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post #11 of 306 (permalink) Old 08-17-13, 02:31 AM
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To suggest what you've been creating was impressive would likely be an understatement.

If Marneus Calgar is supposed to be "one of the Imperium's greatest tacticians" and he treats the Codex like it's the War Bible, but the Codex is garbage, then how bad is everyone else?

True Scale Space Marines: An odyssey in posing, tall scaling and other madness.

The Brief and Humorous History of the Horus Heresy
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post #12 of 306 (permalink) Old 08-17-13, 03:44 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the kind words. I hope I can keep impressing with my future tales and exploits pursuing my obsession that is the war-gaming hobby. While I've learned a lot (with plenty to share already) I've still got lots more to figure out, and It'll be fun to share the ride.

To answer
Jacobite, when I'm working with square magnets it's always when I'm building in Styrene plastic; it's just not practical to try and cut square holes in most model kits or miniatures. In those cases I would drill and work with round magnets, or build a square post/pin and drill a round hole in the center for the magnet.

When I build with Styrene I have three options; 1) Build four actual walls of material to create a box. 2) Use square tube cut to the right height to create a seat. 3) Cut a hole of the right size into a sheet of plastic and then laminate it to a surface to create a spot for the magnet. No one method is really 'right', they all have situations that suit them.

"The old galaxy is dying, and the new galaxy struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters."



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Default Legion Rising - Tools of the Dark Manufactorium

Tools of the Dark Manufactorium

This had been a two part article on most of the common tools I use, but since the information is already together, I'll post it as one massive orbital bombardment of hobby information. Target Locked... Release payload!

First up, let me just say that I try to talk from a place of first hand knowledge and experience; I won't write about something unless I've tired it myself. My aim in these articles is to show a wide range of tools and techniques - from basic to more advanced - so people can get a really good idea of what's involved, and try it themselves if they want. I Always found lots of great information while researching and reading, but it was usually in bits-and-pieces or poorly documented. I figured it might be helpful for some to get a lot of my lessons in concentrated form, and create some free extra added value from my studio.

My methods and opinions are not necessarily 'the best', they're just what I do and think, and they work for me. I take what I do, and try to push it as far as I can, because I'm lucky enough to have a basement to setup my studio in. I understand that scope and scale of workspace is set by your living space. Take what I talk about and make it fit the scale and scope of your hobby; however there are things that hold true everywhere, no matter how large or elaborate the setup is.

Good Light - Weather you're building or painting, lots of good light is key. Get yourself several 26W 'Daylight' or 'Cool White' bulbs and brighten up your space. Setting them up in adjustable arm-lamps lets you move the light where you need it to eliminate shadows. Do your eyes a favor, use good light while you work.

Organized Space - No matter how humble the space try to have some level of organization. Trust me, I constantly struggle with this, and my space gets seriously cluttered. But once-and-awhile you need to tidy up. Once things start finding a logical place to go, the entire build and paint process is improved by it.

Quality Tools - I'm a bit of a tool snob, and that's what this article is about. Don't get me wrong, we all start somewhere, and you can do amazing things with a limited selection of tools. Do yourself another favor, and make your limited starting tools good ones. The thing is, a few quality tools won't instantly make you more skilled at building and modeling; but they will make all your projects easier and more enjoyable, by working exactly how they should. Low quality tools can and will ruin hard work very quickly, so get something that works the way it should from the start. Quality tools are an investment, and many last decades or a lifetime, but in many cases the best tools don't even cost very much. Take your time and purchase some select quality tools over the years, and keep a supply of other simple disposable tools at hand, and you'll have what you need to do great work. Just think about how much you spend on these models; it's only fair to spend a little on the tools your use to build them.


Cheap and simple - exactly my speed. Not everything needs to cost much to setup.

It doesn't take anything really elaborate to take some good pictures. I took a cheap table on wheels, mounted an old magazine rack on it (that also holds an extra overhead light), and attached sheet of textured white plastic as a backdrop. Bring in a few lamps and a cheap tripod and I'm good-to-go. Since the table is on wheels I can roll it away when I don't need it.

If you want good feedback on your work, take good pictures. This simple setup is all I really use when I want to take bright, clean, clear photographs.



Lets start with some of the basics ~ Clip, Crush, and Bend. Try to get spring-loaded Pliers and Clippers if you can.

