Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:29 pm Post subject: Vibro Axe Construction
Above is the result of about a year's labor and budgeting. Left is the full axe in current shape at 5ft exact. I may be half way done, but not much further.
Right to Left
The bubbler is the modern version that must be reshaped into the classic. Two bubblers at $16 total, (one for experimentation).
Next are 22, 1.5"OD, 1"ID rings from Dritz on ebay. Pack of 8 for $5+, need 6 sets (if not a seventh as well). ~$50
The rings are encapsulated by 2" heat shrink. $5 for one meter. As can be seen, the definition of the rings when touching on the lower and upper usages vs. the deliberately separated pairs of rings is telling.
The heat shrink is very thick and the heating process creates motion on the rings as it settles into its new shape. This test suggests that the next round, I use double sided tape on the staff or a quick dab of super glue to hold the rings in place for heat shrinking. The middle section stayed in pairs as desired, but offset from perpendicular to the staff itself. They need to stay flat in place.
The thickness suggests I need to create artificial separations between the rings in the upper and lower ring sets to allow for more definition of the individuals. I haven't gone back to my sources for a side by side with these results as yet. however, at first blush, these results are promising. The current Shrink will be razor bladed out of there easy enough.
I'm also aware of the work done by Adamiato (sp) at the RPF, but don't have that link immediately handy.
General image searches have also been helpful. It seems there are few quality photos of the original from the day and none of the film material is much good other than to show a few axe variants such as the double blades that greet Luke on his entrance or the one Leia pikes the deck gunner with when escaping.
Next up in the middle is a set of 8 rings with a $50 ANH Solo blaster bit. The rings are set in pairs as that's what my ref suggests to me. The blaster bit still needs some shaving. It's held in place by a looped piece of gaffers tape behind.
And up top, a heat-shrinked set of 18 rings sets above the dark brown version of the Gillette Max for Men at $20 (shipped!). A machined aluminum Vader chest rod from Argentina at ~$40 for a pair is gaffer's taped into place above that. That makes ~$20 for this one rod if I can sell the other, or this one costs me $40 and the other is a spare or junk.
The blade was eyeballed for shape. It is currently too long and the curve needs fixing. It is made from slices of 1/8th plexi each sheet cut down successfully smaller to form the shape. The 'terraced' edges that make the blade edge itself were then clayed over with Aves Apoxie Sculpt. A water based material, it can be smoothed down nicely. From here, I need to run it on a friend's table sander for final shape and finishing.
Ah yes, and to the staff itself. All is not what it seems. A copper tube sounds like the common pipe used as pvc is too wobbly and wood is too thin, brittle and bendy. Problem with copper is it's freaking heavy.
The staff is generally agreed to be 1" diameter. PVC tube ($4) with a 1" outer diameter has a 3/4" internal diameter. A one-inch wood rod ($3) has an actual diameter of shy under 3/4". Put the one inside the other and you have an exceptionally sturdy staff at less weight than the copper. The slightest of bending along the length takes a lot of strength and is what you would want from an actual weapon of this kind, just enough flex.
All well and good, however we want to take this to London this summer with us, so it needs to fit into normal luggage. That means this baby will be modular, including the staff itself. What magic is this? The magic of the wood/pvc connection. The staff is five feet. So at the bottom end of the pvc , a half foot piece of wood will be permanently fixed into place inside. The otherwise empty PVC pipe will then be cut on the foot from bottom to top. The wood will now be cut at foot marks as well. When then inserted into the pvc, the half foot offset in the bottom is built-in.
The wood is friction fit inside by winding a few layers of masking tape around it at each end of the piece to build the diameter. Couldn't be a better or tighter way to get a great fit. replace tape as it frays over the years.
While I haven't gotten anywhere near this step yet, I am pinning hopes on it working. It looks good on paper and sounds good in my head; but will the real-world physics of it match up? I expect some flex will be lost, or at least will have a 'blockier' less fluid motion. I don't expect parts will fall apart under any condition but deliberate action. I expect it will pack into a dozen or so pieces. I expect the seams will be negligible or unseen with the final paint and all the finishing.
'Think that totals shy $200 at this point, not including materials on hand such as the plexi, Aves, glues, paints, tools, etc.
Still to acquire or make are the sink topper, motorcycle greeblie and blade 'tubing', screw, and misc. Along with all other notes above, such as blade and bubbler shaping, etc. Maybe half-way done is about right. Due date is C8. There will be some videos of the process as well.
