An Airship Admiral's Sidearm. an Elegant Steampunk Pistol.




After a few months of enjoying the many wonderful projects, I felt it was time to add a project of my own to the site. This is my first Instructable and as it happens, my first steampunk project.

After a few weeks of visiting Steampunk blogs and sites such as
and , I got a bit caught up in the whole thing. Some of the items that have been made under the steampunk banner are phenomenal pieces of high craft, they employ a vast variety of skills and are often very witty and clever.

So here is my first effort. A light Imperial officer's sidearm, issued to the Admiral of the Airship Fleet upon his promotion.

I wanted this to be an elegant piece above all, but I also wanted it to look functional and tough, able to survive years of service on an Admiral's hip.

Please let me know what you think...

Step 1: Looking Through the Bits Boxes...

First off, sorry for the terrible photo here, not a great start I know! Anyway you get the idea, I looked through all of the boxes and bags of interesting bits that I've collected and found. It takes a while to really figure out which bits are going to work, and which ones are best left out for another project.

Step 2: The Scope

The idea for this pistol came initially from the brass vase that I used as the scope. I had to hack the end off so you can see through it, then fixed a small telescope eye piece to the front end.

I invested in a mini tap and die set for this project, it really makes a world of difference. I was convinced that I wanted this to look as "real" as possible, so I have tried to avoid lots of unreliable glue etc when it comes to fixing the metal components together. This only real alternatives are soldering, (which can get a little messy) or fixing with small screws/bolts etc. So I went down to Maplins and spent some money on the mini tap and die set. Most of the screws and bolts incidentally came from a broken SLR camera I took to pieces.

Step 3: The Trigger

I wanted this piece to have a little life to it. I messed around with some plans for a spinning piece in the barrel when the trigger was pulled, and thought about lights etc, but decided that those things would shout RAY GUN, which wasn't really the style I was trying to achieve. So instead I just rigged up a spring system to the trigger, so that the pistol can be "fired" but nothing happens when it is. The trigger moves about 6mm back when pulled, then springs back to default when released.

The trigger itself is a finger holding ring from a cheap brass candlestick.

Step 4: The Barrel

The "cradle" for the barrel is made from Walnut. It was cut and shaped with my workshop tools, a table saw, linisher and a bit of dremel work, then drilled with a 16mm hole into the middle. ( I would have liked to have done this on a lathe, but don't have one yet!) This hole is to slot the brass and steel barrel into.

The barrel for the pistol is made from a brass tube taken from the same telescope I used for the scope, along with the wind shield from an old WW2 (ish) trench lighter. Both these pieces were attached to a 15 mm diameter steel tube (to add some weight) Then all three were screwed in to the wooden "cradle" .

Step 5: Fitting the Different Parts Together..

The next thing I did was make the shape of the body of the pistol, again in Walnut, a very richly grained hardwood, which shimmers slightly when polished.

I spent a while with a chisel and dremel making the hole to fit the trigger mechanism into, then drilled some corresponding dowel holes into the body and the barrel pieces, then used thick, strong wood glue to stick them together, then clamped them over night.

Step 6: The Handle and Grip

Again I shaped the handle from Walnut, then cut out two pieces of cork sheet, which were the same shape as the wooden handle, but approx 5mm smaller all the way around.

I then covered these pieces of cork with thin garment leather, a nice brown colour that complements the Walnut.

The next thing was to cut a recess into the handle to accommodate the cork and leather grips.

The grips were then attached to the handle with contact adhesive.

Then the handle and the rest of the pistol body were doweled, glued and clamped.

Step 7: Finishing...

From here on there aren't really any making of photos, only the finished ones. I'll tag the pieces I haven't explained yet.

One thing worth mentioning here is the old brass uniform button that I have set onto the body of the pistol, It's possibly from a Fireman's dress uniform, maybe military? I'm not sure but I have about 6 of these so I'm using them as the "Admiral's" badge of office. I plan to fix one to the holster I will make for this sidearm, and I have also set one into an old leather bracer/cuff which complements this pistol nicely, see the final picture of the "Admiral's desk" to see the leather bracer.

I hope this hasn't been too wordy, thank you!



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    76 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Could you add a flash capacitor from that camera you disassembled?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    That is a beautiful piece!

    Well, I am inspired... Now, to find some time...


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    empire in black and gold book one is good but i have not finished it im looking forward to it


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    1.Airborn, Skybreaker, Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel 2. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters part 1 and 2 by Gordon Dahlquist 3. Leviathan 4. Hungry city chronicles by Philip Reeve 5. Steampunk Also if you are new to steampunk I suggest you check out the forum at


    I am also new, and I have an evil thing called a "budget", so, of those, which would you say are the best, I dunno, 2?


    what about the library? They should have all of these. Anyway, Leviathan is really good flowed by hungry city chronicles book 1.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    forgive my rudeness, but the handle doesnt seem very comfortable with the hard corners, if i make a pistol out of wood, i make the handles kind of oval shaped, without the edges, but then again, i have really big hands, so my guns are almost always unuseable for people with smaller hands then mine, simply because they cant hold them normally


    9 years ago on Step 3

    Looks to me (And I may be wrong) that when the trigger is pulled, it pulls on the bolt at the end, which compresses the spring. When the trigger is released, the spring pushes back, sending the trigger into position. I may be wrong but that sounds like the right idea.

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Step 3

    looking at this, i see it's quite simple, yet effective, the "trigger" is screwed to an old sliding lock mechanism, wich moves back and forth, the two screws prevent too much movement, and when you squeeze the trigger, you stretch the spring wich compresses when you release the trigger, making a very realistic move, nicely done, i will try this on a big rifle i plan on making


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, thanks everyone for your comments! I'm glad you like it! Hellwolve,the trigger is a long bolt with the head cut off, then threaded through what used to be a brass cabinet clip ( I took the ball bearings out to accommodate the bolt) the trigger is then screwed to the brass clip then the two separate pieces (the trigger/clip and the bolt) are attached with a little spring, the bolt (and wingnut/nut) is then fixed into the wood body of the pistol, this leaves the "trigger" free to shift backwards when you pull it, then spring back when released. It doesn't do anything but move, it's just satisfying to be able to pull the trigger of a prop! Hope that explains it a bit better and doesn't just confuse more! Thank again everyone!

    1 reply

    You will ned to put your reply on Hellwolve's inquiry by hitting the reply button otherwise he won't receive your info unless he views this instructable again

    han solo's blaster was a broom handle mauser with a flash suppressor attached.

    besides, this one is much better. it's shiny.