Monday, April 25, 2016

Becoming Captain America: Part 3 Finishing!

Part 1: Stripping
Part 2: Painting

OK, so here we are. You've got a great shield, its got some awesome colors down, and it looks super sweet right? How could you possibly make it better? Clear coat it. Why? because it makes the finish look even better, it protects it and it feels like a new car when you're done. Lets go!

So the first thing you should do is pull up that last little bit of tape you've left down. You left it down right? right?! good. Hopefully, it looks like this. It might not, and thats ok. I mean you've probably got to start over, but the painting part is the easiest bit to do. One thing I've learned over the years is don't skimp and by cheap tape.  I don't buy the fancy frog tape, but I do at least buy the 3M painters tape, the generic stuff just doesn't stick as well and that will cause you problems with stuff seeping under the edges. Now if you rushed and didn't let the red paint dry long enough you may have marks in your red paint from where you taped over to do the blue. You can take the chance and move on, sometimes those work out once the clear coat is over it, but there's no promise so you're taking a bit of a chance.

When it comes to clear coat you can use just about anything. Some people will use lacquer, some take it to an autobody shop and pay them to spray it like a car and finish it off for them. I like doing the work myself. My personal favorite clear is Rustoleum 2X clear. No real reason other than I had it and it works well. Just like before, read the directions on the can, but usually I'll spray down about 10 coats about 10 minutes apart from each other. That leaves just enough time for the previous coat to get dry to the touch. You can also determine the overall sheen a bit at this stage. LOTS of layers mean there's more to sand through which means a glossier finish at the end. A few layers means there's less to sand through which means a slightly more satin finish at the end. Both are nice, its just personal preference.

THE BIGGEST TIP that I can give for this section is take your time and don't go too heavy. If you work to fast or hover and spray too much clear on and area it will drip and run causing a nasty sag that you can't do anything about till it dries. They are best avoided because it means more work. Here's one now!

Once you've done a bunch you have to play the waiting game and let that all cure and cook through. I won't lie, I don't wait a week on this process either, I usually move on in a day or two because I get momentum and (knock on wood) so far it hasn't bitten me. Some people would be happy to stop at this point. It looks great, its glossy its nice, BUT 90% of the time you'll have whats called orange peel from the way the spray lands, it'll be a texture just like orange skin, still smooth, but not perfect. If you make this picture large you can see it in the reflections where the lights are. If you're ok with it, move on to step 5 now.

Here's where things get fun. Once things have cooked through, take some wet sandpaper. Some start at a rougher grit and work up, 1000 and then 2000. I usually do just one grit, it works just fine. I keep a spray bottle of water around. Wet down the paper and the shield, rewetting as needed to keep things moving and work your way around the shield. With the water you can feel how smooth the surface is and you can tell if you need to hit an area more to even it out. IF you got to heavy and had sags during the clear coat, this is where you can sand them down and even them out. When you finish, don't be discouraged. I know the first time I did it I immediately regretted it because I thought I had ruined everything. I'll leave off today with the sad state of things that you'll have after wet sanding because step 5 is what I call the "restoring the finish" stage where you use products and elbow grease and it pays off.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Two Captains Working the Camera

One of the best comments I got on these pictures was "If old timey shows have taught me anything there's two superheros skinny dipping in a watering hole near by."

I took the newly finished shields outside today to enjoy the weather, a nice excuse to get myself out there too. Here are a few highlights. I could post a lot more, but who needs that when you can follow me on Facebook and see it all as it happens!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Captain Canada! Do you give it an... Eh Plus?

I thought today was a good day to point out how easily the pride of America, the personification of our great (err.... our.... ok) country can become the maple syrup dripping, overly apologetic representation of our neighbor to the north.

Rather than continuing to paint a cap shield... You get to stop after the red! Forget the blue! don't do it! hooray!

It actually saves a step and swaps it out for painting the maple leaf instead.

I will say, cutting the maple leaf it a little harder than the star. Still not real hard, but definitely more cuts.

Once you get it free, it gets spun the same way a star does. Sanded as you like and then rough sanded in a circle so you get the same spun look.

Once you get that, its back to painting as usual. A light coat of red. wait for 10 minutes, another light coat, wet 10 and then finally a heavy coat. Clear coat as usual after an hour or (according to instructions) a day or later so things can cure  properly.

