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26 July 2004 @ 12:42 am
Don't these things always look much simpler than they are?  
Thanks to zeriel (a.k.a. this Josh person who knows how to fiberglass stuff), one side of the sword has been laminated with two layers of fiberglass cloth. Having read this tutorial about thirty gazillion times, I thought it was going to be an easy-peasy process. Not quite. I'm so glad that he was around to help, or I might have gone batshit.

First off, if you want to put pumps in the resin and hardener cans, you need to poke vent holes in the tops of said cans. You can put screws in the vent holes to plug them up when you're not using the chemicals. Luckily, we had a bunch of jars of random nails and screws left by the house's previous inhabitants, so I just brought 'em all up and Josh dealt with it. I know how to poke holes in things, but I was afraid that if I tried myself, I'd somehow wind up spraying gunk all over myself. (As it turned out, I did manage to squirt hardener on my hand. Yes, it was the one time I was near the can and not wearing my heavy gloves. All it did was feel hot, and I went and washed it off immediately, so I'm fine. Nobody worry about my follies, umkay?)

Then there was the logistics problem of setting up the sword whilst laminating it. We don't exactly have a wide array of hardware to choose from, so I'd been using a random metal step stool and clamping the sword to it, shifting it around when I needed to cut a different part of it. I'm not quite sure how Josh managed to do this, but we got the entire shebang glassed (doing one section at a time) and balanced on the stool to dry. Our porch is screened in and, according to weather.com, the most wind we're going to get tonight is 2 mph, so it's going to stay there.

It turns out that you can put multiple layers of cloth on at the same time as long as you set them up before you pour the resin on them. I didn't know that. I'm glad Josh did. It's going to save me time.

The lamination process itself is fun, but I wasn't very good at it because it was my first attempt. As per the tutorial linked above, I poured a drizzle of resin on the cloth and then used a squeegee to spread it around. The extra resin just got pushed off onto the heavy canvas drop cloth that I had bought for this project (and I'm damn glad I did - hooray for no resin doots on our porch). Josh helped me with my technique (I'd been trying to spread from the center out, which is what I'd read to do, but it turns out to not work that well for a sword - instead, it's best to just go toward one end of the piece) and also helped me fix wrinkles that showed up.

Tomorrow or Tuesday, I get to flip it over and do the other side. Yes, I am scared...not of the chemicals but of making a crapass wrinkly mess. Maybe I can lure Josh to come over and hang out while I work on the piece just in case I can't get it to behave. *dangles Metroid Prime in front of his nose* =P
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill
mesia on July 26th, 2004 07:54 am (UTC)
I think this kind of stuff is so cool since I'm an absolute failure when it comes to crafts and accessories. You've done so much of it, next time I want some tips I'm coming to you :p

I hope it turns out well <3
The Heavy Metal Matador: feliciarydain on July 26th, 2004 10:21 am (UTC)
Thanks. ^_^ I never thought I'd become a prop junkie, but when I figured out that I could indeed make stuff like that and have it turn out well, I was hooked. I still have quite a lot to learn, but I'd be happy to give advice on the techniques that I have worked with. My #1 general hint is to dig all over the place for tutorials. The more you can find, the better - some of them might clarify confusing steps or provide useful hints that you won't find in the others. For example, the first fiberglassing tutorial I came across suggests dunking the cloth in resin and then putting it on the piece. This worked fine for the props they were making, but it's not the best technique for laminating a thin sword, and it goes through a lot of resin and makes a sticky mess. On the other hand, the technique shown in the model airplane tutorial I linked to worked extremely well. I literally used one squirt each of the resin and hardener, and we didn't wind up with a mega mess afterward (just a bunch of drips on the drop cloth...and some of the extra glass is stuck to the rubber mat stuff that we put the sword on, but the mat can be cut/dissolved away).
カダージュaergryph on July 26th, 2004 08:30 am (UTC)
If I can find that EZ-LAM stuff I might try fiberglassing again. I was outside and the fumes were still so strong I thought I was gonna drop dead or something lol >_>
The Heavy Metal Matador: feliciarydain on July 26th, 2004 10:30 am (UTC)
I ordered mine from Aerospace Composites. I highly recommend getting the pumps to go along with it. Putting said pumps into the cans involves some work. As I mentioned, you have to poke holes, and if you get small cans, you'll need to cut off some of the bottom of the pumps to get them to fit, and those things are made of heavy plastic. We used the Dremel on ours, and it worked well. Be careful lowering the pump into the resin (resin likes to come out of the vent hole on the can when you do that). To minimize spillage, Josh worked the pump as he lowered it to draw resin into the tube without actually dispensing any. Resin still came out of the hole, but at least it didn't overflow the can top.

Once the pumps are in, though, measuring and dispensing the resin is an absolute piece of cake. All you need to do is pump the same number of full squirts of the resin and hardener into your container. (If you apply this product by laying your cloth down, pouring it on the cloth, and then squeegeeing, a little goes a VERY long way. I only needed one squirt of each, and I had mixture left over when I was done.) Just be sure to pump the hardener slowly so you don't squirt your hand like I did. =P
teh j00: anij00licious on July 26th, 2004 09:16 am (UTC)
Wow, you accomplished all that while I was in a coma? I'm impressed. ^_^
The Heavy Metal Matador: feliciarydain on July 26th, 2004 01:28 pm (UTC)
Actually, I think the entire process (from laying the drop cloth and gathering supplies to being done squeegeeing) only took about an hour. It was just after midnight when you guys left, and I'm pretty sure I was beginning setup at 11 (or shortly afterward). Of course, it really helped that Josh had done an entire lab's worth of dealing with much more finicky chemicals than the ones I'd bought, and even though said lab took place a few years ago, he remembers enough to help the fiberglassing process move along efficiently.

I was paranoid that the sword would get knocked over or some asswipe would come along and steal it. I actually had dreams about it. I just had to go and check on it when I got up, and of course, it was fine. I moved it back towards the side of the house and rolled up the dropcloth a bit in case rain came in the porch. I think it should be OK, though. It didn't seem to be very windy today, so I doubt the porch got wet enough to soak my stuff. Plus, said stuff isn't clearly visible from the street (I looked at my porch when leaving today, and it was difficult to even see that something was there), so it's not going to attract random morons (especially because it's raining). Eh...I'm just a worrywart... =P