No Captain America costume is complete without his iconic shield! Sadly though, there aren't very many options for "off-the-shelf" versions to use to complete your costume. Apparently Disguise has cornered the market (unless you want to spend LOTS more on fiberglass or aluminum replicas). Some of the "top-of-the-line" ones are AMAZING looking, but I refuse to spend that kind of money on one. With that in mind, I decided to make my own shield...
Step 1: Supplies...
Following is the list of supplies I'd recommend having on hand before beginning the project. Couple of FYI's. If you're happy with the "off-the-shelf" finish of the Disguise brand shields, then you can forego the Red, Blue, and Clear Coat spray (making this a REALLY easy project). Also, If you don't need a shoulder strap, then you'll only need 2 leather belts, 4 carabiners, fewer screws, and most likely won't need the 2 quick links at all.
- x2 Disguise Adult sized Captain America Shields
- Liquid Nails
- Gorilla Glue
- x3 Leather Belts (preferably the SAME color, texture, and buckles)
- x2 Quick Link Connectors
- x6 Aluminum Carabiners
- Blue Painters Tape (more footage than you'd expect to use)
- x12 - x16 3/8" Carriage Bolts and Nuts (any flat head screws will work, but the flatter the better)
- Metallic Silver Spray Paint (your choice of brand)
- Gloss Red Spray Paint (your choice of brand)
- Gloss Blue Spray Paint (your choice of brand)
- Gloss Clear Coat Spray (your choice of brand)
- Sand paper (any grit or grade)
- Scissors or snips (to cut the leather belts)
- Hand Drill (for drilling any required holes)
Step 2: To Begin With, the Shields...
Each Disguise shield is equipped with two PATHETIC elastic bands to use as "handles". Cut these off IMMEDIATELY! Now, determine which shield has the best "face"... Meaning it's outward appearance is preferable over the other. This will be your FRONT shield. The other shield will become your BACK shield.
Using the sandpaper, lightly sand the backside of the FRONT shield, and BOTH sides of the BACK shield. Then wipe down and clean any residue.
Based on the design of the actual shield belt straps (shown above), measure out locations for the belts to attach (2 per piece of leather strap), and LIGHTLY mark with a pencil onto the backside of the BACK shield. You can adjust these locations to your specific preference, but I'd advise basing the center strap attachment points off of the locations where the elastic straps were originally attached (see image above).
Once you are satisfied with their locations, you drill them out with the hand drill. Be sure to use a drill bit close in diameter to the screw diameter that you purchased. Too small isn't a big deal, but too big could be an issue!
Once you've drilled out all the holes and cleaned everything up, you can spray the backside of the BACK shield with the metallic silver spray.
Step 3: Cutting the Straps...
Measure out the leather belt straps, with enough to fold under at BOTH ends, and cut them to length. Folding the straps under at the ends will make it MUCH easier to slip your hands through the straps. FYI, I saved the sections with the belt buckles for the two middle straps, as this is where you'll MOST OFTEN slip your hands and forearms through the straps, and therefore should be the MOST adjustable I even drilled some additional holes for the belt buckles). Using the hand drill, drill holes through the leather belt straps at their attachment points.
Step 4: Bonding the Shields...
With the FRONT shield laying face down on a towel or soft cloth (this is to prevent scratching). Make sure it's backside is clean and dry. Apply LOTS of Gorilla Glue ( this glue EXPANDS) and Liquid Nails. With the bolts placed through the drilled holes of the BACK shield, apply LOTS of Gorilla Glue and Liquid Nails to it's front side. When ready, match up the shields (most likely by the embossed stars), and sandwich to two glued surfaces together. Due to the screw heads, there should be a sizable gap around the edges of the two shields. This gap can be clipped with clothes pins or other similar clips, but eventually this gap will be filled with Liquid Nails until it is filled completely. Clean up as required, but otherwise allow the glue to "set" for the rest of the day...
Step 5: Painting the Face...
As stated previously, if you're satisfied with the "off-the shelf" finish then you can skip on to the "Attaching The Straps and Hardware" step...
In preparation to paint, sand the FRONT shield face and the dry/cured glued edges as required. Clean up as necessary. Once prepped, spray the face and edge (and back if necessary) of the now single BONDED shield with the metallic silver spray. Take your time and use regular even coats (may take 3-4 coats to completely cover the "off-the-shelf" finish). Coats will most likely require 15-30 minutes dry/cure time between sessions (depending on conditions such as heat and humidity).
Once the silver coat is dry, use the painters tape to mask off the areas that are to remain either silver or blue. The masking process can take quite some time. Maybe watch a movie or TV show while you do this. Just be patient and take your time. Once the tape is down, spray the face and edge with the gloss red spray. Again, take your time and use regular even coats. Once you're satisfied with the red, allow to dry/cure.
Once the red is dry, reveal what is to be painted blue and mask everything else. Same applies as previously stated. Once you're ready, spray the face with the gloss blue until satisfied then allow to dry/cure.
If you're dissatisfied with any results, remember that you can always sand, mask, and paint again!
Step 6: Clear Coat...
Once all painting is complete and all tape is removed; the face, edge, and backside should be clear coated for protection. This will add strength, additional gloss, and protect the finish from minor scratching. As with the painting, this may take 3-4 coats to achieve optimal results. as with the rest of the project, just be patient and take your time.
Step 7: Attaching the Straps and Hardware...
When the clear coat is dry and you're straps are prepared, attach them to the various bolts and screw on nuts to finalize attachment. ALWAYS be sure to rest the FRONT shield face on a clean towel or soft cloth to avoid scratching it while you work on the backside. Once all straps are attached, connect with carabiners. The smaller end should face away from the center of the shield. The angles of the two long sides SHOULD match the angles of the ends of the belt straps. You'll be surprised how much "heft" and strength the originally "flimsy" shields now have. If bonded and finished well, the finished shield should serve you well as a costume/cosplay prop.
OPTIONAL: To create a shoulder strap, cut BOTH ends off of the third belt. Fold both ends over two separate quick links. Drill attachment holes, glue folded flaps with Liquid Nails, insert carriage bolts and finish attachments with nuts. Finalize with a carabiner at each end. The shoulder strap can clip into your strap belt hardware, or can be folded or even removed when not in use.