I started with a belt from a company called Rubies who make a Dark Knight licensed belt. They made a kids one and an adults one. The only difference is that the kids one has a few less links in it, so it’s shorter.
What I did was buy an adults one and a kids one, then popped the links apart. I stole the accessories from the kids one, plus one link from each side, then added them on to my adult belt, making it look more full and wrap further around my waist. That was pretty much it.
The down-side of the Rubies belt is that it is slightly smaller than the real thing, it does not widen where it closes at the back and it is cheap plastic, so I would suggest glueing some thin foam on the back to stop it rubbing the Plasti-dip off your suit parts. It is also not quite the genuine colour of the film used belt, but that said, I have seen other people who have repainted the Rubies belt and got a pretty nice result, but for me the colour was close enough for my first belt.
After a while I got hold of a screen accurate belt to replace my Rubies one. This photo shows a screen accurate belt (top) against the Rubies belt (bottom). You can see in the photo below how the rubies accessories are doubled up and the belt is extended by adding the links from the kids belt.
To demonstrate the size difference, the Rubies belt is lined up with the bottom of the buckle against the bottom of the buckle on the screen accurate belt. As you can see there is a difference in size, and the real colour is a bit more copper, although it is not easy to see in these photos as the light was quite bright.
My screen accurate belt was made out of flexible urethane rubber, and the colour rubbed off on my suit, leaving the belt looking dull and black. So after testing every kind of paint available, with nothing sticking to the rubber, I invented my own flexible alcohol based acrylic metallic paint palette.
You can see here that the left portion of the belt has all the original colour worn off, and the rest of it is painted with my own metallic paints. I was really happy with the look, but very quickly my new paint started to peel on the corners, so while I can keep touching it up, it’s not a perfect solution.
So I decided to make a belt from scratch, using the urethane rubber belt for my dimensions. I wanted to make a resin belt so that I could paint the pieces with automotive paint and get a really hard wearing finish on a really hard wearing belt. I started by pouring resin in to shallow dishes to form resin “pucks” that I could machine in to the belt parts.
The buckle needed a lot of hand and power filing, filling up and re-machining to get the complicated shape on the front, sides and back. Some of the surfaces could be machined on the lathe, but I don’t have access to a CNC machine, so I have had to treat every surface individually, and this meant a lot of hand machining. Luckily resin is easy to work with and quick to repair if you go too far.
The back being carved in to with a power file.
Adding more resin to bulk out the back in areas where I went too far.
Getting closer (although the photo angle makes it look distorted).
The buckle mostly complete, but the recess dial hole in the front face intentionally machined too deep, so I could plug up the lathe mounting hole in the middle and pour in some resin to level it off.
Next, I machined the ring that goes around the front dial and fits in the recess.
I added some notches in the ring with a file and the first two parts are done.
I machined up a couple of little circular “bits”, filed off one edge so they sit snug against the dial ring and then glued the ring and the circles in to the buckle. It looks a bit messy because I primed the buckle, then started sanding to polish out some tiny blemishes.
To make the front dial, I started by drilling a series of holes around the perimeter.
Then I machined halfway through the holes and the front face of the dial on the lathe.
The larger flat pieces at the back of the belt, have a slight curve to them, so I roughed out the shape, then heated the resin and clamped it in the vice with packers to let it cool bent, then I did all the finishing work on the curved piece. Ultimately I flattened the backs of the pieces, so they would mould easily.
For the I shape links, I made the link and the silver bars separately, but ultimately decided to combine them. I had initially thought about making them magnets, but I didn’t go down that path.
After several years of working on a screen accurate resin belt to replace mine, I finally finished making all the parts. Some need to be replicated up to 14 times, then I will mould them up together, so one mould will have enough parts for a complete set.
For the parts which need multiple in one set, I moulded them up, so I can cast replicas. Then the complete set of components can be assembled in one mould later.
Moulded in silicone.
Pouring the duplicate parts.
All the pieces for my first belt.
I now have a complete set. I replicated all the links many times and made larger moulds so that I could make additional sets all in one resin pour.
Boxing up all the parts (excluding the buckle and yokes which need two piece moulds. (Image to come)
Casting up the final parts for my belt. (Image to come)
Assembly. (Image to come)
Now for the belt accessories. There are a number of different canisters used on the film belt. For the cylindrical canisters, I cast a piece of resin then turned it down on the lathe.
I machined a flat back on the cylinder.
Boxed it up.
Moulded it, then cast three blanks. I have marked them out with the machining and drilling marks, ready to machine all the individual features.
Using the lathe and a tiny file, I have machined the grooves. Next I drilled the screw holes. For the boxes, I have cast some square billets of resin, then a lot of machining and sanding.
For the switch button slots, I don’t have access to a milling machine so have had to improvise and drill a deep recess, then using a file, I have trimmed it in to the nice oval shape hole.
I Filled up the cavity with resin to form a fake bottom in the recess.
Then I machined some brass “buttons” that I then drilled and glued in. I used brass simply because it is really nice to machine. Ultimately they will be the same resin as the rest of the piece, but they are easier to get a crisp shape if you machine it in metal.
The belt accessories have had their final sand and coat of primer and they are finished.
The next step is to mould up the accessories, and cast them in resin. (Image to come)
Then Painting (Image to come)
Then Assembly (Image to come)