Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Barbarella’s Space Rifle

It’s time for another One Day Build! You know the drill: Adam tackles a project at his shop from start to finish, explaining his build process along the way. Today’s build is a replica of Jane Fonda’s iconic Barbarella rifle. The challenge: this iconic sci-fi prop only appeared once, on the cover of a 1968 issue of LIFE Magazine. That’s not a lot of reference material to work with!

Shot and Edited by Joey Fameli
Music via Jinglepunks

Comments (62)

62 thoughts on “Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Barbarella’s Space Rifle

  1. The original wood furniture reminds me of a sculpture my grandfather made out of a tree root by finishing it too look like an abstract bird, I wonder if that’s what the original artists intended for this.

  2. Great video! The air hose to clean out Adam’s hair is hilarious and genius.

    I’m pretty sure you reused at shot at 32:09 and 32:35. Just stood out to me. Great video regardless!

  3. This is a freaking awesome one day build video. The main reason is Adam is building a prop from one of my favorite sci fi movies and well being able to watch Adam’s mind work as he works.

  4. I really have no interest whatsoever in what Adam is building. Just the fact that he is actually building something on film, is all that I care about. 😊

  5. I think a really useful program would be BigPrint by Matthias Wandel. You can input a picture then give it a reference measurement and it will work out everything else. At the end you can tile print out all the prints on 8 1/2 x 11 paper at 1:1


  6. Anyone else see the still at the start of the video of him sanding and thought he was making some kind of reindeer Christmas ornament?

  7. That was beautiful to see come together!

    Something I was wondering about: how is able to spray-paint inside the cave? How does he handle removing fumes?

  8. Was the trigger ever put in? It got completely skipped in the video and not addressed at all. A portion of the guard kept being called the trigger, but the actual trigger wasn’t mentioned at all.

  9. Phycho Tink, I always thought the trigger went inside the trigger guard as well. But they keep calling that other piece outside the trigger guard the trigger.

  10. Awesome video. These are definitely my favorites. I was surprised when I clicked play and it was over an hour long! Never a dull moment though. I was holding my breath when Adam was drilling the hole for the trigger guard. Then when it popped out the other side I cringed pretty hard. Still a beautiful piece though.

  11. Love the one-day-builds! Something that would be really cool to see would be some kind of actual elapsed time indicator. I bet the 30+ minutes of sanding we saw was actually several hours…

  12. Im doing a little writeup, with the timelapse of editing this piece, for next week, so you’ll get to see some specifics then.

    But yeah, several several hours!

  13. That’s okay, just going to use it as leverage for your job! On another note, how long do the videos typically take you to edit?

  14. Yea, but if you look at the actual reference photo there is a loop of metal inside the trigger guard that was completely skipped in the build. And the trigger is supposed to be inside the guard otherwise what is it guarding?

  15. This is a great build with a lot of great tips. I actually have a tip for Adam, he did a lot of sanding with out a dust mask.. there are these shirts out there called Dus-T shirts these shirts have a built in dust mask.. I have no affiliation with Dus-T’s but I have a couple of their shirts and they are great.

  16. Well, Adam did say he was going to make two – perhaps the 2nd will have a moving trigger – easy to do considering the void can be cut out of the middle sheet prior to assembly.

    I was more surprised he didn’t trace the pattern out of the first set of blanks onto another sheet before starting the carving – now he has to go lay it all out again 🙂

    Talking of carving – though a sander is indeed powerful, you can’t beat one of these babys for hogging out wood.

  17. Favorite one day build ever! It’s insane how Adam literally has everything there. The big solid cylinder of plastic? Hah. I freaked out a little when I saw the guard standing up while lathing, but okay! At least it wasn’t metal. Plus, Adam’s lathe doesn’t have translation-motors? Cool gun also, never saw the movie.

  18. I can’t believe Norm hasn’t seen Barbarella. It is painful to watch but he’s such a film enthusiast and the way they use plexiglass in the movie, for floating in space, just has to be seen.

    It also sad that they couldn’t remake this movie without mothers every raising hell. They would have to make it into a television Nickelodeon/Cartoon Network mini-series to get away with all suggestive scenes.

  19. I think I see a Millenium Falcon at 1:00:09! Is Adam converting an MPC falcon? I would like to see more of that!

    Great video!

  20. I was in a second hand store a few years back and came across an interesting tool. A PANTOGRAPH. Of coarse I didn’t know the name until I described it to a machinist. Does Adam have one? I’d like to see that method used compared to a graph for a project like that.

  21. Well I loved this build . . . it’s one of the most interesting of Adam’s that I’ve seen, but the whole second half I was waiting for the trigger, and none was ever made. How can that be? It was certainly bold and beautiful on the original. He’s amazing how he almost shaped that block of wood free-hand! Gorgeous outcome! Thank you.

  22. with shapes like this, working free-hand looks daunting, but i find it to be the easier way. a few years back, i’d have been in the camp of marking out chamfer edges all around the thing and shaping it in a very step by step, pre-planned, systematic way as well.

    doing a lot of stuff like bow handles and similar organic shapes freehand with the bandsaw and a padded sanding cylinder (no idea what they are called properly) has taught me otherwise, though. you can easily save the inevitable reworking passes you’d have with the more accurate method when thinking for a few minutes extra beforehand and then freehanding the shape, guiding the curves by hand. and it’s much more intuitive than you think, too. a friend of mine wanted to have an organically shaped wood pendant, and was intuitively tweaking curves within a few minutes of standing at the sanding cylinder for the first time in his life.

