Building R2D2: Entry #1

R2D2 20140708 01

Not so long ago, in a place that sometimes feels like it is in a galaxy far, far away, a man who couldn’t build a birdhouse to save his life decided to try something way over his head. This is his story.

Years ago I joined R2builders on Yahoo! Groups and downloaded plans to build my own R2D2 droid. The club is still thriving, and has its own website at in addition to the Yahoo! Group.  Well, I talked myself out of building R2D2 (with a lot of help from my wife), until I recently decided for some reason that now was the time to cross this off my bucket list.

So I inventoried by tools: A hammer, a screwdriver, a cordless drill, a couple pair of rusted pliers, some disposable dust masks, and a cold chisel that I’m pretty sure I bought years ago to use on metal.  It was time to venture to Lowes for some tools I may never use again.  I decided to purchase a cheap jigsaw, a small electric sander, a bright yellow metal yardstick, some sandpaper, a big sheet of 18mm MDF board (which an employee was nice enough to quarter so I could fit it in my SUV), a couple of 3×2 boards, some sandpaper, a box of 1.5″ screws, and some safety goggles (I may cut off my fingers, but at least the blood won’t get in my eyes).  I’m guessing I’ll be back.

As you can see from the picture, I have the top part of the arms cut; they will connect somehow with an ankle build I have yet to start on.  The arm parts were each two pieces of MDF which I screwed together.  I’m hoping I wasn’t too premature.  I wanted to be able to sand them together so I can get everything looking even, then I will fill the gaps with wood filler or something like it.  I need to create the shoulder pieces and purchase resin detail parts, because while I do love a challenge and am on a budget, I’m pretty sure I don’t have the skills to carve the detail pieces out of wood.

The frame is made of four 18mm MDF circles, the middle two being notched to fit flush with the four 3×2 upright pieces.  I measured out one of the circles, measured and cut the middle out of it by starting a hole with my cordless drill then using the jigsaw, then used it as a template for the other three.  Same with the notches in the two MDF circles and the 3×2 boards, do one and then use it as a template for the others.  I used my jigsaw to cut the length of the notch on both sides, then chiseled it out by misusing the cold chisel I already had.

The dome is an IKEA 365+ BRASA Pendant lamp which I purchased on It is pretty close to the perfect size, and a lot cheaper than buying a machined dome.  In my next article, Building R2D2: Entry #2, I’ll secure the frame together and cut out the shoulder horseshoes.


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