While most of my props derive from franchises that I already have a longstanding interest in, occasionally I see something that's unique enough that I just have to have a go at making.
This was the case with a briefly-seen spanner model in a cutscene for the Destiny expansion: The Taken King.
It was equally an attempt to improve upon a vintage spanner I'd acquired that was in dire need of restoration. The finished product is significantly longer allowing for more torque, has a larger surface area for grabbing nuts and bolts, has the added functionality of a ratchet (Also works as a tool hook!) and with future modifications can host an integrated light for after-dark spannering.
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Step 1: The Main Parts
The base for this spanner was a 37cm long adjustable spanner, with an 90° offset jaw and 80mm of travel.
It was incredibly rusted and pitted, but around half of this would be plated in sheet steel, so it didn't matter.
The other spanner I used was a 32mm ratcheting spanner, chosen for its near identical scaling relative to the other spanner, and the identical width of the handle (Both were 30mm wide).
Step 2: Cutting & Joining
I used an angle grinder to slice off the ratcheting section of the new spanner, leaving enough length to extend the grip by the appropriate amount (50cm in total).
After rounding off the cut line and exposing fresh metal from the old spanner, I clamped both into separate vices until they aligned properly, then used a gasless MIG to weld the two halves together.
Step 3: Re-Shaping the Jaws
To correctly scale the new head of the spanner, I traced around the old head, then enlarged an image of the space wrench from a screenshot until it matched the tracing in approximate size and shape. When scaled to match the width of the vintage spanner's grip, the proportions were almost perfect, but the jaws fell just short of the spanner.
Since I didn't want to overly exaggerate the size of the head, I was left with the option to either leave the old spanner's jaw sticking out, cut it down to match the new template, or adjust only that specific part of the template. I was aiming to preserve as much of the original spanner's functionality, so I chose the latter, and extended the template so that it would cover the vintage spanner's jaws.
I transferred the rough sketch from the paper onto some thick card, then onto some 2mm scraps of sheet steel. While the scraps were in fact slightly too narrow, this played out to my advantage, as the border I added later added an additional 3mm to all sides.
A CNC plasma cutter would have taken so much of the work out of this, but I made do with an angle grinder, cutting disks and a metal file. The variations in the vintage spanner's head thickness meant that I had to use small scraps of sheet steel as spacers to bring it up to the same thickness as the lower jaw's sliding mechanism. This was an essential step to make sure the lower jaw could still move even when enclosed by the extended plates from the upper jaw (The in-game design appears to only attach the lower jaw part way around the handle, whereas this spanner fully surrounds it).
Step 4: Structural Welding
With the side plates welded on, I cut down a strip of 3mm steel to around 30mm wide (Barely wider than the spanner) and began an alternating process of welding and hammering until the strip had fully surrounded the spanner head. Occasionally it would try to drift to one side, but this could be remedied by hammering it back in line and filling in any gaps this re-alignment causes on the other side with more welding filament.
The less-than tidy welds you see are a combination of the fact I was using a gasless MIG, and because I had never touched a welder before. Luckily these welds don't need to stand up to any intense stress, and can be hidden almost entirely after grinding back with an angle grinder.
Step 5: Cosmetic Welding
After a couple of hours of welding, my welds were a lot neater, so I re-visited some areas to add strength and fill gaps where the first pass had melted too much material away.
The spanner was now at a point where I could grind everything flat and add a small bevel to all the edges. I also decided that despite the ratchet spanner being the correct width, it was much narrower in the other orientation, so I welded on a couple of 2mm thick scraps to each side and welded / ground it down until it matched the profile of the rest of the spanner.
I began to add details by engraving in lines using a cheap carbide burr set, and gave the whole thing a once-over with a rust removal solution to help eliminate any rust left after running an angle grinder with wire brush attachment over it all.
Step 6: DIY Pipe End Caps
I had hoped to save time by finding something like a set of 1" pipe end caps (I assumed they would be extremely common in the plumbing industry) but since nothing of the correct shape or style seemed to exist, I settled for making my own.
I ordered a short length of 25mm diameter acrylic pipe and some 30mm OD, 26mm ID steel pipe to construct the glowing tube. It was a simple process of welding a small scrap of steel to the end of the tube, grinding the weld lines back, then slicing it off at around the 13mm mark. I repeated the process for the other end, welded a small bolt to the upper end, and welded an M6 nut to the outside of the lower half, situating it directly above a hole that would allow an M6 socket cap bolt to be threaded through and lock the glow tube in place.
Step 7: Painting
This stage actually gave me the most issues during the whole build sequence. I sourced a chrome enamel for the handle and an orange/yellow for the jaws, but the chrome was insistent upon rubbing off, and the yellow enamel (Despite being marketed as a metal paint) was water based and flaked off way too easily.
I changed to a solvent based line of Hammerite's "Direct to rust" paint, which cured to a softer finish, but had no peeling issues at all. After scraping and sanding away at some of the exposed corners to add extra definition to the metal, I gave everything a coat of clear lacquer which halted the rubbing away of the silver paint, and gave the yellow some extra protection against abrasion. I had also added a small yellow-painted washer to the base of the grip, near the ratchet since this was the neatest way to paint the circle there from the design.
The final stage of painting was to add several coats of Pebeo's saffron yellow glass paint to the acrylic tube to simulate the deep orange look. I considered using copper pipe instead of orange-coloured acrylic, but the model seems to glow with its own light rather than simply reflecting it, so this left the option to add actual lighting later.
Step 8: Completion!
These are the completed photos of the spanner. While it's not a perfect representation of the actual model, it comes very close while still functioning as an actual spanner.
This project has taught me a lot about welding, and I'm confident that many of my future projects will benefit from welded features in the future!