How-To: Harley Quinn Hammer for under $20!

For today’s how-to nerdy tutorial, I’ll be showing you exactly how I made my giant, oversized Harley Quinn sledgehammer!

Let’s make a hammer!

Supplies you will need:

  • 2 flimsy, plastic buckets from The Dollar Store
  • 1 broken rake (or shovel) handle
  • 1 sheet of foam board
  • LOTS of hot glue and a hot glue gun
  • an X-Acto knife, scissors, or a dremel tool
  • a marker
  • several sheets of craft foam (I think I used six)
  • some old cardboard
  • several sheets of cardstock
  • white primer (in spray paint form)
  • red, black, brown, and silver spray paint
  • clear coat
  • Mod Podge and a disposable paint brush
  • a package of 12 (or however many you want) 1.5 inch Styrofoam balls

Total cost:

Under $20

This project only cost me $4.00, which was the cost of both buckets and the Styrofoam balls. Everything else I already had in my possession.

Step one:

Here’s the two buckets and the old rake handle I had at my disposal. I put the buckets butt-against-butt on either side of the handle just to get a feel for how it was going to look. My rake handle was one inch in diameter, so in order to get the buckets to sit flat against each other around the rake handle, I had to cut a half-inch U-shape out of each bucket bottom, directly across from each other, all the way down the diameter of the bucket.

This was really hard to do with an X-Acto knife because of how flimsy and thin the plastic was. I would definitely suggest using a dremel tool if you have one, but I didn’t so I had to do things the hard way.

The easiest way to make the U even on both sides, so that they both match up, is by figuring out the measurements of your bucket bottom. I found the exact center on both of my buckets, then made a straight line to the first corner, where the bottom meets the side of the bucket. I measured out half an inch, drew a line, and then just made that line into the U-shape. I did the same thing on the other end of the bucket. To connect the two U’s, I extended the marker all the way across the bottom of the bucket.

Next, cut out that shape. Like I said, USE A DREMEL IF YOU CAN. If all you have is scissors and an X-Acto… good luck not tearing your hands apart. Once those shapes are cut out of both of your buckets, they should match up evenly. If they don’t, do some trimming. I had to use some trial and error to get mine to fit exactly the way I wanted them to.

Step two:

Trace your bucket’s opening (the top of the bucket that you would normally fill things with), onto foam board. You’ll want two of these. Cut out the pattern.

Step three:

Glue the crap out of everything! Because the buckets are both open on the ends, you can easily stick your hot glue gun down on the inside and be as messy as you need to be without it showing! I also used a couple of screws to keep my buckets attached to each other around my rake handle while I glued it, but that’s optional. It just depends on how heavy your buckets are, whether or not you’ll need something stronger than hot glue for it. You make that decision!

The things on the ends of my buckets that look like they may have been a part of a sign are my foam board. I got a whole bunch of free foam board when I worked at Fashion Bug before it closed, so that’s what I use. Hot glue your foam board to your bucket’s opening and cut off (or sand off) anything that hangs over the edges.

Nerdy Girl’s NOTE: If your buckets have handles like mine did, don’t worry about them. We’ll cover them up in the next step!

Step four (optional):

Depending on how thick and sturdy your buckets are, you may want to skip this step as it is VERY tedious.

Take some craft foam and glue it to the outside of your buckets, making sure to get every inch of it covered. You’ll need to cut it into different shapes to get everything in there, and try to get it as seamless as possible. If you don’t, the seams will show through in the next step. In this step, hot glue is your friiiiieeeeend.

I did this just because my hammer was going to be so flimsy that if it hit something wrong, it might break (that’s what you get for buying plastic for a buck :P). So I was just trying to make it a bit more durable. I also wanted to keep the inside hollow to keep it lightweight (and because it makes a funny noise when I hit stuff with it, lol), so I didn’t fill it with anything.