1) Be sure to get a good set of clippers. Don't settle for a set that will mangle parts as you try to clip them free of a sprew. A set of nippers is also useful now-and-then.

2) A good set of standard Pliers and a set of Needle-Nose Pliers are always useful. Make sure they have good teeth for a strong bite and grip.

3) Sometimes you want to bend or pinch something without damaging it. A set of Round Pliers is handy if you work with metals. I've added a bit of rubber wire insulation to give them extra padding.



If you're going to scratch-build, you're going to do a lot of cutting and measuring.

1) Don't ever cut with a wood or plastic ruler! You're asking for bad cut if you do. Get at least one good stainless steel ruler. The larger ones to the top of the picture are good for larger projects, but the thinner rulers in the middle are perfect for cutting styrene. The Square to the left is great for making accurate 90 cuts. I prefer a ruler that doesn't have a no-slip back (cork or rubber) so the ruler sits directly on the plastic I cut. It helps with accuracy and making precise cuts.

2) A digital Caliper and a digital Angle Gauge help take really accurate measurements easily. They each cost about $22 CAD, and they're worth their weight in gold. I couldn't get my work as accurate as I do, without them.



You don't need a lot of different blades to do great work, I cut the vast majority of my projects with the same razor blade.

1) By far my favorite razors are No.11 blades; I use them for almost all my styrene cutting. Do yourself a favor and buy them in bulk. It costs a bit more upfront, but you save a lot more in the long run, and you always have fresh blades. A No.11 blade has a really fine tip that will hold up well during cutting, but they break eventually (especially on heavy styrene) and need to be replace regularly to keep cuts clean. When I'm chopping plastic, I prefer to use the push blades shown in the center-middle. They're much thinner then a No.11 blade, so they are excellent for chopping and shaving through material.

2) If you're cutting a lot of sheet styrene like I do, a ring-style handle is a good investment. It holds the blade directly under your finger and really locks it in place, helping make very accurate vertical cuts, very safely. Not quite a 'must have', but I swear by it and can't do lots of cutting without it.

3) A standard stick handle is a good standby for holding a blade, and a larger handle is always useful for larger blades and when you want a more substantial grip. The larger handle is also good for larger chisel-style blades. I don't use them often, but they're very useful when they're needed.

4) A Compass is always useful for drawing circles and arcs, but I use this one to cut them as well. By replacing the drawing point with a second sharp metal point, I can use it to scribe into plastic and cut circles. It's a bit of a crude cutting tool, but it works in a pinch to make very accurate circles and arcs.



A selection of saws, miter boxes, and the handy-dandy Chop-It from Micro-Mark.

1) The top saw is a crude club beside the elegant rapier that is the bottom saw. I use the heavy saw up top to do really rough cuts; it never touches a model, it's a utility saw for ripping through things. The second pictured on the bottom is called a Razor Saw or a Jeweller's Saw. The blades (which you can buy in bulk) are thinner than a razor and have fine teeth that can quickly cut through any material a modeler might work with. With a Razor Saw you can harvest a part from a model with great care. I get all my Jewellery tools from places like Contenti and Rio Grand. Any Jeweller Supplier is, hands-down, the best place to get Saws (and bulk replacement Blades), bulk Drill Bits, and quality Files.

2) These are two Razor Miter Saws, with their Miter Boxes. Sometimes you can't use a blade to slice through an object (tubes tend to crush and distort) so it is best to cut it with a saw. The Miter Box helps make accurate cuts at most common angles. The plastic orange Miter Box to the top is for smaller items, and the aluminum Miter Box on the bottom is used for larger material.

3) When repetition is the name of the day, the Chop-It from Micro-Mark is a really cost effective solution. This little arm lets you chop simple pieces that are identical, without losing your mind. The rail is customizable to let you set any angle you need the chop to be. Very handy when you need a ton of tiny consistent bits.



My go-to selection of adhesives. Never underestimate the advantages of using the right adhesive for the job.

