I’m going to tell you up-front…this is NOT my design. I used blueprints provided by another fellow Sandtrooper: TK-2886 a.k.a PandaTrooper. He drew up an exceptional template for the T-21 and provided an easy to follow tutorial on MEPD.net. Big Sandtrooper salute to you PandaTrooper, thank you for the T-21 plans and tutorial!
I followed the basic construction using PandaTrooper’s tutorial, however, I did make a few minor modifications to personalize mine. Because PandaTrooper’s tutorial was so good, I will not repeat the steps, instead, I will focus on the minor changes I made to personalize my T-21.
The first place I deviated from the plans was with the grips. 1/4″ wood was used for the receiver parts and the stock. I tried cutting the grips using the 1/4″ wood, but they felt a bit “chunky” when I test fit them on the handle. I went to Michael’s craft store and picked up some 1/8″ wood.
While the 1/4″ stock was being glued to the body, I worked on the cooling fins. Didn’t do anything different here, just providing the link for the cooling fins template, as it is located in a different part of PandaTrooper’s tutorial on MEPD.net
I also changed out a few of the screws. I really liked PandaTrooper’s idea of using a Chicago bolt for the rear flip-up sight, so I put another Chicago bolt at the bottom of the blaster (as seen in the image below). Instead of using pop rivets at the bottom, I elected to use very short Metric Button Head Cap screws. They are only used for decoration, I drilled out holes, put some E6000 adhesive in the hole, and then inserted the screws. Like PandaTrooper, I used 2 Pan Head Square Drive screws at the top of the receiver, for looks, and for securing the receiver.
PandaTrooper painted his stock & grips with brown paint, applied some scratches, and some weathering. I wanted a natural wood grain finish, so I masked off the stock before I spray painted the main body flat black.
After the spray dried, I applied some Varathane wood stain in “American Walnut” to the stock and grips. The directions on the stain can were spot on. I applied the stain with a foam brush, waited about 2 1/2 minutes, then wiped it off with a paper towel. It left a deep, rich color, I only needed one coat. After waiting about 2 hours, I applied the first coat of satin polyurethane. I followed up with a 2nd coat a few hours later. I let all of that dry for 24 hours. Came back to the garage, lightly sanded the stock and grips with 800 grit sandpaper, and then applied the last coat of satin polyurethane.
For finishing the blaster, I tried a faux gunmetal technique that I was reading about on therpf.com. For the areas that I wanted to simulate gunmetal, I gently went over the body with very fine 0000 steel wool. This apparently creates small crevices while minimizing damage to the finish. I then generously brushed on powdered graphite, and kept rubbing it in with the brush.
To seal it, I applied some Krylon clear in a satin finish. I am very pleased with the results. In a nutshell, the body and barrel were primed with flat gray spray paint (not shown), followed by 2 coats of flat black. After the black had ample time to cure, I rubbed it down with 0000 steel wool. Powdered graphite was then brushed on and rubbed in. The graphite was sealed with clear satin. To make those edges pop, I dry-brushed Testors silver enamel with a stiff bristled brush.
Wrapping things up, for the ribbing, I used 2 different types of vinyl tubing. For the outside, I used 1/2″ outer diameter (with 3/8″ inner diameter). To join the 2 ends of a ring, I cut about 2″ of 3/8″ outer diameter (1/4″ inner diameter) to use as an insert/connector. I needed about 14 feet of the 1/2″ OD tubing. A single role of the 3/8″ OD tubing was more than enough.
Once the rings were cut, I roughed them up a little with 400 grit sandpaper. I then applied Dupli-color vinyl spray paint in black. I tried some Plasti-Dip spray as a test on one of the rings since I had some left over from coating the inside of my Sandtrooper bucket. Even with the surface roughed up on the vinyl tubing, the Plasti-Dip would not bite at all. The Dupli-color was awesome, it cured rather quickly, and seems to have a strong finish. The Dupli-color was available at my local auto-parts store.
For the sling, I picked up 2 Lee Einfeld canvas slings to join together, and a sling swivel that could take a 1 1/4″ sling (the width of the Einfeld). I found both of these items on eBay.
I’ve seen other T-21 builds, and I really like the look of the cabling that is wrapped around the barrel. I used some old coaxial cable that I had sitting around, stripped it, and used the inards to wrap around the barrel. The cable was dusted with black spray paint. I drilled out 2 holes in the barrel, placed the ends of the cable in the holes, and secured the remaining cable with 1/4″ cable clamps and some oval phillips machine screws.
Can’t wait to go trooping with this bad boy!
The only “sight” that I used on the barrel was a hose clamp, dusted with black spray paint (pictured above).
Again, a big Empire salute to PandaTrooper for sharing his T-21 plans and building instructions!