As the Comi-Con for my region fast approaches it is time to work on costumes. The entire family is creating their own. This year I shall go as Han Solo with a costume made from various sources. One of the iconic and key pieces of such a costume is the gunbelt and DL-44 blaster. So I decided to create my own blaster and holster.
Step 1: The Blaster
Creating a perfect replica from scratch is a little beyond my machining capabilities. Luckily, some nice individual design and created the STL files for all of the blaster parts, and then some, and placed them on the Myminifactory website. You can find the STL files here.
Step 2: Print Off the Individual Pieces
The print is best used by printing the individual parts of the blaster then assembling them.
Step 3: Painting
Painting. . . Pretty self-explanatory. Cover the different colored sections with painter's tape. I used some short bursts of silver on the metal black to give it that worn look. The blaster is the heart of the gunbelt so it had to be created first. Everything else revolves around it.
Step 4: Next Is the Holster
I used some 7oz horse leather scraps to create the belt and holster. The first thing I needed to do was have the holster conform around the blaster. To do this I cut a sufficient piece then wet it thoroughly.
Step 5: Molding the Leather
Once wet, mold the leather with your hands around the shape of the gun. I did this on a piece of plywood. I then used a staple gun to pin molded curves at the spots they wrapped around a corner. This affixes the leather to the board with the gun underneath. I let it dry overnight. The leather remembers the shape and now had the basic part of the holster.
Step 6: Backing
I took another piece of leather and traced around the front holster part. It tracks the front curvature but the backing remains flat. I then use claps to initially hold both pieces together while I used a leather punch to punch holes through each section. According to the designs and pictures online, the holster's stitching wraps around the outside of the holster at each stitch point. So I punched the holes close to the edges.
Step 7: Sewing the Holster
OK, my sewing skills need some improvement. But to be honest, anyone who has stitched leather knows its not the same as sewing cloth or even pleather. You need to align the punch holes properly, then stitch through the holes using the proper leather needles. Leather needles are more smooth than regular needles and do not "grab" the leather fibers as it goes through the holes. However, despite having the proper tools, my stitching technique could still use some work. Luckily, once the holster is dyed, the errors I made in stitching are not noticeable.
Anyway, I made sure the holes were aligned for both the front and back of the holster, punched through, then stitched using waxed fiber thread. The end result was still very decent.
Step 8: 3D Print Belt Parts
The gunbelt has several parts which are custom for his belt. The belt has several versions depending on which movie you are watching. However, a nice individual on Thingiverse posted the STL files to print all "metal" parts for the belt with all pieces necessary to create whichever version you wish.
The important thing to remember is that these parts will get some stress. As a result, you cannot use a 10% density else the parts will fall to pieces. I used a 90% density for the 3D prints.
Step 9: Tweaks
I had to file some pieces to make sure thy worked well together and allowed the belt to move as I walked. But for the most part, the 3D parts worked together nicely.
Step 10: Belt Sizing
Solo's belt attaches with a hook under the front and back buckle. This means there is no way to adjust the belt for the wearer. So I had to measure my hips and waste to make sure the lengths of the belt straps would work on me without adjustment. This is one reason I did not simply purchase a belt online as the sizing has to be customized. So, after I measured everything I cut the strips and attached the brackets.
Step 11: Connection Bracket
There are two types of brackets which come with the 3D files, open and closed. You need to insert some form of rod into each buckle (there is a front and back on the belt) and on each side. One side the bracket is permanently attached. The other is simply the rod where the open bracket will connect whenever you are ready to put the belt on. Turns out metal clothes hangers have the perfect dimensions for the 3D buckle holes. So I cut a few up, measure the length of rod needed and inserted into the buckle on each side. I used some Gorilla Glue and my 3D printing pen to close out edges of the buckle to affix the rods into each side. The strength of the hanger rods seems to be perfect for the function of the belt.
Step 12: Reinforcing the Buckles
Despite printing a density of 90%, I was worried about the strength of the plastic to put up with my movements throughout the day at Comi-Con. So, I reinforced the buckles with thin sheets of aluminum. I traced the patterns from the 3D prints, made them slightly larger so the edges can be curved over, then glued them to the buckle pieces. I'm more confident they will hold up, plus I get the cool true metallic look as opposed to simply silver paint. Afterwards, I painted all of the 3D belt pieces silver.
