Thor's Hammer "Mjolnir" Build (Steel)

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Nathanael777

New Member
Thor's Hammer "Mjolnir" Build (Steel)

Hi, I'm Nathanael from Brisbane, Australia. This is my first post in the RPF community.

Recently I have been inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe Exhibition that was put on in my city, displaying a huge amount of the original screen-used props and costumes and sets from the MCU. This was all possible because Thor: Ragnarok was filmed in Queensland and the Queensland Art Gallery (QaGoma) used the public excitement and momentum from the film to do the exhibition. I was able to see so many amazing art works and props and sets. Really inspiring! Thor is a favourite of mine, also I think it's cool that Hemsworth is an Aussie. I also went to a LEGO expo with my boys, and we built a quick Hammer together out of LEGO. After these events I was all inspired to build a real one out of steel.

Anyway, I thought it would be great to have a crack at building Thor's Hammer out of steel. I think it's a rad prop, and pretty iconic. I am a metalworker/designer/illustrator, and thought combining the experience I have would be a great way to do this project. Originally I started out just wanting to build something that looked like it and not be too screen accurate, more of a proof to myself that I could actually build it, so that meant a few details didn't end up as accurate as I ended up wanting. But in the end I was happy with the finished result, and the everyday fan probably wouldn't notice the difference.

It was such a great learning experience, filled with trials and lots of errors, and took quite a significant amount of time to complete considering I was making it all up as I go. The finished hammer is 1:1 scale, made of 2mm and 3mm steel sheet/pipe, leather and one small piece of PVC. It weighs 4.6kg, and is quite hefty to swing around - the weight along makes it feel intimidating.

I'll post the finished piece first, then gradually post the build process for those who may be interested.

I'm looking forward to the next project, have definitely caught the makers bug. :)

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Nathanael777

New Member
Here's where the original idea came from, building a LEGO hammer with my kids, then thinking it'd be fun to make it out of steel.
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Once I had done a bit of research I sketched some notes and then drew it up in a CAD based CNC program for turret punching the steel sheet parts.
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Welding the pieces together for the sides and top/bottom, as well as the handle.
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Next step, lots of sanding!
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Nathanael777

New Member
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Once I'd sanded the welds down, I added the rings to the handle. I had bought some steel saddlery rings, and cut, bent and reshaped them before welding them on. These took quite some time to get looking okay, but I'd do it differently next time.
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Because of the welding process, there was a few bits of spatter rattling around inside the hammer head that I couldn't extract. So I filled the internal hollow with some expanding foam, which makes a huge mess but stopped the rattle! You can see the PVC coupler at the top of the handle, which doesn't match the screen prop but at this stage I wasn't even considering going for that detailed accuracy. In hindsight I wish I'd not used the PVC and made it look better.
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After the steel work was mostly done, I started with the salt water electro-etching to etch in the Norse runes on the cap. I had to draw these designs up as vectors and get some vinyl stencils made up for the resist. I used the same etching process for the knotwork on the hammer but repeated 8 times over. Etching takes a long time, and as I'd never done it before was a LOT of trial and error. It ended up looking pretty good considering it was a first for me and was awkward to setup. The runes blew out a bit too much and weren't as crisp as I'd like but still looks roughly like the original.
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Once the etching was done it was time for more cleanup. To smooth out the handle rings and get a more even feel I used a "poverty lathe" (drill press) and a sander to sand them down while it was spinning.
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Nathanael777

New Member
My first attempt at the pommel was to buy a galvanised plumbing pipe reducer and modify it to suit the hammer (see previous photos). It looked ok, but I wasn't happy with it. So I decided to form the pommel myself from a piece of 3mm sheet steel. I drew a template, plasma cut the shape out and rolled it around an anvil, then welded on an end cap. Once the rough shape was done, it was back onto the drill press for shaping with a sander. I then welded on the pommel end disc.
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The it was back into some etching. This etching was tricky because I couldn't use the same method as the hammer head, so I had to do a salt water bath. Again, this took a lot of time and trial and error. I had to mask off the interior and some exterior parts to make sure the etch did't eat away the whole piece.
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I then used some needle files to cut out the hole for the leather wrist strap, and drilled two holes for bolting it to the handle. The end result was a pommel that doesn't look store bought brand new like a 3D print or mold might, but definitely gave it a handmade aesthetic.
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Nathanael777

