. This circle marks the origin point of the center 1/8th dowel for each spar. To size the center dowel, start it at the edge of the circle you just drew and lay it between the 2 outer spars. Cut it with the utility knife at the point where It starts to lay on top of the two outer spars. This is approximately 1inch from the edge of the engine. This measurement is not critical and this is only an decorative part so feel free to go wild and arrange your spars how you see fit!

Outer Side of the Engines (single disk thick side)

The Process is the same as above with the following exceptions. Since the cockpit does not attach on this side, DO NOT draw the circle in the center. All the Spars Originate at the edge of the 2inch wooden disk. None of them lay on top of the disk like on the inside of the engine.

Step 7: Cut and Glue Engine Perimeter Supports

Now that you have all your support spars glued down its time to trim the outer edges and prepare the outer support.

Around the outer edge of the Ion engines run a support piece made of the 1/4" wood dowel. To begin this process take your utility knife and trim the edges of the support spars along the outer edge of the engines. You want the center support spars to end flush with the outer edge of the engine (see photos).

After you have the edges trimmed flush, lay your 1/4 dowel against the edge and mark a cut that is inline with the corner line of the engine. You want the cut of the dowel to line up the the corner of the engine. After marking the cut take a sharp utility knife and carefully cut the dowel at the line. You may have to rock the knife back and forth to work your way through the thicker dowel.

Repeat this process for the opposing corner. Work your way around the outer engine, marking and cutting the 1/4 dowel. After you have the pieces cut, lay drops of glue gel on edge of the engine. Apply a drop in the corners and center of the edge. I like to place this edge up so that I can place the dowel on top of it and that gravity will hold it in place. Wait for the glue to dry and cure before moving on to the next piece.

Sanding the Corners

Now that you have all the outer supports glued the corners wont be perfectly lined up. Do not fret, with a little sand paper you can even up the edges and make the corner look much better.

Step 8: Lets Make the Cockpit

Set your Ion engines aside to Fully Cure.

Its Time to make the Cockpit!!!

Grab your 3 inch wood ball. We will need to make some 2 inch circles on the ball. To draw my lines I found an old measuring cup that had a 2 inch diameter but you can use any round container that is 2 inches across. Place your 2 inch circle on the ball and trace around it. Now go grab your Double Edge Razor Saw and take a very close look at the teeth on the saw. You will notice 2 distinct patterns in the cutting edges. One Side has fewer teeth and is for cutting WITH the grain of the wood and the edge with more densely packed teeth is for cutting ACROSS the grain. We will be using the cross cutting edge of the saw during this project.

To help you hold the ball steady while you cut it place the 3 inch wood ball in the hole of a roll of electrical tape. Grip the ball firmly and carefully PUSH the saw to score a cut line where you want to cut. After you have established the cut you may begin to pull the saw towards you and really begin the cutting process. Slowly rotate the ball as you cut keeping a close eye on the line that you drew. Work slowly and enjoy the fine cutting that the razor saw gives you.

When you are finished you may need to clean the edge up with some sand paper on a flat surface. After you are happy with the cut finish, place several drops of glue and a 2" wood disk on the ball. Weight the disk down and allow it fully dry. Repeat the same process on the exact opposite side of the ball.

Step 9: Window Time!

This is possibly the most challenging and rewarding part of this project. A steady hand and patient mind will be your ally during this process.


In order to get the cockpit window on the ball with only hand tools we first need to cut out a template. Take your utility knife and print out the cockpit in the same scale as the rest of the project. Then care fully and slowly cut out all the black parts of the widow, leaving only the frame. Use a fresh, sharp utility knife and work slow. Put on a podcast and enjoy the moment.


When you are done enjoying the process you will have a delicate window template. Carefully tape the window to the center of the ball being sure not to pull the window out of shape. This is a delicate process so take your time and don't be afraid to pull the tape off and realign the window.


Now that you have the window masked off with tape and your template, very lightly DUST the Krylon Fusion Black Spray paint over the template. If you soak the template with heavy coats of paint it WILL Bleed though and ruin the image. So several very light dusting coats are all that are needed.


After the paint has dried, carefully peal the tape off revealing your cockpit. If some of the edges of the image are soft you can take the utility knife and scrape the overspay away and sharpen them up.

Step 10: Preparing the Side Fuselage

Ok now that you have your 3" ball cut to shape take it and place it in the center of our paper template over the cockpit. Place the 1/2 dowel on the print against the flat of the cockpit ball. Mark on the dowel where the ion engine connects to the fuselage on the print, this is where you will cut the dowel. Using the crosscut edge of the razor saw cut along this line. After you have one cut successfully use it as a template to mark a second for cutting. You should have 2 identical pieces when it is all said and done.

On to the Side supports.

The side fuselage on a tie fighter is not just a straight dowel so we need some side supports. Lay a 2" wood disk on the paper tie fighter template and mark where the cockpit intercepts the circle. This is where you cut the disk. See photos for reference.

Using your first piece as a template make 3 more for a total of 4 identical pieces.

Step 11: Assembling TheCenter Fuselage

Now is the moment you have been training for! Take all the pieces you have been preparing and lets assemble them into the fuselage.

Place a dollop of glue in the center of the flat spot on the cockpit ball and place your cut 1/2 dowel in the center of the disk. Let this assembly fully dry before proceeding.

To add more support place a drop of glue on the front and back of the 1/2 dowel in relation to the main window and glue 2 of your side support have circles that you cut earlier. See photos for reference.

I felt that more was needed so I added a 1/8th support spar in the center of the half spheres. This piece is just decorative to make it as you see fit. I also added 1/4" guns to the front of the cockpit just for fun. Go crazy and decorate as you wish.

Repeat this process for both sides so that you have a complete center section, ready to be mated to the Ion engines.

Step 12: Final Assembly!

This is IT! Lets put everything together.

Laying one of the Ion engines flat on the table I place a dollop of glue in the center of the disk and lower the cockpit assembly down on the engine taking careful notice of the alignment of the window and the edge of the wing. You want to take you time and make sure the al;alignment is dead on. Let this assembly dry before you go any further.

After that glue joint is good and cured add a dollop of glue to the end of the dowel that is currently vertical then lower the other wing down onto the cockpit assembly. Once again take careful note of the alignment of the wings in relation to each other and the cockpit window. Place some weight on the wing and go get a cup of coffee. You've earned it.


If you remember we only put 1 of the 2 inch disks on the outer Ion engines. This was so that If you wanted to add a mechanical fastener to them we could.

I sourced some very small wood screws and screwed through the ion engines into the center fuselage. Then after the screws were flush I glued a final 2" wood disk as an outer cover. I realized that I had failed to finish one of the Ion engines so I had a few more of the outer support spars to finish to I wrapped them up with the model Complete.

To protect the model I coated it in a clear urethane or acrylic spray paint.

Congratulations! YOU DID IT!

If anyone has any questions or wants to see other projects like this please let me know. Any check out my Youtube channel where I make may other StarWars sculptures out of Steel.

Thank you

Jason Hurst