Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tools of the trade

One of the most daunting parts of getting started on the hobby was cost. Of everything... The paints, the drills, the files, the brass pins, the mats, etc.

So in this post I want to share with everyone some of the tools that you can get, their approximate costs and where you might find them. We'll start with preparation of models for now since there's plenty to do in that regard setting up your models for priming

When you buy a box of miniatures, a blister pack or a whole battle force you're going to have a lot of parts to cut off the sprue, they've got mold lines, bubbles from manufacture, and all manner of things to do to make that model a lot more presentable on the table and in your display. A little investment goes a long way here, so hit up your model shop with this list of items and you'll be in great shape for prepping.

So, without a doubt, snips from the hobby shop are a must, around $5 you can get a great pair that will last for a long time. You can easily sharpen them should they dull, and usually have no issue biting through small gauge wire, but nothing too high a gauge should be hit otherwise you'll chip them out, never a good thing! For plastic only you'll never need to bother with anything other than a little sewing machine oil at the joint once every five years...

A pin vice is a worthwhile investment, especially when it comes to metal models and fine cast, both require some occasional pinning to complete the job. Pinning involves placing wire in places to pin the two pieces together as an internal "spine" to glue to versus the joint. These come in at around $7 to $10 on the outside. The "pins" or small drill bits are usually around $5 for a set like I have here. Full size drill bits are more for vehicles and boring out big items like razor back heavy bolters and the like. Those are about $3 a piece since they're actually wood and metal bits respectively.

A good set of files helps get a really finished look to big mishaps. For example you may have a large burr from a poor casting, or just a bad cut from your snips, at which point you'll need to file the plastic carefully down. This is immensely helpful in the case of conversions where pieces are combined that really aren't supposed to be combined in the first place, such as my crypteks. (A future post there too!) Around $8 will get you a lifetime set.

Finally, but not the only item by far is a hobby knife with extra blades. Made famous by X-acto brand, but also made by many other companies this is seconded only by duct tape in the case of useful things man has invented to make the world a better place. From $2 on up to $20 you can get these in all shapes and sizes. If you get nothing else on the list, you must get this. It can combine in the right hands all the above tools!

So, for around $30 total you can have a set of tools that will last you for years if not a lifetime of modeling goodness. Go out to your local hobby shop and check their stock out, don't go online necessarily since often times shops will be looking to offload inventory or other wise should get your business above a big web shop, support those local businesses!

Next up will be my painting/priming supply page, until then have fun!


  1. Great article - helping the new people out...I just kind of blundered around and found the tools as I went - this would have sped me up considerably.