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Tusken Gaffi Stick

Gaffi Stick

Today I got busy on my Gaffi Stick, and it went really quickly much to my surprise.  I am pretty happy with how it turned out.  I took pictures as I went along, so I will try and spell out what I did, in case it helps anyone else.

I am using the prequel Gaffi stick as a model for this one, since I had some nice clear pictures of it from the various exhibits.

Parts:

  • plastic P trap for toilets found in plumbing department.
  • wooden chair leg
  • wooden couch foot (called a bun)
  • Durhams Rock Hard Water Putty
  • Closet rod
  • PVC pipe, 3/4″
  • Super Glue (thick viscosity) and accelerant
  • Oak square molding scrap

Here are some pictures of some of the parts:

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The P trap had two components that looked like they’d work.  I thought the S shaped one might work well. I had already cut it up though, before I snapped the picture.   One end had a nice elbow shape to it, and the other end I trimmed up a bit, and used near the joint where the mace end meets the closet rod.

Next I dug around my shop for some scrap wood.  I had found a chunk of 3/4″ PVC pipe left over from a previous project that I thought would work well.  I found a nice chunk of oak square stock that might work.  I shaved down the corners with my jack plane till it fit snugly into the pipe.

Then I put the tip of the oak onto my belt sander, and created the stabby end with judicious use of the belt sander at an angle.

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Next up I cut the closet rod down to a manageable length, using TK409’s hardware store gaffi as a guide for sizes.   Then I took the end I cut off the S tube thing and screwed it to the mace end of the closet rod.  I forgot to take a picture of it, but you can see it in the final pictures.  I also filled the gaps with putty I had left over from the other parts.

The trickiest part of this whole project was drilling the hold in the end for the “mace” end to stick into.  I tried my best to get it straight up and down, but it’s a little off, not that bad though.  I the used a rasp and the belt sander to round the end of the wooden end of the mace assembly, and fit it into the hole.

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Next I took the chair leg, and chucked it up into my lathe.  I shortened it a bit, and put  a taper into it to look a bit more like the movie.  This step could probably be done with drill press, or a set of wood rasps, but a lathe really helps.  I modified a chair leg instead of turning some other piece because it has the screw end mounted in the end already, which makes assembly so much easier and more secure.

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Then I drilled a small hole in the exact center of the round couch “bun”, and screwed the chair leg into it.  A bead of thick super glue helps lock it in place.

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Next I wanted to get the look of the whole thing to be more like the movie ones, so I used a product called Durhams Rock Hard Water Putty (which can be found at most hardware stores, next to spackle, and plaster.)  I love this stuff, it’s a very good tool for any prop maker, and cheap too.  I gooped it on around the base of the spike, and kept adding to it until I got something that looks more like the movie gaffi.  One nice trick I’ve learned, is once it’s pretty close to hard, about the consistency of butter or a hard ice cream wet your fingers (with rubber gloves on) and smooth it out.  It smooths very well this way, and saves you sanding time, and looks much better in the end.

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I set this aside to dry and harden up, and started work on the Mace fins.  I didn’t use any set measurements, I just cut a piece of cardboard up until it looked about right.  Then I cut some ABS I had lying around the shop into the trapezoid shape I had come up with.  The tricky part was going to mount these into the pipe.  I used a fiberglass disc in my dremel tool to cut the slots, and widen them enough to fit the fin into it.  This took a bit, but it came out ok. I was worried about them not ending up 90 degrees off, but it looks like it came close enough.  I took my time lining it up though, making as sure as I could.  I also mounted my shop vac hose near the pipe as I cut it to reduce the plastic mess that I usually get when cutting PVC pipe with the dremel.

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Then putting the wood spike in the pipe, and slipping the fins into the slots, I ran a bead of super glue (thick stuff is easy to work with) around the edges, and hit it with some accelerant (I was wearing a good painters respirator, since the fumes can make you brain dumb if you sniff to much.)  The thick super glue takes a while to dry, hence the accelerant.  Not sure if you can get this stuff at the hard ware store, I buy it at my local woodworking shop, great stuff.  Lets you position it just so, and spritz on some accelerant, and presto it hardens.  I also ran some glue around the top and bottom to lock the pipe onto the spike and fill in the ends a bit.  Once it was all dry, i took it outside and hit it with some nickel silver spray paint.  Fusion brand works great for this kind of stuff, since it bonds to plastic quickly, I love the stuff.  Plus the nickel silver isn’t as shiny and looks a bit more rugged.

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With bun/spike end dry enough to handle, and pretty close the rock hard of if it’s name, I worked on how to mount it to the rest of the stick.  I ended up cutting a short length of closet rod, and drilling a hole in one end.  I screwed on the bun foot (I love that screw end in the wood, it makes things so much easier.) and laid in some glue to lock it down.  The other end of the short length of closet rod is tapered so it can fit further into the elbow.  I shoved it as far as I could and screwed it down with some wood screws.  It feels pretty solid, I think it will hold up.  It kind of sticks out at an angle when I shoved it in, because of the curve of the inside of the elbow tube, but I liked the way it looked, so I kept it that way rather than trying to make it a perfect 90 degrees.

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Next I wanted to cover up the joint, because it looked like plastic pipe fitting the way it was exposed.  So, I lathered on more Water Putty, smoothing it out as it hardened with a popsicle stick (I buy bunches of these things, they are great for working with bondo, water putter, resin, RTV, and all sorts of stuff you want to stir or scrape).  When I first put it on, the putty moved around a lot so I just gooped it into place, and left it to harden.  Every 5 or so minutes I would come back and work it some more, as it hardens over time it becomes more manageable, and easier to work.  But it’s variable when that point of easiest to work with is, so I kept checking it.  once it’s like butter (that’s been refrigerated) or ice cream, you can shape it easiest.  a few more minutes, then it’s wet fingers time to smooth it all out.

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It’s curing now, but here are some shots of what I got done tonight.

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Tomorrow once it’s all cured, and I can get to the hardware store, I’ll go best some brown paint to cover all that.

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Since I finished this, I’ve made a couple of modifications to the Gaffi stick for traveling purposes.  I cut the closet rod in half and added a PVC pipe sleeve to one side that is permanently screwed down.  The other side has a couple screws I can remove.  then I tapered the edges a little, and wrapped the whole thing in left over rags from making the mask.  I can break it down so it fits into a box for easy travel now, and I’ve taken it to San Diego Comicon.

I’ll update with pictures when I can dig it out.

– badger


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