Tool Tips 04 – Magnets

Tool Tips 04 – Magnets

Last week (Tool Tips 03) was about assembling the miniature and getting them ready for the very important step of priming. And this post covers the topic of Priming using Magnets in Customizing the miniature. “Wait a second….last time around you said we would cover Priming!! What gives, Faust?!”. Okay, I’m not that sneaky, and basically I lied, right?! Hopefully you will all excuse this brief tangent.

Sometimes though, you just have to take advantage of the moment and the time you have available. Last weekend I was helping family move, and didn’t have too much time to dive into painting the ‘dreaded Dwarves’. So late at night I looked around my desk and thought ‘Hey, I have this mini…and these magnets came in…and I had said I was going to tackle an article on magnets/conversions someday’. Yea, you get the point.



With miniatures, there may come a time when you might want to add some magnets to your miniatures. Perhaps you want the ability to swap out different weapons, arms, torsos, shields, etc. You might want to magnetize a ball for Blood Bowl or the miniature’s base for storage. Maybe there is a vulnerable or weak part on the miniature, such as a tail or arm, that you don’t want to snap off. Magnets are great for that latter issue, as the magnet should detach with less pressure and keep your mini’s appendage safe. These are all very good reasons to magnetize your miniature, but today I will mainly be sharing how I used magnets for a hand/arm swap. You can use these same techniques for other projects as well.

First off you’re going to need a few things. I’ve covered most of this previously in Tool Tips 03, but here’s a rundown once again:


Tweezers (Pixnor set)

Pin Vise (Hand drill)

Plastic Putty (Vallejo)

Green Stuff (Kneadatite)


Magnets, 1/8”

Magnets, 1/16”

There are three new items in that list, Milliput and two Magnets. Since I have pictures of all of these in Tool Tips 03, I’ll just include some pictures of the three new items. Partly because I’m being lazy and partly because there are a lot more pictures to come.

Pharoah Milli-Put-Put


Ok, now for a quick roundup of these new tools:

Magnets – not too much to say. The biggest questions is size. You will want to make sure you get the right size magnet to fit into the miniature. I ordered two different sizes, and I think these should cover most any work I plan in the future. The 1/16” is pretty tiny and should work for arms on most of the medium sized Blood Bowl minis. The ⅛” magnets are pretty strong and will work well for parts on the ‘Big Guys’ in Blood Bowl. I can’t imagine using anything larger, and anything smaller would be a real pain to work with and probably not strong enough. Size, check.

What I really liked about the particular items I ordered, is that they included the right drill bit with them. I’ve never been great with measurements, so it’s nice that these drill bits were perfect for the job.

Milliput – this was my first experience using Milliput. I had actually picked it up for a different project, but when I looked for something on my desk to use for the customization piece, I decided to give it a shot. First impression, was not good.

As the instructions say, take two equal parts (yellow and grey), mash them together until there are no streaks. I didn’t have any water nearby, like I usually do with green stuff, but it appears I didn’t need any.

After it was mixed, I started to apply it to the area of the mini (will be pics below), but it wasn’t sticking too much. Green stuff is a bit more sticky, even getting stuck to your fingers if you don’t wet them. Milliput is a bit more pasty or chalky. So it was a bit worrisome that it might not stay. I got it mostly stuck and tried to smooth out the edges to make sure it was going to stay in place. Then I used some clay shaper tools to try and blend the piece in with the rest of the model and add some more texture (lines/indentations). The Milliput seemed to take the shaping part a bit better than green stuff, so at least that was nice.

I set it aside over night and crossed my fingers that it would set okay. The next day I took a look, and I was more impressed. The piece stayed on the mini and the lines held nice and firm. Now I could see why someone would want to use Milliput, but more importantly, why some people will mix a little Milliput with their green stuff. As I mentioned above, green stuff is good at sticking but a little more rubbery and hard (at least for me) to get much definition with the clay shaper tools. Milliput is harder to get sticking, but holds indentations and marks much better. I’ll have to try mixing the two at some point and see what I think. There are also other types of Milliput, so maybe one of those are more to my liking. At least I know now when and where I would want to use Milliput in the future.

(EDIT: I should have said that the Milliput appears to hold DETAIL better. That’s what I really meant to say throughout this post.)


Magnet time!

Fatal Attraction! 

I selected pretty much the perfect miniature for this experiment. A Chaos Minotaur Blood Bowl player. I found the mini at good old Impact Miniatures:

Don’t call me “Mini”!

As you can see in the pic above, the Minotaur has some different options for his right hand. A claw, fist, or tentacles. There is also a tail on that sprue. The head is not attached, and I haven’t glued it on yet. Mainly to make it easier to paint around. With all those different options and knowing that the miniature will be used over and over as different players, I definitely wanted the ability to interchange pieces. Thus gluing anything permanently would be a mistake.

I trimmed, washed, and primed the mini. Priming this time in black (more on that next Tool Tips).

Grabbing the magnet and the corresponding drill bit, I proceeded to drill out a hole in the arm and in the claw appendage. This is pretty easy to accomplish with the pin vise. Of note, the larger drill bit seemed much easier to work with than the smaller bit. The main thing here is to make sure that you are getting the holes aligned on both pieces and that you have enough surrounding surface area to drill into. Also, that you aren’t going to accidentally drill through the other side (yes, I’ve done that in the past!). One last point, you have to drill slightly deeper than the thickness of the magnet, as the tip of the drill is rounded and not flat.

