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Compass Part 1

Page history last edited by Shylaah 13 years, 10 months ago

Written exclusively for Confessions of a Jackaholic.  Do not copy and paste elsewhere.  


ABOVE: Jack Sparrow's Compass


ABOVE: Jack Sparrow's Compass dial.


After much study, I have concluded that the compass dimensions are as follows: 3X3X1.25 inches not including the height of the dome.  This is, it was determined, the size of the Master Replica's compass (although the advertised size of the Master Replica is bigger, some who own it have measured it and declared it's true size), the Disney Store toy compass and a compass from the movie on display at the D23 Expo in 2009.

























































































.....in the beginning......when I first became interested in building a compass from scratch....this is the progression.


Okay, I am much too lazy to go looking for the mathematical formulas to figure out if this will work, so I'm just throwing this out there if anyone is interested....

At Michaels I found a 2.5" undecorated hollow paper mache ball 'ornament' SKU 260981 (99 cents)......If the compass is 3"--- the dome isn't a half sphere, but I don't know how much of a sphere it is?? Neither do I know what the diameter of the 2.5" ball would be at the portion of the sphere that is needed......but if it would be the right size then it might work for the dome. You can cut, saw, sand, drill and paint that stuff just like you do wood.

Seems the compass has risen recently in popularity.

Others looking to make one from wood, here are a few good ref pics. This one shows a good outline of the top and the relationship of the dome to the size of the square. Also another that shows the rise of the dome and how thin the lid is. On a lot of replicas the lid is too thick and the dome too high. And a third that shows the inside depth of the lid and you can see the clasp a little bit.


The innards are definitely different between 1 and 2/3.... I like the CotBP spinner a lot better because it's more decorative.

I know this is a movie prop, a crazy compass!.....but I don't understand the design. Isn't it more of a sundial than a compass?


I kept forgetting to put the little latch info......no, I don't have an extra one, but I know where you can get a million of 'em! The one I have is on a little wooden box from Michael's. It happens to be 2.5 inches square, but they have them in many shapes and sizes. It was only 99 cents, but some of the other sizes were more. The SKU on this one is 367426 and they are from wholesaler Don Mechanic Ent., Ltd., some of the boxes pictured here about half way

down the page.

Also, saw the same little box at Hobby Lobby with the latch on it....but it was $1.99 there.....what a rip off.....but if you're near a Hobby Lobby and not a Michael's I guess that still isn't too bad a price to obtain the latch....


Now I got the hankering to make one! And I'm thinking--another bonus with this particular size and shape little box--with it being 2.5" square, I think the bottom of it, without its lid, is the perfect height (1.25") that I can use it as a jig/mold/form on which to build a compass. If I get some 1/4" balsa wood that would make for 3" on the square when added to the 2.5 of the box itself. Then trim the corners off the box the right amount, and just build the compass top and bottom around that.............. Off to play now.................


In "real life" what would the compass have been made of? Not what the prop master/s made it out of for the movie, but if it were real, what was it suppose to be?

For some reason I always thought ebony and ivory, but then saw somewhere mention of that 'inlay' or 'trim' being mother of pearl,  Both those are available today, expensive but available, and elephant ivory of course is illegal but whale ivory isn't.  Both are murderous to tools, I have heard because they are so dense.  I have only an Xacto knife and some sand paper and a kit of little files, so I'm going with Balsa wood.  For the inlays, some people use thin strips of wood, some use styrene strips Item Number 114 and measure .015"X.080".   What I ended up using was quilling papers, pre-cut, easy to work with and cheap!!


On the painting,  I didn't make it as smooth and slick as possible, even though the dome looks to be.  I left it so as you can tell that it is made of wood.  The dome appears blacker and more shiny than the rest of the box because its shape reflects light all around.


Well, got down to the craft store and hauled home the balsa and get to making that compass!! I've worked on mine off and on all day and have the bottom done except for cutting out the hole.......just don't know how I'm gonna accomplish that.

I just went by Moony saying the compass was 3 inches from the description of it in the booklet from the D23 Expo  and mathematically figured out the corners from that......interesting enough, it came out near exactly the same as the Disney store compass which by my measuring stick is 2 15/16"..............


Progress Pics:

Bottom of my compass beside bottom of Disney Store compass.


Inside the compass bottom cutout beside inside of Disney Store compass......

cutting a circle is HARD!



Working on the top, cutting out the circle, trying for the dome. Did I mention--circles are HARD!!!

You remember that paper mache ball from Michael's I mentioned earlier?..... Well, I bought one, and I laid the circle cut out of the compass top over it and marked the circumference on the ball. I started sawing off the part I marked and it was rather tough I thought for paper mache. Then about half way through the paper slipped off and the darn thing was plastic--just a soft flexible plastic ball covered with paper, and only one layer of a very thin paper!! Disgusted!!.....

.....but likewise determined!!!   Anyway with the little paper, I managed to sit it on the compass top and grab a few pics to check how it looks for a dome. Below is a collage of them. The ones on the left which I didn't get a the angle I wanted, I have the thickness of the side I'm going to use stuck loosely on there. The ones on the right, out of focus and don't have the edge the thickness it will be on there......but, hope you can tell good enough how the dome is looking.


