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.
- 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.
- 1/4" Brass hex bar.
- 3/16" Mild Steel.
Step 1: 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
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
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.
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.