New Member
I was never intending to finish this project off completely, as it was initially more of a proof to myself that I could build something like Thor's hammer. That meant that I was careless with the way the steel finish was looking (it had gouges, covered in scratches and spatter, still had the scale on parts, etc).

Once the hammer was shaping up better than I thought, I reconsidered and decided to take it all the way to a finished piece. I couldn't really save the natural steel finish with the tools I had, so I decided to paint it instead.

I started with a cold gal primer, then a few coats of gloss black, and then eventually two coats of what was labelled as "chrome". Turns out it didn't look chrome, but more of a cheap silver. This was disappointing as I was relying on it to be a base colour for the black weathering wash I was going to do.

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I scratched back the "chrome" with some steel wool, and then added a black weathering wash layer that didn't work so well. My desperate Plan B was to get some silver acrylic mixed with black and paint the whole thing again, which worked a lot better. I felt a lot more confident it would work after this coat. I don't have an airbrush so this was all hand painted with normal brushes. The dark silver/grey I ended up with looked like lead, and made it look more like a real piece of metal (which it was underneath).

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Nathanael777

New Member
After a lot of messing around with painting, I discovered a little product called Silver Leaf Rub N' Buff (thanks Adam Savage/Tested)! I used this to bring back the chrome/metallic look and contrast the dark weathering a bit. I probably messed with it too much, and had to come to a point where I decided that enough was enough and I needed to finish this project off and not spend hours doing tiny adjustments of silver leaf!

Once most of the painting was done, it was time for the leather wraps on the handle. Because the rings were so individually shaped I had to painstakingly cut each wrap to fit up to each ring. This was very time consuming, and would definitely do this a better way next time. I used Gorilla Glue for fixing the wraps, and some acetone to take out some of the leather dye to weather it a bit. The red tape is to hold the wraps while they dry. It's not the cleanest leather work, but I got there in the end! The leather is kangaroo hide sourced locally (what's up Skip?).
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Nathanael777

New Member
I repeated the same weathering process on the pommel (but took much less time thanks to the hours of trial and error!) and bolted it into the handle with some M5 Philips countersunk bolts (because Asgard uses the metric system :D) The weathering makes it look like pewter or cast iron IMHO. I coated all these pieces in some Krylon Crystal Clear (satin) to seal in the paint and give it some shine. All the handling while making it dulls the silver leaf.
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I cut the wrist strap from some cow hide, and measured it based on some close up photos I had of the screen used Mjolnir prop from the Marvel Expo. It's held in with the same bolts as the pommel, and is strong enough to support the hammer weight hanging off your wrist (haven't tried spinning it around though, might smash a window - or my face).

And there you have it! My steel Mjolnir build that started out as a LEGO inspired idea to prove to myself I could do something like this! I can't even begin to describe the countless hours this took to make due to the nature of the learn, trial, error process, but overall I'm pretty darn happy with how this turned out all things considered. I recognise and am happy to acknowledge that this isn't the most exact replica of the Thor TDW prop (no stepped cap ends, wrong coupler/collar profile, line detail on the side is too wide, etc), but that wasn't my original intent and only changed as I stumbled along.

I've learnt a great deal so far about fabricating techniques and prop making, and would like to give it another go with this new knowledge and perhaps some new tools. It'd be great to make a master of a higher quality so I could do some latex/resin casting (never done that before), but you know, baby steps! There's some amazing examples of Thor's hammer builds here on the RPF that are really inspiring to see (and some unreal talent), so I'm hoping I could get to a level like that eventually. Until then, on to the next project!
~ Nathanael

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