1) I discovered Acrylic Adhesive many years ago and I try to extol its virtues to anyone who will listen. I hardly ever use White Glue because of this wonderful stuff. I can find it at well stocked Art Stores and Hobby/Craft Shops, but it can be hard to locate. It's also a little expensive, but it goes a long way; a bottle will last years. When used for basing it shrinks very tight and bonds super strong; it holds basing material better than While Glue ever did. It dries clear, and since it's acrylic it dries waterproof. It can be mixed with acrylic paints to thin and/or toughen them, makes a good base for homemade washes, and works well as a protective varnish for scenery pieces or even models in a pinch. This is just great glue with lots of other uses. The only thing to really remember is that it is not sticky or tacky; parts must be in good contact and let dry completely. Once it's dry, it's really solid.

2) When I do use White Glue, I use Weldbond. Nice and sticky, super strong, and thins well for large coverage.

3) Spray adhesive comes in a lot of brands, some better than others; you'll need to a brand that works well for you. That said, it's great for making anything sticky. I use it all the time to glue sand paper to sanding blocks, glue no-slip pads to the bottom of items, or to laminate virtually any two materials together. Spray Adhesive has a tendency to dry out and loose its stick (especially the cheap stuff) so I wouldn't use it on important long-term building jobs, but when you need to make something sticky, it's great.

4) My favorite brand of Plastic Glue is made by Tamiya; white cap is the general purpose glue, and the green cap is an Extra Thin product. The white cap glue is great for big projects and the built-in brush gives you lots of control. The white cap glue is useful, but... The green cap Extra Thin glue is absolutely amazing and I use it a lot. Since it's very thin you can use the built-in brush to touch a join, and capillary action will pull just enough glue into the gap to fuse the parts. You can also use the brush to smooth and clean joins, should you happen to add a bit too much glue. A damp glue brush can also be used to polish and finish an area that has been sanded. Being mostly solvent, the glue also evaporates very quickly, keeping the glue lines very clean and letting you smooth surfaces with it. Finally you can use this glue to carefully create a bit of 'plastic soup' that you can use to fill small gaps and cracks; excellent for stubborn wrist, elbow, and shoulder conversions. This glue is really useful, and i always have a few bottles in the studio; I think I might do an art installation with all of the empties.

5) Last but not least, the humble Super Glue. Normally, you can find a cheap brand of Super Glue that will do, and you can save a bit by finding that strong generic brand. But, I've really gown to like the official Krazy Glue single use tubes. With larger tubes, no matter what brand, I was loosing most of it when it dried in the tube. With these tubes you open a small amount (that still lasts as long as a larger tube) and save the rest for later. If it dries out, it's fine, you have more. Better still, each tube has a fresh tip, and they can be easily trimmed down to a nice point to get the glue into tight places. The cost a bit more, being a brand name product, but I save more in the end by not wasting glue.



Speaking of glue and adhesives, it's worth mentioning a few things about Syringes.

1) This kind of syringe can be purchased at many Drug Stores, Pharmacies, or Chemists. You might need to search, but try to find an Oral Medication Syringe if you can. These Syringes have a plunger that is made of plastic and has an o-ring gasket to create a seal. You can put all but the Spray Adhesive and the Krazy Glue into one of these Syrines, and since very little of the rubber is exposed to the damaging adhesive, it won't wear out or turn to slag. I'm still having a hard time finding a bulk supply of these Syringes in Canada; I would love to get 20cc and 30cc sizes for larger projects. Turns out they're not made and distributed by many companies.

2) The next best thing can be found at a well stocked Art Store or Hobby Shop. These are rubber-plunger Syringes with super fine tips for applying thin beads of glue. Since the plunger is all rubber you'll have issues using them with solvent based adhesives. They can work, but the rubber tends to go... funny... after a while.

3) Standard Syringes can be found in massive sizes (this is a 30cc) if you have larger projects.

4) Fine point tips that fit on most standard Syringes can be found in Hobby Shops as well. Testors makes the ones I use. They resist glue, so anything that might dry in them can be easily pushed out, letting a pack last a very long time.

*Subtle stops and takes a long deep breath...* Pant... wheeze... gasp... *He composes himself* ...



The fundamental task - make a hole. A wide selection of tools for just that. And Magnets, because many times they are the reason you're drilling a hole.

1) I can remember being 14 and reading White Dwarf, and they would talk about a Pin Vice used for drilling holes to pin and support delicate conversions. I lived in the middle of nowhere, so they seemed like witchcraft far outside my reach. Needless to say, if you don't have a Pin Vice, get one. In fact, get several, so you don't have to switch Drill Bits as often.

