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Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:29 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Northnern California
Unread post Armor
does anyone have any experience, advice, or links to sites about crafting armor pieces? any forums that i have tried to wade through have been very disorganized. I saw some pieces on melting pvc pipe or using fiberglass but nothing about the difficulty or actual techniques or equipment required. I don't have a specific idea or design in mind yet but i would like to start learning and playing with different techniques.


Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:45 am
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Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 5:21 am
Posts: 36
Location: WA
Unread post Re: Armor
Well, is there a particular type of armor you're wanting to make? I see a lot of WoW cosplayers use Wonderflex (though I've never used it myself) as it can get curves and what have you pretty well. I use sintra(I believe it's also called PVC foamboard) or trashcan plastic to make my mandalorian armor kits.

Sintra - Easy to work with if you have a heatgun (or even a hair dryer, though it takes longer) and something to cut it out with (some people use xacto knives and score lines to cut it out. . .tin snips also work but can crack it and dremels get powder all over the place which will be bad enough when you sand it). 3 mm is usually what most people use; some use 6 mm, but I personally think that most 6 mm sets look too chunky and thick.

Trashcan plastic - using the white Sterilite trashcans is a cheaper alternative, but I don't tend to like it for female armors because it doesn't hold it's shape as well as sintra and takes a lot longer to heat up. I've also noticed paint tends to flake off of it easier.

If you were wanting "boob" armor on the chest, I recommend sintra far and beyond trashcan as I was not happy with the one commission I did out of that plastic. Can link to stuff on the Mercs for different methods of doing that. For chest armor, some have also used mannequins and fencing chest protectors. If it's just odd bits of armor (like, say, shins, simple bracers, shoulders, etc), just trace, cut, and form. If you wanted something more detailed, one of the Mercs in TN is doing an astounding job sculpting stuff onto her armor using Apoxie Sculpt on a mannequin. (Her armor: ... c=23943.15 and the product itself: ... 1&Itemid=4 )

Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:09 am
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Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:17 pm
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Unread post Re: Armor
Sintra (it's a brand name of PVC foam board) can also be heated in boiling water or in an oven if the entire piece needs to be shaped. If you mess up a bend just reheat and try again, it's pretty forgiving. The edges sand very well, but as mentioned above the dust get absolutely everywhere and you must wear a particle mask when cutting with a dremel or sanding it. PVC foam board comes in a rainbow of colors, we get ours from an ebay store that sells them in 4 or 8 board packs for cheap. The boards are 2 feet by 4 feet. EVA foam (anti fatigue mats) have also been used for making armors with the Halo costumers, it's cheap, lightweight and can be joined with hot glue. This option is especially nice with big bulky armors that could easily get heavy with other building mediums.

(this post is just to add to the knowledge base this thread represents)

Cloud City Garrison ~ SL 5619 (Visas Marr ~ finished)
Kashyyyk Base ~ ANH Leia (Finished)
In process Rachi Sitra (goal~completed by Celebration Anahiem)
In process Bespin Leia (goal~completed by Celebration Anahiem)

Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:36 pm

Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 6:31 am
Posts: 227
Location: florida
Unread post Re: Armor
I've never used craft foam but have always been interested so I saved this site for when I'm ready to work with it: ... sdeep.html

Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:02 pm
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Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 6:36 am
Posts: 265
Location: Sydney Australia
Unread post Re: Armor
I agree with Bagh just getting into Sintra and found a local supplier that wont charge me an arm and a leg (SCORE) chest pieces can be a real pain all i suggest with that. Is make a full torso cast that way you can cut the pieces to size heat em and push it against the cast of your form !

Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:30 am
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Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:52 am
Posts: 167
Unread post Re: Armor
I've used sintra, styrene and pvc piping. The basic tools needed are:
Craft knife, one with a blade you can break off to reveal a sharper edge. You need the sharpest edge you can or it is difficult to cut through anything thicker than 3mm
Heatgun or hairdrier, hairdryer for smaller thinner pieces. You can also use boiling water in a pot of large uni-direction curves.
Glues: epoxy glue works well (Araldite is my favoured brand) and E600/Shoe Goo. That should always be in your kit, I cannot recommend it enough for everything.
Sandpaper to smooth the cut edges as they tend to be crumbly.

I also use the craft knife to whittle a bladed edge.
I also use my dremel clone for sanding edges and occassionally cutting.

The cut edges behave a little like cardboard cut edges so if using hot water they can expand.

All of the above but I find I prefer to cut with my dremel so long as I go slowly and let the motor cool down a bit between goes. Styrene melts at the temp of the cutting blade so it can gum it up which burns out the motor.
Boiling water is best for shaping large pieces as you need the heat to be more evenly distributed, it buckles very easily.
It buckles very easily with a heat gun.
You can also use shavings mixed with acetone to make a cement but it is quite brittle so best for filling in details.

PVC Pipe:
All of the above. I again favour my dremel over any other cutting tool though a small craft saw works very well to cut, but you need to make your markings carfully as hands tend to make the blade cut diagonally rather than directly up and down. Biology huh.

For paints I prefer acrylic rattle cans. And for silvering I do now prefer to use a gloss black with rub'n'buff over it. The only way to get a really shiny coat with that stuff is to have a shiny base but not all glossy bases will grab the wax. Acrylic paint happens to be one that does.

For examples of my armour making:
Mainly fibreglass but I am using sintra and pvc pipe for parts. (Old republic Bounty Hunter)
Sith Togruta (I'm not sure what page the info starts on but I do have some inprogress photos. All styrene and at 3.5 and 4mm thick so it is very solid indeed.
The collar here is a strip of styrene shaped with boiling water, cut with a craft knife. The ends were covered in an acetone/shaving mix with a edge of flat styrene to border- that latter painted gold the mixture filling painted silver. The knee guards are fibreglass over card.

Best option is to go to a place that sells plastic and ask for their off cuts. They can be got for pretty cheap as they are left overs from more profitable jobs ;) And then using the above tools test and see what you can do :) The very first work I did with styrene was my Gentle Giant Leia costume where I made and shaped all the plaques from thin styrene.

Now I'm about to build a jetpack and large rifle thing for my Bounty Hunter using those basic skills I learnt starting small.

Something to be a ware of with premade plastic goods is to see what they are made from. Polyprop is regularly used for folders and some large containers. It doesn't glue and it paints badly. You have to rivet it together. I also haven't had luck getting it to heat form (I think temps need to be very high).

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Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:55 am
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Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:55 pm
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Location: Weymouth, MA
Unread post Re: Armor
Everyone else covered all the stuff i could add :D Here's a website that i used before for a costume:

"Distance is to love is as wind is to fire; It extinguishes the small and kindles the great."

Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:41 pm
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