Tool Tips 03 – Assembly and Pinning

Tool Tips 03 – Assembly and Pinning

Last time around (Tool Tips 02) we covered getting the mini all prepped by trimming and washing. Now it’s time to TRANSFORM!



Tweezers (Pixnor set)

Pin Vise (Hand drill)


Plastic Putty (Vallejo)

Green Stuff (Kneadatite)

Glue and Tweezers – there are a lot of articles about different glues and how they work with plastics, resin, and metal. I’ve been using the Loctite Gels and they basically do the job 99% of the time. Which is “bond two parts together!”. Washing the mini will help with this. Sometimes the silver bottle won’t work on a part, so I’ll use the black and vice versa. I think sometimes it just takes two attempts. And if all else fails, look at pinning (below).

The tweezers were a nice find, because I used to either ‘borrow’ them from someone’s cosmetic drawer or awkwardly wander through the cosmetics aisle to buy my own. Tweezers in the cosmetics aisle are not the same as the bad boys pictured above though. I feel like I could pick apart atoms with those things! Really nice grip and very small tips. Basically I use them to hold those super tiny miniature parts in place when I need to glue small things together. You can certainly live without them, and I had lost them in the house for a few months, and was able to make do.

Pin Vise and Wire – no particular recommendations or advice on this one, as I haven’t tried a lot of different pinning tools. This one seemed to work okay. I kind of like that it will rotate in your hand. You can kind of push it, and rotate it with your fingers, hard to explain, but it helps. At first I thought it would be spring-loaded, like you just push on the end to make it spin, but unfortunately that is not the case. Still, it’s decent enough and the pack of bits, means I should be able to drill holes of varying sizes.

If you haven’t used one, pin vises are used to make a small hole in the mini, so that you can insert a small piece of wire or paper clip. You then make a corresponding hole in the second part. Apply glue and the part-metal-part bond should be stronger than just a part on part bond. I’ve found it handy where you might be joining a metal part with a plastic part, as the glue doesn’t always bond the two nicely. Also useful for heavier metal parts, such as an arm on a Troll. Additionally can be used to attach minis to the base by drilling a small hole in their foot. This works well for minis that are heavy or otherwise unstable. You can either use a piece of a paper clip or wire (as pictured/linked above). I found the wire to be a bit easier to work with.

I recently learned that applying green stuff in the join can also help with pinning. Special thanks to Azazel on that one. He has some great links on bonding materials in the comments on this: blog post.

Here’s some pics from my recent attempt at forming a nice bond by pinning, then using green stuff and super glue:

First you will want to gather your tools. This is the same sort of stuff you might need for doing a conversion. Hobby knife, clay shapers, green stuff, small bowl with water. And specifically for pinning, a pin vise, wire cutters, and wire or paper clip.

I had previously tried to pin the arm on this troll using wire and super glue. Things seemed to set okay, and then I primed him. Shortly thereafter I noticed that the arm wiggled. So things did not set “okay”! Very annoying. I ended up yanking out the arm, so I could try again with green stuff plus super glue.

I might be Really Stupid, but I’m purty sure I’m missin an arm, an maybe an ‘ead!

You will want to drill a small hole in both sides that you want to pin, using the pin vise. Then snip a small piece of wire or paper clip and make sure it fits in the hole. Test out lining the two pieces up with the wire inside to make sure your join is lined up and flush.

Bionic Punch!

You can see where I’ve already drilled the arm and placed a piece of wire inside (glued). And drilled a hole in the arm socket for the wire to slip into.

This time around, I also filed the sides of the wire. This is supposed to give the glue some extra surface area to bond to. I don’t know if that alone would have made all the difference, because I then proceeded to the next step…

Stuff for Green Stuff!

Cut a small strip of the yellow and blue Kneadatite (green stuff). Double check that the Kneadatite hasn’t started to cure where the yellow and blue are already touching. If so, just remove that chunk. Wet your fingers and begin rolling the yellow and blue parts together. Once it’s all green with no blue or yellow streaks, it should be ready. Continue wetting your fingers (and tools) as you work with it, to keep it from sticking. You can see the small ball of green stuff I made in the picture above.

You can also change the ratio of blue to yellow and it will change how the green stuff works and cures. More blue (hardener) than yellow, will cure faster and be harder and less flexible. The opposite if you use more yellow (filler) than blue, it will take longer to cure and be more flexible.

This site has some good info on using green stuff (and more): bananaking

Oh yea, Ima reddy fer game now, boss!