2) This is a Micro Hole Punch from Mico-Mark (this place has too many wonderful little tools to spend money on - be warned) that can punch discs out of various materials. 0.5mm to 5.0mm in half millimeter steps. Place the material between the plastic sheet and the metal plate, place the corresponding pin the the hole, and strike it with a plastic/rubber hammer. Great for rivets, gauges, gaskets, and all manner of other small round bits.

3) A selection of Drill Bits. The gold Bits at the top are titanium-coated, and can be found at most Hardware stores. For larger drilling, if you get goods ones, they can be quite good and will keep a sharp edge for a long time. Downside with a Hardware store is selection; smaller Drill Bits are usually only sold in sets. I buy all my Drill bits in bulk from Contenti; high quality Bits that will cut resin/plastic/metal like butter.

4) I have a local Surplus Store that carries all manner of odds-and-ends; the selection is vast and too lengthy to list here. Needless to say, I found these at said shop. They are Dental Drill Bits, and they are some really useful Bits. I like basing with natural stone, and these Bits can easily drill holes clean through stone so I can pin a model in place. They are also excellent in a rotary tool (Dremel); it takes a firm grip and a steady hand, but you can carve, hollow, and shape wonderfully with these. The larger bit to the right is used for the same; its larger shape is perfect for hollowing out shoulder pads and larger objects.

5) And that brings us to some of my favorite little items: Neodymium (Rare Earth) Magnets. I'm tossing them in here because many times you drill holes to mount these little bits of awesome. If you don't already use Rare Earth Magnets, get some and start. You don't need to do anything really elaborate to make use of them for basic jobs, and if you get creative then can do all sorts of things. If you plan on getting them to mount bits, wargear, and gubbins for swapping, remember to get extra, and get a few different sizes. Once you start using them they go fast, and you wish you had a bigger one here, or a smaller one there. I get mine from K&J Magnetics, but there are many places to buy online. For $20-$30 you can have all the magnets you'll need for ages.



Good Files are a must have in my books; I swear by Swiss made Grobet Files. Once you use a good quality file you quickly become spoiled and lesser Files don't measure up.

1) Files are cutting tools. They have formed teeth that shave at the material, and if you use a hard wire brush to clean your files you'll dull them quicker. This funny looking round thing is a File Cleaner; made by Alpha Abrasives, I've had it for 10+ years. It's a tough rubber disk with rough texture and it's slightly sticky. Scrub it across a File and it clears out fouling from the teeth better than anything else I've found. Nothing clears Greenstuff out of a File like this little disk.

2) #2 Heavy, #4 Medium, and #6 Fine Half Round Files. Half Round Files have a blade edge that is great fro cleaning mould lines from annoying places like corrugated tubing and vents. Being round on one side, flat on the other, and tapering to a nice point, this file is useful for all sorts of tasks.

3) #0 Heavy, #4 Medium, and #6 Fine Equaling (Rectangle) Files. Great for getting smooth fat surfaces and sharpening up corners. When you want it flat, this will do it.

4) #2 Heavy, #4 Medium, and #6 Fine Round Files. Sometimes, only a Round file will do the job; the Half Round is usually enough, but have a Round file or three is nice. Note how slim and subtle the taper of the file, and how fine the tip (~ 0.5mm). It's really hard to find a really nice Round File like these outside of a Jeweller's Supply Shop.

5) An assortment of Micro Files. Bought from a local Hobby Shop, these are not quite as well made as the larger Files, but sometimes you need something a bit smaller for a tiny job.

6) If I could only pick three Files these would be the three. Top - #4 Half Round for the perfect mix of flat and round with a good bite. Middle - #0 Equaling (Rectangle) for a heavy-duty file that can really chew through material when it's needed. Bottom - #4 Round for when you need a good Round File to get the job done.

7) I've seen crap quality file being sold in Hobby shops and Craft stores that cost almost as much as these Grobet files. These files have perfect edges and corners, a sharp smooth bite, and practically polish the surface while they work. They're more than sharp enough to cleanly file even softer materials (like Greenstuff) without tearing and mangling it. #00 and #0 (Pictured) are very coarse and will chew through material really fast. #2 and #4 (Pictured) are a nice average bite; press lightly and it will polish, press hard and it will remove modest material. #6 (Pictured) are very fine and will polish any surface; they are almost too fine, and clog very quickly. A #0 for heavy work and a #4 for everything else is all you really need. Trust me, these Files are worth the trouble to get, they almost make removing mould lines enjoyable. I hate mould lines, and these Files make sure my army has none.



