The Daily Helmet: 3D Helmet Scroll Saw Project
Back in 2016 I was a a local flea market hen I picked up a bunch of old Fleer NFL stickers.
I just loved the artwork on the helmets and I wanted to find a way to replicate that, but bigger for my wall. Over the years there has been a number of products that were basically exactly what I was looking for. Various plastic, paper and cardboard helmet cutouts. I have a couple in my collection.
They all are cool items, but they didn’t fit my DIY style. I wanted to find a cheaper, more custom way to make myself unlimited helmets. At this point I wasn’t sure what material I could pull this off with. My first thought was foam. I decided a foam helmet with a logo decal would be the easiest way to get what i wanted.
At First you Don’t Succeed
I went to the craft store and bought my self some foam board, a new Exacto knife and some paint. When I got home, I printed up a clipart two bar helmet and traced it onto the foam board. it was awful. I suck with an Exacto knife, but It would take an advanced expert to manage to cutout of foam board what was in my head. Foam wasn’t going to work.
I did manage to cut a helmet out of foam, but the edges were awful and just didn’t look good. I’m sure someone who works with foam could probably pull it off, but that wasn’t me. I went back to the drawing board and decided that plywood would be the way to go.
At Second You Don’t Succeed
I had a piece of plywood, well actually underlayment, which is basically the cheapest form of plywood there is. It is not really made for craft projects, but that is all I had. What I didn’t have was any sort of saw. That would be an important tool, if i wanted to cut out the helmets. Luckily I knew my father had a whole workshop full of tools. so, I headed over there with my plywood and went down to his shop. It had been years since I used a saw. The last time probably in high school in wood shop. I have vague memories of cutting various pieces of wood of wood while trying not to head to my next class with less than ten digits, but that was about it. My father was not home so I was left to myself to try and figure this out. I had my helmet pattern and headed over to the band saw. A scary piece of equipment for someone who has done the bare minimum of woodwork in his life. I turned it on and began cutting, having no idea how I would cut the curves and corners of my helmet design. Then the blade snapped. Ending my attempt at cutting out my helmet. Luckily my father came home a few minutes later and came down to investigate the intruder in his shop. After I explained to him what i wanted to do, he said “here”. Then handed me an old Black & Decker scroll saw and the instruction manual.
He said take it home and try it, assuring me that it would be way easier to cut a shape with the scroll saw. So away I went, stopping at the hardware store for blades, which my Dad for some reason did not have. I went to the blade aisle, picked up the first package I saw and headed home to give it another go.
My First Not So 3D Helmet
After I did my best to cut, what was a one piece helmet. I painted it and added a Seahawks decal. I had hand drawn the design and after starring at helmets all my life, you would think I would be better at drawing one, but this wood helmet was awful. Specifically the mask was too long. The rest looked okay, but it just wasn’t what I had in mind.
Now come The 3D
After my first disastrous attempt at a helmet, I took a little time off, but while I was on a break form cutting, I came up with a new concept. Wood was the way to go, and I came up with a new wrinkle. A 3D logo. My idea was to make this two dimensional object 3D, or something like that anyhow. I would accomplish this by reimagining the logos in layers. Some logos are harder to do this than others. The Browns come to mind as a real easy one. My helmet logos go from one to about five layers. The tricky part is trying to visualize each logo three dimensionally. Some are easier than others. Some take quite a bit of ingenuity to pull off and that is before I even cut. My first real 3D helmets I made were several Buffalo Bills helmets to give to my father for Christmas. This design, was slightly better than my previous design, but still had some goofy things. Like an oversized ear hole and imitation wood chin strap snaps. Whenever I’m at my parents house, I’m simultaneously impressed with the work I did on the logo and embarrassed by the other elements that I fixed moving forward.
I finally settled on a great two bar and occasionally one bar design, later adding a modern speed style helmet to my repertoire. I also found the perfect fake rivet and chin strap snap for the helmet (jean rivets) as well as the perfect size ear hole. My first goal with this project was to make all 28 1980s style helmets. I didn’t pick a specific year, but rather mixed and matched the era. It took almost two and a half years, but I finally finished all 28 teams last year. Because of the length of time between the first helmets and the last and lots of practice, there is a lot of inconsistency between the helmets and the techniques I used. In the end, though, it is a nice way of showcasing my progress as a scroller, which at this point is still at amateur level, but pretty good for someone who just picked up the hobby a few years ago. My goal now is just to keep making them. I want to make every WFL, USFL and college team. There is no limit.
The tough Ones
Of all the helmets, the Steelers and Raiders were the toughest ones. These helmets are only about 9″ wide, so the letters in the logo are extremely difficult to cut. Especially when you are first starting out. Other logos are difficult to recreate in 3D. my goal being to have every logo element be another layer and try my hardest not to hand paint any part of the logo. That is not really possible with the Dolphins and especially Pat Patriot who needed a lot of hand painting to recreate his demented caricature.
How Can I get my own?
I will be putting a full DIY tutorial on making your own 3D helmet later this month. If that is something you don’t think you can pull off, I do sell a limited amount of custom helmets. I have started to setup my store, which will have custom options and also any In-stock items that can be shipped out right away. I try to take orders in batches of five, so I don’t murder myself making these and can do almost anything, including any logo number, letters and more. I also can do large signs. You can choose from a classic design or a modern speed design. I will be adding more to the store as we go, so check back. Also Check Out the 3D Helmet Gallery, which I add more to everyday.
The Fleer Sticker Project
Earlier I mentioned how much I love Fleer Stickers. Well, if you have about a 1000 hours to spare, I highly, highly recommend the Fleer Sticker Project. It’s one of the more amazing blogs on the web. Since 2007 Fleerfan has been posting about the Fleer sticker sets and other sports goodies. Going to the site, just makes me want to buy a million of them. Great stuff. Below is my small collection:
Helmet Of The Day: The Disco Giants (1975)
You rarely see one-offs of uniforms, especially these days where leagues mandate years in between primary uniform changes, but 1975 was the one an only ear they Giants wore this glorious helmet. Many people hate it, but I think it has its charms. It was also the year the Giants (and the Jets, Yankees and Mets) all shared Shea Stadium. what a strange year.