Adam Savage is one of my favourite people in the world. Even after the success of Mythbusters, he’s remained super down-to-earth. Don’t believe me? Check out his Reddit AMA; we think it’s one of the best ever. I would watch a video of him waiting for paint to dry — which is, ironically, something I’ve done on Tested, the great tech YouTube channel he produces.
When Adam’s not busting myths, he likes to relax by recreating movie props. Tested has a great series of videos of Adam showing how he built loads of amazing movie props and costumes. While Adam is obviously an incredibly skilled artist with a full workshop, he always makes it clear that he started out with aeroboard and tinfoil. Watching Adam work is not only inspiring, but you’ll also pick up loads of techniques that you’ll be able to use in your own DIY builds.
The Overlook Hotel Maze
Adam’s recreation of the Overlook Hotel maze model from Stanley Kubrick’s the Shining went viral last month. His painstaking, month long project led to a near perfect replica of the original from the movie. The maze proved so good, that the Stanley Kubrick Travelling Museum acquired it.
Unlike some of Adam’s projects, the Overlook Hotel maze only requires basic woodworking skills — and a lot of patience. Adam encourages people to take what he’s done and improve on it. His detailed build notes show how he tackled every problem and detail how he built the maze. All the information to create your own version is in them.
Indiana Jones’ Bullwhip
While Adam is familiar with many materials from his days as a movie model maker, leather wasn’t one on of them — at least until he decided to recreate Indiana Jones’ bullwhip. The bullwhip is one of the most iconic props he’s ever built. More importantly, it’s the perfect example of how you don’t need to know exactly what you’re doing to at the start.
Adam learnt huge amounts just by researching and building the first bullwhip. If there’s something you want to make but aren’t sure you’ve got the skills, as long as it doesn’t use mains power, just start doing it and learn as you go. Your first version will probably suck but you can always build a second, improved version.
The Blade Runner Blaster
The blaster from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is another iconic prop wielded by Harrison Ford that Adam has dedicated a large amount of time to. Although only one official prop was ever made, there have been countless attempts by collectors over the decades to create the perfect replica. The Internet has come to the rescue and the models available today are far better than anything in the past.
If you want to build a great replica movie prop, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can pick up a kit, like one of the Blade Runner blaster. With very basic DIY skills and a bit of painting, you’ll easily get something you can display on your shelf.
Doctor Octopus Costume
Adam doesn’t dedicate years of research to everything he builds. After the comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted that he was looking for a Doctor Octopus Halloween costume, Adam built this amazing foam version in four hours flat. The costume is made from armature wire, mattress foam and some sheet aluminium — all things you can get in a good hardware store — and put together with simple techniques.
In the video Adam shows you exactly how you can build your own. It’s proof that great looking, functional props don’t need to cost hundreds of dollars or take weeks to build. Anyone should be able to tackle this project.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Adam’s mecha-glove from Hellboy. Adam didn’t just spend weeks working on it, but years. Many of the individual components had to be carefully fabricated. It is an extremely impressive build that relies on everything Adam has learnt in his two decades in the special effects industry. The important takeaway isn’t the countless different techniques Adam used to build the glove, but the passion and dedication with which he approached it.
While not everything you want to build should take years, passion projects are important. I love having multiple things on the go that I can slowly chip away at. Right now there is no way I’d be able to tackle something like this Hellboy glove, but in a few years as I keep building skills I might be. If you’re just starting out with DIY projects you should look at something like this and be inspired, not disheartened. You might not be able to build it now, but one day you will be.
We’ve loads of great DIY projects on MakeUseOf to get you started on your way; from the really simple — like these retro pixel accessories — to much more involved builds — like the smart amp I made or Tyler’s DIY standing desk.
What do you think of the things Adam has made? Have I missed your favourite? Let me know in the comments.