Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

  1. #1

    Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    I've sanded down the exterior of my Natty helmet so that all the flash is off, used my Dremel to sharpen all the edges, and filed out the keyholes in the back.

    However, there is that lumpiness problem across the top of the dome. I'd like to take care of that before proceeding.

    Brak's mentioned something about Bondo, but I really have no clue where to begin.

    Can any of you Natty vets help a dude out?

    Thanks,

    Squirk

  2. #2
    BobaFettish's Avatar
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    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    Brak's is telling you the truth. After I sanded mine down, I still had a ridge between the front and the back (the result of a two-part mold). I filled in the seam along with all of the low spots and other minor blemishes with Bondo. After it dried, I rough sanded it, then smooth sanded it. All in all, I think I had to repeat this about three times until I had it evened out.

  3. #3
    fettcicle's Avatar
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    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    Bondo works really well in these cases, but make sure to mix it to a harder consistency. Experiment with it first, It will come in 2 parts, a gray thin putty in a can and a tube of brownish red hardener. The 2, when mixed, will create a pinkish colored compound. Different amounts of hardener will produce different hardnesses when fully cured, and the more hardner you use, the faster the bondo cures, so working time is diminished. Try also to sand with a sanding block, using sandpaper in your hand will sometimes leave ridges from your fingers, blocks or sanding sponges help to leave a more uniform surfice. Bondo can be found at hardware stores and auto parts stores in a small can which includes both parts and a small spreader.

  4. #4

    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    Isn't there some kind of tool you can use with Bondo that "shaves" it away while it still has a clay-like consistency? I could have sworn I saw a friend of mine use something like those cheese shavers or flossing tools - just a very thin wire pulled taut between two prongs.

  5. #5
    fettcicle's Avatar
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    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    If you mix the bondo so it appears to be a very light pink, it will cure very slowly, but ends up being a bit softer in the end. While its curing you can shave it off very easily with an exacto knife, almost like carving it. I'm sure auto body tools are available. There is a type of rasp that can be used to remove large amounts of material at a time, but this leaves deep gouges in the bondo, and you usually end up filling these with another layer of bondo. If you use a high enough grit sandpaper, it comes off pretty fast, but the bondo sands off easier then the fiberglass underneath, which sometimes leaves ridges between the 2 materials. Bondo is very porous, so it sucks up paint, while fiberglass doesn't. You'll have to prime the helmet really well to prevent the spots filled with bondo from showing through. A good automotive high grit primer does a good job of this with a light sanding in between each layer.

  6. #6
    Lynn TXP 0369's Avatar
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    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?


    squirk wrote:

    Isn't there some kind of tool you can use with Bondo that "shaves" it away while it still has a clay-like consistency? I could have sworn I saw a friend of mine use something like those cheese shavers or flossing tools - just a very thin wire pulled taut between two prongs.
    Your right, it is called a cheese grader, it can be gotten with the Bondo supplies in the auto section at most auto stores, I havn't seen them at Walmart.

    It looks like a long two inch wide curved cheese grader designed to grate down Bondo.
    Lynn

  7. #7

    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    Don't even worry with it that much. All I do is trim them sand the dome slightly and move on you can't even detect it that much after painting and the original builders of Fett weren't that worried about the details that much so why should we? (Heck they ran a rasp all over the Jedi helmet) It maintains that certain prop look...How about the brow trim that is uneven on the ESB is a good example why didn't they fix it? or the warpage in the back? I may lightly sand it but I wouldn't spend that much time on it maybe Brak's could chime in about how much time and effort was spent on his and was it worth it in the end. Now granted his helmet was perfectly sanded and reshaped but he did see the one I made and all I did was trim it and sand very little and that was it he was very surprised at how little work was actually needed.

    Just trying to save you time and this is only suggested for anyone trying to get that screen used prop look to the helmet even though the real one isn't really bumpy at all I agree it just gives the helmet character.

    But if you are after that perfect symmetrical look just ignore the above .

    Lee

  8. #8

    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    Well, that gets us back to the age-old discussion of whether it is better to be 100% screen-accurate or to fix the unintentional/negligent flaws of the original prop-makers?

    I dunno. All I know is that those lumps bug me.

  9. #9
    Lynn TXP 0369's Avatar
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    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    Too be honest,
    I wouldn't worry about it, I just lightly sanded mine down, through some putty on the seam, and called it good. you won't even notice anything, it is not like it is going to be a nice glossy black that has to be perfact.


    Lynn

  10. #10

    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    Actually, I hand-sanded down the seam quite nicely. Completely gone now. Perhaps my guitar-playing strengthened my fingers, but it wasn't all that bad.

    I see what you are saying about how no one will notice the lumps, but if this hobby isn't about anal-retentiveness, I don't know what is.

  11. #11
    BobaFettish's Avatar
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    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    If you got one of the early pulls, your's may not be that bad. I think I got #8 and there was already a noticeable difference between mine and Brak's (#2, I believe). Mine didn't have "lumps" per se, but just a few low spots, mainly along the back of the dome.

  12. #12

    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    Yeah, that's what mine sounds like - slight depressions on on the back half of the dome near the seam. Is there supposed to be a number etched somewhere inside? I just received it only a few months ago.

  13. #13
    BobaFettish's Avatar
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    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    As far as I know, he didn't number them. I just remember where he said I was on the list.

  14. #14

    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    I'm pretty sure I got one of the last ones having caught the run so late. Braks suggestion to use an orbital sander and never let it stand still but keep it in perpetual motion worked perfect. My dome is completely smooth. I can shoot you a pic later if you want to see the results. Needless to say I'm very pleased. Never needed any Bondo.

  15. #15
    BobaFettish's Avatar
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    Re: Smoothing out dome on Natty helmet?

    Just be cautious not to sand off all of the gelcoat or you'll get right down to the resin and risk uncovering small air bubbles (been there, done that).

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