Faux Gear Tutorial

Friday, August 1, 2014

You may remember in Monday's post, I mention that I had a foam project I was working on. Well, it all started when I was at SNAP Conference in April and I stopped by the Floracraft booth. The reps showed me a couple of their new products and I started getting ideas. A couple months later, the kind people of Floracraft sent me a massive box filled with goodies! 

This is a small sample of the awesomeness I received
For this project, I used a sheet of 1/2" thick Styrofoam, a Styro Cutter, and a tub of Smooth Finish.


The first step is to find a shape you like. You can easily find gear shapes online. Just enlarge it, print it off, and cut it out (just don't follow my example and use a watermarked image).

Attach your paper template to the Styrofoam using double-sided tape. You want it stuck well, but able to be removed.

Now comes the fun part. Using the Styro Cutter, cut out your gear shape. A tool like this is called a "hot knife". If you haven't used one before, watch some YouTube videos. There are people out there who can create some pretty amazing objects with foam and a hot knife! Just be careful. As the name implies, it gets pretty darn hot.

Now you have your basic shape. I should have cut the center hole as well at this point, but oh well. You can see how cleanly the Styro Cutter cuts.

The one downside to working with Styrofoam is the texture. Have you every tried to spray paint it? Not good. This is where the Smooth Coat comes in. This stuff is pretty sweet. I'll admit, at first I thought it was just wall spackle in different packaging, but once I let a couple coats dry, I realized it has almost a foam-like texture. Soft, not chalky.

Start by spreading one, thin coat all over your gear shape, then let it dry overnight. I used a plastic knife to apply mine, but I would recommend a small spatula if you have one. The next day, you can apply another coat, making sure to fill any left over holes and creating a smoother texture.

Once the second coat is dry, you may be freaking out a little. Don't worry if the Smooth Coat isn't perfectly smooth. A little sanding with some 150 grit should help.

To finish the gears, I played around with lots of different techniques. What I ultimately did was spray some paint, and dust on either cinnamon or cream of tartar while it was still wet. Odd, I know. Black paint and cinnamon worked well to create a rusted iron patina, and warm gray paint with cream of tartar gave me a nice, oxidized look. Play around. Once again, YouTube is a great resource for faux painting tutorials.

Once painted, your gears are basically done. I chose to mount mine, but they look cool by themselves too.

To mount mine, I found a scrap piece of wood, rubbed on some homemade oxidizing solution, and let it dry. Once dry, I simply attached my gears with some good ole' hot glue.

Here's the final look.

I would really love to try some reactive metal paints, on these. I think they would look really authentic.

As I was playing around, taking photos, I got another idea. Bookends! These would be fabulous.

So what do you think? Pretty good for Styrofoam huh? If you are looking for a fun way to get artsy, grab some foam, a Styro Cutter, and creative!

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  1. OMG You are a genius....here I have been searching high and low for old rusty gears and look at what you just shared with me....

    Thanks you!
    Can I borrow some cream of tartar? Kidding! lol

  2. No. WAY. You did a BEAUTIFUL job on these! I would never in a million years guessed that these were styrofoam. Never ever. WOW!

  3. These totally look authentic!! Holy Guac! I LOVE them!! Pinned!

  4. These will look great in my boys' room! Pinning :)

  5. These are super cool and I can't believe they were made out of styrofoam! Thanks for linking up with us at The DIY'ers!

  6. Omg, these are incredible! Knowing how talented you are at woodwork I assumed you jigsawed them out of wood but styrofoam?!?! Crazy! Thanks for linking up to The DIY'ers!

  7. Your gears are awesome, foam-wow!

  8. What a fabulous idea! Love how they turned out!

  9. Okay this is the coolest thing ever and I now need some Styrofoam STAT! I'd love it if you shared this over at The Makers link party going on at my blog right now, UpcycledTreasures.com. Hope to see you there!

  10. Love this, how clever are you, who would guess this was styrofoam! ! New follower!

  11. Whoa... those are super cool! Great job! I would love to link to your tute in an upcoming Daily DIY if you didn't mind!

  12. Found you over at Thistlewood Farms. I'm mad for gears and metal in funky shapes. These are great and wouldn't weigh as much as my real pieces . . . yay. Easier to display!

  13. Very fun idea! I could see doing something like this for my husbands studio... they look rad ;-)

  14. I love this, and so much lighter than real gears.

  15. I am in love. Thank you for posting these. Yes Yes Yes


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