I'm going to show you how I made my axe for Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon 2. However, don't be afraid to improvise a little depending on the materials you have. This was a very low-budget axe for me, and I would hope that it can be the same for you as well! The materials should all be relatively easy to get, so you won't have to spend any time shopping online.
- thin cardboard or poster board
- I never mention this in any of the steps but you'll want to use a pencil to draw out the shapes before cutting unless you're really just that good at free-handing. I won't judge either way.
- scissors and/or a box cutter
- hot glue (You will be using a lot; get lots of extra sticks.)
- foam core board
- handle material (pvc pipe, old broom or mop handle, etc)
- large sheets or a large roll of paper
- furniture tacks or tacks that will work as the bolts on the axe head
- masking tape or painter's tape
- aluminum foil (option to use crumpled paper)
- duct tape
- flat acrylic paint (black, white, brown, blue and red optional)
- silver metallic paint
- air dry clay
- optional epoxy putty (I like the Loctite brand and Peerless brand the most.)
- colored fabric that can look like the leather straps (unless you want to use actual leather, but that's pricey)
- a little scrap of faux fur
- matte or eggshell/satin clear sealer (spray or canned)
- optional wide rubber bands
*If you would also like to see how I made Hiccup's canister weapon, Inferno, check it out here! https://www.instructables.com/id/Hiccups-Canister-Weapon-Inferno/
Step 1: Axe Head and Handle
- Choose a material for your handle. (Mine happens to be leftover PVC pipe from another project.) PVC is very cheap, but don't be afraid to try something else, like an old broom or mop handle.
- Choose a material for your axe head. I just so happened to have some large artist sketchpads left over from my art minor in college, so I ripped the thin cardboard backings off and used that for the axe head. If you don't have these at your disposal, just use poster-board or a large sheet of thin cardboard.
- Make sure you cut out two so they can be on either side of the axe handle.
- Hot glue one of the axe heads onto the handle, leaving some room on top for the rock that will be above the axe head.
- Then, glue the other axe head to both the handle and the first axe head. (It's basically going to be a cardboard sandwich, mmmm tasty.)
Step 2: Raised Axe Portion
- Cut two more axe heads out of a foam core board, leaving at least an inch from the edge of the first axe blade. Glue these on both sides of the axe head.
Step 3: Paper Coating
- Take the hot glue and glue around the foam core board. Feel free to take a scrap of paper and shape it a little so it somewhat fills in the gap from the height of the foam core board to the larger cardboard/poster board axe blade. (This step is optional, but it will make gluing the paper and giving it a smooth transition easier.)
- Take a large sheet of paper and glue it onto the head of the axe. This will help create a seamless transition from the thicker part of the blade to the blade's edge. (Do this on only one side first until you complete the next few steps.)
- Cut the paper off around the axe head, but leave the paper in the gap around the handle.
- Cut sections of paper that are easy to glue down without making large puckers in the paper and pull them over to the other side of the axe head and glue them down. Afterwards, take scraps of paper and glue them where any gaps might be. It should thoroughly cover everything so that you can't see the hollow inside of the axe blade.
- Feel free to use more hot glue around the handle area. The axe head will essentially be hollow and you don't want that coming loose. EVER.
- Repeat steps 2-4 for the paper on the other side of the axe head.
Step 4: Tape the Edges
- Apply masking tape or painter's tape (whatever you may have on hand, really) and use it on all the edges of the axe head.
- Cut slits in the tape around rounded edges as you go to help prevent puckering. (This step is included to help smooth out the edges because of all the edges of paper and cardboard, so the last thing you want to do is to make it rougher instead.)
Step 5: Decorative Bits Up Top
- Take the leftover foam core board and cut out the raised portion of Astrid's axe head. You will need two of these, one for each side. Glue them down.
- Use furniture tacks or any large-headed tack you can find and stick them into the foam core. These are pretty cheap; I got a pack of 30 for 97 cents. (Preferably don't use thumb tacks because they're fairly puny, not to mention flat.) Her axe has a diamond shape comprised of four bolts in the center, and then there are four more on either side leading up to the edge. You will need 24.
- Using air dry clay, make the rock/hunk of metal/whatever that ball on top actually is that is on the top of her axe. It can be a little lumpy. (I'm using Crayola model magic clay. It's great stuff and is very light-weight. As a tip, get the stuff that's sealed in plastic whether it be in a single package or a tub of sealed bags. A tub without plastic sealing is likely already drying out and won't work as well. you can also sand this stuff when it's dry!)
