Welcome to my how to make a Captain America shield project. There are other builds on the internet but for me they fall into two categories, either a complicated build that turns out a bit heavy and expensive, or something like a round sledge re-purposed with flimsy, slightly sharp edges. Now there’s nothing wrong with either of those but they tend to be a set size only, and once they are built you have to go out and buy the stuff again to make another. I wanted not only a full size 2 foot 6 inch Captain America shield but custom sizes, and to make as many to any quality I felt like.
- Due to requests I now have a dedicated parts page for this project.
With this build technique you could literally set up a Captain America shield factory production line, and probably do very nicely judging from how many people wanted to buy my shield. Great for wall art, cosplay, profit or just for fun.
How to make a Captain America shield
How to find a satellite dish for the shield
The first step to making the shields in any quantity and size is to acquire a mould, and the best mould I could find for a full size shield was a round satellite dish. These can be found relatively cheaply on eBay, and you can pick up a bargain if you are prepared to wait a bit. Look for the dimensions of the dish to be as close to round as possible, mine was 84 x 85cm ( 33 x 33½”). Another place to snag them is at scrap yards, tips and by contacting satellite fitting firms directly for old units. The large compass used is easy to make from scrap wood, it doesn’t have to be elegant. Other alternatives and suppliers are listed in the parts page.
How to build a Captain America’s shield from fiberglass
Fiberglass seemed like the obvious choice. It’s lightweight, strong, paintable, cuttable, sandable and relatively cheap when you balance up what you can do with it compared to other materials. Not only that, but it’s fun to work with, even if you have never used it before. Just keep your resin in the shade, the amount of hardener (catalyst) as low as possible but not less than 1%, and never work with more than one litre at a time, or in direct strong sunlight.
For a full size 76cm shield comprising of 5 layers of 450g you would require 3.8 metres of chopped strand mat (CSM) and 3-4 litres of standard polyester fiberglass resin. Although you could easily get away with 4 layers. My shield was a full sized 76cm, or 2½ feet across and weighed 3.25kg otherwise known as 7lbs. The thickness was an ideal 4 or 5mm (roughly 3/16ths) making it satisfyingly rigid and strong. You can find suppliers on the parts page.
If you do get any small holes in the front or rear of the shield as I did on my prototypes, auto filler works well to remove them. Less is more, keep any filler to a minimum by using lots of pressure with the plastic filling tool and scraping off all excess filler. To stop this error make sure the 1st layer of CSM has plenty of resin and gets worked thoroughly with the consolidating roller, the same is true of the very last layer. Working in the shade or on a cool day will give you the maximum time to perfect this.
Captain America Shield replica
If you’re looking to make a replica, improvements to this build could have involved adding details to the mould for a more realistic finish to the surface, or spinning the shield and cutting some grooves into the front face which would have looked a lot more like a replica. The handles could also have been upgraded easily, but on balance I decided to keep the build relatively simple, low cost and fast. I’ll let someone else make those improvements. If you’re not bothered too much about making a replica, one alternative to sanding the rear of the shield (which is probably the most unpleasant part), is to sand the rear lightly, followed by some spray glue. This will allow you to stick on some cheap thin felt cloth to the rear, not only does this leave a pleasant look but it makes it very comfortable as well.
Painting the Captain America shield
I couldn’t find any dimensions for the coloured circles on the shield that were official, so for that I just eyeballed it from any posters or film screen grabs I could find on the internet. I worked it out roughly at 21%, 21%, 21% and 37% and you will find a picture and explanation of how to work that out in the documents at the bottom of the page.
Whilst painting Captain America’s shield is relatively easy, it’s actually harder and longer to do than making the shield from fiberglass believe it or not, which I could do in two hours from start to finish. Any matching brand of automotive paints will do. I experimented with a few and they worked well and were cheap. None were as good as the paint recommendations I found on some other videos on YouTube though, and they often used Duplicolor Metalcast Adonized in Red and Blue to cover a base coat of silver.
The base coat of silver alloy wheel paint I used is scratched in small circles in the video which looks great and was easy to do, so this is what I did for the video. However on one of my prototypes I did place a shield on a spinning cake decoration stand and put in circular scratch lines with 400 grade wet and dry by working from the center out multiple times. This gave a very effective spun metal look when the Adonized paint was added later.
When adding the clear lacquer, make sure it is compatible with your brand of paint by testing it first on something other than your shield, but dont go too thick too soon. Getting either of these wrong can result in the coloured paints underneath crazing. Paint suggestions and links are available on the parts page.
Finishing the shield
The star design is taken care of by adding a thin 0.5mm aluminium sheet (approximately somewhere between 1/32nd and 1/64th”). I did try spray painting the star but to make it stand out nothing was as good as the thin aluminum. There are two downloads to choose from here, one is a Docx where you can scale the image yourself, and the other is a standard jpg file. Scale the star up so it fits the size of your shield, if you need the star larger than your printer will allow simply blow it up so that some of the star is missing and print two, then tape them together.
The above project is for consenting adults only and is for education and entertainment only.
This project contains danger when working with not only power tools but also sharp edges on the fiberglass when cured. Fiberglass strands can puncture skin, and fiberglass powder from cutting and sanding is an irritant and breathing hazard, so protective gloves, clothing and the appropriate face mask should be worn. Full wrap around eye protection is vital when mixing and working fiberglass resins or other chemicals. The appropriate face mask should also be worn when spraying any aerosols. Always read any safety advice or technical sheets provided with any products or materials.