Jack's fire axe prop replica from 'The Shining' - build/scratch build

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Sr Member
Since reading 'Doctor Sleep', I've been on a Stevie King retrospective and have gone back to re-read several of my favourite King novels, including 'IT', 'Pet Semetary' and 'The Shining'. It's always great to revisit these past favourites, they never get old to me and I have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the characters and situations.

It's also prompted a repeat viewing of a few King adaptations for the big and small screen, including the evergreen 'Salems Lot' and of course, the Daddy of all King films, Kubrick's 'The Shining'. I actually purchased the imported US blu ray as up until now I'd only owned and viewed the shorter UK release (119 minutes as opposed to 144 minutes), the longer version is by far my favourite cut.

Anyway, enough banter - onto the prop.

I have undertaken a brief study of the axe from 'The Shining' in order to create a replica for my own collection. This was also prompted from a visit to the US a couple of weeks back, which brought me within inches of both a stunt axe and a hero axe from the film. I decided I would like to own a replica.

In the movie, the basic model used is a pick head American fire axe. Several different axes were used in the production, including a few hero axes, several fiberglass stunt axes and at least two 'gag' axes which were used in Dick Halloran's death scene. The 'gag' axes were recently on show at a Kubrick exhibition in the states.


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'Profiles in History' stunt axe:
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'Prop Store' (unverified?) hero axe:
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Kubrick collection 'gag' axes. Note the shortened blade and pins for securing these stunt axes to Halloran's body rig:

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Production shot:


My recent photograph's of the Hero axe in the Disney archives and of a stunt axe from Planet Hollywood. I've included a snap I took of Jack's jacket, also at Disney:

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As far as I can determine, there are variances between ALL of the known different axe props, including slightly different shades to the wooden handles, longer or shorter pick-axe parts on the head from axe to axe and different axe head placements leaving a longer or shorter visible 'knub' below the axe head.

There seem to be a lot of 'screen used' axes out there, some may be questionable in terms of authenticity. Out of these known examples, the props have developed varying degrees of corrosion and weathering. In the film, the axes all seem to have a fairly new, shiny look to them without much weathering. The screen-used wooden handles however appear to have a satin or matt finish, rather than a high gloss varnished look to them.

In terms of making a replica, traditional UK fire axes are very different to the American counterparts, meaning that acquiring a vintage metal 'hero' style axe here in England is not so easy, unless one if prepared to pay £50-60 shipping from America. Even then, getting an accurate style axe might be tricky. Despite the fact that similar styles are still produced today, progress has evolved the design in some cases and in many cases, the correct style axe heads will be fitted to plastic handles, and/or painted in hi-viz colours etc.

For my replica, I've opted to try and reproduce a stunt axe, using a real wooden handle with a fiberglass axe head. Aside from the cost implications of finding and importing a real axe head from the US, I also felt that a FG axe head is a safer thing to have around the prop room and my kids/pets/guests and also something that could safely be used as part of a costume, if the desire ever arises. Plus scratch building stuff is always fun.

Obtaining the wooden handle was very easy - there are always several on ebay and the design of the handle doesn't seem to have changed at all ince 1980. My 36" handle arrived a couple of days ago, complete with high gloss varnish finish. I have sanded away the varnish and will be waxing the handle to try to achieve a more natural satin appearance.

As to the axe head - I fabricated a foam core, skinned with cardstock and then laminated it with fiberglass. It's still a work in progress, here's a quick test fit of the parts. The axe head is yellow as it's just had it's first coat of filler primer before sanding and smoothing commences:


I'll post a couple of updates as I near completion of this replica. Has anyone else here made one of these, or put a display together using a real axe? I have in mind displaying this along with the '1921' photo from the film and one or two other paper props.

Kind regards,



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Sr Member
Re: Jack's fire axe prop replica from 'The Shining'

Here are a few more progress pics of my build.

I noticed that the handle had an incorrect step at the bottom - the movie version is just a direct slope rather than a stepped slope, so I marked it and cut it off to match the film axes.

Next, I made paper templates then cut sheet aluminium for the vertical sides, top and bottom of the axe and epoxied the sheets onto the substructure. Looks better already.

I'm not quite finished yet - I now need to fill and blend the seam joints, although they are only noticable up close, and wax the handle - then apply some light weaering over the entire axe prop.

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New Member
Love this idea. The Shining is one of my best friends favorite books and movies, may end up making one for him at some point.
Thanks for putting all the reference together.

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