I finally got around to seeing Captain America (TFA), a year later than I would have expected. On top of being a very reasonable movie (personally, I thought Thor was better), TFA contained some excellent props. Additionally, I saw a TFA shield on eBay (circular design), and thought that was something I would really like to have. Looking around on the internet, I stumbled onto Valor’s excellent threads about building his own shields. Seeing this, I was hooked.
However, the more I see and read about the shield making process (of which there is much material, especially on this forum), the more I thought it may be good to start with something simpler. Therefore, I thought it may be cool to build the shield which Cap uses to go save Bucky and the other POWs from the Hydra factory. It appears that this shield had a tittle on this forum: the Bucky Shield. There are a few people who have done excellent work on an entire TFA CA Bucky Rescue outfit:
Note: I am sure there have been more build threads (I read them), but I have not been able to re-find them at the writing of this post.
The shield is an important part of this costume, and I thought I could take the shield to the next level. Many people were using a shield which they found on Ebay: German Cacider Lion Medieval Knight Heater Shield Armor | eBay. I decided that reading other people’s negative experience with that specific shield (the silver paint flakes off on your arm), I decided to go with a custom machined shield. Additionally, I could get the shield to be near perfecto the real one, as it would be custom.
There were multiple types of shields used in the actual movie: aluminum, rubber, and resin. Apparently, the resin shields held up best during filming so that is what most of the final movie contains (not 100% on this, I remember Chris Fields saying something about this in one of the many CA-TFA shield threads). Unfortunately, I do not have any experience with resin molding. However, in college I have had a lot of experience with metals, especially general purpose aluminum (6061). Therefore, I decided to go with aluminum for the base of the shield because of my familiarity with the process and the ability to customize.
I go to school for engineering (specifically Aerospace), so I have become accustom to designing with a computer and then fabricating, opposed to what others do where they have the experience and knowhow to wing it and make it work perfectly. Unfortunately, I do not have that skill. To get the necessary dimensions, I used the Profiles in History auction catalog, which available online: Auction Catalogs - Captain America The First Avenger Auction - PROFILES IN HISTORY. On page 56, the Bucky shield is listed (lot number 133). The description gives the length and width of the shield (but not the depth, more on that later). I was able to interpolate out the arc dimensions for the shield from the image and these two dimensions. Technically, I only needed one reference length, but using two I could check the process. Now for the depth of the shield (also referred to as drop). With my profile in the modeling software, I needed to get a curvature which would eventually be rolled into the shield. From the circular shield posts, it seemed that three inches was about what people were using. Therefore, I used that as a starting point. After modeling the part, the radius came out suspiciously close to 24”. With this data, I went back and made the radius 24” to simplify the manufacturing. If people would like the profile which I used, I would be happy to provide it. Just PM me, no cost.
However, for manufacturing, I would need to “unroll” the shield. The manufacturing process for something like this is as follows: the “unrolled” profile is cut out of aluminum stock by a water jet or plasma cutter, and then the profile is fed into a rolling machine which puts a radius over the part. There was a command in the modeling software which I used which does just that. Very simple, but if you are looking to do this, you can create a new profile on a front plane with the same number of arcs, and then dimension our points taking into account the radius of the part. This length is known as arc length. Using this profile, I drew up a manufacturing drawing and contacted a local metalworking shop which works with sheet metal. For the whole process, each shield would be $54 with sales tax, so it actually cost less than the Chinese shields. A pleasant surprise.
If there is interest in getting some of these blanks made, I would be happy to work with you to get them made (understand shipping may be a bit much due to the size and shape). It may be some time before I can get these in; as a new member I am not allowed to sell anything but I can definitely start a list if people want them later. If you want the final manufacturing drawing, just pm me with your email and I will send it over. Overall, I would recommend working with a local sheet metal shop so save shipping cost.
If I was making one shield, I might as well make two right? That way I can really perfect the process, and then possibly sell the second shield when I was done. We’ll see how well it comes out, I won’t sell junk.
Painting: the part I least enjoy
I decided to work on this first. I went to Lowes and picked out some paint that I tried to match, more updates later on how close the color actually was. I also went to a car supply store to pick up some metal primer and sand paper. The primer I used was “Rustoleum Primer Clean Metal Primer.” As aluminum does not like to accept paint, you need to sand and clean the part before priming. I used 600-grit sandpaper to rough up the part. This was followed by soap and water, and finally acetone to get all the oxidation and gunk off. I used three coats of primer on each shield, starting off the part with the paint and following the directions on the can. After three coats of primer, I let it sit for 10 minutes. Following the directions, I next hit it with actual paint. I used Rustoleum Universal paint and primer in one Satin while (from Lowes). I meant to just get normal paint, but this should do. It is important to get a layer of paint relatively quickly after the primer, as the primer does not do well by itself. I put 5 thin coats onto the shields. Probably overkill, but I had the paint. Unfortunately, I got a few runs and paint dots, mainly from being impatient and lazy. I have included pictures of the painted shields and the run I mentioned.
Now to wait 48 hours for the paint to cure fully before I tape it up for the blue coat.
Questions/issues for the next steps:
1. Has anyone worked on a bracket/handle system which allows for both standard use (on the arm) and over the shoulder holding? That is one issue I have yet to resolve
2. I plan on getting the star pattern in the blue field my printing out stars exactly onto sticker paper and applying them to the shield. Has anyone had experience with this, or know a different method?
I know this was a very long post, and I thank you for reading it. I hope the detail which I go into will be useful for some. As stated above, I would love to help other people with this project as best I can.