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Cricket's WTF Hero Build (even more TK for the Vertically Challenged)

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I enjoy watching your build threads Christine, I really don’t know how you rebuild your return edges, I’ve tried it on scrap pieces of abs only to make a complete mess of it, I’m clearly missing something.... my wife would second that .... lol...

Seriously, as always you are doing an amazing job :)


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Testing to see if I can post yet...  Technical difficulties have plagued me lately.

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There are many steps necessary to build magnetic shins, so today I begin with making a critical component for them:  ABS buttons.  The buttons are necessary to hold one half of the magnet assembly in place on the inside of the shin. 

 

I'm using 12mm x 3mm n50 magnets.  You'll need a total of 20 magnets for the shins (10 on each shin).  I strongly suggest buying more than 20, though.  I've found that they can easily break, and you'll want backups on hand!  You can find them in bulk- and cheap!- on eBay. 

 

First, I begin by making a template with a hole in it that is slightly larger than the magnets I will be using.  I trace the magnet on a sheet of ABS.

 

39011251285_89ca53a3c3.jpg39910156281_57ddb105f2.jpg

 

Here's what it looks like when done.  Yeah, I know my hole isn't perfectly round.  It's not terribly important for it to be perfect.

 

39199490064_11f13ca1bc.jpg28129816829_1018a79bb2.jpg

 

I used two magnets to make each button.  One on top to help me see where my hole template needed to go, and one underneath to form the button shape.

 

39877504952_76f4b8d740.jpg

 

Heat up one section of the ABS sheet using a heat gun on LOW until it gets slightly warpy.  You can even leave the magnets attached to the ABS while you heat it up.  Once the plastic is soft, quickly press it onto a flat surface, pressing the hole template around the exposed magnet.  This is what it looks like on the top and underneath when you're done.

 

39877491362_f29d397ff1.jpg39011246875_9751c65d1a.jpg25038603527_390ce48cbe.jpg

 

And here's how it looks from the side so you can see how the magnets attach to the plastic.  See how the bottom magnet sits flush in the new ABS button?

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I spent about forty minutes repeating the process until I ended up with 10 buttons.

 

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I will cut down and shape the buttons to fit each shin later.  There will be five buttons installed on each shin.  Still lots of work to do, but it's a pretty good start!

Edited by Cricket
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Great work as always :duim: really wanted to use this method on my TX build but somehow the magnets shattered when installed (bad magnets I suppose) and I swapped to hook and elastic closure and on my TK builds I wanted to use the screen accurate way...but it looks really good, a nice and clean closure :)

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Another step necessary for how I make my magnetic shin closures is to make sure that the backs of the shins meet up as perfectly as possible.  This is to avoid any unnecessary strain on the magnets.  This was acheived by some gentle shaping via a hot water bath.  Before putting the shins in the water, since I don't have any cover strips installed on the outsides, I reinforce the closure with blue tape.  The e6000 gets really soft when subjected to boiling water, and I don't want to weaken the join in the front.  Blue tape holds up nicely for this application!

 

26117621248_9c0eac687e.jpg

 

Here's a before and after of my shins so you can see how the backs line up a bit better.  I will be doing some further fine tuning on the lengths at the bottom later as I move along in my fitting.  

 

26117621128_e31547f701.jpg26117693888_ca867bd226.jpg

 

I also tackled sizing the thighs today.  I'm not taking anything off the length of these at this stage.  Just adjusting for width.  I tape up the thighs when they get to that "Goldilocks" fit: not too small, not too big.  Too big, and they'll rattle around like a pair of board shorts.  Too small, and you will end up without any feeling in your feet (and some nice armor bites to go with that).  Once they're taped up horizontally, I then place blue tape on either side of what looks like the center point relative to the front seam.  This is very helpful in visualizing if your cut lines are going to look straight or not!

26117622578_f551073a86.jpg26117622508_1b33ebece9.jpg

 

I then tried them on a few more times to ensure that the back seam and front seams look straight when wearing them.  Also to verify that the front and back seams look similar to each other- meaning that the left and right thighs should have a seam line in relatively the same location on each thigh.  Which isn't always easy because the thighs are not identical!

 

Here are my fully trimmed thighs ready for their inner cover strips.  They don't stand well on the counter, but I can assure you that the seams are straight on the fronts and backs when I put them on.

 

26117622318_eeaf5d56c2.jpg

 

 

Edited by Cricket
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n.

4 minutes ago, TheSwede said:

Great work as always :duim: really wanted to use this method on my TX build but somehow the magnets shattered when installed (bad magnets I suppose) and I swapped to hook and elastic closure and on my TK builds I wanted to use the screen accurate way...but it looks really good, a nice and clean closure :)

 

They shattered?!  :o  Whoa!  

