Thursday, January 27, 2011

Miniature pinning in a few easy steps

Today I want to show you a simple technique I learned to properly drill and pin a miniature. Pinning is more of an advance modeling technique used to properly fit and glue two pieces of a miniature together. This is usually a more preferred technique when you have two pieces that are flat on the ends like this Kobold Gouger from Soda Pop Miniatures.

So I will be showing you how I pin the tail on the Kobold so it stays on and survives the wear and tear of gaming. You will need the following tools for this project:

1. Pin Vice- Basically it is a hand operated drill. This allows for precise drilling without ruining any detail. A Dremel also works but I don't recommend it for small pieces like the ones I am working with unless you want a new hole through your finger ;).
2. Drill Bit- In the photo it is already attached to the pin vice. Bit sizes usually come in millimeters or inches. Miniature use drill bits range from .50mm to 1.90mm or 1/32in. to 1/8in. I prefer to use a bigger drill bit if I feel the piece can handle it without any damage. In my opinion it produces a better join.
3. Brass Wire- Used to join both pieces. Comes in all sizes as well. Match your wire to the drill bit you are using.
4. Premo modeling clay- This is what I used for this project. Sculpy or something similar works as well. You want to use a non-drying clay that can easily be cleaned up and not leave any residue behind.
5. Super glue(not shown)- Almost a given for working with pewter miniatures. I use Gorilla brand super glue. Of course you can use whatever brand you prefer.

So you start by drilling a hole in the smaller piece that will be attached to the bigger piece. In this example I drilled out the Kobold mini's tail. You want to to drill it pretty deep but take care not to drill through the piece.

After you finish drilling, do a dry fit on the piece to make sure they fit together properly and are the correct pieces. Believe me, I have had my share of wrongfully pinned and glued miniatures in my day. So after you've done a dry fit twice, grab a small bit of the Premo clay and apply it to the piece you are going to drill next. In the photo you notice I placed it on the Kobold miniature where the tail is going to be pinned.

Now carefully join both pieces and here is where it gets tricky. You have to try and be as precise as you can joining both pieces as they are meant to be fitted or you will have a mis-aligned piece. If the clay is too thick use a smaller amount. You want to use just enough to stick both pieces together.

Now I carefully remove the tail from the Kobold and end up with a blob of clay precisely where I have to drill my next hole. You might have to give it a few attempts to get something similar to the photo above. But if it is not working, try drilling the hole a little deeper on the smaller piece and that should give you better results.

You can now take your pin vice and drill your next hole on the miniature. At this point, I just went ahead and drilled enough to get me started and then cleaned off the rest of the clay and continued drilling on a clean surface till I felt it was deep enough. Of course how deep your hole will be depends on the miniature's anatomy. Luckily the Kobold is a solid piece so I can drill it without worrying about over doing it.

Next you take your brass wire and glue it to one of the pieces. It doesn't really matter which piece you glue the brass wire to but I prefer to glue it to the bigger piece. This is just my preference since I've had the smaller pieces take flight when I cut the wire and then spend about 20 minutes searching the carpet for it. I usually cut the wire a bit longer than necessary and either drill the smaller piece a bit more or sand the wire down till I have a perfect join.

All that's left is to do is to pour a bit of glue on one end and join both pieces together. You should be left with an almost seamless join depending on your miniature. You may have to go back and fill the seam with green putty. Judging from the photos it looks like that's what I'll have to do with my Kobold.

So hopefully I was able to show you a helpful technique to use next time you need to pin your miniatures. I am sure I had seen this technique explained somewhere else on the net before but since I couldn't find it I thought I would write up a tutorial explaining it.
Any questions let me know.
Keep on gaming!

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