My Han Solo in Carbonite Build

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VandalTBH

New Member
Background:

As a big Star Wars fan, I was watching Return of the Jedi one day and seeing Han Solo frozen in carbonite and hung up on Jabba’s wall made me think “that would be awesome in my man cave”.

Knowing I couldn’t be the only one to have this idea I got on Google and started searching. One of the first things I found was Sideshow Collectibles https://www.sideshowtoy.com/collect...lo-in-carbonite-sideshow-collectibles-400072/. This was awesome, but well out of my price range so I did a search to build your own.
There are several awesome builds out there, and without them to guide me I wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. I took ideas from all of the links below and would like to thank them all for sharing. Please check these links out if you’re considering building one yourself:



When designing the project, one of the first things I saw was that one of the biggest challenges would be to find a mold of Han. Several builds linked to posts where you could buy a mold of the entire body online, but I didn’t have any luck finding one that was current. I felt pretty confident I could make a reasonably good body myself, but I was pretty sure I couldn’t sculpt a face that would look like Harrison Ford. Luckily there were a few places that sold a cast of just the face. I went with one from Haunted Studios (www.hauntedstudios.com). It was great quality and reasonably priced.

The next challenge I identified was the side control panels. On many of the builds I saw that those took most of the time, effort and money to build. Some of the guys out there did outstanding work on the side panels, but I decided to forego them for a couple reasons. The cost and time to build them wasn’t worth it to me, not to mention finding/making parts, wiring electronics, etc. While well-done control panels look great, I wanted the focus to be on the front. I was also hanging this on the wall in the man cave, and while I didn’t want it to be flat on the wall, I also wanted to minimize the depth and how far it protruded off the wall into the room. I loved the look that Fred Berger went with plain backlit panels on the side, so I went with a modified version of those for mine as well. It saved time and money, and also gives a very cool lighting effect against the wall.


The Build:

Since I was going to be hanging this on the wall I wanted to be conscious of weight, but the box also needed to be sturdy. I didn’t want any flex in it which might cause cracks or things to fall off. I decided to build a frame and cover it in MDF panels. MDF is heavy, but it has a nice flat surface and is easy to cut/route. I used 1/2" MDF and 2x2’s (rather than 2x4’s) for weight.

Here is the finished frame:

hic1.jpg

I used wood glue at all the joints to add strength, predrilled pilot holes for the wood screws and added a few nails where I thought it needed them. The frame turned out fairly light but strong.

Next, I cut the MDF panels to cover the top and sides of the frame. I glued and clamped the MDF in place and then used 1” trim finishing nails with a nail gun to secure the panels to the frame. I was very careful with the measurements of the panels, so the seams where the top panel meets the sides lined up pretty well with very minor overlap. I used 80 grit sandpaper on an orbital sander to sand them flush. The wood glue prevented any gaps in the seams that would have to be filled. I did use some wood putty to fill the tiny holes made by the finishing nails.
After the panels were dry, I cut 4 slots in each of the sides. I wanted rounded ends, so I used a 1.5” hole saw at each end and then used a jigsaw to cut out the space between them. I used a wood file to clean up the inside edges of the slots. The slots measure about 1.5” x 15”.
I then used a router to round off the edges around the top and sides.

Here’s the box with the panels in place (pre-routing):

hic2.jpg


I already mentioned that I purchased Han’s face online. For the torso I used a plastic male torso I found on Amazon used for displaying men’s shirts in a clothing store. For the legs I used 1/2" chicken wire molded and staple gunned to the top. For the hands I used plaster-of-paris casts of my hands, made using lifecasting alginate. And for the feet, I cut the tips off of some old boots I had on the band saw.

I’ve included a list of all items I purchased and used, along with links, at the very bottom.


I downloaded a picture of the prop used in the movie to measure everything out and place the pieces on the top of the box. Once in place, I used liquid nails to attach the face, torso and feet to the top. I then molded the legs and stapled it to the top and taped it to the bottom of the torso.

Here is a picture with everything laid out:

hic3.jpg

To make the hands I followed the directions that came with the alginate to make molds of my hands. It’s very simple and I got the idea from MD MGTOW’s YouTube video above. I prepared a small box lined with a plastic trash bag and then mixed the powdered alginate and poured it into the box. I dipped my hand into the alginate and gently swirled it around to make sure there were no bubbles on my hand. Then I put my fingers into the position Han’s hands were in and held still while it cured. It only takes 8 minutes for the alginate to fully cure, but it begins to firm up in 2-3 minutes making it easy to hold the pose. After the 8 minutes, I gently pulled the mold away from my skin at the wrist allowing air to seep in around my hand. Wiggling my fingers allowed the mold to completely separate from my hand and I pulled it out. I’ve seen people used Vaseline on their hands to make removing it easier, but it was so easy you don’t need to.

Here’s a picture of the mold after I removed my hand:

hic4.jpg

Once the molds were set, I mixed and poured the plaster into them and allowed them to set for about 2 hours. After that, I cut and pulled the alginate away from the plaster hands. Be careful, I broke off one of the fingers in the process which I glued back on with Liquid Nails. I then glued both hands in place with Liquid Nails.