You did a fantastic job with your screen-accurate hook/elastic closures.  The only reason I opted not to go that route was because (for me), it would present more of a challenge to get the shins on and locked.  I don't enjoy the extra fuss of getting them on.  The magnets close the shins up on their own.  There's something incredibly satisfying about putting on a shin and hearing the "Click!", and know they're locked on there.  :)  

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Yeah I meant the magnetic closure has a really clean look about it :) And I was quite surprised  as well but didn’t feel I wanted to order new ones so ”gave up”:smiley-sw013: and as you say about them closing with a ”click” I wanted that too, when I saw it on your RS build I was just amazed of how good it looked and how well it worked :duim:

have no problem with the hook and elastic so happy anyways ^_^

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Can I ask how big a pot of water you are using for shaping? I can't get my head around how big a pot I will need for mine (two burner size pot)?

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16 minutes ago, LTM said:

Can I ask how big a pot of water you are using for shaping? I can't get my head around how big a pot I will need for mine (two burner size pot)?

 

I use a pot that's large enough to make tamales in... I think it's a 12 quart pot?  It's not marked, but it's about double the size of my 6 quart pot.

 

You can easily put 1/2 of a full-sized WTF shin in that size of a pot.  You shape it by dunking one end in the boiling water for several seconds, then flipping it over to heat the other side a few seconds.  Then shape it all as you dash over to an already-running faucet of cold water.  The cold water quickly cools everything down and speeds up the process.

When I need a bigger space to shape (like with kidney or ab), I boil several pots of water at one time and pour it all into the kitchen sink.  The water stays hot enough to soften the ABS for at least several minutes.  Hope this helps!

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Pro -tip of the day! Give yourself one extra adult beverage on me! 

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What follows here is probably my least favorite part of the build: shaping the torso all around my slender frame.  I seem to recall that this part felt like it took forever to get right.  I had lots of trial and error with my RS kit, so I was expecting problems.  However, with many mistakes comes knowledge, and I managed to get through this part with not many new gray hairs.

 

I always see the plastic of the armor pieces as a big puzzle.  When the pieces are the correct size, the whole kit fits together without much effort at all. You can use a belt to cinch things in, but you really don't need it if the plastic is the correct shape on your frame.  

 

I began with strapping my torso together temporarily with industrial velcro to see how it fit before modifying.  I didn't strap my back plate to my kidney at this point.  The back plate is unaltered in the photo below.  I needed to see how the shortened kidney/butt assembly would fit first, then I added the back plate to see where I would need to cut it at the bottom.   You can see how the back plate overlaps the kidney.  The back plate is too long. 
25135332167_a58999a4b5.jpg

 

I attached all the velcro and got some pics.  Pics were taken in a mirror, but I've flipped them so that the orientation doesn't look weird.  That back plate needs some major trimming!  The chest plate needs to be adjusted upwards because it's sitting too low.  And I've got typical new-armor-diaper-butt going on, too.  

40005953641_aee7164870.jpg28226982859_718d223d67.jpg39974332232_2c0ca650a0.jpg25135328797_b572f3c3e5.jpg

 

Remember that I have not trimmed anything for size from the sides of the kidney, ab, or butt plate.  You can still see the flashing on the butt plate where I need to clean things up still.  There's still a tiny bit of flashing left on the kidney as well.

 

I noted where most of the overlap on the back was happening and marked it.  I cut where the mark was along the bottom of the back plate and attached it with more industrial velcro.

 

25135317457_6fe205411f.jpg

 

With everything together, I was able to better see where I needed to shape my armor to my body.  The back shoulders definitely need to be curved downwards; they stick up a lot.  And the ab could use a little bit of curving in at the sides.  The butt plate actually fits well on me, so I don't need to shape that around my body (I'll be shaping that at the bottom tab later).  And then there's the kidney.  Ugh.  It pops out on both sides.  Clearly too wide.  Instead of cutting it to fit, I'm going to shape it inwards with a hot water bath.  I think I'll be able to get the kidney to fit well without trimming the sides at all. 

 

39974318472_b64d069e69.jpg39974330072_00f9ba6236.jpg

 

Here you can see how much of a disparity width-wise there is between the front and back halves.  If I put the permanent strapping on at this stage, I'll be putting a lot of stress on my brackets and the plastic, and repairs will need to take place sooner rather than later.  No need to stress them out if I don't have to!

