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Discussion Starter #1
I have a skeleton I am making into Death from Discworld. My issue is the usual non-articulated fingers. I need to bend them around the scythe so it looks like he is holding it.

My question is: Has anyone ever used a heat gun to bend plastic skeleton fingers with good success?

I could use any advice you have. I realize it depends on exactly which plastic they used. If all else fails I am going to try and futz with a rib and see how it behaves since that will be covered with robe.
 

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Hi. I’ve done a couple building animated leering skeletons. It’s not terribly hard. I always use the low setting on my gun. Do only one finger at a time. The trick is to heat the entire finger thoroughly both front and back. You need to make sure it is good and pliable before you start bending it. Be careful not to overheat the fingers. You’ll need a pair of heavy gloves to help position them where you want them. You can use a damp rag to cool the fingers quickly to get them to set before moving onto the next one. takes a little bit of time, but I have had good results. I’ve bent their spines too using the same method.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi. I’ve done a couple building animated leering skeletons. It’s not terribly hard. I always use the low setting on my gun. Do only one finger at a time. The trick is to heat the entire finger thoroughly both front and back. You need to make sure it is good and pliable before you start bending it. Be careful not to overheat the fingers. You’ll need a pair of heavy gloves to help position them where you want them. You can use a damp rag to cool the fingers quickly to get them to set before moving onto the next one. takes a little bit of time, but I have had good results. I’ve bent their spines too using the same method.
Thanks! Yeah I have a pair of gloves just for thermo plastics and high temp hot glue.
 

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I have converted the hands in all of skeletons to make the fingers flexible rather than heating and reforming, mostly because I wanted to be able to use them in a variety of ways. To do it, I snip each finger at the joint, drill a hole through the bone from end to end, slide all of the bones of a finger onto a flexible wire (about 15 gauge), and then glue that wire into a hole drilled into the hand. It's SUPER tedious but I end up with five bendable fingers that stay posed well enough to support a bit of weight if I want the skeleton to grip something and yet can be re-positioned if needed.
 

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I can recommend a method for adjusting fingers. Get some wire coat hangers to fill the fingers. You can saw the knuckle joints on the outside, bend em over, feed the wire into each finger, then a few blobs of Gorilla Glue will anchor them inside each joint. This allows you to bend em into position and know they'll stay that way. If you really want em permanent, you could add a few blobs of Gorilla Glue over each knuckle afterward, then dab some paint on.

But I will certainly use the heat-and-bend method for the spine or big leg bones, that's for certain!
 

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Yep, good advice from Diabolik, I've done several with a heat gun. It works but take it slow and do one finger at a time. Be sure it's pliable before bending or they snap pretty easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
View attachment 566491
Here is one I built for my brother. You can see the bent fingers above the lantern. Lili, in your case it might be helpful to find a short length of dowel rod or pipe about the same size as your scythe and use that as a form to bend around.
I am using PVC to make the scythe so I have a bunch of small pieces about. I will probably wrap the pipe in a thin piece of silicone sheet so we don't have any welding happening if I get overzealous with the gun.
 

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I can't find the original post but using a wood burning tool right at the joints creates a very realistic bend to the fingers. Each finger bone is still straight but you can shape the fingers position.
 

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I have done this many, many times. I always reconfigure my skeleton hands to work for whatever I need them to hold or do. However, I am not patient enough to just do one finger at a time. I remove the hand from the skeleton. I put on a pair of canvas work gloves or firefighter gloves then I use a heat gun on the low setting an slowly heat ALL of the fingers on one hand Once the plastic hand begins to soften a little I put a piece of PVC pipe or wood dowel in the palm of skeleton and and put my gloved hand on the back of the palm. I slowly bend my finders and bend the skeleton fingers around the PVC pipe. I hold the fingers in place until the skeleton hand fingers cool enough to remain in place. Then I heat the fingers again and do the process all over again until I get the fingers the way I want them. I have had really good success with this. Be sure to not heat the fingers too much or they will melt at the joints. The only time I heat only one finger is if I want the thumb to curve behind whatever I want the skeleton to hold.
 

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I am using PVC to make the scythe so I have a bunch of small pieces about. I will probably wrap the pipe in a thin piece of silicone sheet so we don't have any welding happening if I get overzealous with the gun.
I would use an old broom stick to form the fingers, pvc will soften faster than the fingers.
 

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LOL--J-Man, I don't put the PVC in the skeleton hand palm until AFTER I heat the fingers and am ready to bend them. But you are right about a wooden dowell actually being a better choice in the long run. Also, I don't attempt to bend the fingers around the actual object I want the hand to hold unless it won't let the soften finders stick to it.
 

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I can't find the original post but using a wood burning tool right at the joints creates a very realistic bend to the fingers. Each finger bone is still straight but you can shape the fingers position.
Even a Harbor Freight soldering iron can work for this. You can grab one of those for 4 bucks.
 

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Scary Papa,
That was in response to lilibat, she mentioned possibly using pvc to heat the fingers around.
 

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I’ve done a few with the heat gun. I alway spray the fingers with water after I have them in the position I want to cool them off and keep them in their new shape better.
 
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