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I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

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

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

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

  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

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

  6. Which gnome? BAM - headshoot