I don't sculpt nearly as much as I should. I want to get better and more confident sculpting, and the only way to get better at something is to do it. When I do brave it, these are my tools.

1) Painting Knives, an Art Store staple, come in all shapes and sizes. I used them mostly for mould making but they have a great sharp edge and smooth surface that's great for some jobs.

2) Stainless Steel Sculpting Tools of various shapes and styles. I prefer going to an Art Store to buy my hard Sculpting Tools so I can inspect the quality of the working ends. These kinds of tools come in a wide rage of quality, and it's best to see it before you buy. Good thing is that they are usually cheap, so it's easy to amass a collection over time.

3) Cheap Soft Sculpting Tools with Steel Burnishing tips on the other end. I got these in my search for rubber/soft tipped sculpting tools. Sometimes you want a softer tools to blend the medium you working. These work well, but I use them more for the Steel Burnishing tips now that I have the real deal...

4) These, are called Colour Shapers; they come in many wonderful shapes and sizes. I had the hardest time finding these tools; I kept looking in the sculpting section of Art Stores for 'Clay Shapers', since it seemed like a logical description. I finally found these 'Colour Shapers' in the painting section. They offer a subtle touch when you sculpt, so they don't replace hard tools, they just offer a lighter touch when you want it. Like any tool, they don't make you better at sculpting, they just give you more options and another technique you can use.



Different products for different jobs, all on an handy-dandy working board.

1) A Cutting Board with baking Parchment Paper (check your Grocery Store) taped onto it to help make it non-stick is a great board to work sculpting materials on. Roll, press, sculpt, and do whatever on this and it should peel away easy. Peel off and replace if it get chewed up.

2) Milliput - This product is like clay; you can even use moisture to thin it and make it softer. It's a bit soft and crumbly/flaky to sculpt on its own, but it cures as hard as stone. That's a major advantage when you want very hard sharp details, but it can be a bit brittle. You can find it at any good Hobby Shop.

3) Fimo - A staple of Craft Shops, Fimo is an oven baked plastic clay that is cost effective way to make all sorts of things. Horns, spines, bones, and other quick-to-make mass produced items can be baked up, read to use. There is a small amount of shrinkage when being cured, so don't use it for size sensitive sculpts.

4) Kneadatite (Greenstuff) - The good old standby, Greenstuff is the go-to middle ground. It will cure but a bit of a plastic-y consistency; hard and stiff, but with a bit of flex. Sometimes I will mix a bit of Milliput in with the Greenstuff to counter that flex; the Milliput adds hardness when the blend cures, but it stays tough and not brittle.

5) Kneadatite (Brownstuff) - Cousin of Greenstuff, I've only just got my hands on some of this stuff. It's supposed to cure harder and stiffer than Greenstuff, and should eliminate the need to mix Greenstuff with Milliput. I'll see once I have a project that warrents using it.

6) Instant Putty - I got this along with a restock of Greenstuff and when I got the Brownstuff. I've played with it a bit, and as advertised, it cures fast (under 5 minutes); maybe too fast. I'll have to see what I think of it when I can try it with some press moulds. It cures so fast, that's about all I think it'll work with. Time will tell.



The humble sanding block. Big and small.

1) Anyone can make a Sanding Block with some Sand Paper, a bit of Spray Adhesive, and a heavy block or tile. I like thick tile as a base since it's nice and heavy. I add a but of padding to the bottom to help keep them from slipping. They're so easy to make, might as well have some of different grits.

2) Made by Alpha Abrasives this is a pack of adhesive backed Sand Paper and acrylic sticks you can stick it to. You can use this to make small sanding blocks of exactly the grit you want. Reusable and it comes with plenty of Sand Paper, it's a simple but brilliant idea.



A few more advanced sanding options.

1) These sanding sticks are really useful when you want a softer touch. Perfect for subtle blending and final cleanup. It's really just good sandpaper attached to a styrene stick with some double-sided foam tape, so they are easy enough to make if you want to. It surprising how something simple can be so useful; these sticks are how I clean plastic without taking its hard edge off.

