Introduction: Painting Stand for Miniatures for Only $1!!!

Approximate time to complete: 2.5 hours (mostly due to glue drying)

Approximate cost: $1 (using generally available materials)

Tools You'll Need:

  • Permanent marker
  • Pocket knife
  • Scissors
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Craft glue
  • Heavy book

Materials You'll Need:

  • Piece of cardboard roughly 3" x 3"
  • Empty beverage can
  • Large paperclip
  • Newspaper
  • 10" Zip tie (Optional)

Painting small miniatures is typically a chore and can cause hand pain when painting for long periods of time. Using a stand for your minis allows you freedom of movement, a way to keep your mini upright or in a particular position, and give your hand a larger base to hold to alleviate fatigue.

Commercial mini holders are very nice, but I found the alternative quite a bit less expensive. This will get you through until you have some extra cash to pick up a really nice holder. Or, maybe you just want to keep it cheap!

This guide will walk you through making a simple stand to use when painting miniatures using generally available materials that one may find around their house. The only exceptions may be the zip tie and the craft glue. If craft glue is unavailable, any contact cement should work in its place, provided it can adhere to aluminum and cardboard. Also, the zip tie is a completely optional step, since it is more for convenience.

Step 1: Step 1 - Mark/Cut Cardboard Circle

Take the tab off of the soda can. Flip the soda can upside down on top of the cardboard and center it. While keeping downward pressure on the can, use the permanent marker to trace the outline of the top ring of the can.

Using the scissors, cut on the OUTSIDE edge of the circle. This doesn't have to be perfect. Once cut out, the cardboard circle needs to be larger than the top ring of the can, as we will be gluing the cardboard to the top of the can.

Set the cardboard aside for later.

Step 2: Step 2 - Tapping the Can's Top

Place the tip of the pocket knife inside the rim on top of the can. Begin rocking the knife back and forth to start a small hole in the rim. BE VERY CAREFUL! If you go through the can too far, you will puncture the side of the can. If you puncture the side of the can, cover the outside in craft glue, then put a piece of duct tape over it. It’s not pretty, but it works!

Once your first hole has been tapped, we will make another perpendicular to that in the top of the can. After the first perpendicular hole has been cut, continue tapping holes while working your way to the opening.

Step 3: Step 3 - Remove the Can's Top

Take the needle-nose pliers and clamp down where you made your long cut, close to the opening of the can. If you were not able to cut all of the way to the opening in the can, use the needle-nose pliers to to clamp near opening and cut. Wiggle the pliers back and forth until the can tears the rest of the way.

To remove the top, we will be using the pliers to tear the can. Clamp the pliers as far inside of the can as possible. Make sure to be on the right side of the cut you just made (see picture). Twist the pliers to the left, and the can should start to tear away. Keep twisting the pliers, re-clamping every so often to keep a good grip on the top of the can. Continue until the top of the can is completely, or mostly, removed. Be very careful, as the can edges will be extremely sharp. Discard the top of the can appropriately.

Step 4: Step 4 - Prepare the Can

An option at this point is to use a file on the edges of the can to make them less sharp. I did not perform this step, because we will be sealing the top of the can later. A little bit of care goes a long way. If you choose not to file the edges of the can, you are taking a risk! You may cut yourself while completing the rest of this guide.

Now is a good time to rinse the can, if you have not done so already. Using a paper towel and the flat head screwdriver from earlier, dry out the entire can. We would not want any mold to grow if moisture is left behind! Remove the paper towel and discard.

The can is ready to be filled with crumpled newspaper. You may be asking yourself, "Why would I do that?" The answer is very simple. It adds weight to the can. This allows the stand to remain upright and keeps it from being knocked over easily.

Tear large sections of newspaper into smaller pieces and crumple them. Using the screwdriver, tuck the newspaper into the can. Be sure to pack it as tightly to the bottom as you can using a wooden spoon’s, the needlenose pliers, etc..

We want as much weight on the bottom of the can as possible. I tend to put LOTS of paper in my stands and fill it halfway or more. This is all user preference. Periodically, pick up the can and feel the weight of it. When you have reached your desired weight, you can stop filling the can and move onto the next step.

Step 5: Step 5 - Attach the Carboard to the Can

Open the craft glue and apply to the top of the can's rim. Try not to make a mess on the outside of the can. Once you have completed coating the can's rim, apply the cardboard. Put the heavy book on top of the can to maximize the surface contact between the glue and the cardboard.

Leave this sit for a minimum of 30 minutes, so the glue will set. After about 1 hour, the glue should be completely set.

Step 6: Step 6 - Inserting the Paperclip

Take the paperclip and bend as shown. Use the straight end of the paperclip to create a small hole in the cardboard, about 1/4" from the edge.

Apply a glob of craft glue to the hole and insert the longer end of the paperclip.

Once you have inserted the paperclip to the bend, keep the exposed end flat against the cardboard. You may need to apply more craft clue to the top of the paperclip.

Work quickly, as you only have about 1 minute before the glue begins to set. It will be very difficult to spread after this.

Let the glue set for a minimum of 30 minutes and ensure the paperclip is lying directly across the center of the cardboard, as shown.

The paperclip does not have to be flat against the cardboard. For minis with taller bases, you may want to set the height of the paperclip differently.

Leave the glue to cure overnight. It should not be tacky the next morning but will resemble a hard plastic. This will keep the paperclip in place for many minis to come.

Step 7: Step 7 - Applying the Zip Tie (Optional)

This optional step can be completed while the glue from Step 6 is drying. Please note that the paperclip should be kept as stationary as possible if the glue is not set.

Take the 10 inch zip tie and wrap it around the can. Begin to tighten the zip tie until there is about a 1/4" gap between the end and the can, as shown.

Carefully remove the zip tie from around the can, ensuring the paperclip is not disturbed. Once removed, cut the excess end of the zip tie and discard.

Now, apply the craft glue to the top and bottom of the zip end of the tie, as shown. Be sure to cover the cut end with glue to avoid unpleasant encounters during use. Applying glue to the top and bottom of the zip tie ensure it will not loosen or tighten while in use.

Replace the zip tie back on the can and leave to dry for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Step 8: Step 8 - Time to Paint!

To use the stand, thread the paperclip through your mini's base. You can either hold the end of the paperclip with your index finger, or you can tuck the paperclip into the zip tie. I typically elect for the zip tie option, as this keeps the mini completely stationary.

This painting stand should keep your hands from cramping during those long painting sessions. It will also give your mini a place to live during painting that keeps it from falling over.