Take a swatch of craft foam about two inches wide and stick it around the rim on both sides (the white foam in the picture). That was how wide I wanted my rims to be. If you want them wider or thinner, then cut accordingly. Then, in order to make it stiff and sturdy, cut some lengths of cardboard and stuff them down behind the rim foam, gluing it into place so that the cardboard does NOT show beyond the craft foam.

Step five:

Take some of your craft foam and wrap it around the handle at the base of the hammer head, and on the top. I used my two-inch-wide stuff. Make several layers of this until you get it to the thickness that you want it.

Because I covered my hammer in foam, I needed to overlay it with something that would make it look smoother, so if you skipped the previous step, you can skip this one too. But since I went with the foam, I used card stock over the foam to keep everything as smooth as possible, just layering on the card stock and matching seams so that it wouldn’t be noticeable once I painted.

I mostly did this because I was running out of time to get this thing done for a con. Had I had enough time, I would have skipped this step and covered everything with several layers of Mod Podge, then sanded it all down until it felt smooth.

Step six:

Mod Podge that sucker! Again, because I was running out of time, I did not put as much Mod Podge on as I should have. In a perfect world, where cosplayers have as much time as they need to get things done, and no one is working until the last minute before a con, things would have gone differently. I would have layered that thing thick with Mod Podge, sanded it down, spray painted to see if it was smooth yet, and repeated the process until I had an absolutely smooth, shiny, perfect exterior.

But this is not a perfect world and I was already up past midnight finishing this thing, so all I did was slap a thin layer of Mod Podge on (so thin that it didn’t need to be sanded, but would still harden/seal everything), and set it in front of a fan until it dried. =/

Step seven:

Unless you have some sort of paint shield ideally shaped to fit around the awkward shapes of your hammer, prepare to do this step over… and over… and over again.

The pattern that I wanted was simple: one side of the hammer would be red, the other black, with the exception of the rims, which would be the opposite colors. The “handle guards” of foam at the top and base of the hammer head would be silver, and the handle would be brown.

This took FOREVER to accomplish. By far, waiting for the paint to dry so you can turn the dumb thing over and work on the other side is the longest step of this process and the most frustrating when you are on a tight schedule. But, I digress.

What you’ll want to do is spray the whole hammer head (and even the handle if you want) with a white spray paint primer. This will ensure that all of your paint looks even across the whole thing and won’t change shades because of the colors underneath it.

After that, it’s really just a trial and error process of painting and repainting until you have it looking just the way you want it. I also had to paint my rake handle brown because it was naturally this weird yellow-ish tan that I didn’t like, so I used a technique that a lot of Nerf gun alters use. I sprayed on the brown, but then “brushed” it in using an old shop rag, so that it had more of a wooden, faded look than just a solid brown.

Once you have all your paint exactly like you want it, spray the entire thing with a clear coat to seal it. Spray it several times with that clear coat. Several. Times.

And here’s where I had to stop for a while! Because the paint was taking sooooo long to dry, and I had to get up early to drive to the con the next day, I skipped the next few steps and still got some really awesome comments! The hammer was really well-sized, it fit perfectly on my shoulder, it was light-weight, and it was sturdy enough that I didn’t have to worry about bumping it or laying it down and having it come undone.

But we are not done! I can rarely leave a project unfinished, so continue reading!

Step eight:

I bought one package of twelve 1.5 inch Styrofoam balls from Michael’s Arts and Crafts store. Depending on how big you made your hammer, you may want bigger Styrofoam balls or more of them. Make your own decision.

Once you have the amount that you want, cut each of the balls in half, evenly. I just used scissors. You’ll get some extra stuff on the cut side, so just knock it off or sand it off. Whichever works best for you- just make sure the cut side is flat.

Nerdy Girl’s NOTE: This is a MESSY step. Do this outside or you’re going to be sweeping up Styrofoam shedding for days.

