The Necro Smasher is a hammer from the popular game Team Fortress , a team-based first-person shooter multiplayer videogame developed and published by Valve Corporation. This specific weapon is very cartoon-like which required it to be sort of out of proportion and simple looking.
In order for me to get the right scale of the hammer i used in-game photo references as guide to get the real size of the hammer scaled to the character and then my client. In the end i ended up making a blueprint on Adobe Illustrator with the right scale to work with during the build of the hammer. They did come very handy during all the process!
For the core of the "head" i decided to use polystyrene foam since i needed something solid yet easy to sand in order to get the rounded shape.
I then went ahead and transferred the circumference of the hammer into 10 1/2 , 1/2 inch foam squares, which were the total length of the hammer "'head".
After cutting the squares i then cut the exact size in the band-saw and went ahead and glued them together with foam spray adhesive. Left it for a few hours before sanding to make sure it was adhered good enough.
To get the basic shape i used a blade until i had a shape i was comfortable with. To smooth the shape out I used a hand sander and then refined by hand sanding and files to get the wood cracks.
Initially i had planned on making the handle the same way as the base, but after re considering how heavy it would ended up being i decided to go ahead and just woo turn it. It gets better and prettier result in the end anyways! (So for now just ignore the handle, deal?)
After I was quite satisfied with the shape, it was time for EpoxAcoat, a type of epoxy resin that won't eat trough the foam, like most epoxies and resins would do. This would provide me with a strong surface to work with, so that it wouldn't get damaged and dented while handling it, as well allowing me to use stronger adhesives later on when i had to add details.
I applied 3 coats until i got a thick enough coat go work with.
A sintra strip was cut, epoxied and pressured wrapped in the middle of the hammer to create the "metal" wrap part. Why didn't i use straps you say? Because i applied the epoxy and forgot to grab the straps...(Later on i did get them and made sure to hold that right)
Measured the distance between each "rivet" and sculpted them with with Apoxie Sculpt.
Used bondo filler and spot putty to fix some.... spots
Epoxacoat was applied to the handle...which wont be used, so ignore that it ever happened...
Why make it out of resin when you can make it out of wood?...and fill your shop out with wood shavings. For this handle i used pine wood as it was light enough (both color and weight)
Look how pretty the wood grain look! Sanded it down with a few different grits all the way until 800 until i got a smooth surface.
After i was finished with the sanding, i added wood preservative in a pretty color and turned it with a soft cloth to avoid scratches.
Once the hammer head was finished it was ready for molding. I decided to make a 2 way brush on mold instead of a block mold due to the size of the mace and the amount of silicone it would need. Making a 2 way mold makes it more easier to remove the cast once its finished .
The more careful you are in this part the less cleaning you have to do in the end. In order to get a seamless cast its better to have sharp lines when making the clay wall.
Registration marks were added to align mold once finished.
Once clay wall is finished, mold release is added in order to apply silicone, in this case I used Rebound 25 from Smooth-On.The first layer is mixed with silicone thinner to create a "print coat" which, of course, thins the silicone in order to prevent bubbles trapped in tricky parts in the mold.
Once the first half of the mold was finished, mold release was applied to both the mold and hammer, in order to apply silicone to the remaining side.
Before adding the silicone I glued down a pvc tube which will create a gap where later on ill be pouring the material to make the final cast.
5 layers of silicone where applied just like the first part of the mold. Thinned silicone, regular silicone x2 , a thick layer and after registration keys were added, the last regular silicone layer.
Alright, this looks weird i know. Once the silicone was cured (and apparently locked up because i didn't use enough release in the edges ) i placed acrylic sheets all around to go ahead and begin working on the support shell.
Fiberglass and resin were applied on one side until cured, and then repeated the same step on the other side.
BEFORE opening the shell, i fixed bolts and nuts all around the mold in order to be able to lock it tight once i got to casting. Since i had already planned on slushcasting a few coats of resin and then pour expanding foam, I needed a mold that could support pressure, so too many bolts are never enough. Plan ahead! It'll save you from some mistakes. (And an exploding mold)
After several attempts with different materials and techniques I decided to use EpoxAcoat for the shell of the hammer. Using resin caused the final cast to be more heavy than i desired so epoxy was used to get a strong lightweight shell. This epoxy is used for various applications like support shells, lightweight hollow casts , to reinforce foam like i previously mentioned, etc.
Several coats were applied in order to get a nice thickness. After around 3-4 coats an overlay of fiberglass cloth was applied to reinforce the hammer. EpoxAcoat itself is very fragile and cracks easily, so it is a very important step to apply a even layer of fiberglass to build up the structure.
This process is repeated on both halves of the mold. Once both have the last layer still tacky and uncured I carefully place them together with an overlay or epoxacoat on the edge. After 12 hours or so I mix and pour in the expanding foam until I finally get the mold completely filled up. 24 hours later when everything is cured I pop the mold open and get the final cast.
This is one of the several attempts at making the cast. Apparently i never took a picture of the Epoxy cast so I owe you guys that (this one is already primed). The EpoxAcoat cast turned out really good and only required sanding the seam a little.
After a while of sanding and priming, the mace (hammer, whatever, iv'e called it so many things while writing this) was ready for painting, finally!
For the base-coat i applied some sort of light mustard acrylic custom made color, which then was layered with several layers of darker browns.
After finishing the paint of the mace , i darkened with wood oil the handle in order to match the rest of the mace. The middle part was then spray painted with enamel gloss gray paint.
In order to attach the handle to head I drilled a hole in both parts and epoxied in place a threaded post rod. Once it was completely cured i epoxied the rest into the other side of the mace and waited 24 hours to make sure it was securely glued in place.
After it was completely painted and mounted I sealed it with clear coat. The final prop weight only 2 pounds! Definitely less that I was expecting (3-4 pounds) .
Thanks for taking the time to read!
If you’re interested in more detailed progress photos, be sure to check out my Flickr.