Next step I applied some super glue (Loctite gel) onto the metal areas, and then started to push the green stuff into the arm socket. It was turning into a sticky mess and I was trying my best not to get that on my fingers. On the verge of swearing…and my toddler bursts into the room. Like a homing missile, she immediately wants to see what fun stuff Daddy is playing with and is trying to grab everything! Trying to fend her off with one hand and finish what I was doing with the other. +3 difficulty level. Finally my Wife dragged the little one off, and I could try to refocus. Somehow I managed to get the green stuff applied with the super glue on a second go. Due to toddler intervention, I don’t remember exactly what worked. I think I didn’t use as much super glue, got the green stuff firmly implanted into the socket first, and then pressed/held the arm in, it started to set nicely. I also had too much green stuff the first time, and had to scrape a lot of that off. The second go, there was only a small bit of the green stuff overlapping, and I tried to blend that in to match the existing scales he has on his upper arm. Seems to look okay. Also, so far the bond has held. It’s been over a day now, and the arm isn’t wiggling anymore. I haven’t been too aggressive with it yet, but I’m hoping it’s solid.

Plastic Putty – I wrote a whole blog post on my experience with this: here. Basically, I’ve gone with the Vallejo brand, it worked, and I’m happy enough with its results. It’s good for filling smaller gaps on minis, for bigger gaps you still need to use green stuff. I’ll be using this real soon to fill a couple gaps on that troll above.

Green Stuff – Hey, we were just talking about you! Hello, Green Stuff! This is another one where you can find a million better articles out there and a million more techniques. It’s sometimes mind blowing to think of all the different skills and techniques to learn in this hobby, and clay shaping is one of them. I use Green Stuff aka Kneadatite on a very basic level to fill gaps in the miniature. I’ve also used it to add patches of fur and other very small bits. I once used it to make a Blood Bowl helmet for an Ogre, but it was extremely amateurish looking. With Green Stuff, you are going to want a small bowl of water nearby to keep things a bit moist. Also useful for using clay shaping tools (pictured above). I didn’t link them, because I’m not sure where I got most of them. The wooden handled ones are from a set, and I mostly use them just for cutting, or making imprints. The black one and the one with reddish/brown tips are made from a rubber material and give better results when working with Green Stuff or other clays. It’s funny to think that I bought that pack of Army Painter Kneadatite years ago, and I still have over half left!

Sub-Assembly – recently I’ve been big into sub-assembly. Getting the minis prepped for priming, but not gluing everything together. I started doing this in the past when I was working with Deadzone miniatures, but I guess this time around I was a bit too eager to get back into the hobby and got started by gluing the Dwarf minis together. At painting time, I realized it’s a bit of a pain trying to paint around their beards though. When I ended up restripping them, some of the Dwarf parts became unglued and I just left those off the next time around. With some other random minis I started working on, I left nearly everything unglued. Which I feel like is too much. It makes it a little more difficult to keep track of all those bits, so I picked up some prescription bottles from Amazon to store them in. Hopefully in time I will find a happy medium of what to glue, that saves me time but makes it easy enough to paint around.



As anyone who has seen pics of my perpetually work in progress Dwarf team knows, I haven’t actually based the minis before priming and painting! There are a few reasons for this. I’m not saying they are good ones, but I’ll explain anyways. 1) I was too eager to get to painting and forgot the bases will need to be primed. 2) The bases get in the way while trying to paint underneath the minis. Especially with the squat Dwarves, it can be hard to paint the underside of their legs when they are on the base. 3) I haven’t totally settled on the bases I want to use yet. This last part will potentially be made more clear in a later post/topic.

Not the best excuses, and it’s really for the best if you glue your minis to their bases and then add your basing materials, before your prime. Then you can just paint the base at the same time as the mini and you don’t have to worry about screwing up your painted mini later. It’s likely the route I will follow later.

For basing you basically need some sort of glue and basing material. This is usually sand, small rocks, tufts of grass, clay, or texture paint. Once I get around to basing the Dwarves, I’ll add another article.



We covered quite bit, but the next post is looking pretty big and it’s all on “Priming”! Till next time!

Next up: Tools Tips 04

4 thoughts on “Tool Tips 03 – Assembly and Pinning

  1. Good article and thanks for the shout-out. Where did you get your tweezers? I have one good quality cosmetic one and an equally good quality Tamiya one, but yours look even better.


    1. The tweezers are from Pixnor, and I bought them through Amazon. They come in a big set, and I eBay’s all but 3, as I really didn’t need all the multiples. I have a link to them on Amazon, right under Assembly in the article. And thanks again for the tips!


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