In this instructable we will examine several techniques and procedures to decorate a Nerf blaster. A lot of the Nerf gun painting tutorials I have seen have been steampunk oriented and while that was supercool in 2008, I wanted something a little different for this project. Some of the products I will be using are new to me, while others are old friends. I hope that we can learn together in the next few hours.
To follow along, you will need the following products and tools:
-Nerf Hammershot Blaster
-A small screwdriver
-Green painters tape
-A sharp hobby knife
-Drum sanding attachment
-A wide tipped indelible marker
-Fine sanding sponge
-Fine sanding paper
-Black Primer spray paint
-Krylon Glitter Blast spray paint, Green
-Krylon Glitter Blast spray sealer, Clear
This instructable assumes several things about your knowledge of tools and safety procedures as well as your ability to read and understand all the instructions that come with your stuff. And remember, there is no greater safety rule, then to wear these, safety glasses. (Thanks Norm)
First off, play with your blaster for a little while to get a good grip on how it works. I watched a few videos online on disassemble and moding, so I had a good idea of what was going to happen when I opened the blaster's plastic shell. Using your small screwdriver, remove all the little black screws that hold your gun together. As you go, collect as many as you can and place them in a small plastic bag. You will need these later and they tend to get lost super easy.
Next, carefully remove the little bit's that constitute the working portion of the gun. Take pictures with your phone so you can put everything back together later. It may be days before you get back to reassembly, so don’t just assume you will remember how everything goes. Place the guts in another plastic bag. I chose not to paint the working parts on this project because the paint will be rather thick and I don’t like the idea of my gun jamming in a fire fight.
Pro Tip: I got my gun brand new for $15 USD on Amazon. But you could always pick up a used one at a yard sale for much less. Given the cost and amount of time your going to put into this paint job, I would pony up the real cash for a reliable blaster up front. This is no time to get cheap.
Step 1: Sanding
Once the shell is cleaned out, but before sanding, it is time to mask off any areas you won't be painting. I chose to keep the bandana wrap on the pistol grip. So, that got a heavy application of painters tape. I used the hobby knife to clean up the edges. You can't really use too much tape here, so go nuts.
Next, I busted out the felt pen and went over all the places I wanted to remove raised markings. This included the Nerf logo, the name “Hammershot” and the safety warnings. The marker lets you know when your sanding too aggressively, so do not skip this step.
At this point you're going to want to get buck wild with the rotary tool; this is folly. Put on your eye protection and think for a moment. What you want is a very, very light touch. As you approach the plastic shell, use light strokes to brush over the surface. The marker on the tops of the lettering should wear off first, this is good. If you leave noticeable divots in the surface, you are applying too much pressure. Continue to use sweeping motions till all the marker is gone. Then apply the marker again and repeat the process.
Use this procedure for all the logos and stuff you want to remove. Now, some places on your gun have a rough finish while others are still smooth. What you want is an evenly scuffed surface for the primer to stick to. This is a lot easier with the sanding sponge, so start working over the exterior using swirling motions when you can. Anyplace you removed a logo is going to have a rough spot, knock down the high points with the hobby knife and follow up with the sanding sponge. Try to maintain the sharp corners where you can.
Pro Tip: Little bit's of plastic are all in the cracks and screw holes. Use the hobby knife to clean those out before you move on to the next step. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe off any particles the sanding has left on the surface.
Step 2: Primer
At this point you should be covered in a fine plastic dust. Wipe down your work area and wash your hands. We are going to be applying several coats of primer and you want them to be free of particles. Lay out your plastic shell parts on something sturdy you don’t mind getting paint all over. I used this cardboard box.
Read the instructions on your can of black primer. Shake the crap out of it for at least as long as it says, maybe longer. Nothing kills the mood like a sputtering can of paint. Start out applying a light thin coat of primer to the outside of the plastic parts. Do not worry that it's not covering well, or that your missing the spaces inside the cracks. it's OK. This is a very thin coat so the next coat sticks better. Once you feel you’ve applied the right amount of primer, step back and wait for the recommended amount of time for the paint to set up. Mine was safe to touch after 20 min, but I needed to wait an hour to apply the next coat. Better safe than sorry.
Following the same procedure, apply another thin coat to fill in the spots left by the first pass. You can always apply more paint later, and you will.
Step 3: Color Sanding
Even after all my precautions to keep from screwing this up, I got a little crazy with the Dremel and found some deeper scratches in the plastic. Ones that will really pop out when painted. These are just scratches, not deep gouges. Deeper cuts into the plastic might require filling with a 2 part compound. For simple jobs like this, however, we bust out the find sand paper and start color sanding.
