Hey ya'll! It's been a while, but we're back in the new year and talking about magnets & large props! Large props can be incredibly difficult to travel with and store, but magnets can help simplify both.
Large props look amazing, but are often very hard to handle, store and transport between locations. In order to make this easier, you can make different parts detachable so that the prop can fit into smaller spaces (like a suitcase!).
As with most modifications, we'll start in the planning phase. Adding in magnets after you've started a build can be difficult to pull off and makes it easier to damage the prop you're altering because you'll be cutting it in half and carving out the center of the prop. To avoid this, we'll decide how the prop splits in half & where the magnets will sit before starting the build. What you'll be looking for is any place in the build where a seam could easily blend in or be covered by the existing design of the prop. The easiest seams to create are going to be weapons with a hilt or handle, like bows and swords. Below are some examples of where I've hidden seams on props before.
Once you've decided where you want the seam to be, it's time to add it to the drafting plans. Below you can see how I sized all of Painwheel's parts and how the PVC pipes fit inside.
Now that everything is drafted out, it's time to carve out space for the pipe or dowel that's going in the middle of the prop. There are several ways to do this depending on the thickness of the sheets of material you're making the prop out of and how thick the center rod will be. If the center rod is large enough that you need to have 3 sheets to build thickness, you can simply cut out a hole in the middle piece for the rod. Then, you can sand down a grove on the outer pieces so that everything will lay flat. While carving out the grove, be sure to check that it's deep enough by doing dry fits (assembling everything without adhesive). If there are any bumps or if any parts of the layered material aren't in full contact, you know you'll need to keep sanding. Below is a beautiful MS Paint sketch of how the three pieces will look before they're assembled and here is a video of the inside of Painwheel before I glued on the 3rd layer.
If the layered materials aren't thin enough to layer 3 together, you'll need to carve out anywhere between 1/2-2/3 thickness out in a grove for the rod to slide between. This is my least favorite way of fitting in supports, but sometimes it's the only option. If you have to do it this way, be very careful not to cut all the way through your material while carving out the groves. If you do, it will be very hard to cover later unless you're doing a resin coating on top. As with the previous method, be sure to do dry fits to make sure you've carved out enough space for the rod. I also like to test to make sure it can fit properly with dry assemblies (no glue).
Once the space for the rod is carved out, it's time to add the magnets! I'm the type of person to mess up everything if I'm given the chance, so I start out my marking the "inside" of the magnets (the sides that attract) with a marker or piece of tape. This will ensure that I don't glue the magnets in so that they repel each other. Once their marked, I mix up equal parts of JB weld adhesive, cover the back of the magnets and then tape them into place. JB weld isn't thick enough to hold up the weight of the magnet, so taping it into place will ensure that it doesn't slide around. You can also use hot glue or other adhesives, but I've found that 2-part adhesives are the strongest and will hold up the best over time.
Now that your adhesive is cured/dried, you're ready to assemble the rest of your prop! It should now be easy to assemble & disassemble your prop for sanding, painting, sculpting, priming, packing and traveling. If you have any questions, be sure to leave a comment or contact me on Twitter! Until next time, get out there and make some mistakes!