Step 13: Pouches
Solo's belt has several pouches on it. I'm not sure what he ever really used them for, but the costume has them. So, using the same molding technique explained earlier, I wet some scraps of leather and molded them over some 1" sections of wood. Once molded, I was able to cut and fold them into pouches which fit onto the belt. Again, I forgot to take pictures of the pattern and cutting, but you get the idea.
Step 14: Next Is the Dye and Sealant
I dyed each leather strap, each pouch, and the holster separately before assembling them into the belt. I used a dark brown dye. It's darker than Solo's true belt, but the dark dye is easier to use and does not show mistakes. Lighter dyes show where you mess up so I'm fine using the darker one. It's not like anyone will perform a color scan (although I've met some fans who are just crazy enough to try it if they had the equipment).
If you want a more detailed instructable on how to dye leather check out How to dye leather
Step 15: Dye Job
Step 16: Assembly
Using the same saddle stitch I used on the holster, I punched holes for each piece of leather and assembled the pouches, straps, and attached the holster to the two straps which extend down to from the buckles. It was a lot of punching and sewing but it turned out pretty sturdy. For one pouch I attached neodymium magnets to the base and flap to allow it to close smoothly. I love using magnets, but here. .. I had just run out of snaps and was too impatient to wait for more to be delivered. So, I used the magnets.
Step 17: Testing
At each stage of assembly I did a test to make sure it still fit correctly and all of the pieces were in the correct place and moved the way I needed them to. I will be wearing the belt for several hours (all day actually) so it needs to work practically with the outfit. I had to adjust lengths here and there. I had to do that old "measure twice, cut once" motto because once I cut and assembled the belt, it was not going to change absent undoing and replacing large pieces.
Step 18: Droid Caller
In addition to the pouches, Han has several pieces of hardware in addition to the blaster. A few are just square boxes which fit into the pouches. However, one is a cylinder which attaches to his belt and is labeled a "droid caller." The 3D files I linked have a droid caller within them, but I did not like the way it looked so I decided to build my own.
Step 19: PVC
I used some 1 1/4" PVC piping with some couplings to form the general shape of the droid caller. I did print the interior antenna and backing from the 3D files to use. I used just a general metal grasping clamp (used to attach electrical conduit) as a means of attaching the caller to the belt and riveted/glued it to the belt in the proper spot. Then painted the caller silver as a base coat.
Step 20: Droid Caller Part Two
I decided to use friction tape to help complete the droid caller. I wrapped one layer around the caller. Then I put neodymium magnets on opposite ends of the caller. They will align with the metal holder on the belt to help secure it. The friction tape is also very helpful in preventing movement. I then glued the remaining external pieces such as the knobs and a latch (at least I think it's a latch).
Step 21: Next Test
Tried it on one more time to make sure the lengths worked. My measurements seem good.
Step 22: Cylinder
Solo's belt has a canister which looks a lot like a CO2 canister. I did not have one, so I 3D printed it. I wanted a way to hold it in the belt. So, I drilled an indention into the plastic and glued a magnet into the hole. I then measured and glued a magnet into the belt strap intended for the canister. It holds the canister very nicely and does not allow it to move around.
Step 23: Almost Done
Last two details are the snaps for the leg strap and the strap which holds the gun in the holster. I forgot to take pictures of me applying the snaps to the straps. Sorry about that. The bottom line is you need to sew the straps in place and apply the snaps after measuring placement on your body.
Step 24: Gunbelt Complete. . . Costume, Not Just Yet
The gunbelt needs to work with the costume you intend to use. So I tried it, walked around for an hour or so to make sure it would work with the costume. My measurements seem to have been accurate. Not too loose that it falls down and not too tight that it does not move with me when I walk. Overall I love the effect.
Note the costume is not done yet. The blood stripes are only tacked on to see if it works. I still have to sew them on at this point. The pants also still needs some belt loops and a belt to be similar to Han's. The pants also need adjusting. However, the belt is pretty much done, so you can see the general effect.