Step nine:

Styrofoam, spray paint, and hot glue don’t really like each other. To keep your spray paint from looking dodgy, complete this step. Paint all of your half-spheres with a sealant, like Mod Podge. Make it a thin, even layer so you don’t have to sand it. You don’t want to accidentally sand your Styrofoam and make it look funky.

Paint every inch of the Styrofoam with your sealant, including the cut (inside) side. Set them all in front of a fan and let them dry.

Step ten:

For any spray paint, sealant, or chemical that gets in the air, remember to wear face masks and eye protection. I don’t have one of those fancy respirator thingies, so I just go with one of these one-dollar-bad-boys or a bandanna. Make sure to do this next step in a well-ventilated area, or outside.

Spray paint each of your half-spheres silver.

Nerdy Girl’s NOTE: In case you hadn’t counted until now, I have 24 half-spheres, 12 for each side of my hammer.

You’re preparing these bad boys to be studs on your hammer, so make sure you go over them two to three times with the silver spray paint, making sure you get every inch of them covered. You don’t want to glue them onto your hammer just to realize you accidentally missed a spot.

Once your paint is dry, spray each of the studs with a clear coat sealant. Clear coat is more expensive than spray paint, but it’s totally worth it. It will keep your paint from chipping, melting, or peeling off. Spray the studs as many times as you think necessary. I went for three times. (My clear coat also smells like licorice, btw.)

Step eleven:

While your studs are drying, you can go ahead and measure the circumference of one end of your hammer. However many studs you are using should be spaced evenly along the rims of your hammer, so divide your circumference by how many studs you have. For example, my hammer’s circumference measured 33 inches, and I have 12 studs. So I did the following:

33 (inches) divided by 12 (studs) = 2.75 (inches of space between each stud)

Make marks, with chalk, every 2 and 3/4 inches around the rim (or whatever you measured). Make sure they are even on both sides. The chalk wipes away when you don’t need it anymore.

Step twelve:

Using hot glue, attach all your studs to where you put your marks. DO NOT attach your studs until you have ALL your marks down. You don’t want to have accidentally mis-measured something and find out only AFTER you have attached your studs!

All right! Your hammer looks pretty rockin’! You can stop now, or you can continue onto the next step, but it’s totally optional!

Step thirteen:

To make it more Harley-themed, and not just a bad-ass red and black sledge hammer, we’re going to put diamonds on the sides. I came up with three different diamond sizes, but you can create whatever you want.

Out of cardstock, cut some diamond shapes. Mine measured 3×6 inches, 2×4 inches, and 1.5×3 inches. Place them on your hammer’s side, however you want them to look. Once you have a look that you like, trace them with chalk and remove the diamonds.

Next, trace those same diamond shapes onto a really big piece of paper. I had sketch paper, which I doubled up on so the paint wouldn’t soak through in the next step. Cut out your diamond shape from the middle of the paper, so you have the rest of the paper to guard your hammer against accidentally getting painted.

Line up your diamond-shaped hole with the corresponding chalk line you drew on your hammer earlier. The rest of the paper will shield your hammer, but it must be flat against your hammer or spray paint will leak through. To flatten it, just put a bunch of stuff on top of it until the edges of your diamond-shaped hole are flush against your hammer.

Spray paint the hole! Make sure you use weights that you don’t mind getting painted, because this is going to be messy. Using the opposite color paint from the side you are painting (ex. my hammer’s side was red, so I painted my diamond black), give your diamond shape a good, thin layer of spray paint. If you make it too thick or hold the nozzle too close to the hammer, the paint will drip!

After it dries, carefully remove the weights and the paper. If you did it right, you’ll have a diamond! Do the same thing for the other two diamond shapes until you’ve painted them all on. Then spray everything with a quick clear coat and let it dry.

Do the same for the other side, using the opposite color of spray paint, and you’re done!

Ta-da! You’ve got an awesome, bad-ass Harley Quinn hammer! Now go out there and be the best Harley Quinn ever! >:3

Want more Harley Quinn tutorials? Check out how to make Harley’s collar for under $10, here.

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