If you’re following my posts, you’ve noticed I’m not only painting lots of minis, but I’m gearing up to run my first D&D campaign. This meant picking up some single minis to supplement my stash and fill out what I need for the campaign. A few of these minis turned out to be metal, and required some assembly. I’d never assembled a metal mini until now, so research had to be done.
It turns out that many small parts can simply be glued together with cyanoacrylate (super glue). I typically use the gel-type super glue, as it tends to fill gaps and adhere parts well, even with only moderate contact between pieces. So, I trimmed a few pieces off of their sprues, smoothed out mold lines, and got ready to assemble the pieces. But, I was concerned that one mini, which had a half an arm I had to adhere, might be prone to breakage, so I hit the internet to see how these things are typically put together.
A little reading later, and I now understand that tiny pins can be used to reinforce joints. Pinning requires drilling very small holes in each part being assembled, and a pin being inserted to hold the parts together (along with glue). The tools used for this are called a pin vise and wire-sized drill bits (see right, click pics to zoom). The bits can often be found in sets, but since I only plan to really drill holes of the same size I went with a pair of identical bits. These were #75 drill bits (0.021″ diameter). I really wanted the #76 bits (0.019″ diameter), as they match the thickness of a paper clip, but the hardware store was out of that size and a couple thousandths of an inch shouldn’t matter too much here. I found the bits at my local Ace Hardware. The pin vise I purchased at Hobby Lobby. (Don’t forget the 40% off coupon on their web site, if you buy anything there!) The brand was Excel, and it seems to do a good job of holding the bits tightly. Just make sure they’re aligned parallel to the pin vise. It’s really easy to get them crooked, since they’re so small. Not all joints need pinning, but it’s a good idea on pieces larger than just a small weapon or a hand. For instance, I just glued the mini’s other hand on without a pin, and it’s on there rock solid.
The other item I picked up is Citadel Liquid Green Stuff. It’s the consistency of a thickened paint (thicker than Citadel paints, if you believe that…) and it is used to fill in small gaps where miniature parts were assembled, or where there are surface defects that you want to smooth out. Simply apply a small amount with a paint brush, using enough to fill the gaps and smooth out the edges to blend with the neighboring surfaces. I won’t go into a lot of detail on technique, as there are already numerous places to get that information. Plus, using it is pretty straightforward. It works really well for small gaps, but note that it will shrink as it dries. Using it on larger gaps may require several applications, it will shrink down into the gap fairly noticeably when it dries, and really it’s advisable
to use an epoxy putty or something similar to fill a larger gap anyway. The regular Green Stuff, Milliput, P3 (Privateer Press) two-part epoxy putty, etc. would be the way to go there.
Once the LGS dries, it actually stays put pretty well. I forgot to scrub my minis before applying it, and did so afterward thinking that I’d have to reapply the LGS. The LGS actually stayed on my models. I did try to avoid directly scrubbing over it, so that probably helped. But it does adhere fairly well, so don’t be too shy if you did the same thing as me. Go ahead and scrub that mini clean, then reapply LGS if you need to. Not a big deal.
I’m very happy with my two new purchases. These are definitely useful tools for anyone that might purchase minis requiring assembly. The LGS can be used for plastic or metal minis, and the pin vise is really only necessary for metal minis.