One Day Builds: Adam Savage Demonstrates Weathering Tricks

Adam Savage shows us how to paint and weather a newly constructed box to make it look like it’s something that’s been used for decades. In weathering a prop, Adam lets the object reveal its story though dings, scuffs, stickers, and stains. Just wait until you see his secret weathering trick. See detailed photos of Adam’s in-progress and finished box here!

Comments (34)

34 thoughts on “One Day Builds: Adam Savage Demonstrates Weathering Tricks

  1. What a fantastic video! I used to work in Scene Shops all the time and some of my favorite moments were when they had to weather props or set pieces.

    Also I’d like to see you guys put USED headphones and earbuds under the microscope, cause people’s ears are nasty.

  2. Seconded, and, keyboard buttons/grooves.

    Great video. One of the coolest weathering jobs I’ve seen recently is Harrison’s rusty gravity guns and skyrim helmets. He’s using metal powders brushed onto wet clearcoat, then corroded in a matter of hours using vinegar, peroxide and salt. Gives resin props real rust, which is then touched up with some color and highlights. The result is a perfect, slightly-over-the-top video-game texture that brings those to life so well.

  3. These videos are fascinating. If I hadn’t just watched Adam beat that box with a pool cue, I would have thought that was an old microscope case.

    Was that Han Solo in carbonite in the background?

  4. Awesome video! Here are some ideas for the microscope; iPhone/iPad retina screen, another phones screen (comparison) LCD screen, eink screen, old book/new book, paint brush, vinyl record, sand paper, razor blade. Cant think of anymore…

  5. You know if you told me that I’d be enjoying 30 minute videos about making boxes, I would have called you a liar.

    But I totally am, keep them coming 😀

  6. Great timing, just about to start a Nerf gun mod with my 7 year old son, who is a HUGE Tested/Adam fan, so his attention span was fully occupied and ready to learn. Thank you.

  7. Lovely!

    I would suggest that the kind of wear marks that such a box would have are sets of parallel scrapes from truck and van floors, typical of how equipment is transported, probably under several similar boxes of equipment.

  8. Never seen a video of someone betting something up other than humans do to each other in movies, OUT of the BOX thinking;)

    coffee FTW

    microscope idea – dull vs sharp razerblade

  9. I was having so many childhood flashbacks of Bob Ross while watching this. And as a shop teacher I have my kids build so many boxes that I feel like I might get a reputation for it.

  10. WILL’S BEARD. Or some beard clippings. I would also think that looking at an old CPU would be pretty cool. Surely Will and Norm have a few lying around… Or even a used exacto knife edge…

  11. Yes. Adam went as the Bank-Heist Joker to San Diego Comic Con a few years ago. In last years SDCC Videos he talked about working to get the right, hunched-over walk to fit the costume. 🙂

  12. I feel like Adam’s missed somethings like where human hands would scratch and scrape the inside of the box, while taking out and putting back the pieces of the microscope. Also, the pieces themselves would damage the box too.

  13. Great video! I hope one day I’ll be able to put all these new things I’ve learned from Tested to good use for a photo shoot or something 🙂

  14. Oh, and like someone said on YouTube:

    We need to see Will’s majestic Aristolte beard under a microscope… if possible.

  15. The original use of Fuller’s Earth was for fabric production and cleaning. Fulling is a process to thicken wool cloth, raising the nap without felting it. Fuller’s Earth worked well to tease the fibers out from the threads, filling in the spaces in between.

    In the days before dry cleaning it was sprinkled on wool clothes to absorb oils from the cloth, then brushed away. The brushing also raised the nap of the wool removing any spots shiny from wear.

  16. Been waiting for this kind of thing, it’s actually really useful for me as a texture/3D artist. Obviously the methods aren’t really there, but it helps give a bit of inspiration for weathering (which is fun regardless of medium :D) in 3D/ texture work.

  17. Great informative video Adam! If I may add a couple of suggestions I’ve used in the past: I had a number of softwood scraps painted with different colored paints that I used for banging into the object I was weathering. This leaves behind not only dents, but paint deposits as well. The one technique I thought would work well on this build would have been sliding it on the floor, or against things. Many times, lab equipment gets put into a particular nook, or beside something that leaves a distinctive scrape from being pulled in and out.

    More of these instructional videos please!

  18. If you guys at tested love boxes and weathering you should check out some of Johann Wessels’ art. He worked as a scenic painter for several years and using the weathering techniques he learned to make strange and wonderful boxes that are old and beat up. Cracked paint, scuff marks, beautiful old sign writing. His work can be seen at

    Really worth the look!

  19. As soon as you started talking about how the weathering tells a story and added paint, I thought “yeah like what if one day working late in the lab you spilled coffee all over it.”

    As a student of carpentry, prop building, and scenic painting… I say coffee is quick, dirty and brilliant! Why waste the time to mix the perfect color of paint and get the right consistency, at least around the theatre department, someone always has coffee.

  20. Guys, this is interesting, but does not make it real. Think, if this is a real microscope box from a NASA lab, what is the life story of this thing?

    First, NASA is a big government organization, which means bureaucratic! This is a box with some expensive equipment. So, the first thing happened to that box, somebody attached a list of content from the inside. The second, annual inventory inspection marks.

    These two are the must have things, if it is from such an organization, or from military. May be there should be an inventory number on the box.

    To weather it from the inside, put some rusty&dusty nuts and bolts into the box. Than close it, and shake it. Play soccer on a concrete floor. Wear out pattern will be very real.

  21. I have a question regarding the little acrylic plaques Adam had made for the Microscope Case. He mentions at ~4:16 into the segment that they were made by a shop on Etsy. I have been searching for a this product online and have called a few acrylic suppliers and I’m guessing this is a dreaded case of not knowing the right term to search to find what I want. My name for the material is Microsurfaced Acrylic and then I’ve been searching plaques, badges, tags, plates, etc and not finding what I want. It’s those “proper name goes here” plaques in and on the case. They’re black with engraved white lettering. If you can straighten me out on my search and/or give me the shop information I would be grateful the rest of my days. I’d also be happy to share their application and deyails about my project as it moves along.

    Thanks in advance,


  22. Thanks to Adam for this great tut. I used it to weather my R2 Unit back in 2013 before D23, and had lots of Imagineers ask how I managed to make the weathering so accurate (it’s not). Today I still get people asking me if it’s the screen used R2.

  23. Now that you guys pointed out that the new and perfect look is much harder to get right than the old and weathered look, you make me want to completely change direction in my recording studio project 🙂

    Some things I think would be brilliant for this – speaking not as an artist but as someone who’s done menial jobs around archives, farms, docks, shipyards, museums, building sites, the moving business, etc. – are a piece of really rusty metal and some form of tire rubber. Especially tires can leave very thick unmistakable marks that no one bothers to wash of completely, and they always end up on things that are used in the field. Most often it’s just because that thing was leaning up against a truck tire, but it can also be because someone was throwing a wheelbarrow around for ad hoc therapy or maybe the manlift operator wasn’t looking and nicked it (Ok, that was me). The wrong kind of rust is also very hard to get out, and it leaves an unmistakably rusty mark on all kinds of surfaces and textiles that clearly isn’t paint or mud or anything else other than rust. Sludge from an oil change would probably also look great, but then you have the issue with smell. Although I guess weathering should probably include smells also?

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