At some point I'll sand this one down, glue the star and its business as usual. I have to thank Nathan Fillion for this one. He did this costume a few years ago and between that and a couple of Captain America TFA posters done up like this, I've been kind of obsessed with the idea.

As always, follow The Wooden Forge on Facebook to get day to day updates and check out the Etsy shop for new products! Next week, clear coating and finishing!

Becoming Captain America: Part 2

Part 1: Stripping
Part 3: Finishing
Part 4: The back

Ok so we left off with the shield taped up and ready for step two. This is where I used my ruler attached to the center of the shield with a sharpie in the holes I've drilled in it as a template. Don't worry about the hole in the shield, that will get covered up by the star later. So, looking at that picture, the hole I drilled in the center gets a metal ruler bolted to it temporarily. Because I have guide holes drilled in it, it spins around the shield like a propeller and the sharpie gives me clean circle. Once you draw your rings on, you'll end up with this.

This next step is one of the more stressful moments in this project. You need a steady hand and a sharp knife. Take an exacto knife and work your way around the outer two lines. You could do these separately but I like to do the red first and as one step, doing both rings at the same time. You've got a little wiggle room (pun intended) where variation won't show up but if you get crazy wild it'll be clear later that your lines are all wonky and out of whack. So take your time and remember to breathe.

Ok so here's an important point. Anodized paints are what you want here. They stay transparent so you can see the metal through the paint and don't go opaque which would counter all the hard work you did laying in those rings earlier. I prefer Duplicator paints because I think the colors are closer and like them better. Another good thing is follow the directions on the can. I do one light coat of paint, wait about 10 minutes, lay down another, and after another 10 minutes I lay down a medium to heavy top coat. The first layer won't cover well but thats ok. The last heavy coat gives it some richness and a nice solid covering. Don't get too heavy, you'll get a feel for it as you go.

This is the end of step 2.0, step 2.5 comes after a day of wait.
You need to give this red time to dry before moving on. Don't tape it, don't move on too quick. You'll regret it. I usually do the blue a day after the read but for sure wait 24 hours. If you want to get real technical the can says it takes 7 days to cure... I can't ever wait that long.

Tape around the blue ring that you haven't pulled up yet, OR pull the center tape and then tape over the red. However you want to lay out the last blue circle. I still don't have a great method for it. You want to make sure you don't overlap because you'll see the paints on top of each other.

Once you've done that, repeat the process to do the blue. Leave the last ring untouched, thats the bare metal, the stand in for the "white" and remember what happens when it's exposed? yup, it rusts. so leave it covered and let the blue dry. You'll want to leave it covered until you clear coat the whole thing.

I love how the blue looks while its going down, its my favorite.

As always, follow The Wooden Forge on Facebook to get day to day updates and check out the Etsy shop for new products! Next week, clear coating and finishing!

Friday, April 15, 2016


Took a small break from shields for a few days while I finished tweaking and cleaning up the front of my latest cap build while Captain Canada sits stripped and waiting for paint. Also got in two more sleds and have an order for THE REAL DEAL aluminum spun blank coming sometime in the near future. So you ask what have I been doing in the mean time? Jumping over to DC comics and tackling batarangs!

This all started out because I found some decent bar stock and went... why not, this should be fun. So I found a template and then scaled it up because apparently the batarangs in "The Dark Knight" are crazy small... or so the internet says. Wheres the fun in that? so I moved them up to about 2 inches tall and around 5 inches wide. 

So far I've got 3 versions done with another coming and I think that will be standard for what I end up making. A completely flat black version, black with the edge bevels cleaned back to bare metal, A completely clean mirrored, and coming this weekend a fluorescent yellow version that is far from stealthy but good clean fun.

The mirror finish isn't done here, I've got more polishing to do but as of today I can clearly see myself in it, so thats fun. 

You can see in the black picture, there's the bar that I'm working with. I thought about the smaller ones too. I may still do some of those in the future as key rings. One of the main problems with making these is needing the right tools. A jigsaw and metal blade work... sort of. Lots of grinding and hand filing to clean them up, a band saw or scroll saw would work wonders here.

When it comes down to it, if you have some patience, these are real easy to make. The clean up takes the longest time but if you plan the cuts right they pop free in about a minute. 

This is what you don't want to do. Its harder once you cut it free because you have to clamp it down and things just get in the way. So cut the wing thats sticking out of the bar, and THEN cut the other wing so its free. If you're REALLY smart, you'll cut the head and ears free first as well. Those get lots of filing just because there's no good way to get in there.

