My First Project - A Real Captain America Shield - FEEDBACK WELCOME

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Cryptk5

New Member
Hello! I'm new to the RPF but I have been reading and admiring many of the projects here for some time. I've always wanted to make collectables but never had the drive until now. I'm going to attempt to make an accurate as possible (close to screen accurate) copy of Cap's Shield to give as a gift to a special someone and wanted to share the process with you guys. I hope to continue to make more items in the future and have already started a list of projects that are small so I get some of the basic building techniques under my belt before going into a huge build. Any ideas for small projects that are lower in cost but will help a newbie like me, please let me know!

But anyway... On to the shield! (Pics Below)

PREP AND CUTTING

After reading many posts of amazing Cap Shields I took a little away from each project to craft my own. I started with a steel saucer sled that a cut the edges off of to create a nice disk of the base of the shield. I badly wanted a aluminum blank but sadly, they are a little out of my price range currently. So the red steel sled it is from Amazon!

*** Tips *** If you are looking to build a shield of your own from a sled, I would highly recommend using a grinder with a combo cutoff/ grind wheel. I didn't own one but most Home Depot's have them for rent. I think it was about $15 for a 4 hour rental and 1 - 5 inch grind wheel. Well worth every penny in my opinion! The grinder really helped to not only cut quickly but also smooth the edges quickly without having to use a file too much. I was also worried that without strapping the sled down it would move around a lot but I fixed that problem by using a 55 gallon plastic drum as a workstation. If you have access to one of these, like a rain barrel, it helped a lot. Good height for me to work at too!
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I know many people have been using the plastic sleds as bases but I really like the metal look and feel of the end product. I'm planning on painting it with some of the anodized paints as well, so it really pops when its finished.

I drilled a hole in center of the sled and used a board with a nail in it to measure out to roughly where the 25 inch edge of the shield should be.It was marked off with a sharpie which worked well. I had to eyeball it a little so it may be a little over or under 25 inches but it's close enough for me.

REMOVING THE PAINT/ SANDING

This was the part I was not looking forward to. Stripping the paint from the sled is long and difficult task.

I tried some citrus strip gel at first and even after leaving it on the surface of the sled a while it took a lot of effort to remove just a small amount of the paint. I eventually broke down and purchased some not-so-friendly chemicals to aid in this process. Surprisingly, these worked great! Still a lot of work, but it made the paint soft so it could be scrapped off. (I will add the name of the stripper later) After multiple thick coats of the stripper, the paint was at a point where I could just sand it to remove the small spots left over. I used the citrus strip gel again to aid in this process because it didn't smell as bad but could still eat away at some of the paint as I sanded with a scotch brite pad. Overall the star side of the shield looks good! (See Pic)
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It wasn't until after I finished one side that I friend of mine gave me a arm saving tip - USE PLASTIC WRAP during stripping.

After you cover the surface with the gel, cover the whole painted surface in plastic wrap to prevent air from getting at the gel. It took a fraction of the time to take the paint off with this method! AND the paint came off in sheets!!! (See Pics) Where as this worked great, it still left a good amount of primer or base coat on the surface. I'm not too broken up about that but at the time my arm was dead from sanding the other side.
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*** Tips*** When stripping the paint off, make sure you use REALLY GOOD GLOVES so the stripper doesn't get on your hands. By the time I was done with the one side my gloves did their job, but they were shot. The gel stripper seemed to work well but I have nothing else to compare it to, I have never done this before. I used multiple types of sand paper along with scotch brite pads. The different grits worked well to remove paint. I have 60 grit for the first pass and 160 - 200 for the others. No one that I have seen has really showed this process too much, so I wanted to take some pics during stripping to show how it goes to help anyone who may think about working on one like me.

This was all done in one day, I will continue to give updates on my progress as I go. Please let me know if there are any tips you may have for me as I am working on the piece, any info would be great! I will detail out the steps I took working on each stage and hopefully it helps someone build theirs. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you!
Cryptk5
 

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Cryptk5

New Member
I know there have been many other people that have used the sled as a cheap shield blank but it worked really well. I like that fact that once you sand or scratch the surface of a metal one it looks like the spun aluminum. Thanks for the feedback!
 

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Cryptk5

New Member
Update!

I haven't been able to post because I've been so busy but I still have been working on the shield build. Updates are below.