 

25135318027_b32a034710.jpg

 

The kidney is key for this.  When a kidney is well-shaped, it makes the entire kit look so beautiful, just like a well-tailored suit.  I began with focusing on one side of the kidney at a time.  I like the flat middle part of the kidney, and I want it to stay flat.  So the middle stays out of the water.  I was able to dip 1/3 of the kidney into boiling water, and gently apply pressure to curve it (running it under cold water after each round of shaping).  It's okay if the returns get a little warped- you should expect it.  Those warped areas are easy to flatten out later.  (NOTE: do not trim your returns until after you've fully shaped your armor to your size!  The warping that can happen to returns can sometimes make some areas of the return narrower.)  Here you can see what my kidney looked like before and after shaping it as compared to the butt plate (which was not sized):

 

26133479498_5cf9fe76c8.jpg40005953681_262e62f30c.jpg

 

I shaped the ab to make it more narrow around the sides, then continued to shape the kidney to fit the ab.  It took a bit of time, but I am happy with the result.  Photos were rotated so it's more like how it will be worn.

 

Kidney/ab left and right side connections.  Keeping Centurion in mind, everything lines up at the top.

28226985019_19efa16f3d.jpg39108070415_93e7cf5e25.jpg

 

Like I mentioned before, for me, the armor is a bit like a puzzle.  The challenge is to get all the pieces to not only fit together but also to fit to your own body.  Here you can see how I've made my TK puzzle fit nicely together.  You're looking from the cod upwards, with the kidney on top.

 

39108073785_2d2d872353.jpg

 

After heat shaping, the sides of the kidney and ab now meet together well without any additional strapping or support.  When I install my side rivets and brackets now, there won't be any unnecessary strain on those connections.  And yes, it fits me as well- I simply ran out of steam today to take photos of it all on.  :)   Time to take a break!

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Reading this build makes me feel like a total hack.  Nice work!  I love the magnet buttons. 

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As mentioned in the post when I curved in my kidney with hot water, I have some warping that needs to be fixed before I can proceed with my build.  In the photos below, you can see how bad my returns looked after shaping!

  
39219638195_b4c0c8e08d.jpg28337884119_4da6b95573.jpg28337888979_6829eafc35.jpg

 

There is no way I can attach that to my kit!  So, some gentle heating with my jig and heat gun, and I was able to easily flatten them out.


26244753268_43f7a87026.jpg

 

*Note!* When flattening out the wrinkles in the returns, I've discovered that this can also cause the kidney to flex outward again.  Just reshape the kidney in boiling water like previously.  It won't take nearly as much effort on the second round of shaping.  You may also get some new wrinkles in the returns, but those won't be nearly as large as before, either.  Just flatten them out with a heat gun again.  

 

Now that the kidney is properly sized to my width and height, I am taking the extra step to reinforce the returns where I will have brackets installed.  I'm trying to emulate the original strapping as with Luke's suit.  This means that I'll need brackets on the butt plate and at the bottom of the kidney only.  Since the back plate on Luke's suit is cut short (no returns on it, yay!), the top of the kidney will be attached with elastic glued directly to the kidney and back plate.  

To save time cutting out pieces of ABS into correct shapes for my kidney return, I used my compass tool (I'm using this a LOT now!). I secured some scrap ABS to my counter, and then secured the kidney with blue tape so it wouldn't move around as I traced.  I followed the inside curve first.

 

40087399832_607558481f.jpg

 

Then I traced the outside curve.

 

40120291461_7ba3088837.jpg

 

Which then left me a shape like this:

 

39220922635_f05a46bb29.jpg

 

I cut that out, roughly following along my lines.


25247767917_c4eb27562d.jpg

 

You can see that the piece of ABS that I cut out is pretty close to a match on the return.  Here you can see the ABS strip on the return.  It blends nicely.

 

39220924445_ff7de65196.jpg

 

I attached all of my reinforcement pieces with CA glue to help speed up this part of the build.  This area needs to be strong.

Next, I tackled the return on the butt plate.  That return is super skinny!  So I decided to make my ABS reinforcement strips a little wider than the existing return just for security.  I will Dremel them all down after I've installed my brackets.

 

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For the butt plate, I made three reinforcement strips.  This should help keep that return strong for a while.
 

39408216094_05181ef595.jpg

 

As seen from the top:

 

40120296401_8139fd776d.jpg

 

I'm so glad this part of the build is done!  It's a lot of work, and I don't get the satisfaction of seeing a whole lot accomplished.    :mellow:  Still, it's a good under-the-hood step, and I know I'll be happy I did it in the long run.  Next stop, bracket installation!

Edited by Cricket
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I had a little extra energy yesterday, so I proceeded to work a little on the butt plate.  The edges needed some cleaning up, and this was a simple task.  Again, using my compass tool, I traced about 1/8" of an edge and used that as my cut line around the outside. 

