Barbarella's Space Rifle

Introduction: Barbarella's Space Rifle

About: I am currently finishing my 3rd and final year at Algonquin College in the mechanical engineering technology course. Once I started my studies at Algonquin, I became fascinated with the CNC and 3D printing w...

I was placed into a Science Fiction class as an elective, and for the final project we had to create something that has to do with science fiction. Now most people from the class are writing short stories or drawing abstract pictures. Since that is not my forte, I've decided to give Barbarella's Space Rifle a shot. I came across this project from one of Adam Savage's day builds. I'm not planning on really using any of the same techniques he used except layering the wood to make to guns thickness.

Here is my proposal:

"For my final project I propose to physically build a replica of an artifact/item to scale from a published science fiction story or accredited drawing."

Step 1: Design Considerations

I set myself with several design criteria, but I won't bore you with that. Before I show the process I'd just like to go over a dilemma over function or form. I set out to make as close a replica as I could, but during the design phase I realized that the original gun didn't have much function. The butt was oddly shaped and too small for my shoulder to fit. Also I think the weird loop on the opposite side of the trigger is a place to put your thumb through as you hold the trigger with your index. However the positioning of the loop doesn't fit either. So should I make it functional so I can handle it without it being awkward or try my best at a 1:1 scale? I'm in an engineering program so it was a tough decision, but I decided to go with form here, as changing the design would be out of the project scope. However, I made the gun slightly over sized so I can cut the butt off, and put a bolt through it so I can reattach it. This way I can play with it with ease (butt separated), while also have it looking authentic on the wall (butt attached).

Step 2: Tracing & Sizing & Printing

Okay, so first of all I am not a gun person, oddly enough I've only shot machine guns.


So the main reason I choose this science fiction item to replicate was because it had nice smooth and simple lines. This made the tracing super easy. I used InkScape and the Bezier tool. Then I just bent the lines in between the nodes to create the seamless curves. After it was traced, and I was happy with the curves I needed to estimate out how big the original gun was. I did this differently then Adam Savage, as I decided I wanted a prop customized to my size.


I asked someone who has several rifles (and my height) what they thought the distance between the butt and the trigger was. They said the length between your elbow and index finger (12.5in), which seemed comfortable enough with a tape measure (figure here is of an old measurement). After tracing the image I took the ratio between the height and width so the image wouldn't get skewed while re-sizing. To roughly get my 12.5in between the butt and trigger, I simply made a line and made it 12.5in long. Then I lengthened my picture such that the butt and the trigger were at either end of that line. Then, knowing the original ratio I was able to determine the width.

I really wanted to use a laser cutter to cut the wood out but the total length came out to be around 28in and I only have access to a 24" laser cutter. Which means I'd have to print and do more tracing :(


Printing was a bit of an issue, but luckily there is a simple solution; Windows Paint. The overall size of my document was roughly 11X28in. I tried printing as a pdf but it wanted to split the outline in way too many sections, which just meant more cutting. So go for paint. I then cut it out and taped and glued the shapes together to create a somewhat seamless shape.

I ended up printing and cutting out three different sizes to ensure the size was desirable.

Step 3: Equipment


~ Jig Saw - So Handy

~ Router

~ Drill Press (Need required)

~ 3D printer (required unless you have access to a 3D printer, if not I'd love to hear suggestions on how to do it differently)

~ Several Clamps


~1xPine -

I got rough cut pine, but this seems like a better deal.

I used pine because its a soft wood, but it ended up breaking 3 times during construction, it is also not a very pleasant wood to stain. It is super cheap, but lesson learned.

~ 1x1" Piping -

From the drawing I found that the barrel was about 1" in diameter and 2' long.

~ 1xBlack Steel Wire -

This was used to wrap the start of the barrel and the stock together, as it seemed to be there in pictures

~ 1xStain and Conditioner - (Not sure where the stain came from)

~ Coat Hooks -


The conditioner was used so the stain would get blotchy, this seemed to work well enough. I wouldn't recommend this stain. After my last coat it just looks like I painted the stock brown :( Not the look I was going for.

~ Then your fundamentals - wood glue, sandpaper, screws, ect.

Step 4: Trace and Cut


This step was the simplest of all. I was able to fit my trace on about a 12'X4' piece of pine(1" thick). I thought of a better way to do this afterwards. In any case, I traced my paper cut out two times on the wood. This was to let me laminate the two pieces together.


Once I was happy with the traces, I simply cut them out with the jig saw. I've never used one before this, and I must say they are really handy. The jig saw cut cut almost all of the curves without me having to cut them out in various triangles.

I cut out the thumb hole thinger, with a large drill bit, and then cut the contour out with the jig saw, as it was not suppose to be a perfect circle.

NOTE: So what I thought of afterwards was that I could have cut one trace out and glued it onto the piece of pine and clamp. Then I could have gotten a nice matching contour on both pieces. The way I did it created a lot of sanding.


