Would you wear and use a vintage pocket watch?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to Make Steampunk Wild West Guns for Under $20 -- Construction of My Rust and Copper Revolvers

The (almost) finished product - steampunk revolver by DreamSteam
     If my readers will indulge me for one more post about steampunk weapons, I will share the saga of how I modified some inexpensive toy guns into some fairly awesome steampunk revolvers. (Spoiler alert: if you would rather not know how utterly plastic-y these looked before, then please do not read further.   They were really, really... orange.)

For those who are still reading, here we go!

It all began with a set of two toy cap guns from the store.  Cost: $10.  (Not shown: The set came with a flimsy vinyl gun belt/holsters, which will most likely be disposed of, since no child would want holsters without guns in them!)

Very raw materials
The base toy cap guns were not much to look at, but I saw potential in them. I also knew I needed to make something to go in my holsters, and fast!  Before going toy shopping, I had already gone through my collection of bits and doodads, so A Plan had already begun to form in my devious mind....

The Plan - Fitting the parts
 Said doodads in action!  Heating the metal bits with a torch and then pressing them into the gun enabled me to melt the plastic, creating divots which would both mark where the parts would go and also ensured a secure final fit for the add-ons.  I removed the removable parts, taped over the brass that I did not want to receive paint and proceeded to make a grand mess with a can of copper spray paint made for plastics (no primer needed... hmmm, we shall see about that). Copper paint: $8.

(I could not resist photographing one silhouette left on the cardboard after I sprayed the first layer of paint onto the revolvers.)

Base painting and low-lights done.
     After what seemed like dozens of light coats of paint and many hours spread over a few days of letting said paint dry in front of a heater set on low (it was very humid that week, and I was trying to be careful and obtain the "hammered finish" that the paint manufacturer said was possible), I enhanced the raised designs with black paint in the crevasses and let everything dry overnight. Again.

Before gold highlights
     This photo shows one gun before I added gold highlights to the raised design to both.  Since I was fast running out of time, I simply attached the parts I had prepared with E6000 and added a copper coil to the top of the barrel, then used an "aging" technique on the copper to get some nice green patina/crud for a proper steampunk effect.
   But what little parts did I use?  The small parts list (total from both guns): 12 rusty rifle cartridge casings and four tiny shogun shell casings (picked up off the ground at the outdoor gun range), two coils of copper wire, one brass clock gear, two brass bullet casings, 12 amber glass beads (located in the tips of the rusty casings on the sides of the chambers, in case they were too hard to see), two clock parts, two brass pendant bases, two misc silver watch parts (for the rear sights). I had all of these parts "in stock", so they were essentially free.

Ta da!
     And again, here we have the (mostly) finished product.  I had intended to fill the brass plates on the grips with something, like tiny gears and/or some of the pretty Victorianesque paper I had purchased for the purpose.  I also wanted to add contrasting color to the grips, as the guns are a little coppery. My rather hurried attempts at creating a Tesla tribute by wrapping various sections of the guns in copper wire did not turn out to my liking, so I removed the wire and settled for what I had. (The best laid plans.... Sorry, Tesla!)
     So far, the total cost to me for both guns is $19, including a small tube of the glue that I bought for $1, as the larger tubes that I had had dried out.

      I rather think that this was a good effort for my first pair of steampunk-inspired wild west weapons.  I may continue to work on these and try some of my unrealized ideas for them, and if I do, I shall at the very least add another photo here. I shall not make promises, but I fancy trying to make a steampunk gun from scratch.  Already have some of the materials....
     I hope that you have enjoyed reading about how I made my steampunk revolvers, and may it inspire you to give it a try!


  1. Beautiful work. Truly.
    Your blog has actually inspired me to start my own projects so thank you so much for sharing this. I've been out of the art scene for too long and you've helped me rediscover the gift us artists give each other. That spark inside that feels like Christmas right in the middle of my tummy.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I am yet a fledgling steampunk artist even after a few years, as there is yet so much I want to learn and try.

      I know that feeling, too. I call it "squee"! Just utter joy at creating, seeing, or sharing something that inspires. Especially it is is steampunk. =)



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