Color sanding is a great way to cover small scuffs and scratches while also giving the next layer of paint something to grab onto. Make sure your primer is good and dry. Then just go over the scuffed spots with your fine sand paper till the paint starts to wear thin and the plastic starts to show through. The primer should look shiny by this point and you are ready to apply another thin coat.
I color sanded 3 times and buffed out most of the scratches. I gave each layer a full hour to set up before sanding, as per the directions on the can. The majority of the sanded areas will be painted with the glitter paint, and will not show anyways, but it never hurts to cover all your bases.
To make sure everything had cured, I let this last coat of primer set up over night. Making sure to rest the paint in a cool, dry place with lots of ventilation.
Step 4: Masking
Now that the black layer is good and dry, we are going to apply more painters tape. This round of tape goes on everything you want to keep black. In this case, I am covering the grip, accessory rail and little tube shaped thing under the cylinder. There is a lot of different ways you could go about designing your gun and I think this one maximizes the green area without making it look like you painted just everything green.
This is probably the hardest part for people with zero self control. As it requires you to sit quietly and position little strips of tape, very slowly, for like an hour. This is also one of the most important parts, because the glitter spray goes everywhere and you want the lines to be super crisp. Use the hobby knife to cut sharp lines where the black and green come together. If you get the tape job done in 5 min, you’ve done something wrong. Peel off all the tape and do it again.
Now is also a good time to start prepping that can of Krylon Glitter Blast Lucky Green or whatever color you decided to buy. The reviews on this product are pretty sparse on the internet, and for something that promises to make whatever you apply it to epic in coolness, that seems really odd. Even worse, half the review/tutorials focus on how difficult it is just to get out of the can. Now, I don’t think the people at Krylon are stupid, so I’m pretty sure people just aren’t using it as directed. That being said, I set the can in a pot of hot water for 10 min to loosen up the matrix. Then I shook the hell out of the can for the full 2 min the directions stipulated before unleashing the beast.
Step 5: Glitter Blast
This stuff is a mess. It sputters and stops, sprays nothing, then huge gouts of glitter come all at once. I found it best to shake the can while spraying, just to make sure. I was never certain what was happening, I just kept the can moving till everything was evenly sparkly. I figured I would apply another coat, so there was no need to kill it on the first application.
Now may also be the time for a few words about choosing the right base for your sparkly paint. The manufacturer says this product has no pigment, and it's the flake that brings the color. Meaning the base color you spray it over has a lot to do with the final look. I have found that I like dark backgrounds to support my glitter greens. Other colors may work differently, perhaps a yellow or cyan might also look good. White, on the other hand, looks awful, and should be avoided.
As per the can, I waited 20 min for the first coat to dry completely before giving it another shot of the glitter. Once you have applied your second coat, I don’t think it's going to get any more green, so you can feel free to remove the tape now.
Pro Tip: Be careful, the last few coats may be dry to the touch, but I found a lot of loose glitter came off on my hands while trying to get all the little tape bit's off.
Step 6: Clear Coat
Now that you’ve got the tape off, this is pretty much what your blaster is going to look like. You could ever reassemble it now if you really wanted to, but you would be better served to apply several coats of the Glitter Blast sealer. I was tempted to try another, cheaper, brand of sealer, but paints from the same manufacturer are designed to work together and the few bucks you may save could ruin the look of the project you’ve spent so long crafting.
The main point of this sealer seems to be locking in any loose glitter flecks while also protecting the little reflective surfaces from dust and damage. I applied 6 light coats. As per the can I gave my final coat a full 24 hours to cure before handling and reassembly.
Step 7: In Conclusion
Putting the gun back together should be
easy if you took plenty of photos. Everything is right there in your plastic bags. If you get stuck, there are also dozens of moding videos that show you how to reassemble your blaster on youtube. Never press too hard while fitting the little plastic parts back in place, you might break something. Also, keep the knife around just in case you got any paint on a surface that needs tight clearance. Parts of the cylinder on mine required a little cleaning to make everything fit correctly.
If you found this helpful, please write a nice comment below. Or better yet, vote for this project in the Halloween prop contest, a link should be someplace on this page.
Regarding the glitter paint: To put it simply, this stuff is amazing. Thank you Krylon! Applying metal flake like this is next to impossible for the novice, and requires expensive tools. This Glitter Blast line has brought the cost of entry down next to nothing. ( Please send me free samples)