An arm and a leg

Well, really, it’s just pieces of two legs that will go on my arm…but coming up with catchy titles can be tricky sometimes. (Pictures to come soon)

Work has finally begun on the front arm extensions for Toothless! Huzzah! After a few days of sketching and researching and fretting, I decided to just get down to working on things, and trying things out. Today’s work began with a little bit of a treasure hunt through Robert’s garage. There’s wood everywhere! All kinds of boards and dowels, of varying widths and lengths and wood types. A wood wonderland, if you would (haha, see what I did there?).

I pulled out a couple of long boards that I could see forming the sides of the front arm extensions, and sorted through a small container of wooden dowels and rods. I found one that I’m pretty sure was part of a rod from a custom-built closet. It’s a nice solid weight thickness – enough to hold some weight without splitting – and fits my hand easily enough. That’s actually the main thing I wanted to keep in mind when looking for the wood that would form the handle of the arm extensions. My hands are rather small – petite, you might say – and I wanted something I could grip comfortably.

If you look closely, you can see the sketch of how it'll all look, on the square board.

If you look closely, you can see the sketch of how it’ll all look, on the square board.

Once I picked the wood, I scrounged around a bit more in the basement til I found something circular that was about the size I wanted for the bottom of the footpads. In this case, they were little planter pads made out of cork. Traced the shape out on the board I pulled for the bottom of the arms, and sketched a little design of how I wanted everything to go together on the top of one of the boards (mainly because I couldn’t find paper, but it’s also less likely that my sketch will disappear…it’s much harder for wood to blow off your workspace than paper). Then, I got out a yard stick and played around a little, trying to figure out about how high I wanted to build the extensions. I measured out about 26 inches at first, but after making the cuts in the first arm boards and took another look, I decided I wanted them to hit a little lower on my arms – perhaps about an inch below the inner bend of my elbow, and a little lower to the ground. I also realized that the board on the bottom of the foot was going to add about 1/2″, so I went back to the table and cut off another 4″ from each board.

Since the wood splintered ever so slightly as the saw cut it, and was a little rough on the edges to begin with, I went ahead and attacked it with some sandpaper, just to smooth the corners and sides a bit. Believe me, it was actually needed. I got more than a few splinters just from handling the edges of the boards. Looking at the boards, I decided the ends that would be up by my elbow needed a little bit of contouring. Although I’m going to be adding foam and padding to the boards to create the shape of the legs, I didn’t want to start out the leg construction with sharp corners. So Robert brought out the belt sander, and I went at it!

By the way, I believe this is going to be known in the annals of my mind as the power tool costume.

After rounding the edges a little (not perfectly, but that’s not what I was going for anyway), I enlisted Robert’s help in figuring out the angle I needed to cut the bottom of the boards, totoothless 2 attach them to the bottom footpads. Now, I’ve already mentioned that I’m not going to have the sort of hinged front paw one typically sees in animal-based quad suits. It doesn’t fit the natural movement of Toothless’ front legs. However, there is an ever so slight amount of movement in the front legs, right at the base of the foot – really only seen when Toothless mimics Hiccup and sits up on his back legs. Ideally, I would have a ball and socket type joint at the point where the “legs” attach to the foot pad. Not having ready access to something like that, however, I’m going to have to make do with relatively stationary front legs. Robert seems to think we can still add that type of joint later on. We’re going to keep an eye open for that type of thing, but for the time being, I’m moving forward with this version.

toothless 3At this point, the sides of the extensions have all been cut, as well as the handles. I’ve got the foot pads blocked out. Unfortunately, none of the saws in Robert’s garage are all that suited to cutting a circular piece, so the construction of all the pieces will probably have to wait until tomorrow evening, when I can get to the coping saw from my own work area.

“But Meg,” I hear. “Why tomorrow evening? Why not tomorrow afternoon?”

Because, fellow costumers…tomorrow afternoon I’ll be doing a head-casting session! Don’t worry. There will be pictures of that, too. Robert has generously agreed to document me sealing Maggie into a skin-tight casing of plaster.


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