I finally finished stripping the rest of the back of the sled and now it actually looks like a shield! Attached is a pic of the gloves and the stripper I was using during the strip process. I would suggest investing in really good gloves even if you only use them for this project. The first pair I had ripped in the front and I unknowingly started to get the stripper all over my hands. (probably because I was so focused on removing the paint) Needless to say, this is not a good practice and over the next week the top layer of my skin came off like it was badly sunburned and this is after washing my hands repeatedly! I'm sure that was great for my health... But anyway, buy good gloves! I would recommend this stripper too but it is still a lot of work to strip off the paint even with chemicals so don't expect it to just fall off without a lot of elbow grease.
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With everything paint free and I started the sanding process to make it all uniform. I first started by hand then quickly realized just hand sanding alone would not work. I knew someone who had a small electric hand sander and that worked better than I had ever thought it would! I was using 400 grit sandpaper followed by 1500 grit for plastics and it made the shield shine. The finish was so good that it was like a mirror (pics may not show it as well). If you do it this way, the hardest part was the back of the shield because you need to hold one side while sanding at the same time. It was a little tricky and it didn't become as shiny, but it still looked great and I was happy with the end product.
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I was looking into how to scratch the surface of the shield in a way that it looks like spun aluminum and lots of people had good ideas. I tried the wood method where you take a small piece of leftover wood and drive a nail in one end to stick through the middle of the shield. Then use scotch brite or a rough pad to put under the stick and turn it around to make uniform circles like spun aluminum. This didn't really work me so I came up with my own method.
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I cut a chunk of sheet aluminum out and wrapped it in painters tape for protection from the edges. I bought some bolts and nuts and drilled out the center of the shield a bit more so that it would fit. Then attached the new stick to the center of the shield. It turned out to be bendy and flexible enough to hold the scratch pads perfectly and the tape is rough enough so that it doesn't move the pads position much while turning. You can see in the pics that the effect worked well, I just needed to do the same thing on both sides. It didn't take too long until they were finished and the shield was ready for painting. Before painting, I drove some sharp nails into the same taped metal stick and slowly etched circles into the surface for a little depth. After this, everything was washed and cleaned to prepare for taping and painting. I put a paper star in the middle for reference, so far so good!
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I'll update again once painting has started, should be a few weeks and it will be pretty well put together. Any feedback is welcomed, let me know what you think! THANKS!!!
 
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Cryptk5

New Member
Thanks for the feedback everyone!

MORE UPDATES!

I have been so busy lately with finishing the shield that I wasn't able to post at all but it is all finished now! I must say it does look really cool! I did take photos throughout the process though and I will still share those with you guys.

NEXT PART: Painting

I started by laying out the design with a paper star in place as a guide and used a thin pinstripe tape to tape all the edges off. After taping everything off I went over every edge that could bleed from painting with a pen and colored them in to make sure the tape stuck to the shield correctly. I highly recommend this step! I did not need to rework any areas for paint runouff at all. It may be overkill to go over everything but better be safe than sorry. I painted the blue center first, then taped off again and did the red. You can see in the red photos how the paint really starts to pop after multiple coats. I used the spray can auto body paint and it turned out great!

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After the paint was cured I went over it with some 2000 grit sandpaper to dull the gloss finish. I had to remove all the tape and paper to get a good even wet sand but, overall it started to look fantastic!

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Once this was finished I clear coated the star I had cutout from before. The clear coat I used looked really good when I finished it up. It was Rustoleum X2 clear gloss. I used multiple coats to get it to the thickness I liked.
 

Cryptk5

New Member
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I then clear coated the shield...A LOT!

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It really made the color pop by clearcoating it separate. I am really happy with how it turned out.

NEXT STEP: Building the straps and attaching them

I first made paper versions of the aluminum backing and put them on the shield for placement. I then cut out all the parts from sheet aluminum, sanded all of them, then used some scotch brite to dull them. After cleaning them up I clear coated it all and bought some hardware so they could be assembled. (Credit to Valor for the strap designs, I tweaked them a bit but his layouts are great)

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After finishing the clear coating I started to cut up the belts I bought to fit everything together. I have a Tandy leather store by my house and bought some punches as well as some rivets that were perfect for the straps. I used JB Weld to fit the top and bottom braces and fittings in place and assembled it all together. It's not screen accurate but I loved how it looked when it was done.

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I then took 3M doubled sided tape and popped the harness assemblies in place on the back of the shield. I also found a property plate from a seller on Esty that really fit in the center on the back of the shield. The property plate was JB Welded to the back and left to dry as was the star.

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