How to Make a (fake) Wooden Leg

Introduction: How to Make a (fake) Wooden Leg

Planning on being a pirate, and need a wooden leg but are attached to your own?

Step 1: Overview

Costume: Pirate (Corporate Pirate in this case - I'll be wearing a suit and taking over other companies! Arrrgh!)

Objective: Create a wooden leg, because I currently don't have one but it would look good on a pirate. Amputation was out of the question because I needed it to heal and be usable in 2 how was I going to make one?
Then I remembered a printing technique - lead letters were placed in the press, the ink was rolled onto them, and then the paper was rolled onto the ink. Eureka, I could do the same with fabric and make myself a wooden leg.

(Please note that this was originally written in Pirate, but I've translated it back into English so everyone can follow along.)

Step 2: Requirements

A dark brown, long sleeved shirt (the victim)
Left over paint, beige
Other woodsy colours
A paint brush
A pool-noodle (foam pool toy), or other cylindrical object such as a roll of paper towels, etc.
Some tape
A wood graining tool
A board (primed) or plastic sign (mine was an old election sign)

Step 3: Prepare the Victim

I purchased a cheap, worn out shirt at the local Value Village, a thrift/second-hand store. It was dark brown because I remembered that we had some light beige wall paint at home. (If I'd had only dark paint, I probably would have picked up a beige shirt)
Chop the sleeve off the shirt.
Cut a piece of the cylinder to appropriate length to fit inside the sleeve. I used a foam pool-noodle, a pool toy.
Stretch the sleeve over each end until taught, using tape to assist if needed. This shirt had a small, stretchy cuff, so I only had to tape one end.
If you want, prepare the second sleeve in the same manner in case you a)don't like the way the first one turned out, or, b) want to use a second wooden leg, either on you or someone else.

Step 4: Prepare the Woodgrain

Lay out a piece of plastic or board that you want to work on. I used an old election sign that is made of hollow-core plastic. (Make sure you don't use current election signs, there are vandalism laws against that!) You could also use a painted or primed board, or anything else that the paint won't dry too quickly on - it needs to stay wet.
Roll the cylinder one revolution across the board to find out about how much of the board you need to paint to cover the whole sleeve/cylinder. You can start from the seam and roll until the seam touches the board again - that is the distance that you need to paint
Brush a coat of paint onto the board.
Add any other colors you may choose. I added a grey and an ochre to give some texture. Loosely drag it across the paint so that it streaks.

Step 5: Make Grain(s)

Use the graining tool to make woodgrain in the paint. The tool has a series of concentric circles cut into it's curved face. As you drag it across the paint, using some pressure, it scrapes the paint off with the ridges that are currently touching the paint. As you move it across the paint,change the angle, and the grain, with a gentle rocking action. Alternately, you can make the whole length of the "leg" use a single "rock" from the heel to the toe of the tool.
With the next pass of the tool, use a different rocking action to make a different grain, or a similar action to produce a similar grain. Experiment, just don't let the paint dry!

Step 6: Get a Leg On

Once the paint pattern is to your liking (you might not have to be a perfectionist...) take the cylinder and roll it across the paint, using some pressure.
I started at the seam and rolled it until the seam touched again.
Let it dry.

Step 7: Clean Up, Wear It, Have Fun!

It's important to not let the paint dry in the graining tool, and while you are cleaning that, you might as well clean the paintbrush that you used to spread the paint. The plastic piece? That's up to you, clean it off, or keep it as fake wood.

Remember, this only makes a wooden leg - what about your foot? Here's where a little creativity and imagination come to play. I have some dark green material that I'm going to cut into strips and tape/glue to my shoes to look like I've stepped in seaweed. Or you could turn your foot into a giant clam/fish/shark, or even make a wooden foot out of an old shoe. Just paint it the same colour as the shirt and use the same technique...though you might have to paint some by hand to continue the wooden pattern...

Have fun and a safe and happy Halloween!

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    7 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I'm going to try to use this technique to make a Lord Henry Baltimore costume this Halloween. Any ideas on how to incorporate the large rounded knee joint?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm, had to go look Lord Henry up as I wasn't familiar with him... cool knee!
    The first thing that comes to mind is find a rubber/vinyl ball that is slighly larger than your knee, but not too large. when you cut it to fit your leg through, keep the piece you cut out and shape it to be the "wooden" part of the joint - I'd probably actually use fake wood fabric to cover it so it all looks like one piece.

    Rubber/vinyl doesn't pain very well, so for the upper part, which looks like metal, you might want to make a whole fabric piece that looks like metal and cover the metal part of the knee joint with it too. The upper part also has some metal bumps (kind of looks like a Dalek...) and you could add those before spraying it with a metallic spray paint lightly.

    How to hide the foot? Maybe disguise it with a vampire hand grabbing at the wooden leg?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The severed hand is actually a really good idea, thanks!
    The knobs are nails, one for each family member of his killed...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Pi$$ off a ninja by dressing like a pirate and you won't need a fake wooden leg. I AM NINJA!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    How about a picture of someone actually wearing the leg?


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Then what you need after the wooden foot is a piece of wood under for sound. That way you get the heavy 'clunk!' on that step. Adds authenticity. I've done similar before.