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Scratchbuilding a Sten Sub-Machine Gun


The first thing to do as in any sculpting project is to gather your reference material for the project in hand. For this project I carried out a Google search and found some suitable images of the weapons profile showing both sides of the weapon and also some detailed shots of things like the breach opening and magazine entry. I always print out A4 size copies which I use as visual reference to work from to model the details.

Image 1

The most important image you will work from is a scale printout of the weapon from a side view; this will be used for the proportions and scale of the weapon we are building. Now you have your images of the weapon you also need to do a search of the internet to find the overall length of the weapon, once you have this measurement you will then have to convert this to the scale you are working in, 1/16 scale in this case, there are some free scale calculator software available to download for this purpose.

The next stage is to scale the side view image of the weapon on an appropriate software programme, again there are some free software downloads available for this purpose, the one I use is Irfanview. Once you have scaled the image you need to print out about three copies, once printed measure the weapon and make sure it at the scale length if not resize the image and print again till you get the image right, this is crucial to get the scale right. Do not keep resizing the same image though as you will loose quality each time you resize, use a copy of the original each time.

Image 2

I have decided for this build I am going to use brass rod bought from model rail shop for the tubular main body of the stenotherm reason for this is the brass is very thin and good for scale representation. Another good thing about this product is the rods come in various diameter and each diameter slides snugly into the next, perfect for this type of build. I am intending on showing the breach block and spring in this build but if you donít want to go to this detail styrene tubing could be used instead of the brass.

Right this is where your scaled image starts to become useful, what you need to do is match your brass rod to the thickness of the scaled image, in this case 2.5mm diameter and mark of the openings with a permanent marker pen, I have marked out the cocking handle slide opening.

Image 3

Once you have your opening marked out you then need to drill a series of holes along its length to remove the area of brass, for this I used a 0.8mm drill bit in a pin vice, this gives me good control over the bit and stops it slipping about. You will notice I havenít cut the lengths of copper to size yet, leaving them long gives you something to hold onto while you work.

Image 4

Once you have drilled your holes you need to then clean up the edges with a needle round needle file to get the opening nice and neat, as you can see I have also opened up the breech ejection port using the same method.

Image 5

Using the next size up brass tube I cut out another breech ejection port as this one will slip over the top of the other one (IMAGE 6) to create a profile as in the real thing.

Image 7

Lay the length of brass onto your scale image and check that your scale and proportions are correct.

Image 8

Once you have cleaned up the outer breech ejection port you can then cut it to length using a junior hacksaw blade, this is the one that will slip over the first brass rod.

Image 9

Using a suitable diameter rod bend some brass or copper wire around it for about 2cm, this is going to be the return spring. Trim the ends (IMAGE10).

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    Image 1
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    Image 2
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    Image 3
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    Image 4
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    Image 5
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    Image 6
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    Image 7
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    Image 8
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    Image 9
  • IMG_12812
    Image 10

About the Author

About Steve Readdie (1969)

Started modelling at age 11,built a couple of airfix planes and the Cutty Sark sailing ship.Got back into modelling a few months back and discovered figures and havent looked back,my main goal is to become a reasonable sculpter of figures.


Hi Alguhan thanks for the comment,a sten might go well with a period figure,who knows. Steve
JUN 05, 2008 - 09:47 PM
Angel thanks for the input,have you tried looking through the model railway sites for the brass rod?look for the product K&S. For 1/35 scale you might be better using solid wire like copper or brass for the gun barrel and styrene for the rest. Steve
JUN 05, 2008 - 09:50 PM
Hi Steve, what a wonderful articel in sculpting weapons !!! Ans such a excellent result !!!! BRAVO !!! Take care, Markus
JUN 06, 2008 - 10:29 PM
hi Markus mate, Thanks mate the article was easier than i thought to do and was enjoyable also. Steve
JUN 06, 2008 - 11:21 PM
Steve...that was a seriously enjoyable article mate, really well done to you. Great images, informative text, and simply put into a great package with a beautiful result. I just love it. Bravo mate...you are going 'Great guns' All the best... Roy.
JUN 07, 2008 - 10:44 AM
Hi Roy hows things mate,thanks for the comment on the Feature,hope to show this sten on a 120mm paratrooper in the near future. All the best mate Steve
JUN 07, 2008 - 10:54 AM
Wow Steve! That was really something. Very informative, and more importantly for me it was easy to follow (Sten scratching by numbers!) Shows the constant swirl of creativity in that mind of yours... Brad
JUN 07, 2008 - 09:42 PM
Brad thanks mate,i like the title you thought up there`sten scratching by numbers`i might look at doing a series of these by numbers builds. All the best mate Steve
JUN 08, 2008 - 02:30 AM
That is outstanding, are you going to make little bullets for it next? Because it really looks like it will fire.
AUG 09, 2008 - 03:36 AM
Thankyou David,with the U.ks strict firearms laws theres no chance of any bullets . Steve
AUG 09, 2008 - 04:38 AM