This page shows how I made my Serenity Hero grenade from scratch. While a certain amount of machinery is needed, the actual process is not as hard as some people think, and perhaps after seeing this, more people will have a go at making their own stuff.Its also a lot nicer is you have the full costume, when you go to conventions and alike, when people ask where you got it, you can proudly say you made it.
     So we start off with the basics. To make anything you need something to start from and in this case we are turning the grenade from tooling resin. This is a specially formulated polyester resin that has zero shrinkage. It is perfect for things like this as it turns really nicely, and with a bit of 1200 grade sandpaper comes up shiny smooth.
     As a mould I use anything I can find. In this case a piece of cardboard tube just wider than it needs to be. I tape up the bottom and sides then wipe wax polish round the inside to help the resin not stick.
     Next time to mix up some resin. A bit of maths is needed here to work out the volume needed, but nothing you didn't do in school. Then added the appropriate amount of hardener give it a good thorough mix, then pour it in.A few hours later you have a nice block of resin to start work on.
     The next job is to size the block of resin to the proper dimensions. This is simply by clamping it in the jaws of the vice, then drilling a small hole the other end to put the support spindle in. This is the small rod in the drill chuck you can see in the picture. With this in place, there is no chance of the block of resin moving when being turned, which very important. This is a metal turning lathe so everything is chunky and very strong. If the block or resin moves in the jaws, it would bash against hardened steel, and be destroyed before you could turn it off.
     With the block securely in the lathe, the first job is to turn it down to size. Now luckily on a message board someone posted some dimension of a film used one, so I had something to work from. However as you will see later, those dimensions weren't altogether correct and adjustments needed to be made. Various lines are drawn on the piece of work indicating future detailing to be done.
     With the diameter correct, the next job is to turn down the slightly tapered end, and round the corners off. The best way to do this is with a fine bit of sandpaper, as it allows the curve to be done gradually to eye, till it looks right.
     With the main section done, its time to add the recess for the light up strip and buttons. This requires the milling of a flat section on one side to take them. The block is placed in a vice on its side and lined up, and then a strip is taken out of one end. The milling cutter is then moved to the other end and a strip taken out there as well. Itís easier to do each end and take lots of care over that, than go back and forth doing it all. With the two ends done nice and straight, itís just a case of removing the middle.
     While this resin machines well, it can be quite brittle if the cutter is forced into it to quickly. Its best to take off thin layers about 1/8th at a time; this insures a nice clean cut. If you try and do it in one go you may succeed, but if it chips itís a major pain in the bum.
     With the flat recess done, the next job is to machine out a groove and round recesses for the light up bar and buttons. While the buttons don't do anything itís easier to get them in the right place with a recess than trying to just glue them in place and judging it. When finished I will make a mould and make a couple by having a recess of slot for anything thatís added saves lots of time. Also by adding these bits later, they can be cast in the appropriate colour resin.
     Once marked out, itís more time and care to machine the long slot carefully and the two round holes. The good thing about milling stuff is the cross vice on the bed allows you to turn two handles to move the table in all directions so precision cuts are easy to do.With the recesses taken out, its time to hollow out the body, for the batteries and some sort of switch to turn the light on when the lid pops up.
     The main hole is narrower than the top section, but this is because the top has a little lid sitting on the lip that the spring sits on.
     With the main body now done, its time to start on the top or lid, this requires a bit more skill. As a handle you could call it needs machining into the top.
     First off take another block of resin and machine it to match the diameter of the main body. Then a section of it needs to be taken down to fit inside the main body for a lip and the catch slot to be attached to. Once this is done, the centre is hollowed out for the spring. A hole is drilled in the top to accommodate the sliding rod mechanism which will allow it to pop open a set distance.
     Then we come to the handle as we will call it. The block of resin is fixed into the chuck, and one side is milled down, then the table moved half an inch and repeated the other side. When done a perfectly symmetrical handle is left.
     Then the centre needs to be found and two lines drawn on the top the thickness of the handle. Now this is where the bit from earlier about the dimensions not tallying up. the drawing that I used which was taken from a film used prop had the height of the handle and the thickness of the base as the same measurement, but when you look at the extras on the Serenity DVD, (the Mal and Inara extended escape scene. Screen capture Mal throwing the dummy grenade and it is quite clear detail.) The top handle bit is thicker than what the base is. So with a few manual calculation of the picture I calculated roughly the correct measurements.
     Next time to machine down either side to give the handle. This again is not hard but need doing gently or the resin chips off, as you will see, but that was nothing to worry about as the edge needed rounding anyway. (Luckily)
     Next adding fine detail to the handle section. The main thing is the corners need taking off for the correct appearance. This is done by placing the handle in a rotary table, and using an angles router cutter with fixed cutting depth. The bearing is rested against the edge and the table rotated. This takes off a fixed amount both ends without the need for any real skill. Just turn the handle.
     The slot is slightly trickier, as it needs to be done perfectly the first time, as if this get runined its whole new top section. It is marked out in pencil, and then double checked then the machining starts. This is quite slow as you have to keep going back and forth taking of a slice at a time. As I said before this resin can chip quite easily if mishandled, so lots of care and attention is needed.
     Finally the catch needs machining into the lower lip which will hold it shut. There are several good pictures of this, so apart from the care needed not to break off the thin little bit, its not that hard to do.
     As I said at the start I am making this from scratch and trying to make everything I can. With that in mind the buttons are next on the list to do. While I did read it was claimed the larger of the three buttons quite clearly had the word 'Fuse' written on it, however in the afore mentioned deleted scene, it is very clear this button is blank.
     So to make the buttons a simple stick of resin is needed. This is then turned down to form two small buttons and one large one. The nice thing about making everything yourself, is it fits perfectly, and saves all that hunting around for a bit that will do, (back to the fuse cap again.)
     Next was the red panel that will glow when done. As you would have seen I machined out a recess for this to fit in, so when it is cast, I simply remove this section and fit the opaque red bit. This was made by simply taking a cast of the bit on the grenade body, then reverse casting it, and re-shaped to look right. A mould was then made of the prototype, so they could be cast in opaque resin. This allows for backlighting, to look like the one in the film.
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     So this project actually got shelved for a while due to certain parts I needed to make it work I just couldn't find, but recently came across somewhere that had just the parts I needed so set about finishing it.  

     I found a spring to fit in the top just the right size, so now when the top is twisted, it pops up and the red front panel flashes just like in the film, as I fitted a proximity switch to the main shaft so it activates when open and switches off when closed. Not overly important, but I do like things I make to work so to speak, not as in blowing up, but looking like the item in the film did, or was suppose to and the flashing front panel, while a pain to sort out and source the parts I think just finishes it off properly.

 

 

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