  23. That was great! These are always fun of course. And it made me want to watch Barbarella again haha!

    For some reason the ‘eye’ on the top, above the trigger guard etc, kept reminding me of the handle/s of a pair of fabric sheers. I wonder if it could have been an inspiration at all, or perhaps that’s silly.

    Anyway, wonderful to have a new ‘one day build’, thank you.

  24. I am so incredibly happy with every part of this. Barbarella is one of my favorite movies (since I was 6, which I’m sure explains a great many things), a full hour of Adam building/explaining techniques, and I now have another goal item to put on my “bucket builds” list. Excellent stuff. Thanks guys.

  25. OMG…. the chuck was sitting in the lathe… what where you thinking man.

    Great one day build by the way. Sorry I missed the mythbuster tour in Hartford, CT last week. My son was strip testing for his black belt or we would have been their.

  26. I noticed the same thing. but its simple enough that im sure it was put in after the video was shot. Now I think its time to make our own.

  27. Your ficus and skill is incredible. I do not have access to such a cave as yours so it calms me down a bit when I have a creative bug and I want to make something. I just end up watching you create awesome works of art. Cheers and thank you for sharing!

  28. Fantastic video. And I am horribly jealous of that sander. Although, shame on you, Adam, for not wearing a dust mask. I’ve done gobs of sanding and I remember blowing sawdust out of my sinuses for days. Not a good idea. Now I wear a nice respirator to avoid any problems.

    BTW, a blue print shop could have blown that image up to life-size in one go. But watching Adam scale it was very fun. Ain’t armchair quarterbacking great?

    Enjoyed it very much. More, please!

  29. Great to see some builds going on again. I like the video editing too. Camera work was great. Do we get to see some metal work in the future?

  30. Absolutely love the viddy. Please make more. This is what an hour long TV show should be like, With actually building and painting…not crappy drama. Keep em coming!

  31. On the chrome paint: The paint they ended up using ended up looking more like typical silver spray paint than actual chrome. I’ve been using this stuff ( for my projects and it creates a mirror-like finish. (Not sure who would sell a similar product in the US.)

    It does have one problem however…it’s only meant for showpieces, so it will start looking bad if handled too much…and it can’t be clear coated, because it will lose the shine and end up looking like the paint Adam used.

    But for a showpiece like this, it works wonders.

  32. Adam makes such good concentration faces. Tongue stuck out and to the side, good squinty eyes, hair all over the place. Fantastic.

  33. I built prototypes for several years for an automotive interiors company and I get so excited when I see Adam sharing tips and materials that we used and thought we had to be the only people using them. It’s great, keep building!

  34. Not sure if you noticed, but there is a metal band going around the barrel and forearm. Found these brighter images after some research.

  35. The Falcon looks like the new upgraded one from the trailer with the longer engine exhaust…..Hmm Maybe a now vs then comparison? I noticed the same thing with regards to the missing “Band” of metal where the receiver would be, it looked like a Ribbed band in the Photo, I was able to blow up a High Res Scan of the Cover and it seems to be a Band that wrapped all the way around the rear of the barrel, also as you stated, the Trigger guard is inlaid into the stock. I guess the rifle wasn’t even used in the movie, from what I have heard, it was sent down for the shoot because it wasn’t used, couldn’t do that stuff nowadays, someone would sue for misleading and defrauding the audience!!! Was a very good build, not blowing smoke, I just wished you would have spent more time on the barrel/metal than you did. Some people can only do 1 or 2 projects a year so they count on the Attention to detail as a guide. I don’t work in the industry but have been a member of the RPF for a while and contribute when I can. I enjoy making the replica Weapons and thought, wow, he’s doing a rifle, its a rarity to show something like coming from California. Hollywood has gotten so many Firearm’s wrong over the years, I wonder if its because of the lack of exposure or because of political pressure (Which has no place in the Art of Film either way) or if they just don’t care about the props.

    I love the shows, Love your work and became a Premium member because of the “Maker” type builds with Adam. I would love to see more in the future but I understand Adam has very little time for this with Mythbusters and his other engagements. I understand the exposure to this small audience has a lower priority but we will take as much as we can get. Thanks guys, especially Joey because he us the unsung hero of the show who doesn’t get the credit he deserves sometimes.

  36. Hi guys. Just finished binge watching a slew of Tested videos, including the builds for the Barbarella rifle, Han’s blaster, and the box for Deckard’s EDC. It occurred to me that a great project for Adam to tackle would be The Arasaka HLR-12X Heavy Laser Rifle from the seminal animation classic courtesy of Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira (1988). If Adam hadn’t considered it already, consider these points:

    1. It’s a “prop” that has no physical frame of reference, as it is from an anime/manga. 2. It would be the only one in existence. 3. It falls right in line with Adam’s choice of aesthetics for his projects. 4. It includes a power pack with what looks like a canvas strap, long riveted barrel, power pack, large lens, and a long cable. You could even make it produce a red flashlight beam when the trigger’s pressed.

    Think about it. Oh, and would you mind making two? XD

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