PS If quoting any of this, please trim it down for relevance. This is a long post for a lot of scrolling! _________________ -Tom
Found and ordered the Danco hose/sink adapter parts, top and bottom pieces from two sellers. The bottom is 9/16, but the top is 15/16. They both fit together fine and look the part well. I'm on hold to buy a pipe bender so I can curve some aluminum tubing into the proper shapes for the ax. I will post pix of the danco and that when that stage happens.
+$11 brings total to $200 if it wasn't already. _________________ -Tom
The staff is not cut to proper length; which will be 5ft exact with the topper in place. The blade has not been re-shaped yet. The chest rod is out of place. I have to study my reference before doing anything else with it.
The topper was in two pieces from two vendors, $11 I think it was.
The bottom is 9/16". The top is 15/16", but fits just as well. I expect the opening is tighter on the 9/16 and all toppers screw into the base. An eventual 9/16 replacement will be gotten.
It's not quite screen accurate. Where there is spiral perimeter in the middle, should be a knurled texture. That is easy to replicate if you can get the texture from another source. Using clay, the texture can be lifted from a source and then pressed into a thin layer of clay on the target item, in this case, the topper. I'd like to get this as much as 100% sourced, but am happy with reasonable stand-ins as it can always be upgraded later.
A trick for the large screw on the blade is to press a cross-shaped item into a circular 'mold' of sorts filled with any kind of clay, or in this case Aves Apoxie, on-hand. For the cross piece, this past xmas, we had a table top wreath with 4" candle set into a green-foam base. On the bottom of the candle base, two crossed fins taper to a point so to drive and set firmly into the green-foam core. I'll have a pic when the time comes for that piece.
For the aluminum tube on the side of the blade. A piece of K&S tubing, on hand, at 5/16th should do the trick. I think it should be 5/16, but don't quote me yet. The next budget renewal includes $6 for a tube bender. Skimming thru hobbyist-level youtube videos on the subject shows it's relatively easy. If I can bend two sleeved tubes at once, all the better for long-term stability of the piece.
Missing pieces still include: the a custom made 'whippet' style canister attached to the tubing, Tamiya motorcycle kit piece or custom made replica more likely and there are the two, ornate brackets enclosing the blade into the hairdryer, also custom.
That might be it for the parts at that point. Just under $250 total, perhaps. I may still need to get another Melnor if my experimentations go wrong. But from here, the work is all in the finessing.
And then there will be paint costs. Cheap is Rustoleum metls and so on. However, for a genuine metal effect, Alclad makes a nice gun metal for the staff. Amongst other common metals such as steel, stainless steel, magnesium, to precious metals, brass, gold titanium and a range of aluminum that cannot be beaten. Not to mention the oddballs like burnt metal, jet exhaust, etc. However, at shy $10 for a 1ox bottle, they are pricey. A side by side with rustoleum shows why it is so expensive.
With miter box in hand for precise perpendicular cuts, it is sooner than later, that I'll be slicing the staff into 3-5 pieces for travel. It would break into another piece or two for the blade, et al. _________________ -Tom
From left to right, each slots to the next. The bottom left pvc tube has a 6" dowel set inside as a footer
Next to it, the 18" dowel, 6" of which sets into the piece next to it, the middle staff. Into the mid-staff, the next dowel slots in, leaving exposed dowel for the haridryer/handle assembly. That has no dowel set into it. The previous dowel rests at an internal stop. The blade sets into the hair dryer. The final top piece slots into the hair dryer, resting at that same internal stop.
Masking tape is used to build the wood diameter up to best friction fit into the pvc. Enough for a strong person to deliberately twist apart, not so loose as to fly apart.
