Captain America’s Shield – Walkthrough
This is my own build of Captain America’s shield. Included in this Walkthrough is a detailed photo gallery with step-by-step commentary. It is a complete account of my trials and tribulations of making this iconic shield! Enjoy!
Considering the Shield
I started out innocently enough on Google and eventually found that some people made shields from satellite dishes and saucer sleds. The first sounded silly so I researched this sled idea a bit more, and came across this forum post. I liked the thought of starting with something that was basically already shield shaped. So I purchased a 26″ steel saucer sled off of Ebay and the rest is history! Still interested? Keep reading and find out how I went about making a full metal Captain America shield!
The look of this Captain America shield was inspired by the shield that exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, first seen in Captain America: The First Avenger, and most recently in Captain America: Civil War!
A great thing about this build is that it really didn’t cost a ton. The raw materials for the shield cost me a little less than $100. Where I saved some money was having many of the necessary tools on hand (jigsaw, drill, hammer, safety apparatus). And I did have to spend a little extra to get some other supplies (paint stripper, sandpaper, tape, etc). Overall, I certainly spent less than $200 making the shield myself.
Forging Captain America’s Shield
Ok. So this is how this is gonna work. You can jump right into the photo gallery and see how I made everything, and there is detailed commentary below each image on how I performed each step. At the bottom of the page is a BOM (Bill of Materials) that anyone can see what materials and tools are required to make something like this (without going through the photo gallery). I hope this post inspires you to get out there and make something of your own! Maybe an even better shield? Enjoy. -ShadowspriteT7
DISCLAIMER: The walkthrough of this prop build was designed as a reference only. Always take safety precautions and use protective equipment. Follow the instructions of care and use on any tools or supplies that may be hazardous. The Mind Forge is NOT responsible for any risks or injuries you incur while attempting any of the activities contained in this walkthrough.
Bill of Materials
Raw Materials for Shield
- 26” diameter steel saucer sled
- 1 can, metallic blue spray paint
- 1 can, metallic red spray paint
- 2, 12×24″ (0.019″ thick) aluminum sheets
- 2, 1.5” wide brown leather belts
- 1, belt buckle
- 9 sets of metal snaps (at least), two top snap pieces and two bottom snap pieces make a set
- 8, rectangular metal loops
- 4, triangular metal loops
- 1 box of 60, 13/32 in. nickel thumb tacks
- Dish washing gloves
- Safety gloves
- Safety goggles
- Painter’s mask (valved respirator)
Tools & Supplies
- Jigsaw (with fine tooth blade for cutting metal)
- Power drill
- Band saw (NOT necessary, but I did use this to cut the center star)
- Metal file
- Metal paint pan (or a pie pan)
- Plastic paint scraping spatula
- Tape measure (flexible one, such as ones used for clothing measurements)
- Metal ruler (make sure there is a hole on one end)
- 80 grit sandpaper
- 120 grit sandpaper
- Turn table (rotating table of some kind)
- 1 roll, wide masking tape
- (optional) painters tape
- Exacto knife/box cutter
- JB Weld/KwikWeld/Clear Epoxy
- Hammer and anvil (for snaps)
- Tin snips (metal cutting scissors)
- Skiving tool (shaves leather)
Complete Walkthrough Text
If you would rather read a step-by-step account of my build instead of reading the photo captions, feel free to read below. The numbers correspond to order of the photos above.
- Cut the saucer sled to size with a jigsaw. The original size of Captain America’s shield didn’t fit me proportionally, so this walkthrough is for a 24” diameter shield. I found the center of the shield using my flexible tape measure. Putting a small indent in the sled, used this to measure 26” in diameter. I had my friend hold the shield and rotate it on a flat, elevated surface while I cut it with the jigsaw. Even with a steady hand, the vibration was hard to keep under control. The resulting circle wasn’t perfect, but given no alternative I was happy with the output. After cutting there were some sharp edges, I filed and sanded the edge (80 grit followed by 120 grit sandpaper).
- Removing the sled paint. I had done a little more research on this step before purchasing some Citristrip Stripping Gel. This stuff requires a few tools and apparatus to be used safely. I invested in some dish washing gloves, eye protection (old chemistry class goggles), and a painters mask. The Citristrip bottle says to use it in a well ventilated area. I used my garage with the door open.
- Applying the paint remover. I used a paintbrush (one I never planned on using again) to apply the Citristrip. I was extremely careful not to get the gel on my hands. Fair warning: it will be messy, unpleasant (even though it smells like orange), and time consuming to remove all of the paint.
- Paint starting to strip away from the metal.