So eventually you end up with this. From this point on, its just refining edges and cleaning up to whatever level you want! I won't lie, working these on a bench grinder with sparks flying, you feel like the real deal. Time to go dispense some justice. 

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Exciting colors! Batman yellow, Anodized red and blue for Red Hood and Nightwing!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Becoming Captain America Part 1

Part 2: Painting
Part 3: Finishing
Part 4: The Back
Here we go the tutorial you've all been waiting for.  Since this is a budget build, it all starts with a little thing you might know from your childhood. A metal saucer sled, that is IF you can find one. These have been increasingly hard to get a hold of because they're great metal sleds and there's a growing number of people who use them for cap shields. The company pretty much sells out each year and I think(I don't know for sure) They are having a tough time keeping up with the strange new demand.

So step one is to take those holes that the rope handles are going through and connect them to the opposite corner. I use a sharpie since you're going to strip the paint anyway. This gives you an X that marks the center. Drill a hole there and then slather on paint stripper. I get the most caustic nasty stuff I can and usually let it sit on there over night, but it'll start working in about 15 minutes.

I won't lie, scraping it off is probably the worst part of this project and technically you need to do it to the front AND the back.  This is some heavy duty paint so you probably won't get it all over. Here's what I usually end up with.

Now this picture is pretty important because it shows 3 things. The left over red. Some of the are I've cleaned up, and the rust. Now if you're lucky there won't be any rust when you strip the paint, BUT because these saucers are steel they are exceptionally prone to flash rusting. I took too long stripping this but it showed up in about a day or two. If you don't get all the paint off and the sled cleaned up you may have to clean it again to remove the rust.

As you can see here. I used a wire wheel in a corded drill to remove the rest of the paint and the rust. It cleans and polishes as it goes.  Once I've got the whole thing cleaned up I tape the whole thing. I THINK this keeps it from rusting and once you hit this stage you've got a lot more time to work and can stop rushing. I don't know for sure if it prevents rust but it keeps moisture and air away from the surface and I haven't had the metal rust while taped yet so... *knock on wood*

This example is missing the center hole (I forgot it). I have a ruler with holes drilled to lay out the rings and I use that next with some rough sand paper. I took steel wool and polished things up so it wasn't so wire brushy and then I used the ruler as a propeller. It spins around the saucer and you can gouge in the circular lines that are oh so important later once the paint goes on.

Those spun, ground in lines are what make this budget build look similar to the spun aluminum look the movie shields have. I forgot to take a few pictures in this process but have another shield coming up so I'll go back and fill in with those pictures later. One other thing that I find important is I spray the back of the shield with a clear coat at this point because I'm leaving it bare and that keeps it from rusting. It gets the same treatment as the front to get that spun aluminum look.

I usually call this day one, or day one and two if I'm being lazy. At the end of this step you should end up with this. Or at least taped. The rings are pretty quick to draw if you've got your cheat ruler so they can wait until step 2.

If you're reading these write ups and don't know how I got from one point to another, let me know! leave a comment and let me clarify because I get wrapped up in the process and know that sometimes I forget pieces and would love for these to be super clear at the end. Feel free to share and let your friends see and at the end show off the skills you've picked up and make your own!

Check back next week for Step 2 Painting!

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Full Day of Staying Busy

Another small tease as I make progress on the shield.

Today I did 90% of the work on the star for the shield. Taking breaks on it I started making coasters out of a bunch of old records. Most of them are just the centers, but one exception was a copy of The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's" that happened to be a pressing that had a full color image all over it so I worked my way around grabbing the best parts until I had a full set.

A bit of advice. These are crazy simple to do. IF you have and use a heat gun. I struggled to cut these the other day then I had the bright idea to heat them up until they were fluid and then a sharp blade cuts through them like butter. From there you can just hand sand the edges until you're happy. Depending on whether or not there's a paper label on it, you may want to seal them with something so that water/spilled drinks don't wreck the track listings.

Hooray new ideas! Starting tomorrow I'll start adding a new post walking through the shield project each week. If popular demand says I should do it faster I'll do twice a week but for now I'll post them on Mondays.

If you want up to date, day to day posts showing what I"m working on and where I am on these shields, head over to the Facebook page, like the shop and you'll get regular updates with shiny fun pictures

The Wooden Forge