- Dip your fingers into warm water and rub the surface of the clay to help smooth and shape it better.
- When the clay dries it will crack. Fill in the cracks with either wood filler or wall patch/hole filler.
Step 6: Wooden Handle Texture
- Crumple aluminum foil, wrap it around the handle and glue it down. If you don't have foil or run out, use paper instead. (I ran into that problem at the bottom of my staff, haha.)
- Use duct tape and go nuts on the handle. Seriously, you're going to want it nice and tight.
Step 7: Prime It...Prime It All
- Slap the primer on like no one's business. You'll want at least two coats. Feel free to use spray primer, paintable primer, or gesso. (I used gesso and I must say this stuff is awesome. Once again it was with our forgotten art supplies from college, and it's a nice, thick primer that covers well and if you do it right it can help give you a nice, gritty texture for rough surfaces like the fake wooden handle.)
Step 8: Skull Cap
- (You can skip this first step and simply make the skull out of more air dry clay if you don't care about being able to set the axe on the ground and use it like a walking stick when you're tired of holding it.) Astrid's axe has a skull on the bottom end similar to the skulls that adorn her clothing. I wanted to be able to set the axe down on the ground when I'm tired of holding it, so I used a chunk of epoxy putty on the end. Allow the putty to dry and harden. (This stuff hardens quickly so once the color is uniform like it says in the directions, work fast! It hardens like concrete and leaves little room for error.)
- I tried a few putties with other projects, and so far the Loctite brand is my favorite, followed closely by Peerless. You can generally find the Loctite stuff near the super glue, otherwise the epoxy putty is generally around the hardware and sometimes plumbing areas of a store.
- I used two tubes of the epoxy on this particular axe.
Step 9: Paint It and Seal the Deal!
- If you haven't already been looking at pictures on google images of Astrid and her axe from the movies, now would be a great time! You will definitely need black, white, silver metallic and brown paint. You might also need blue and red if you're painting the blue and red straps. (go with acrylics, they're cheap...and get flat as opposed to satin or semi-gloss)
- Mix the black and white together with the silver metallic paint in order to get various grays. Once the paint is mostly dry feel free to find a really bad brush or use a sponge and dab some pure silver here and there to get metallic flecks. Do this with some dark brown as well around the edges of the tacks and the middle raised piece in order to imitate rust.
- If you decided to paint the straps on, do this once you painted the rest of the axe head. Put small flecks of gray and white onto the straps and smear it a little with your fingers in order to make them look a little more worn.
- Paint the wooden handle and the skull at the bottom. Getting the right brown color is pretty tricky seeing as it's a medium shade. Feel free to go all-out and paint texture onto the wood. (I wasn't quite that ambitious, but at least the earlier steps with the foil and duct tape help a lot with a wood-like texture.)
- Once you have everything painted, use a clear sealer on top. you can use either a spray sealer or paintable sealer. Try to get a matte finish if you can so that it's not very shiny. If you can't find matte finish, go with satin or eggshell. Semi-gloss and gloss finishes will be really shiny and you don't want that, especially on the 'wooden" handle.
Step 10: Straps and Fur
- I know that Astrid's axe probably has real leather and if you want to go the expensive route, fine...but I'm doing this the cheap way. Go to a fabric store and look around the scrap tables or find fabric that's on sale if you can. You'll need something textured sort of like leather, so anything that's suede-like or has a suede-like backing in the right color will be fine. I believe I got suedecloth and I used the back side. You're not going to need very much, I got an eighth of a yard for 96 cents and that was plenty.
- You'll need a very, very small strip of fur. If you're not making an Astrid costume and taking leftover fur from that, look for small cuts of cheap craft fur. If all else fails, go to the thrift store and look for clothing with fur: jackets, sweatshirts, etc. Maybe you'll get lucky and they have some fur leftovers by the crafting notions.
- Cut the fabric into thin strips and glue it down. Glue it well because you'll be gripping the handle on some of the straps. On the lower section of straps, put a small ring of craft fur there and glue it down very well. glue some of the straps on top of the lower section of fur in order to really hold it in place, and continue with the straps all the way to the bottom.
- Lastly, use a matte clear spray finish or your can of paintable finish over the straps in order to keep the fabric from fraying. If you sew and you have some other anti-fraying spray or glue, use it. You'll want to do this rather liberally because you don't want it to fray at all.
Step 11: Drying Complete, It's Go Time!
Once everything has finally dried off and stops stinking to high heaven, (primer and finish reek, just an fyi- make sure to have ample ventilation), your axe should be complete! Show your Viking pride!