Haven't figured out the innards, still figuring out the outards, but I have this little piece of junk I got at the 99cents store, is the bottom of a Jack compass--half a compass as it is. From other pics I've seen, it looks like probably the Zizzle--their molds bought out and rebranded for the LOWER market......it has a button/lever on the side that you push that makes the dial spin. I may try and cannibalize the set up inside it, minus the gears parts, or else try to

make something similar. The brass part/s up over the dial, I've not even started looking into that yet............



Yah know, old piano keys are ebony and ivory........!

♪ ♫...ebony and ivory .......... piano .... keyboard........ why can't we....♪

,,both are available on eBay for a reasonable sum, but I did some reading up on how to cut them, and both are tool killers, even if I had any power tools of the kind needed, which I don't.......so, I tossed the idea and will stick with the balsa, and probably paper for the 'ivory'.


On my former crappy monitor, I got to seeing the compass as dark GREEN!!!  Well, na mor'!  Now I can see in some of the ref pics in some of them the compass actually does look like ebony.  The ivory, can't really tell. It looks like ivory on the CotBP one, but 2&3 looks like they didn't go about putting too much details in the trim?!


Some say the real compass is carved out of a solid piece of wood.  I don't know if it is or not.  I have no way to do that, so, again, sticking with the Balsa plan.  However, that little 'chamber' in which the spinner and its mechanism sit is sealed off and not open in there over to the sides of the compass 'box', so I will have to come up with a way to fashion a "wall" for the inside of that 'chamber', that would already exist if it were made from a solid block of wood.


One more thing, on the inside of the top, the textured-ness around the circle to the dome and the star field inside the dome....some have used the basketball/football textured scrapbooking paper, and I picked up a sheet of that from Hobby Lobby, but I also got another sheet of black paper that had a pretty texture on it that wasn't so even looking....... And I also got a sheet of paper with textured "stars". (what the 99cent compass is sitting on in the above pic)...it's a lighter blue with silver stars, but I am going to paint it darker blue and highlight the "star" bumps in gold and try to use it for the inside of the dome.  I'm afraid I'm not too good at free hand painting, so I grabbed that starry paper when I saw it! I hope I can figure out how to get it in there with no wrinkles........

The lining of the inside of the lid of the Master Replicas compass looks like leather or imitation leather to me--dark blue or black, I'm not sure?  I have a little piece of leather that has some sentimental value and I'm going to use that in my compass lid.


Did some calculations and I believe a segment of that 2 1/2" ball will do for the dome. With a chord high enough up from the center of the ball to yield a 2" diameter--the amount I'm using as the dome opening diameter--gives an arc height of 9/16". From general eyeballing, but also from layering and playing around with it in the graphic program, it looks like that's a pretty good height to Jack's.

Since my paper mache ball turned out not to be paper mache after all, I am making my own paper mache dome using the ball to mold it over. I did a couple of layers-up last night and I think it needs a couple more to be thick and strong enough. Why is it so agonizing waiting on glue to dry!?!


Progress pic: Making paper mache dome.


I fear I may have to make do with a 'printed' brass dial. I'm leaning more toward doing the CotBP compass now anyway.....I like the prettier spinner....and I liked Jack better back when he was more simple, before they loaded him up with so much junk, er...I mean effects......

From other spinners I found on the Internet and looking at some reference pictures I made up a graphic for a spinner.




Doing the dial and arms in brass or any metal isn't going to be possible for me. I am going to print the dial on a transparency and cut it out and glued it onto a brass washer, OD 1", ID 1/2".


The super-D-duper hinge trick!  Thanks to Mooniteman!!

It wasn't easy for me to get those darn pins out of the hinge. I had to take after it with a hammer and small nail to drive the pin out. Nearly wrecked the first hinge. Was more careful with the second one. In the end, it was a success.

The hinge looks "funny" after you manipulate it into having 6 parts to the pin socket. It makes the hinge plates off set.  This does not matter because on the compass, the plates of the hinge are hidden.  So you will not see the off-set of the hinge plates when the compass is finished, like you don't see the hinge plates on Jack's compass, you don't see them on the inside of the box, you don't see them on the outside of the box--all you see are the pin sockets running along the full length of the edge.

    larger pic click here

You can see in the pictures how a slot or mortise of some kind has been cut in the bottom part of the compass to accommodate the hinge plate-- just how they are hidden is up to who is making the compass as far as I can reckon.

My box is a hollow shell, so I'm simply going to slip the hinge plates inside before I put in the finishing top of the bottom section, the part with the hole for the spinner, and before putting in the leather and other finishing on the lid.....


Moony said he covered his hinge plates with a thin piece of wood--which if you use a solid block of wood to make the compass, you'd have to carve out a mortise for the plate to sit in......and deep enough for the plate and a thin piece of wood to cover it with--I am assuming.


The hinge plate was just a wee bit too wide and I had to notch out the edge of the one for the compass bottom so I could attach the ring for hanging in the centerXcenter of the back of the bottom section.


The hinge I bought is 1 1/2" (that's the length down the pin sockets). When you change it to having that extra part on the pin, it makes it 1 3/4 inches long along the pin sockets and that worked out well because that is the length of the long side of my compass box!


Continued in

Compass Part 2 


































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