Friday, February 28, 2014


Another cool weapon from the Star Trek universe is the Klingon Bat'leth.  It has been seen in many episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager and the comics.  I am going to attempt to make one of these.

Finding reference images for this was easy.  Finding the measurements was not.  The best I could find, was found on  

"Kneel down on the ground (as flat a stretch of ground as you can find).  Have a buddy measure you from the top of your head to the ground.  This measurement will give you the tip-to-tip length of your Bat'leth".

I do not have a picture of someone measuring me, but I can tell you that my bat'leth will be 53" tall, and I am 5'10" tall.  So I drew the shape in illustrator.

And printed it to scale.
Below is an image of my template taped together with a yard stick above it.  Next I will trace the shape onto a piece of insulation foam.

Unfortunately my template was larger than my piece of insulation foam, so I cut my template in half and traced it on the foam.

And then I cut the shapes out.

Using my x-acto knife I beveled the edges.

And then I glued the 2 halves together and sanded all the edges smooth.

Next I painted the whole thing with black acrylic paint.

Due to it's size, I had to find interesting places to let it dry.

Once it dried I applied a coat of spackling paste.  This will help fill in the porous nature of the insulation foam.

Even after the paste dried, the Bat'leth was still wobbly, so I added some cardboard to the surface to make it more sturdy.

It worked well and now it's quite sturdy.

Next I applied some wood filler to the edges of the cardboard to make the transition to the rest of the sword smoother.

Once it dried I sanded it, cleaned it up and then gave it a coat of black acrylic.

Next I used some gripping tape to wrap around the handles.

Then I took it outside for a layer of filler primer.

When I started this project in the summer of 2013 I was pretty amped about it.  However, I also have about 15 other projects I was working on.  This weapon sat in the corner of my work room for many months and eventually got moved to my storage unit when I moved.

It unfortunately got caught between some furniture I was moving around and got mangled.  But I'm not overly upset.  Materials are inexpensive and I can easily make a new one.  I've also since gotten better with wood working, so I decided to make a new Bat'leth out of wood.  I used my old template and printed out and cut half of the sword.

I gathered some leftover wood, hoping that I can make the whole thing out of scrap.

Unfortunately this would probably not work out well since all my wood pieces are too small.

So I bought 2 large pieces of wood and traced my template on one of them.

Next I cut out the shape with my jig saw.

Then I used that shape to trace out the second side.

After about 15 minutes of cutting, I had my 2 halves.

To join them I drilled pocket holes.

Then I glued and screwed them together.

I glued in plugs where the pocket holes were.

When the glue dried I sanded the areas smooth.

Next I used a round-over bit on my router to give the edges a rounded edge. 

Then I applied some wood filler to a few spots that needed filling.

Then I sanded everything.

Next I gave it a coat of dark gray primer.

This sealed up a lot, but I also was able to see much more that needed filling.  So out comes the wood filler.

When the filler dried I sanded.

Then I sprayed on some more primer.  This time it was light gray.

The primer is doing it's job well.  The whole thing doesn't have wood grain showing through.  2 small areas needed additional touch up, so back to the wood filler.

When dried, I sanded again.

Then one last coat of primer.

Then I applied silver spray paint.

When the paint dried I bought some sports grip.

And I started wrapping it around the 3 handles.

And I'm done!

I was so happy to finally finish this project.  The wood version is durable, has a good weight to it and came out so much better than the foam one would have come out.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Heroclix City 2 - Industrial Wasteland Map

A year or two ago my friend John and I worked on making our own Heroclix map (seen here).

The map was great and we enjoyed a long heroclix game one afternoon.  Recently I moved in with my friend for a few months while trying to find a new place to live.  John has a vacant barn which he allowed me to make into a little workshop (Thanks John!!!!)

With such a nice work space, it would be a shame not to use it.  So as a thanks to my friend, I decided to build a better Heroclix city for us to play with.  I made my initial templates using Sketchup.

My original map was simply card stock taped together.

For this new map, the streets were to be made of insulation foam, while the sidewalks would be foam core.

 I had some insulation foam hanging around at work, so I made a wrecked building with it based on my above plans.

I brought it home to place next to other buildings we had made.

The scale was correct so I made some sidewalk textures in Photoshop, printed it, and glued it to foam core.

I tested out the sidewalks with the buildings.

Everything looked good, so for the streets/base I used some MDF board I also had hanging around.

I glued the foam core sidewalks to the MDF board.

While the sidewalks and streets dried, I used some black and gray primer to paint the foam building I made.

I was going for an industrial building that looked like it had burned down or been in an explosion.  The aerosol from the spray paint eats away insulation foam - which added to the look of a burned down building.

I also had a large empty pretzel container which I painted to match the burned down building.  To me this looked like some sort of tanker.

I made a catwalk for this 'tanker' out of foam core.

The tanker and building look great together.

I glued some flexible plastic straws and painted them to make it look like pipes coming out of the tanker.

Next I decided to make a few more matching industrial-looking buildings.  These were made but cutting and gluing insulation foam.

Followed by more spray paint.

The next building was a much smaller one.

Even more buildings were made.....

One shelled-out building incorporated an empty Vitamin bottle.

...and then I painted them.

The next day I decided that this map needed some stone walls.  So I simply made them out of more foam, with cardboard glued to the bottom for support.

I also decided that this industrial area should have some sort of smoke stack - which I plan on using a PVC pipe for.  But next to it will be a tall building to help support the weight of the PVC pipe.

I glued on the pipe and painted the building.

I also painted the walls.

Next I made one more building - a hanger with a curved roof.

And painted that as well.

With this last building complete I arranged my little industrial city.

These photos do not do justice to the grandeur of the whole piece.  Later, I transferred all the streets, sidewalks and buildings to my work table and placed some of my figures on it.

Next I added more wear-n-tear to all the buildings and walls.  This was mostly done by sanding away pieces of foam with a course sanding block.

After all the sanding I repainted and also added more elements to make the buildings look better such as toothpicks to represent metal bars inside concrete walls, and more flexible straws as pipes.

After all the new elements were glued on I painted them to match the rest of the burned-out buildings they were attached to.

Next I constructed a new table using 2x4's and rigid corner brackets.  I attached the MDF boards to the table and set up the city.

It looks great, but now it's time to start adding more detail to the buildings.  I printed up several signs onto paper.

I then cut them up and applied them to the buildings.

So far so good!  The only thing that remains is some touch up paint.  

And I'm done!  This has been another fun project!  I can't wait to play an actual Heroclix game on it!
Thanks for reading!