 

Before and after:

26247314388_8bfd6137c2.jpg26247313188_103dbb5995.jpg

 

Then I strapped everything together again, and noticed that the butt plate was flaring out something fierce.  I haven't shaped the butt plate at all, and now it looks like I'll need to do some hot water shaping to it to reduce strain on the brackets.
 

39409541644_0fa4f5e2b0.jpg40088470952_b65674ae8d.jpg

 

I taped off the areas where I needed to shape the butt plate inwards.  This was a good visual guide for me to know how much of the armor needed to be dipped into the boiling water.  That way, I wouldn't inadvertently soften areas that I didn't want altered.

 

26249381228_85f30bda6d.jpg

 

The whole process didn't take very long (thankfully!).  Here are some comparison before and after shots of the back.  You can clearly see how the kidney and butt plate fit together better after the spa treatment.

 

39409541774_84fb31ac12.jpg26249380438_a53ca3436c.jpg

 

And comparison shots of before and after from the front.  Before, the front edges of the butt plate are nowhere near the kidney, but after, they meet up fairly well.

 

39409546534_f12b1591c2.jpg40090743732_23e6526d6e.jpg

 

It doesn't all line up with extreme perfection, but I don't expect it to!  :)  I just needed things to line up enough to reduce any unnecessary strain on the brackets.  I think I've accomplished that now.  Onward!

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Looking fantastic Christine

Must admit, the magnetic shins I copied from you are by far the best thing I did to my armour, putting them on is a breeze, even if they were a pain to build.

Like you I got those raised bits around the butt and kidney return edges after the hot water bath, I flattened them out with s heat iron, but it appears to have made the abs brittle, I had the armour on for an hour the other day, walking around up and down stairs, just to check all was ok ahead of my first troop. When I removed it I noticed some small cracks around the butt return edge, where I had used the heat iron, I’m currently dieting them out with abs paste. Do you know what could have caused this? Didn’t take any pics... doh


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I'm a bit bored with working on the torso, so the brackets will have to wait.  Instead, I've begun the next step for my magnetic shin closures!

 

I followed the tutorial here for the most part.  I deviated from it in order to make the closures super strong by using a magnet-to-magnet closure rather than the magnet-to-steel method outlined in the tutorial.  I have worn the magnetic shins I made for my RS Props TK out on over a dozen troops, and I have never had them come apart on me.  No maintenance has been needed on them, either.  Once you get this mod on your kit, I swear you'll never go back to anything less than a magnetic closure on your shins.

 

This stage involves making and securing the "holes" part of the closures for the magnets.  I begin by cutting out two 3/4" x 12" strips of ABS.

 

28357423019_fd4629c507_c.jpg

 

You should have this when you're done.

 

26264366828_9bcdc5dfa1.jpg

 

Next make a lengthwise mark in the center of each strip to help keep your holes lined up in the middle.  Then mark 3/4" in from each end.  That will be the center point for the magnets on the end.  I like using magnets with holes in the middle for this, so I can easily find the 'crosshairs'.  Trace the magnet.  I like to use extra magnets underneath to help keep it secure while I trace.

 

28357418069_d42e8aa596_c.jpg

 

Next, find and mark the center of the strip.  It should be at the 6" point.

 

 

 

 

28357414129_b647b65950_c.jpg

 

From there, measure 2 5/8" from the center mark on either side.  Mark and trace your magnets.

 

26264378858_53a60ecdc6_c.jpg

 

When you're done, your plastic strips should look something like this:

 

39426209244_fb0b448d59_b.jpg

 

Next, I used my drill press and a step bit to drill out the holes.  It went really quickly!  When you're done, you should have two strips with holes in them that can easily fit the magnets.

39426204684_500a029e31_c.jpg40137979631_bc1ed57517_c.jpg

 

The next part is where people tend to get confused, so I took this photo to show what goes where.  The "hole" strip will be glued to the inside half of the shin on the inside.  It sounds kind of confusing, but it's not all that bad.   Remember that the "hole" strip will be hidden!

 

25266127607_3bcf1b6e9c_c.jpg

 

I begin with my left shin.  I mark the center of each hole to assist when I line up the edge of the shin.

 

25266121477_5b70a468a4_c.jpg

 

Next, I test fit the strip on the shin to verify placement, clamping on both ends.

 

28357412789_dcf0a05873_c.jpg

 

Then I apply e6000 to the area of the strip that will be in contact with the shin, clamp and add magnets.  This is what it looks like when glued together:

 

28357415529_d43365a8e4_c.jpg40137990301_e75f2fb16c_c.jpg

 

Here's the right shin after gluing, but before I added the magnets.

