Thursday, February 16, 2012

Warhammer 40,000 Chainsword Build

Sometimes in the midst of a really big project, it's hard to stay motivated. In the fine-tuning stage, weeks can pass without really giving me something to brag about. When this happens, it's time to focus on a smaller tangent project.

This is one of those tangents:
Giant Chainsword


This is the "chainsword," the melee weapon of choice from the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  If a lightsaber was "an elegant weapon, from a more civilized time," the chainsword is the other thing.  Big, ugly, and brutal, it exemplifies everything I've always liked about Warhammer 40K.  

In a game where the Imperium of Man makes the "evil empire" of Star Wars look like something that belongs in Disneyland,  the chainsword is a perfect fit.  There's no notion of a kinder, gentler anything.  It's simply made for carnage.


More pictures and a thorough description of how it was made after the jump.


Starting with a drawing photocopied from the Dark Angels Codex, my friend Matt and I took some measurements and cut out forms in MDF:
Chainsword Forms Laid Out

It was all I could do to fit them onto my forming table:
Chainsword Forms Laid Out 2

The parts were formed in .040" ABS plastic.  The first pull came through alright, but there was some webbing between the pieces:
Chainsword Body First Pull on Table

After rough-cutting the parts out of the formed sheets, I stacked them together to make sure they were adequately huge:
Chainsword Body First Pull

I also sculpted out a tooth for the chain:
Once I'd made a mold for the tooth, I went ahead and cast several copies:
Chainsword First Dozen Teeth

 Here they are laid up inside the blade:Chainsword First Dozen Teeth Test Fit

Since I was going to need lots of them, I went ahead and made up a gang mold.  Here they are all boxed up before I poured the rubber in:
Chainsword Teeth Gang Mold Box

I also designed some pieces to go into the hilt in order to make the bottom end stronger:
 Chainsword Hilt Part Prototypes

For the pommel, I whipped out this quick little sculpture:
 Chainsword Pommel Sculpt
As any WH40K fan knows, each additional skull makes the finished piece 12% more badass.

Here's the first set of parts coming together:
 Chainsword Giant Perspective Angle Shot

The perspective in that shot makes this thing look enormous.  It is enormous, but not quite that enormous.  Here's a better shot for scale:
 Chainsword Scale Shot

The ridge along the spine is actually a piece of 1-1/2" ABS drain pipe cut in half lengthwise.  Since I was using ABS sheet for the vacformed parts, I was able to use solvent cement to effectively weld the pieces together. 

The resin cast details at the hilt had to be glued in with a cyanoacrylate adhesive:Chainsword Hilt Details
 
As long as I was building a giant chainsaw sword, I figured I might as well incorporate some actual chainsaw parts. Specifically, I molded copies of the oil and fuel caps from an old dead chainsaw that my father had laying around:
chainsaw parts incorporated into build

The last thing the hilt needed was some faux machinery for the inside and another vacformed piece to tie together the grill vents:
Chainsword Inside

Then all that was left was this little piece to close up the tip:
Chainsword Tip

Here's the rough draft version all cobbled together:
Chainsword Assembled

Since I had the molds and a series of lessons learned along the way, I couldn't resist the urge to build a couple more. Here they are after I'd painted them in their base colors:
Chainsword Triplets

Here they are with a bit of weathering:
chainsword painting

Adding in the teeth and a bit more weathering, they look like so:
Chainswords Painted

The imperial eagle was cast from the molds I made back when I built the bolt gun.

The chainswords are still huge:
Chainswords Dual Wield

I'm very pleased with the end result:
Chainswords Dual Wield 2


Each one weighs in under six pounds, but they still look pretty damned heavy:
Chainsword Scale Shot



Here's a picture from earlier in the painting process showing some of the hilt details:
Chainsword Details

And a closeup showing the metallic finish on the teeth:
Chainsword Teeth

With the pair of them completely built and painted, everybody had to mess around with them.  Here's a shot of Matt hamming it up:
Matt Dual Wield Chainswords

Here's my friend Erin brandishing one of them:
Chainsword Scale Erin


All told, it was nine days between "Hey, I think we should build this" and "Wow, that was fun," and most of those days were spent working on other things. The important thing is that I got a chance to get something finished and feel good about my level of productivity. 

Now it's time to get back to the main part of this project:
SM Progress

This beast is going to take some time.  Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss any future updates...


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6 comments:

  1. Frickin' awesome. Really nice work. Wish I had a workshop like y'all's!

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  2. In the last picture, watch out for that gnome who's about to shoot you!

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  3. Good Lord, that is one good looking chainsword. Very nice!

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  4. awesome stuff man, i've built some 40k weapons my self but not quite as epic as yours. The armor looks amazing as well

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  5. i'm throwing money at my screen and nothing's happening...

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  6. Which gnome? BAM - headshoot

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