Prop makers love the CarveWright CNC system for it’s speed and ease of making 3D objects out of durable materials. Whether they are making productions molds for a large run, or a one-off custom piece, the possibilities are endless. October always seems to be my prop month being costume season and all. This year, I’m sharing a project I made years ago, but never really documented. It’s a retro steampunk raygun, complete with display case. I call it the Martian Marauder Plasma Weapon.

No Martian colonist should ever be without.

The project was initially inspired by the Dr. Grordborts raygun’s I found online made by Weta Workshop. Weta is the New Zealand effects and prop studio behind Lord of the Rings and many other special-effects thrillers. Dr. Grordborts is a steampunk character one of their artists created. He’s developed a series of really cool weapons, games, books, and other accessories for the character. SEE MORE

When I saw those guns I was blown away with how cool they were. I was then compelled to sit down with the CarveWright software to make my own. Using the Pattern Modeling Suite tools, it didn’t take long before I had an acceptable design and I set to work to make it real.

I designed it using the Pattern Modeling Suite tools.

The design was too deep to carve at the time, so I exported it as an STL file and then imported into the STL Importer to cut it into slices. To see this process, refer to this PDF tutorial I made outlining that process.

Raygun slices laid out and mirrored to make 2 halves.

Once, I had that file ready to go, I uploaded and got it carving. While it was carving, I decided I needed a cool display box just like the Dr. Grordbort guns. So, back I went to Project Designer to come up with a box design.

Box Lid
Box Sides

I even came up with a way to make the recessed cradle for the gun by inverting the gun pattern and making a stackable insert.

The recessed insert to cradle the gun inside the box.

As the pieces started coming off the CNC machines I started gluing together the assemblies.

I started with the middle sections of the gun and glued them, then added the 2nd and 3rd layers as each section dried. I waited until the entire gun was glued together before sanding or removing the tabs.

Once dried, I did any necessary filling and blending while sanding to a nice paint ready smoothness.

The box assembly is very basic. I simply designed it with basic butt joints and with the inserts for structure. There is no need for anything more than glue to assemble. I sprayed each piece with Bullseye Clear Shellac to help harden the wood for sanding, Then, I sanded each piece thoroughly with my sanding mops before assembling.

The lid is hinged on with some small 1/2″ box hinges. I used a sharp chisel to mortise the hinges in.

Next, it was time to apply a finish. I used a silver hammered metal spray paint to create a nice metallic base for the gun and the box.

I glued red velvet into the recess to create an elegant cradle for the gun. I even aged it by just rubbing it along the edges to create worn spots. I kept it loose inside the recess, as there is no real way to make it fit perfectly to those contours.

Then with brushes, I added color and some aging effects. I used copper wire and tape to create some other details. There are so many great metallic paints and tutorials on how to use them available today. Have some fun creating whatever look you want.

Just to make the entire project more fun, I created a card for the inside lid to tell the story of the Martian Marauder Plasma Weapon, and gave it a little age with some coffee.

I created an accessory with some found objects, and prepared the entire piece for display. Check out the finished piece.

This was a really fun project that I’ve enjoyed making multiple times for friends. I hope others will get the same enjoyment from it.

Want to make this project yourself? Download the project files below and carve out your very own raygun with display box!