2) I don't use these often, but sometimes a Needle File is good to get in tiny corners or awkward places. Good for taking unwanted glue residue from nooks-and-crannies.

3) If you work on curved surfaces (and I plan to more, in the future) this Sanding Bow can be handy. Since the Sand Paper is a strip held by the metal bow it has lots of give and contours to curved surfaces.

4) Finally, another cost effective tools from Micro-Mark, the Sand-It. This little sanding jig lets you set up a brace at any angle to sand little bits at obscure angles. The Sanding Block is cleverly designed to take four different pieces of Sand Paper; one per side.



Brushes are one of those simple little tools that can be overlooked. Filing and Sanding will always cause some burring, and a good brush is the solution.

1) Metal for metal; A harder Steel Wire Brush for a more aggressive scrub, and a Brass Wire Brush for a softer scrub. When you're working on pewter, wire is the way to go. They work well enough on plastic and resin too, but they can bee too harsh.

2) A good standby is a stiff Toothbrush. If you can find an older 'Hard' style brush like the vintage pink one at the top, all the better. Just get a few brushes with the stiffest bristles you can find. Then, take one and clip the bristles down to give you a more aggressive, but gentle, brush. The Shortened bristles will help it really remove plastic and resin burring, but not harm fine details.

3) Kinda' like the Toothbrush, but bigger. This is a Denture Brush. Nice and large, with a smaller brush on the back, it ha stiff bristle and a nice large handle. Again, get two, and shorten the bristles on one so you can make a stiffer more aggressive brush. I use these all the time while I build to clean and burnish plastic without harming detail.

4) A 2" paint brush I use as a Dusting Brush. It's just a coincidence I started using this brush ages ago to dust and clean my miniatures, but its natural bristles taper to fine points letting it gently scrub even suborn dust off of miniatures. Since the bristles do taper and give, there's no chance of harming details or paint jobs.


And with that, I come to the end of my wall-o'-text-and-pictures on the subject of Tools. This covers most of the common tools I use all the time to build and construct for the hobby. I've got other odds-and-ends, but they're more for specific tasks, and I talk about them when it makes sense.

Ok, thanks for reading (if you made it this far, I commend you), hope it's been useful; as always, comments, questions, musings, are always welcome.

"The old galaxy is dying, and the new galaxy struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters."



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Default Legion Rising - Vacuum Forming Styrene Plastic

When I started my recent small builds I knew one of them was going to be a Searchlight, and I wanted it to have a curved surface for the lens. When it comes to producing several consistent curved shapes the first thing that comes to my mind is Vacuum Forming. This process is used in all sorts of manufacturing, packaging being one of the most prolific. You know that clear plastic package that keeps your precious new object safe, even from you, as you struggle to open it to get at your prize? Made with Vacuum Formed plastic.

This process can be elaborate, using large equipment to shrink heated plastic sheet over complex shapes and forms, but it can also be done on a much smaller scale that almost anyone can make use of for hobby projects. If all you want to do is make some small objects or shapes, then it is very straight forward process.



A selection of simple objects can easily be made into a Vacuum Forming tool with just a bit of effort.

1) A plastic tub from a local Dollar Store. Any box or chamber with rigid sides and a nice flat bottom will do, really. It just needs to be large enough for your needs, and have enough structure to have some modifications added. Remember that you're going to apply as much suction as you can, so this bx needs to be reasonable stiff. On a related side note: If you get a bin/box with a locking lid you can use it to store all the parts for this contraption when it's not being used.

2) These two white frames are made from a sliding screen frame purchased from a Hardware store, and trimmed down to the size that fits my purpose. An inexpensive sliding screen gives you all the material you need to build several frames if you need/want different sizes for different projects. Try to find a screen that uses metal corner brackets to assemble the frame; they will hold up better to the temperatures you'll be working at. The ones pictured here are plastic which is not ideal, but I find they hold up just fine if it's all you can find.

3) Black Butterfly Clips are used to clamp the frames together around the plastic sheets that will be vacuum formed. A little more on this later.

4) Foam Weather Stripping Tape (again, from the Hardware Store) is used to create a gasket seal for the frames. It's this seal that lets the vacuum do it's work, pulling the soft plastic over the object you're replicating. Don't skimp on this seal; buy the more expensive, high density foam product. (just squeeze the tape through the package to tell the difference) This seal will be exposed to high temperatures, and the cheaper Foam Tape will melt and turn to slag.