- Paint (finally) stripping away in larger sections. I found that the longer the Citristrip stayed on the paint or if I used more of it, the easier it came off. I disposed of the removed paint and excess gel into a cardboard box. It took well over an hour, maybe two, to completely remove all of the paint. I didn’t do it all at once either, but I wished I had because I started to notice rust spots from where I didn’t properly clean the shield with lacquer thinner after using the Citristrip (I believe it accelerated the oxidation process once touching the bare steel).
- Nearly clean shield!
- 100% paint removed shield! The inside took a bit of beating from some of the scraping, but the next steps will make it much harder to notice. Again, I had wished I had cleaned the shield with lacquer thinner more thoroughly (and at room temperature). The cold air seemed to affect the lacquer thinner and gave certain spots a “frozen, crystal-like look” which discouraged me from continuing to use it to clean up.
- Prepping an aluminum sheet for cutting. I brought up pictures of Cap’s star from the most recent films and whipped something up in Adobe Illustrator that I could print to scale on paper and mark up my sheet metal. The star fit into a circle about 9” in diameter.
- Star template marked on the aluminum.
- Adding the brushed metal effect to the aluminum star. I drilled a very small hole into the center of my star flipped the sheet over. I put a nail through the sheet metal and my 80 grit sandpaper. Pushing down with my hand, I rotated the sandpaper around the sheet so that the concentric lines would form. I did a number of rotations until it looked right. It was important to make sure I was sanding the shield in the same continuous direction and that I didn’t move the paper in reverse or up or down, because any of those movements would show up contrary to the circular pattern.
- Finished brushed look on aluminum sheet metal.
- Adding the brushed look on back of shield. I first drilled a super small hole at the dead center of the shield. I took my metal ruler and wrapped 80 grit sandpaper around it, and pushed a nail through the hole on the ruler and through the hole at the center of the shield. The nail acted as a fixed point where the ruler could rotate around the shield while pushing the sandpaper into the shield to get the brushed metal lines. Since the shield was bowl-shaped it was easy to spin the shield with my off hand while I held down the ruler and sandpaper. I went around the shield multiple times until the entire back was covered evenly.
- Close up of brushed metal via ruler and sandpaper.
- Brushed metal complete on the back of the shield.
- Underside of TV turntable, necessary to smoothly rotate the shield front side up. The TV turntable was just something I happened to have on hand, but it turned (ha!) out to be one of the most useful random objects. I covered it with paper to protect it from scratches (since I actually use it for my TV…).
- Sanding the front of the shield. Using the same technique as on the back of the shield (nail, ruler, 80 grit sandpaper) I went around the face of the shield to prepare it. Trying to move the ruler independently of the shield became unreliable, so I placed the shield on the TV turntable. This allowed me to keep even pressure on the sandpaper/ruler while spinning the shield with my other hand. It worked perfectly. Once I was done I went over both sides of the shield and wiped away any debris from the sandpaper.
- Brushed metal complete on the front of the shield.
- Taping the front of the shield. I used the wide masking tape for this step. It seemed to be the easiest way for good coverage. I taped the shield for paint masking the center circle and the outer rings.
- Taping complete!
- Cutting the center paint mask. This circle was 9” in diameter and I used a pie pan and an exacto knife for this (because I didn’t have the right tool for making even circles). I just cut along the edge and peeled away the tape I didn’t want on the shield.
- Center circle cut-away! Ignore the spray paint can for now.
- My paint booth setup. I surrounded the shield with cardboard to catch any overspray. I did this in a garage, I really wish I had a vent hood!
- Spraying metallic blue paint for center circle. I prepped the center with a clean cloth to make sure there was no debris on it, then I took my metallic blue spray paint and evenly coated the exposed area with short, controlled sprays holding the can about 10” away from the surface. I applied two coats. A word of caution on spray paint: they are not all made equal. I could not confirm if it was my technique or the spray itself, but the final result was a little gritty (something wet sanding could have possibly fixed?) Either way, I still wished I had used another paint.
- Cutting away the remaining paint masks. I used the ol’ string and marker method. The circles didn’t come out quite exact, but I was still pretty happy with them. I used painters tape on the center because I wanted something I could remove easily so that I didn’t damage the blue paint underneath. I wiped down the metallic areas before proceeding.
- Painting the red stripes on the shield. I evenly applied the red metallic spray paint on the rings using short controlled bursts about 10” from the shield. Again this spray paint was weird, the red can produced a cloud of paint over the shield, something I can’t say I’ve ever seen before (or since). I applied two coats of spray paint on the red stripes as well.
- Masks off! Shield painting complete!
