I have a folder called 'concepts' on my PC. It's filled with images found around the net that might make interesting projects. I build them as and when materials and time are available, they are then mostly used as props for stills photo-shoots. I'm no gamer, but many video games have original concept art that's available for weapons and suchlike. Anyway, this battle axe from Skyrim has languished in my concepts folder for a few years until I fainally got around to building it :-)
Step 1: Assembling Materials and References.
I found two usable original concept art images for the axe. One is a close up of the head, the other a general overall view of the weapon. The head is obviously the part that is most interesting to us, especially the filigree work that makes it all stand out.
I decided to finally build this prop because I had some faux leather left from another project to use on the handle.
Other materials were a single EVA tile mat 14mm thick, a length of 1" diameter wooden broom handle, some 2mm funky foam, paint and glue. The only thing I had to purchase was a small bag of 'dome head nails' (these are 9mm ones) that cost me about £2.00
You will obviously need some VERY sharp knives, snap off, box cutter, x-acto, or in my case surgical scalpels. A Dremel or similar rotary tool with some sanding drums would be a big advantage too.
The first job is to prepare a couple of templates, I 'roughly' calculated sized based on the width of the wooden part of the handle. My axe head worked out to around 315 mm wide. I used Posterazor (see my ible on making prop weapons from junk for details of this) to produce two identical sets of templates on thin printer card. One set was then glued to some cereal card and cut out. Now we are ready.
Step 2: Cutting the Main Elements
Once we have our main template we need to decide how to section it out in a way that makes sense for construction. I carefully removed just the blade sections allowing a 3/4" section of the central column remaining. This will allow me to hollow out a curve where the blade meets the handle to get a better bond. I then cut two left and two right blade sections from the foam tile.
Next I laminated each blade using impact adhesive (barge cement), ensuring that the 'patterned' side of the tiles were on the outside faces.
After hollowing out a 'groove' on the mating inner faces of the blades using the Dremel, the two blade halves were cemented in place using impact adhesive.
Now go back to your template and using the central column section cut the front and back faces, then thin them down using the Dremel and or knives and start filling in the gaps between the blades. Once the front and rear are done, cut a couple of strips of EVA to fill the sides of the handle until there are no gaps. Sand the sides if required using the Dremel
Step 3: Creating the Filigree
Now return to your second template, the one on the thinner card. The next bit is fiddly and frustrating but it will make or break the props looks.
The filigree is in two distinct sets. The lower section on the blade sides and a raised centre section. Start by carefully cutting out the blade sections from the template. Once that is done, offer the template up to the head to check the fit. If you are happy, transfer the template to your funky foam and cut two of the pattern out. Using impact adhesive add the two patterns to either side of the blade as in the second image.
At this stage I added the two little lower plates on the base of the blade and made the centre spike by laminating two pieces of tile and carving it out with scalpel and Dremel. These were all glued in place.
Go back to your template and cut out the centre section and the filigree on that. Offer up and when happy cut two patterns and add these to the blade sides.
Step 4: Shaping and Paint
Due to the method of construction there isn't too much final shaping to do. The inner curves on each blade (nearest the handle) need a chamfer added to each one on both sides. This is light work using the Dremel. The outer edges of the blades need to be tapered to an edge from the outer edge of the filigree panels to the centre line of the cutting edge. this would be a lot of material to remove with the Dremel alone so I cut away as much as I dared using a knife and then finished off with the Dremel.
The section of the handle where it meets the 'metalwork' was masked off, and about a foot down the handle shaft. The blade was then given two coats of matt black base coat using a spray can. Then the drybrush burnish technique was used (see my other ibles for details) to 'metalise' the head of the axe. The masking was then removed.
Step 5: The Handle
I was stuck with the handle length I had, the piece of wood was exactly 3 feet long. I marked off 28 mm at the base of the handle (two thicknesses of tile for the pommel), then measured from that line to the base of the 'metalwork' on the head (60 cms). Now, on the original image the axe only uses two strips of leather, but in order to make my handle a little more 'chuncky' I decided to use 4.
I cut 4 strips 1 cm wide and 3 feet six inches long.
On each side of the handle I marked a dot every 10 cms. The first two strips were given a dab of glue and stuck over each other at the dot nearest the base. This is just to hold them in place. I then wrapped them and nailed them at alternate dots on the handle, turned it over and did the same for the second pair of strips. The ends were trimmed with a scalpel. Then a securing ring of faux leather 2 cms wide was wrapped around the top, two small leather sections added at the base and nail in place. Lovely!
However, it became immediately apparent that the handle was far too light a colour. Bummer.
Step 6: Toning Down and Adding the Pommel
In order to tone down the handle I gave it a light over spray with some burnt umber acrylic paint. I then gave the entire weapon two coats of matt lacquer spray to seal it and tone it down a little more.
The base pommel is made from three disks of tile. The first two have a centre hole to accept the handle. I roughed all these out using some hole saws which make light work of the job. The three diskes were laminated together using impact adhesive and then shaped off with the Dremel. I put some random engraving marks on with a soldering iron then painted them using the same techniques as the blade head.
The pommel was glued into place on the end of the handle.
Step 7: Completion
This little project took me a couple of days to complete, mostly waiting for glue and paint to cure. I looks and feel sunstantial enough and I was pleased with the outcome.