Prime requirement, portability. This will fit into a suitcase rather well, I think. The bubbler is the oddball making the package ungainly. _________________ -Tom
Next on the list includes returning to the button and screw-like parts, the tubing on the side and final touches. For London, we are preparing an alternate take on the axe with details revealed later. _________________ -Tom
Last edited by GearsMcT () on Sat Jul 02, 2016 4:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
Wow! Thanks for all of these detailed progress photos. This will be a great help to those that want to repeat what you've done. Would you mind if I posted a link to this thread in the RLGS tutorials section? _________________
In planning and progress:
Riyo Chuchi, Havoc Trooper, Amilyn Holdo, Lilac Handmaiden
Please do! One of the more interesting bits my research turned up is that at no time does Leia use this particular axe design! It looks like they are all different and this design was used by Lando in disguise and Weequay on the skiff only. Leia is piking barge guards with a different design. I guess as this axe is the one always on display, it is the one that gets replicated the most. _________________ -Tom
They probably lost/misplaced the other one. Happened a lot back then where costume pieces were frequently repurposed, and that does still happen today. _________________ DXO of Royalty & Senatorial detachment
Probably. Or they never bothered to show the various ones thinking one on tour is good enough. Or this one is the only surviving piece. Quite likely.
My casual viewing is suggesting there were several each of several different designs. The Gamorreans when Luke enters have double bladed axes, for example.. I'll have to do some screen cap research to verify how many different ones there are. _________________ -Tom
The Star Wars Costumes book has a single small photo of two of the prop makers play fighting with two axes and a box more of axes in the background. While the resolution makes it difficult to tell, the visual suggestion is that each axe was unique.
As to this particular axe, I am just about done now but have no video to post. Just want to get some notes down for future reference.
For the side piping near the axe blade itself, I'd hoped to use aluminum tube to cut the weight down. it was suggested by one of my youtubers that filling the tube with salt would prevent kinking as the bend was introduced. However, my tests today did not bear that out and tomorrow I will be getting a piece of 1/4" aluminum rod. The weight difference between tube and rod is distinct. Tubing is also easily cut with an x-acto blade while the rod will require strong dremeling with a cutting wheel.
The doodad between the tubes which attaches to the blade I cobbled together from several similar looking pieces to the references. My version is not screen accurate, but is highly suggestive of the original assembly in size and shape and individual pieces used.
The last little to-do's, the Tamiya motorcycle bit and the large 'screw head' on the side of the blade are being fashioned by hand.
Lastly, previous videos have shown the painting process I've followed. Base primer, silver, rust colors, silver, black and then all again to build the thickness up. This process ensures that as the blade ages and gets scuffed, knicked and dinged that the underlying paint will show through. If the silver and rust colors were dry-brushed over a final top coat, then scratches would reveal the underlying plastic very easily.
The final top coat of Alclad #120 Gun Metal has been applied to everything at this point but for the blade itself. So, the entire polearm is done but this last little bit of blade.
There will be other notes mentioned in the pending videos. When they post to my youtube, they will get linked in here as always. Thanks for the patience and attention. _________________ -Tom
First is the Lando Axe (which Slave Leia's everywhere have adopted as their own). This axe starts with Lando, goes to weequay on the skiff and then finds its way to the 2nd skiff to fight Luke off.
The second video features all other axes, including the one Leia actually uses but was cut from the film. Apart from the Skiff Barge axes, there are two double-bladed polearm-axes the gamorrean's meet Luke with at the Palace. Those axes are never seen again, while the skiff barge axes all make their way around to someone else in every shot just about. The Gams meeting 3po and R2 carry hand axes instead of halberd-style like all the others and are not included here. No, they're not halberds per se, but closer to them than an 'axe' by definition. My D&D days are a little too far behind me to accurately recall polearm nomenclatures.
Back to the Skiffs, the axe Han uses to save Lando from the Sarlacc finds its way to the main barge where Leia picks it up from a fallen guard. She bludgeons the deck gunner with it in the kidneys, but that shot was cut from the film.
There are one, two or three other axes as well. All are grouped in order in this video. _________________ -Tom
Last edited by GearsMcT () on Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
Looking ahead, there are another 8 parts in this series which does not include a wrap-up video showcasing the details. All others have started posting now. I don't like to flood my youtube subscribers lists with more than one or two videos per day, but sometimes I do push it.
I also don't want to knock other Leia threads here down the list by posting these updates on a daily basis. So, once all the vids are uploaded, I will return here with a single post for all of them with a final summation later. If you want to watch these videos as they post daily, sub to gearsmctinkersome on youtube. I'll also post detail pix of the finished axe when ready.
EDIT: While on my mind, additional budget: USD$50-$100 for Alclad II paint @ $8/1oz bottle. There were other costs. I think this build tops out at $400 at this point. I haven't checked the previous math entries to get the latest totals.
Here are the first two videos of the pending batch.
Last edited by GearsMcT () on Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:06 am; edited 3 times in total
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