Shane's R2 Build Log

The Dome

Nothing screams R2-D2 like the dome. It's his essence. His face. It's also one of the most important aspects to get right in a screen-accurate replica build. Put a holo, or worse the radar eye, in the wrong place and most folks will immediately recognize that something is amiss.

The dome I selected for my build came from R2Builders member Daren Murrer. It's made of aluminum and is 300mm in height. It's actually two domes in one. The outermost dome is lasercut, with all of the panels and openings for other components ready to be popped out. The inner dome is solid and needed to be cut appropriately. In newer versions of the dome, Daren laser cuts the inner dome too, which makes things so much simpler. He also provides a super nice baseplate for supporting hardware in the newer versions. But, alas, I purchased my dome from him in 2007 before there was such a thing. My dome did however come with a shiny aluminum dome ring, a PVC ring for mounting everything to a Rockler bearing, and all the nuts and bolts I needed to do so.

Sanding the Dome

The very first thing I needed to do to the dome was sand it. The finish wasn't quite what I wanted. The spin lines were really bad. Some people like that sort of thing. But it's not for me. I wanted a dull smooth shine. Sanding works better if you don't pop the panels out right away or attemp to mount anything to it. Removing the panels immediately would make the outer doom feel flimsy and make it harder to work with. Also, the panels need sanding anyway. So why not do it in one go?

I picked up an assortment of sandpaper in both paper and sponges. My sanding pretty much worked out like so.

  • Day 1: 240 grit paper. Wet sanding. Small circles. 30 minutes. (looked kinda bad after this)
  • Day 2: 220 grit sanding sponge. Wet sanding. Small circles. 30 minutes. (still looked kinda bad after this)
  • Day 3: 220 grit sanding sponge. Wet sanding. Up and Down. 45 minutes. (spin lines still didn't appear to be going anywhere)
  • Day 4: 120 grit sanding sponge. Yes, I went down a grit. The spin lines weren't coming out with 220. Wet sanding. Circles only on top. 1 hour 10 minutes. (spin lines were barely noticeable after!)
  • Day 5: 120 grit sanding sponge. Wet sanding. Circles on side, 1/3 side of dome only. 53 minutes.
  • Day 6: 120 grit sanding sponge. Wet sanding. Circles on side, 2/3 side of dome only. 1 hour 3 minutes.
  • Day 7: 120 grit sanding sponge. Wet sanding. Circles on side, 3/3 side of dome only. 1 hour 5 minutes.
  • Day 8: 120 grit sanding sponge. Wet sanding. Circles on bottom. 1/2 side of dome only. 1 hour 7 minutes. 120 grit regular paper on top panels for 15 minutes to remove remaining spin lines.
  • Day 9: 120 grit. Alternating between sanding sponge and paper. Wet sanding. 1 hour.
  • Day 10: 120 grit. Alternating between sanding sponge and paper. Wet sanding along bottom. 1 hour 40 min.
  • Day 11: 120 grit. Alternating between sanding sponge and paper. Wet sanding all over. 1 hour 12 minutes.
  • Day 12: 220 grit. Alternating between sanding sponge and paper. Wet sanding all over. 1 hour 9 minutes.