- Set the star on top to get a feel for how it would look. This is a good point to stop and talk about the star and how it magically turned from sheet metal into a star. I cheated on this step. While there are many ways to have this star cut out I wanted clean, straight edges. Since I knew someone with a machine shop, I was able to have the star cut with a band saw. I put the lines that point to the center of the star in myself using a few knife strokes.
- Scoring the back of the star. In order to affix the star to the metal shield, both the star and the shield needed to be sanded for the JB Weld to give the best adhesion possible. I could have also used some clear epoxy, and in retrospect I wished I had. At the time I wasn’t sure that epoxy was strong enough, but I’ve since used clear epoxy on multiple occasions and I can say with certainty it would have held the star on without a problem.
- Taping the hell out of the star. The sheet aluminum star is thin, but still thick enough that it wanted to spring flat. To counteract this, I used pieces of painters tape (masking tape would have worked better). I pushed down on the star with the piece of tape and then smoothed my thumbs over the edges of the star to make sure the tape was holding it as flat as possible. This was key to making sure the JB Weld adhered the star on.
- Spraying clear coat and prepping for strap hooks. I cleaned up some of the rust spots that were starting to become more noticeable from the paint remover, but it only did so much. I decided to spray the whole shield with a clear coat of spray paint to make sure it was sealed and would stop rusting. I also measured where I wanted the strap hooks to be and scored the areas where I would be gluing them.
- Close up of a strap hook. I wanted something specific for the strap hooks since I wasn’t welding anything onto the shield. I took some of my leftover sheet aluminum and with a pair of needle nose pliers I bent it around a rectangular ring. The result was a part that had two pads of sufficient surface area for gluing and a slot for the rectangular ring to pivot naturally with the straps.
- Scoring the back of the strap hooks. I scored the back of the aluminum pieces with 80 grit sandpaper and a blade. I scored them enough to look sufficiently roughed up.
- All four strap hooks ready for gluing!
- JB Weld applied to the hooks. For this, I used regular strength JB Weld because the hooks would carry the brunt of any force directed at the shield. Regular JB Weld creates a stronger bond than KwikWeld.
- Taping down all four strap hooks. Simple painters tape, firmly pushing down the hooks onto the shield.
- Strength test! It holds!
- Cut down the straps (rough measurement) for a quick test, still holding strong!
- Finished straps. For the straps I used some basic 1.5” brown belts I got on sale from Tandy Leather (fantastic place if you need anything leather or any accessories). Since I planned on wearing the shield on my left arm I configured the right strap for hand holding and the left strap to resize to the arm of the wearer.
- Close up of right (hand hold) strap. The right belt had a tight loop so that it would be easy to grab with my hand. I punched holes and hammered in some snaps to lock it in place. Lastly, I tapered the end of the straps into triangles because I thought it looked cool.
- Side view of the hand strap, you can see the snaps in action.
- Close up of left loop for the wearer’s bicep. The left loop I made longer and I used a traditional belt buckle to make it adjustable and secure.
- Cutting and sizing the aluminum brackets. Leather wings also sized and ends were shaved down with a skiving tool. In order to mimic the metal brackets on the back of Cap’s shield, I used more of that thin aluminum sheet and cut it with tin snips. I had designed the templates on the computer beforehand and transferred it to the aluminum sheet. I had also determined what size to use for the leather “wings.” In order to bend the leather for a finished look, I had to use a skiving tool to shave of a few layers of the leather underside so it would flex.
- JB KwikWelding the aluminum brackets and securing with tape. Six pieces in total, four angled pieces and two short rectangular pieces to go in between the strap hooks.
- Brackets are now epoxied to the shield.
- Close up of the finished leather “wings.” There are four wings in total. Each leather piece is 1.5” wide. One end gets the triangular hook and the other gets a thin rectangle. Both sides have snaps. Next up is JB KwikWelding the leather straps onto the aluminum brackets (not pictured), right in the dead center of each piece, except for the short rectangles (since the arm straps will be there).
- The next step requires epoxy or JB KwikWeld and some 13/32” thumbtacks. These are used to make it look like the aluminum was riveted onto the shield.
- I used six thumbtacks on each aluminum piece (three on either side of the leather). I also made sure the triangle loops and rectangle loops on either side of the leather wings were KwikWelded down so they didn’t make unnecessary clanking sounds.
- A clear shot of the finished back!
- 100% wearable!
- Recent picture of the back of the shield. She’s seen some action, a few “rivets” fell off, should have scratched the aluminum to apply the thumbtacks.
- More back action. The lighting shows off the brushed look (and some scratches).
- Front shot.
- Side lighting really brings out the metallic on the shield!