Tutorial: Pinning with Blu Tack

Pinning tools As I play more non-GW games I find the figures I’m purchasing are predominantly metals, many of which are multi-part. From past experience I’ve learnt the best way to get a good bond between two metal pieces is to pin them.

The latest arrival in my mail box is two 15mm DBA armies from Corvus Belli (thanks to Olympian Games). The Carthaginian army included a multi part Elephant which needed assembly so I thought it’d be an excellent chance to snap some shots of a little dodge I use to make pinning easy – Blu Tack!

The first photo just shows you the tools involved: a pin vise for careful hand drilling, some 0.9mm garden wire for the pin (although a paper clip works fine too), some well loved clippers to cut the wire down, super glue and of course blu tack. As an aside if you don’t own a pin vise, pick one up immediately! Next to a sharp Xacto, a pin vise is the most used tool in my paint station.

Pinning step 1 1. Drill the smaller part. Prepare the two metal parts you want to pin to your satisfaction, making particularly sure they dry fit together well.

Select one part to drill an initial hole in. I usually drill the smaller part which is going to be pinned to the larger part. In this case I’ve drilled a pin hole 3-4mm deep into the back of the Elephant’s head.

Pinning step 2 2. Blu tack the larger part. Tear off a small blob of blu tack and stick it onto the larger part where the two parts will join. Make sure you’ve really stuck the blue tack on there well – it helps if the parts are reasonably clean and grease free. I’ve pushed the blu tack into the Elephant’s neck here.

Now wet the blu tack with a bit of water from a brush washing pot, or in a pinch a lick of spit on your finger (not recommended though unless you really want to ingest lead containing pewter dust) and forcibly fit the two parts together in the final configuration you want.

Pinning step 3 3. Drill the larger part. If you carefully separate the parts the blu tack will remain stuck to the larger part, only now it will contain a very obviously nub where it has has been forced into the hole on the smaller part. If the blu tack lifts away from the larger part you either didn’t stick it down well enough, or the surface of the blu tack wasn’t wet enough. No matter, replace it and try again.

Leaving the blu tack in place, simply drill out that nub until it’s 3-4mm deep as well. Now you’ve got a pin hole in each part that will match up well for pinning.

Pinning step 4 4. Pin those parts. Take your garden wire, or paper clip and snip it down to an appropriate length. The easiest way to do this is simply fit a length into one part and clip it off a shade too long, then just clip it down until a little at a time until both parts fit together well around the pin. You want to leave the pin as long as possible because then it provides more strength to the final join.

Superglue the pin to one part, I usually pick the smaller but it makes little difference, and wait a few seconds until it’s dry. Then glue the smaller part to the larger part with a thin layer of super glue, holding the parts together firmly for a at least 10 seconds to ensure a good set. Once the glue is completely dry you should find the resulting pinned join very sturdy.

Pinning step 5 5. Done! I know I struggled with pinning for a while by simply trying to get pin holes aligned ‘by eye’ before something made me try blu tack. Some people talk about using a dab of web paint in a similar manner, but I prefer my method to be honest. Blu tack is cheap, reuseable and leaves no residue in the join at all that might effect bond strength.

Hopefully this little tutorial is of some use to somebody out there!

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