 

28357410349_7193e19b67_c.jpg

 

Here are both shins as the e6000 cures.  

 

28357412859_a1bababf7a_z.jpg

 

I'll be allowing a few days for this to cure, which will give me ample time to get my ABS buttons ready for installation.   

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23 minutes ago, Gwithian said:

Must admit, the magnetic shins I copied from you are by far the best thing I did to my armour, putting them on is a breeze, even if they were a pain to build.
 

 

I know, right?!  It takes more effort to build them for sure.  But soooo worth it.  I've been stopped at every single troop by other TKs so they could see them up close and try them out.  I should organize a Magnetic Shin build/conversion party this year.  :) 
 

23 minutes ago, Gwithian said:

Like you I got those raised bits around the butt and kidney return edges after the hot water bath, I flattened them out with s heat iron, but it appears to have made the abs brittle,... I noticed some small cracks around the butt return edge, where I had used the heat iron, I’m currently dieting them out with abs paste. Do you know what could have caused this? 

 

Those warpy areas are where stress is happening on the butt plate.  Even if you flatten them out, they can still come back unless you've reinforced your returns with an extra layer of ABS.  On my RS kit, I've ended up with cracks on my butt plate returns only where I missed adding some extra reinforcement or where I just used ABS paste alone to make a fix.  Maybe find some scrap ABS and use CA glue to add some strength to the returns?  That should help.  Let me know how it goes!

Edited by Cricket
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Thanks Christine, I will let you know how I get on with ..... I was going to say the cracks in the ****..... but then thought better of it.... lol ..... sorry .... it’s a very odd British sense of humour

I will try the reinforcement.... but I’ve already put some abs paste on the inside .... I could grind it out and add glued abs instead....

Thanks again


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15 hours ago, Gwithian said:

Thanks Christine, I will let you know how I get on with ..... I was going to say the cracks in the ****..... but then thought better of it.... lol ..... sorry .... it’s a very odd British sense of humour

 

Not odd at all.  There is always humor to be found when discussing butt (plate) cracks!  :lol:

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I was reading Lou's build thread (who is also building a WTF kit), and another trooper brought up the issue with the WTF ab button plates.  Which made me take a look at my WTF ab button plates.  When I was initially trimming them, I kept thinking that the lip around them wasn't well-defined.  And they are really deep as well.  After taking a good look at my plates and comparing them to screen used ones, I realized that I needed to modify them.  I saw on another WTF Centurion build that another trooper did not modify her ab button plates, and she was approved without any issues.  So I suppose that this isn't a super necessary modification unless you really want to do it for your own happiness.  :)

I've borrowed this image from Lou's build so you can see the comparison.  
40118715522_89a8bac712.jpg

 

 I cut down my ab plates quite a bit to start.  Then I cut a piece of extra ABS to use as a backer plate to attach it to the ab.
 
28371189609_6d3c176372.jpg39252656135_2895aa8547.jpg

 

Then I glued a piece of scrap ABS to fill in the large gap inside the plate.  This will allow for better adhesion when attaching to the backer plate.

 

40151417071_c2a259f1b2.jpg

 

I attached the ab button plate to the backer with CA glue, which ended up looking like this.

 

39252649075_1b3f044c8a.jpg39252652155_3f89905085.jpg

 

Then I realized that the ab button plate wasn't sitting entirely flat on the backer.  And that I had overtrimmed a bit on the top.  Gah!

 

40151413201_3269ab7cef.jpg40151422761_9e1434b910.jpg

 

I decided that the easiest way to fix this would be with white caulking.  I applied a bead of caulking all around the edges and filling in the gaps.

 

28371191119_0b002ce6e3.jpg

 

A little clean up with a paper towel and a wet finger, and it looks like one piece now.

 

39439953204_882a4d3826.jpg

 

Here you can see the before and after of the most gappy part of the plate.  

 

40151422761_9e1434b910.jpg39252652815_47a7698824.jpg

 

Here the plate is temporarily placed on the ab to verify size and position.  

 

39252650355_74bcb9cef0.jpg

 

Good to go now!  :)

 

No more gap!  Caulking FTW!

 

 

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Now that’s thinking outside the box.... nice one Christine


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I put my armor on my dressform yesterday afternoon to see how it all looked together.  It all looked good, shiny, white, no problems!

 

This morning, things looked very different.  Going into my office, I found my armor had been embellished by my kids.  :blink:  I think they're rebel spies.  Something must be done!

 

26295322328_f2a556d439_c.jpg

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