After I had my rough cut outs I went inside out of the cold into the basement (not much warmer) and glued the two pieces together. I tried to match up the two rough cuts as best I could, luckily I was fairly precise (or accurate?). Then I used every clamp available and clamped the cutouts in between pieces of wood. Then I waited 45 min or so, and then started on the next exciting step.

NOTE: the third picture isn't what I had after clamping, that was after I had done some other work to it

Step 5: Sand Sand Sand........ and More Sanding


There was a theme with this project, and that was sanding. Luckily there was a good program on the radio for Eric Clapton's 70th birthday. I also polished up the steel pipe. It came out pretty good, not perfect so it looks like its been used, which isn't necessarily a bad feature.


I used an attachment on the drill press (not sure what its called) to do all of the heavy sanding. This worked really well, and gave me a fairly good piece of wood that was almost seamless.


In the drawings of the gun it looks like the corners are extremely rounded. I used the router with a curved edge drill bit attachment. This bit has the ability to follow the contours of the edge keeping the distance constant. This made for a very consistent radius all over the stock. YES, a stock it finally started looking like something I'd be proud of.


Then came the hand sanding. Oh boy, something I can never get sick of. Anyways, I did my best at getting the seams to disappear. I did this by using a high grit sand paper and getting all of the excess glue off, and getting the two pieces of wood to become a perfect fit. Then I started lowering the grit and focusing on surface and smoothness of its lines. I sanding it down with 3 different grits, unfortunately I can't remember the numbers :/

Step 6: Finishing Touches

The first picture is nice isn't it? I am actually on the fence if the stock looked better at this stage or at the final stage.

There are 4 finishing touches: barrel slot, barrel mounting, staining, and trigger.


Yes a funny title. I used the router with a two flute bit (makes the bottom flat) and machined out 1" at its center. This required quite a bit of work holding (no pictures) to get it fairly on the money. The ditch/slot ended up being slightly over sized but seems to be centered.


I mounted the barrel by two screws from the underneath of the stock, and counter bored them. This was a fairly simple solution, although it took away the seamless design.

I clamped the barrel down in place, and used the drill press to drill a small hole through the wood and metal. Then I put a screw in, and clamped for the second hole. Then I put the screw in. I did the counter bore afterwards, but it could just as easily have been done during the drilling, it would just mean I would have been switching the bit every time.


I put three coats of stain on ( with some help from my cat). I'm on the fence as to weather the stock looked better with or without the stain. I wasn't so happy with how the stain covered, but it hid almost all of my mistakes, which are all in the next step.


The trigger was something I left to decide last. I ended up using some coat hooks to put it together. This worked better then I had expected, because it turned out how I'd pictured it. It was pretty simple, I took a big coat hook and banged and bent it to as close a form I could get. Then I drilled and attached it with some small 3/4" screws. The actual trigger was just a small coat hook with attached to the bigger coat hook with the standard holes and screws. The trigger is slightly off center, but you can barely tell.

Step 7: Problems

There was really only one main problem with this project. My stock actually broke 3 times! It was too bad, but I fixed it all up, and it is strong.

As you can see in the first picture, the stock broke right in half. This was completely my fault as I did some pretty shotty clamping, and this was the end result. You can also note in the same picture that one of the pieces on the butt is missing. I didn't realize that till taking the photo. The stock fell off the workbench, and apparently broke without me noticing.

The fix? Well for the brake in the middle, there was a good amount of surface area so I just glued the two pieces together. However because of its awkward location, I tightly wrapped electrical tape around the brake to hold the two pieces together. Then I put in 4 3/4" finishing nails to help strengthen the brake.

The other two brakes came from the part broken off the butt. First I wasn't too sure how to properly fix that brake so I just glued and tapped like the other one. However, this didn't hold up for too long, and fell off while sanding. So I ended up shoving two finishing nails into the stock and then making corresponding holes in the broken piece. This took a bit of fiddling, but I am very happy with the result.

Really the only other problem I had was figuring out how to clamp the stock as it is so thin and curvy. In the last picture here I am actually using three clamps to clamp it securely to the table. I had to be carfule doing this as the wood is soft and prone to failure.

Step 8: 3D Printing

Yes! Alas, I finally found an excuse to do some 3d printing :) I printed the top section of Barb's gun proportionally on a Maker Bot at the local library. I initially went to the hardware store to see what I could find, but I came up short. I figure this is because most things are designed to take up as little space as possible. This top piece is definitely not proportional. I'll post the STL files here.

I had troubles modeling the side piece quickly, so it isn't well done, and the top piece was difficult because I was limited to 2-hrs on the 3D printer, and I learned that, that is very little time. Actually I was unable to get it done within 2-hrs while having it to proper scale. I had to bug a friend to use his printer to get this done. It came out really nice, unfortunately I was a little rushed at the ending, so I forgot to take a picture of the original part.

Step 9: The Result

A great final project (by my standards), rejoice in these final photos!

Thanks for reading through this! The pictures really don't show off this project well.

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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is awesome! I love how it turned out! Great first instructable!