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Unread 06-12-2018, 11:57 AM   #1
NeverCryAgain
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Smoothing a styrofoam prop help?

I'm in the process of making Sailor Saturn's Silence Glaive. I have carved everything out of styrofoam (the kind from walmart and hobby lobby) and put on a layer of fiberglass epoxy to give it strength and help smooth things out.

The issue i'm having is that it isn't super smooth. I've used bondo on some areas that I couldn't get the fiberglass on, and that has smoothed out a bit, but its still very rough. Other than sanding the crap out of it, are there any products I could use to help make it a bit more smooth?

At this point its very sturdy, so I don't need extra strength, just smoothness. I was thinking of a putty or air dry clay that I could push into the seams then smooth out as it dries, but I'm not sure that would work, or that the clay would adhere to the epoxy or bondo.

Any help is appreciated!
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Unread 06-12-2018, 04:26 PM   #2
Midnight Dawn
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First, what kind of sand paper are you using? and second, how well did you press the bondo on?

Depending on these two factors will determine the smoothness of your project.

Putty, plaster, or stuff like spackle will do fine if you just need to fill stuff in that you can sand down later if needed.
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Unread 06-12-2018, 09:58 PM   #3
NeverCryAgain
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I'm using 80 grit sandpaper for now, I intend to use higher grit once its ready to be painted. I'm hand sanding it all. I have a dremel I can use, but its really small.

I expected the bondo to be a putty I could use with my hands, but the stuff I got was much thinner, it has the consistency of melted taffy, I tried to use my hands and it just stuck to my gloves. Because of that I had to just smear it around, and it dripped off the piece, so I just wiped it off. I'm using this bondo: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Bondo-Lig...rt-US/17056863 all of the tutorials I looked up recommended this because it was cheap and easy to find.

It has weird craters in it. The epoxy didn't eat away at the foam (thankfully), but it sank in in some areas? Thats the best way I can describe it. It soaked into the air pockets of the foam in some areas, but sat on top in others. Gravity didn't really effect it, it happened evenly all over.

I'm thinking that I'm just going to need standard plaster. I live in a tiny town and don't have access to tons of specialty stores.
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Unread 06-13-2018, 07:23 AM   #4
Penlowe
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Practice, practice, practice.

The fact that you opted to use your hands instead of a tool and clearly didn't test it on scrap first are two factors in this frustration. All soft apply materials; bondo, plaster, paper clay, require practice in applying. They require tools to do it well or get specific effects. None of them are used easily or well the very first time.

First: go bake a cake
A great way to practice working with things like plaster and bondo is to practice with cake icing. Watch the Wilton videos, make take a class at your local craft store (many offer the Wilton courses). And if you use it on cake, all the better because you and your friends can eat your efforts afterwords (even if they turn out ugly).

Second: video tutorials tend to unintentionally deceive watchers into thinking "sanding: takes a minute and is done in four or five passes". Nope. Expect to spend an HOUR per grit type to get a beautiful finish. It's physically hard work. Maybe less on something smaller than a book, obviously more on very large props, but sanding is a slow and tedious and taxing process. It's where you learn just how patient or impatient to you really are.

TL : DR : it's not the product, it's you, BUT you can learn how to do it, and do it well, with practice.
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Unread 06-13-2018, 09:41 AM   #5
NeverCryAgain
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penlowe View Post
Practice, practice, practice.

The fact that you opted to use your hands instead of a tool and clearly didn't test it on scrap first are two factors in this frustration. All soft apply materials; bondo, plaster, paper clay, require practice in applying. They require tools to do it well or get specific effects. None of them are used easily or well the very first time.

First: go bake a cake
A great way to practice working with things like plaster and bondo is to practice with cake icing. Watch the Wilton videos, make take a class at your local craft store (many offer the Wilton courses). And if you use it on cake, all the better because you and your friends can eat your efforts afterwords (even if they turn out ugly).

Second: video tutorials tend to unintentionally deceive watchers into thinking "sanding: takes a minute and is done in four or five passes". Nope. Expect to spend an HOUR per grit type to get a beautiful finish. It's physically hard work. Maybe less on something smaller than a book, obviously more on very large props, but sanding is a slow and tedious and taxing process. It's where you learn just how patient or impatient to you really are.

TL : DR : it's not the product, it's you, BUT you can learn how to do it, and do it well, with practice.
A bit rude and unhelpful, but thanks?
I did plenty of tests on scrap, but it was scrap, and not carved sanded foam, so I assumed the texture on my scrap was from that, and not from how the epoxy and foam reacted to each other.
I know how to bake and decorate a cake. My job is decorating cakes.
I know sanding takes a lifetime to get to a proper result.
I am new at making props, and you are right in that practice makes perfect, but this is just not helpful. I have the tools to make things work, but using an offset spatula or a piping bag won't help me here.
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Unread 06-13-2018, 11:45 AM   #6
vonjankmon
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I would suggest using the bondo one more time but a different type. Check out https://www.homedepot.com/p/3M-Bondo...0052/202077805 I have never used the body filler variety but the all purpose stuff is definitely thicker than melted taffy once the hardener is added.

It has a consistency very close to icing, which with your background should make it much easier to apply. Still use a tool of some sort though because while you could use your hands the tool will give you a better finish (which means less sanding) and the working time of this stuff is not super long so you can apply it faster.

To me it sounds like your guess at it running into the holes in the styrofoam is correct but now that you have a hard coat over it all you should just be able to apply one more layer over that to get the smooth affect you are looking for after sanding. I would also potentially look into a mouse sander if you can for the initial sanding with a very low grit sand paper, will save some time.
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Unread 06-14-2018, 02:54 AM   #7
Dictamnus Albus
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instead of sandpapier, using the meshes for drywall sanding works quaite nice
as you can tap off most of the dust and have less dust between the grit and your surface

if you get a sander, look for one that dosnt require thier own proprietary cut/folded sheets,
they charge you exrta for less paper, and trying to use generic sheet and cutting it
still leaves you with a sagging, loose fit paper
if you have/get one one those, you do have the option to remove the foam bottom
sufrace, and use the adhesive variatey sandpapier

or an alternative is to invest the 30-60$ into a "file" sander
not so good for hitting large surface areas, but detail and edge rounding works fine
(just read a decent amount of reviews, file sanders have a tendency to throw belts,
and are sometimes made using plastic bits for critical parts, wich then have a tendency to break)
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