5) A look inside the box to show how it was assembled; I used an adhesive called Goop Household to glue the parts together and create a solid seal. It doesn't need to be that pretty, just get the job done. The 'grill' that lets the vacuum do it's thing is made form a section of an old computer case door; any stiff grill with lost of holes will work just fine, weather you make it yourself or source it from somewhere. Finally, a connector was added so that a standard household vacuum can be connected to the entire contraption. Any vacuum cleaner will do, but the stronger the suction, the better the results.

6) The white frames work well as a jig to cut out sheet Styrene plastic to the required size.

7) As mentioned earlier, the black Butterfly Clips are used to clamp the sheet of Styrene plastic in place between the two metal frames. Notice how the Butterfly clips are perfect for the job because you can remove the silver handles once they are in place, so they don't get in the way.



Once you have the Styrene sheet clamped, it's ready to be headed and formed. Preheat your oven to 325F-to-400F.

1) Since the heated plastic will droop considerably it needs to be suspended to keep it from touching anything. I've used four heavy glasses that can take the considerable amount of heat that is involved, and placed them on a baking sheet. Remember that these glasses will hold this heat for quite some time after you're done forming plastic; take care handling them after you done.

2) With the Styrene suspended place it all in the oven and wait for the heat to do its thing. Lighter plastic (1mm thick) will work well with 325F-to-350F, but heavier plastic (1.5mm+) might need a higher 375F-to-400F temperature. Learning just what temperature works best is not an exact science, and something you'll need to experiment with.

It should go without saying that you will need some form of gloves to protect your hands while working with the heated plastic in the following steps.

After about 2 minutes the Styrene will start to sag; the trick to get the best results is to wait for it to sag twice, as it were. I'll try to explain: The plastic will start to sag (and it's tempting to try to form it with this 'first sag' - be patient) and then it will actually tighten back up ever-so-slightly, before starting a 'second sag' that indicates that the plastic is ready for forming. once it's at this point, turn on your vacuum and get ready to quickly move the plastic...


1) In my case, all I wanted was to replicate these dome-shaped metal disks in Styrene plastic, which is much easier to work with than metal.

2) As mentioned, quickly (and carefully!) take the Plastic Frame from the oven and lower it straight down over the Grill in one swift motion; press it firmly into the Foam Tape Gasket to create a seal, and the suction will instantly pull the plastic down and form it around any object sitting on the Grill. I did a few sheets with some other objects (washers, for example) so I will have a good supply of these shapes in future.

3) Here is the final part in use, giving the Searchlight a nice curved surface. I can see myself using these bits for all sorts of things; radar dishes, large optics, vehicle hatches, loud-speakers, etc.. The process is only limited by the size of the box you want to make, and the size of your oven. It could easily be used to make anything from clear canopies for cockpits, to curved armour panels for vehicles, to a thousand other things in between.


And in closing, a little build work unrelated to the above article.

Left: The track links are almost ready for mould making; from there I'll cast-and-assemble them into the required lengths for final kits that fit their respective chassis. Right: Another build I have been struggling with; I want to make a vehicle mount Combi-Melta that makes use of the Combi-Bolter included on the Chaos Accessories sprew. I'm on the right track, but this first attempt is just too tall. Back to the drawing board I guess.

Thanks as always, for reading. I hope some might find it informative. As usual, any comments, questions, or general musing are always welcome.

"The old galaxy is dying, and the new galaxy struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters."



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post #15 of 306 (permalink) Old 08-17-13, 09:29 PM
Jac "Baneblade" O'Bite
 
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Awesome tut there, I've never thought about vac forming before. Could this be used for shoulder pads or icons?
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post #16 of 306 (permalink) Old 08-17-13, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Happy to help. To answer, yes, and no. While you could use his method to do simple shapes like clean shoulder pads, it won't replicate fine detail like banding, studs, or rivets. The thickness of the plastic mutes out all of the detail unless it's very thin and not that practical; even then some detail would be lost.

Now, to create a base shape that you can build detail up on is how I'd use it; just like the Searchlight. Form as many base shoulder pads as you want (and they will all be exactly the same perfect shape) and then detail them each how you'd like them. From there you can use them as-is, or cast them to replicate them with high detail.

"The old galaxy is dying, and the new galaxy struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters."