Here are the finished hands:

hic5.jpg hic6.jpg


Once everything was securely glued and stapled in place, I covered the torso and legs with old clothes soaked in TiteBond wood glue cut with a little water. I put the clothes on in two layers, the first layer was smooth just to cover the chicken wire and torso. Then the next layer I set up the wrinkles in the clothes to match the photo of the movie prop. I didn’t try too hard to match each wrinkle perfectly but got reasonably close. I set up a fan and allowed the first layer to dry before adding the second.

Here are some photos of the clothes going on:

hic8.jpg hic9.jpg hic7.jpg


Once the clothes were dry, I taped off a 3” edge around the top. Inside of that edge, I used Bondo wiped on the surface of the top roughly to create a nice texture around the body. I used the Bondo to blend in where the pieces of the body were attached to the top.
At this point, I noticed there were a few areas in the clothes that had holes created by bubbles or gaps where the clothes met. I used regular spackling to fill these in.

Here are some photos after Bondo:

hic12.jpg hic13.jpg hic11.jpg


Once the Bondo cured, I sanded down any high spots with an orbital sander and 80 grit paper, which gave it a nice look. I then covered the entire box with two coats of automotive primer. This is where you’re able to start to see what the finished product will look like.

Some photos after primer:

hic15.jpg hic14.jpg


Now for me, the painting was the fun part. I used aluminum metallic paint as the base and it was perfect. I put on two coats and let it dry overnight.

Here are some photos with just the aluminum:

hic17.jpg hic16.jpg


The next day I applied the black craft paint. I mix the paint 3-parts paint, 1-part water and a few drops of dish soap. I read the dish soap helps the paint mixture spread out more evenly and into the grooves. I applied this to an area of about two square feet. The tricky part to this is letting it dry long enough, but not too long. I think about 4-5 minutes was about right. Anything less than that and too much of the paint came off leaving just the aluminum. I used a dry, microfiber shop towel to rub off the black. What surprised me was how much rubbing was needed to get a good effect. My arms were sore by the end.
I noticed a few spots that I thought had a little too much black paint after it was completely dry, but I was able to use a damp scotch bright pad to those areas. I was very happy with the finished product.

In the first photo, you can see how it’s going on (plain aluminum on top), the other two are the finished product:


hic18.jpg hic19.jpg


Lastly, I installed the lights behind the slots in the side. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of this part.
I was initially going to use plexiglass to cover the slots, but it’s expensive and hard to cut. So, I ended up buying a clear plastic storage tub from Walmart which worked out perfectly. It was easy to cut with heavy duty scissors. I cut them to size, then painted the side that faced inside the box with frosted glass spray paint from Walmart. Once dry, I attached them to the inside of the slots with clear silicone adhesive around the edges with a small wood screw at each end to make sure they were secure.

I purchased four light sockets and a pack of bright red LED bulbs from Amazon. I thought about using a rope light, but it wasn’t nearly bright enough so I went with 60W equivalent LED bulbs instead which worked great. I mounted the sockets on their sides on a scrap strip of MDF about 8’ long by 2’ wide, and then screwed that into the underside of the top of the box. I mounted them back-to-back along the centerline of the box so that the bulbs faced outward toward the slots. I put two in the top half and two in the bottom half of the box. Four bulbs were bright enough to light all 8 slots brightly.

I used an extension cord I had in the garage, cut off the female end, and ran it into the box through a grommet in a hole I drilled at the bottom edge of the right side. I connected the wire to a toggle switch I picked up a Lowes and then to the wire from the sockets. I installed the toggle switch about halfway up the right side of the box, and I used cable nails to secure all the wiring to the inside of the box. Apologies for not getting any photos of the lighting inside the box.

Here is a picture with the lights installed:

hic21.jpg


Finally, I made a French cleat using about a 2’ long piece of scrap 2x4 to hang it up on the wall. The whole thing weighs about 90-100lbs, which considering the size is pretty light in my opinion.

Here it is in place in my man cave:

hic25.jpg hic23.jpg hic24.jpg


The whole project costed about $325 and took about a week. I’m very happy with how it came out. Hope this helps anyone building their own. It was well worth the effort. Enjoy!


Purchased Materials:


Total Cost of Supplies: $324.23


Other Items/Supplies Used:

  • 2” wood screws
  • 2” framing nails
  • 1” trim finishing nails
  • 80 grit sand paper pads
  • 9/16” staple gun staples
  • Paint brushes
  • 16-gauge electrical wiring
  • Electrical wire nuts
  • Cable nails
  • Clear silicone adhesive
  • Liquid Nails
  • Gorilla duct tape
  • Plastic pipe mounts
  • Wire grommet
  • Extension cord

Tools:

  • Circular saw
  • Jig saw
  • Band saw
  • Plunge router (w/ rounding bit)
  • 1.5” hole saw
  • Drill
  • Impact driver
  • Hammer
  • Random orbital sander
  • Small snippers
  • Wide putty knife
  • Wire strippers
 
Last edited:

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supgreg

Well-Known Member
I’d expect nothing less from a bada$$ like yourself!

Probably one of the best and most detailed diy write-ups I’ve seen on this forum yet!
 

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