Here we have the holes drilled out and the magnets inserted in the holes. As I was drilling, I kept taking the bit out, putting the magnet in the hole to check that it would fit and was sitting where I wanted it. This was where having the correct drill bits included with the magnets was super nice. The bits make a hole just perfect for the magnet to snugly fit it.

You only want to drill down until the magnet will sit flush. You might be able to tell on the Claw pic (on the right), that I didn’t get the magnet perfectly level with the surrounding plastic. I had already glued it before I realize this.

Why?! WHyyyyyyyyy?!?

Yea, I feel for the Mino at this point. You see, I wanted to make the tail magnetized as well. Which unfortunately meant for him, drilling a hole in his backside.

The tricky part here was getting the smaller 1/16″ magnet in the end of the tail. Since the 1/8″ magnet was too big. It went okay, except once I got it snug in the tail….I couldn’t get it back out to drop some glue in the hole! If it ever works its way out, then I’ll have to glue back in place, but for now it’s holding fast.

Okay, fast forward and all the pieces are drilled/magnetized. I used 1/8″ magnets for all the pieces, except the tail and they seem to work nicely. The tail can flip around to different positions. You can’t really see the magnets, since I made everything flush (with the exception of the claw). And as you can see, in the last pic, allow for some crazy combinations!

The drilling isn’t too hard, but it can be challenging getting the two magnets lined up correctly, flush, and then gluing them in. Making sure the magnets are correctly aligned, can pretty much be resolved by marking the two ends with a sharpie. Though the slick surface made the sharpie not easily recognizable.

I also took a file to the sides and bottom area of the magnets. Wherever I though the glue would come in contact with the magnet. Just scratching the surfaces a bit to give the glue more surface to hold onto. That seems to have worked pretty well.

Popping the tiny magnets into place and holding them without getting glue on whatever you’re holding them with isn’t easy. I had somewhat of a success using an end of a paper clip. But if you use something metal, you could easily end up pulling the magnet back out as well. I think next time I would look for a small point wooden or plastic stick. Maybe something like a sturdy toothpick.

Also, popping the magnet into the drilled hole for a test gets tricky, because it can also get stuck in the hole before you get to the gluing stage. As I noted above with the tail. I’m tempted to permanently glue a small rod to one of the magnets. Then I can push it in to see if it’s flush, but then pull the magnet back out by the rod. The other option would be to add a bit of tape around the drill bit, to mark the proper drill depth. I’ll have to experiment more to see what works best.

Up above are some pics I snapped of me trying to fix the issue with the magnet not being flush on the claw appendage. As mentioned way earlier, I had tried using Milliput. I really liked the end result. The pic with the yellowish part is right after I got the Milliput added. The other pics are after I spray primed back over the Milliput. It’s really hard to tell that there is a magnet in there and even with my mediocre putty shaping skills, I was able to blend the Milliput in with the rest of the model.

Unfortunately, I should have made the Milliput ‘mound’ a bit wider, as it doesn’t totally cover the gap between the claw and arm. But I think it looks close enough that I’m not going to redo the whole thing.


Overall, I would say this turned out pretty nicely and was a good experience. I realized that I wouldn’t want to try and magnetize things too much. Using it for weapon swaps on smaller minis, would be a pain. Magnetizing the whole arms, not as much, but I certainly wouldn’t want to do a squad of minis.

I had thought about magnetizing the Minotaurs head too, since it was already off, but feel like that is overdoing it. The only advantage would be the ability to break down the mini more for storage. That’s one really handy thing about having the tail detach.

One worry I do have is, having the thing come apart frequently when playing Blood Bowl. You’re often moving the mini around in-between smaller minis or flipping the mini down or over. All that movement can easily knock a piece off. But I guess it’s better that they are just coming off at the magnetized portion and not actually breaking off. That Troll arm that I glued with green stuff/super glue is another one where I have thought about using magnets. So far it’s holding well, but if it ever does come free, I’ll be grabbing the drill, some strong magnets, and going to town.

I certainly feel a lot more confident about magnetizing minis in the future.

Next time around, we will launch into Priming (I promise)!

Next up: Tools Tips 05

13 thoughts on “Tool Tips 04 – Magnets

  1. Good tutorial. You put a lot of work into it and it was well done.

    I started in with magnets pretty early, myself, in my 40K career because the game store, where I played mostly, sold them. One big mistake I made early on is I didn’t think to make sure that I fitted the magnets so all of the arms fit on all of the models in my army. So I ended up with three killa kanz where one of the weapon arms worked on two but not on the third. Let me tell you, I’m far more careful now, but I suspect it is a beginner mistake I was not the first to make!

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    1. p.s. I’m glad you mentioned marking which is the right side of the magnet to avoid my aforementioned mistake; that is what I ended up doing going forward as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Ann! Oddly, I marked one magnet and I guess it flipped around at some point, because when I tested it with another it was opposite what I thought. Pretty easy to do when they are so small and I have other metal objects (plus clumsy fingers) nearby. Luckily that is the one on the tail, so all the arms attach just fine.

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    1. I just hold it with my hand. The pin vise is mechanical, so there isn’t too much spin to kick the model out of your hand. You could try and wrap up the mini and put it in a vise…but I would be worried about scratching/breaking, and I don’t think it would be necessary.

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  2. Well written article. I don’t magnetise much, mostly saving it for bigger models, but I should do more of it (and more bigger models). Where did you pick up the magnet+drill bit combos from?

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        1. No worries, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t poke around WordPress to see if there are options in the theme to make sure the links are more visible?

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