Introduction: DIY Miniature Sculpting Tool

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I've been sculpting miniatures for wargames and role playing on and off for about 20 years. When I started originally, all I had at my disposal was Milliput and some dental picks I found at a flea market. Over the years, I've messed around with many different tools and media, but lately I increasingly make my own tools specific to the task at hand. Since venturing into the smaller scales of wargaming, some of the tools I commonly use are no longer ideally suited to every need. In this Instructable, I'll use a metal lathe and belt sander to create a double tipped tool that I'll use to complete a sci-fi miniature.

Tools

  • Metal lathe including tooling (A Taig Micro Lathe in this instance).
  • Metal cutting bandsaw or hacksaw.
  • Belt sander or bench grinder.
  • Assorted grits of sandpaper.
  • Micro-Mesh pads.
  • Propane torch.

Supplies

  • 1/4" Brass hex bar.
  • 3/16" Mild Steel.

Step 1: Cut Metal Parts to Length

Picture of Cut Metal Parts to Length

At this stage you'll need to cut your metal parts to rough length. Precision is not critical with this, I'm just looking for a comfortable length for my hand. I made a rough mark at 3.5" on the brass and cut the stock for my tips long enough to leave some extra to mount inside the handle. I used a portable metal cutting bandsaw mounted upright to cut the stock, but it could be done just as simply with a hacksaw.

Step 2: Machine the Brass Handle

Picture of Machine the Brass Handle

Using my Taig Micro Lathe, I used a high speed steel tool to face and chamfer the ends of my hex stock. I chose a drill two thousandths smaller than the diameter of my tip stock and drilled holes in each end of the brass handle. By drilling slightly under size, I can heat up the handle slightly during assembly before inserting the tips, giving me a secure interference fit.

Step 3: Shape the Tips

Picture of Shape the Tips

I used a belt sander and increasingly fine grits of sandpaper and mesh pads to shape the tips of my tools. I made a fine tapered point on one end and a dog-legged spoon shape for the other end. I use tools of this particular shape for most of the putty pushing I do. After shaping the spoon, I heated it slightly with the torch to make the bend.

Step 4: Assembly and Wrap Up.

Picture of Assembly and Wrap Up.

For final assembly, I simply heated the brass a bit before sliding the tips into their bores. Once the brass cools, it will securely grip the tools in place. With the tool assembled, it's time to finish my sculpt.

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Bio: Tinker of Thinks
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