This week's Feature Friday post is courtesy of Leah Koerper. Leah is a customizer and tackmaker, and likes to DIY her way to success. Please visit Leah's blog at http://shoestringstable.wordpress.com. Thank you Leah, for allowing us to feature your tutorial.
As far as prop making
goes, making ground/jump poles is just about as simple as it gets. It’s a great
started project because it’s easy and because a set of poles gives you a lot of
options for performance events. I’m making these for use in trail and gaming
classes, but they have a myriad of uses in set ups.
Here’s how I went about making my new set of
First, materials.Poles are really just dowels that have been cut and painted.
You’ll want to make sure you buy the right size dowel for your scale. For 1/32
scale (Chips/Stablemate) I’m using 3/16 inch diameter dowels from a hobby store.
Before you go, you’ll want to calculate how many pieces you need. They’re
generally sold in 36″ lengths. I wanted my poles to be equivalent to 12′, which
in 1/32 scale is 4.5 inches. I increased that to 5” just to be safe, multiplied
that by 8 (the number of poles I wanted) and got 40 inches. So I bought two 36″
pieces. To do my scale conversions I usedthis handy scale calculator.
Next, you’ll want to measure out the poles on
the length of dowel.
I left a bit of space between each poles
length so the Dremel would have room to cut. You wouldn’t need to leave so much
if you use a hacksaw (and/or aren’t such a klutz like me).
You end up with poles a little over the
intended length (in my case, 4.5 inches). If your poles are close to that, you
can probably just move right on to sandpaper. Since mine each had several
millimeters to lose and I had the Dremel handy, I used that. You have a lot more
control with the Dremel when you can cut straight down, instead of at an angle
as you have to do when cutting a long piece. That allows you to get a lot more
precise and get the pole just a hair over the goal length.
Then a bit of sandpaper on the ends will take
off any roughness and get them to a uniform length. You might want to sandpaper
the whole piece, depending on how rough your dowels are. Keep the ruler handy so
you don’t overdo it and end up with a pole that’s too short (I just plan ahead
for failure and start with extra poles. I need seven, so I’m making
Once your poles are all cut and sanded, it’s
painting time. Poles come in just about any color or combination that you can
imagine, but mine are going to be a relatively staid blue and white
I start with doing a layer of white. I do half
a pole at a time, and stick the unpainted end in a lump of Play-Doh to
Once those are dry, simply paint the other
half. To make the stripes, I taped off the areas I wanted to remain white and
then painted blue over the exposed white. There are a lot different striping
styles out there, but you will want to measure out the taping if you want the
poles to match.
This is blue tape
with blue paint, but hopefully you get the idea. The ends and middle of each
poles are taped up to keep them white.
You may need to do a couple layers of color.
Try not to put it on too thick or it’ll look funny later. Once you pull the tape
off, you may need to redo some of the white where it bled through or the taping
was off. And then you’re done!
For longevity and durability, you may want to
seal the poles with a matte fixative. I did mine using the same Play-Doh base
technique, one half at a time. For some scenes, you might want old weathered
poles. Handily, they’re pretty easy to make so you can create a whole arsenal in
different colors and conditions, a pole for every possibility!
Thank you again, Leah, for permitting us to share your pole-making prowess!