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post #17 of 306 (permalink) Old 08-17-13, 11:32 PM
Jac "Baneblade" O'Bite
 
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Hmm interesting, I was just thinking it might be an easy alternative to press moulding for DIY chapter symbols and the like.
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post #18 of 306 (permalink) Old 08-18-13, 11:31 AM
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just creamed my shorts. Damn that is some quality stuff man. Amazing is what you are
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post #19 of 306 (permalink) Old 08-19-13, 09:32 AM
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first off, amazing work, truly stunning.

where are you in canada? Id like to face off against an army of this skillful painting once my dark eldar are brought up to speed, and i find a way to transport them without all my models breaking every time I do
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post #20 of 306 (permalink) Old 08-28-13, 04:38 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks as always for the great feedback. Rest assured, there's much more to come.

You and me both Arngeirr; while my core army is close to finished, all painting has ground to a stop since I turned my focus on getting my studio up-and-running. I am determined to finish painting what I plan to play with before I use it. Not really because I mind using unpainted miniatures, but to avoid harming the half finished paint job. Every time I've broken down and played with a half painted miniature in the past, it's all but ruined when I go back to paint it. If it doesn't have varnish on it, I'm not groping it.

That said, I am itching to play, and will be giving my core force some much needed attention soon. I'm in the suburbs of Toronto, in the west end of the city. Sooner-or-later I will be looking for regular games. And on the storage/transport case subject, I might have an idea (the case I use personally) but it's a magnetic case solution that requires a bit of commitment. It's totally worth it, in my opinion, and I plan to do an article on it in the future; I'll see if I can put it together sooner.

And now, on with the feature presentation...

Now I know why I avoided the tank tacks; I knew that, no matter how I went about doing them, they would be a pain in the :cuss. I stared this project with a positive attitude hoping that being able to cast would make it go much faster.



It all started with a simple plan; and after some feedback I chose to use just the Master Links for the entire length.

I kept the moulds very simple for these pieces. The parts are straight forward enough, I hoped they wouldn't pose a problem. After all, I cast large complex pieces with my injection method, these small links can't be that hard, right?


And so began my decent into madness... The links, they taunt me, laughing at me with each bubble they trap.

1) The very first casting looked very promising; the face of the tracks were well formed and clean. It wasn't until I had a closer look...

2) On a related side note, several other parts and moulds are in the works. I need to juggle when I cure moulds in the pressure chamber (it takes over seven hours) so I can also make resin casts. Pictured here are a few new Havoc Launcher mounting plates. The old mould for this part is well past its prime.

3) So, as I said, once I had a closer look at the Track Links I started to see an issue; the dreaded bubbles. It turns out the teeth on these tracks just love to catch large bubbles and hold on to them. Since the parts are so thick the flowing resin passes over the bubbles, instead of forcing them out of the part. This is exactly why I'll be adding a Vacuum Chamber to my studio in the next few weeks. Where my method works well for thinner and larger items, objects like these are better cast under vacuum to pull the bubble out of these stubborn places.

4) But until then, I'll just have to make do with the equipment I have. I've devised a method of manually injecting some resin into the problem prone places, followed by closing the mould and completing the injection. It works much better, but it's still far from perfect. What I can't do with my normal precision, I will complete with volume!



The Rhino Chassis links were much more reliable with my new technique, the 'Raider tracks have been much more stubborn, and slowly driven me to the brink. *Eye twitch... twitch*

The Rhino tracks came together with some effort, but it gave me hope that this wasn't going to be too bad. They are fiddly, but at least they cast somewhat reliably. The Land Raider tracks are just frustrating, but I am determined to get this set complete!


The voices from the warp, they goad me on; they have no sympathies for my trials, the Dark Lords care not for such things.

So, even though they are being a pain, I'm getting them done through brute force. I'm really liking how they are looking so far - soooo Chaos. It's too bad I need to make a fresh set of moulds so I can do the other side; but I think I have some ideas for simple improvements that might help them cast better.

I had hoped to have these done by now, but these technical issues will slow down making the final production moulds by a few days. Beyond that I'm well on the way to have all of the recent builds casting by next week, barring any unforeseen complications. The improved selection and kits will be ready an available at The Dark Works shortly after.

"The old galaxy is dying, and the new galaxy struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters."



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