Switch Theme:

Legion Rising - Projects from The Dark Works  [RSS] Share on facebook Share on Twitter Submit to Reddit
Author Message

Forum adverts like this one are shown to any user who is not logged in. Join us by filling out a tiny 3 field form and you will get your own, free, dakka user account which gives a good range of benefits to you:
  • No adverts like this in the forums anymore.
  • Times and dates in your local timezone.
  • Full tracking of what you have read so you can skip to your first unread post, easily see what has changed since you last logged in, and easily see what is new at a glance.
  • Email notifications for threads you want to watch closely.
  • Being a part of the oldest wargaming community on the net.
If you are already a member then feel free to login now.

Made in pt
Longtime Dakkanaut


I really don't think there's much risk of a C&D because your kits are very generic looking so far. At least it's my opinion, I know it doesn't count for much.

Your work is amazing, plainly said you seem to have a gift for KAAYUUSS.

Ever considered talking to miniwargaming Dave? The guy is a complete fanatic for Chaos so if he ever got his hands on a rhino / predator / land raider with that extra kit, I think you'd get plenty of attention for your project. (and you are canadian aswell, so maybe you can even physically go to MWG?)

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2013/07/19 10:30:43

"Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! These are the truths of this world! Surrender to these truths, you pigs in human clothing!" - Satsuki Kiryuin, Kill la Kill 
Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

An interesting lead, thanks for that.

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

Made in nl
Did Fulgrim Just Behead Ferrus?

The Netherlands

Oh, and you of course know that you also want to make Chaos versions for some of Forgeworld's material right...such as the Proteus Landraider, Thunderhawk and even the Contemptor!

The Wars of Tusculum Nova - A Vanguard Miniatures fanblog 
Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

Ha! I've met my match in ambition; yes, they are all possible, but I need to choose kits that also make sense for the amount of effort that would be required. While I'd love to see a Thunderhawk done up like in my work, that would be a massive build. I'll start with a Storm Eagle and see where that leads.

The subject of Chaos tank treads had come up, and I've worked out a few simple templates in CAD...

I tried a few other ideas to the left that were inspire by the stock treads, but settled on something a little more unique to the right.

I've considered doing treads before, but the repetition always turned me off. (I have to make how many?!) So, this time I'm going to make a small selection of links and make moulds to mass produce them. I'll still need to make lots of them, but casting them a few at a time is more appealing than fabricating each one. from there I'll construct the needed lengths from a collection of links.

The other issue was size; they're so small (especially the Rhino links) that there really isn't that much room to be that creative. There's only so much you can do with a tiny link, even on a Land Raider. In the end, they are a very utilitarian part of the tank so I chose to keep them simple enough. A single layer with low-profile rivets.

Finally, I'm going to rework some articles I wrote about tools a while back and polish them for posting. The tools and supplies that I use to build seem like a good place to start talking about my methods.

Stay tuned...

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2013/07/23 03:49:04

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

Made in us
Crazed Spirit of the Defiler

Portland OR USA

Those look good.

Depraved's Workbench (Chaos, Ork, Tyranid, conversions, terrain) http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/396886.page 
Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

I am but an extension of the Dark Gods will; they whisper to me from the Warp, and I obey. They say I must build, so I must build... They say that I must scribe my trials and lessons, so I must scribe...

Once I get some of my tools and hardware articles out of the way I'll follow up with some more proper army photos. I've got a solid core that is really close to finished, but it's been in its current state for many months while I've been building The Dark Works. I want to do some actual progress on it before taking more photos of it, and I'll tie it in to some painting articles I'll write in future.

As it stands now I have roughly 50+ Undivided Marines with 5 Rhino Transports, 20+ Nurgle Marines, 20+ Khorne Marines, 6 Bikes, a FW Dreadnaught (no, not a 'Hell-whatever', a Dreadnaught), a Decimator Engine, some Havocs, 3 Obliterators, 3 Predators, a Land Raider, a Vindicator, various Lords, Sorcerers, Champions, many un-built Marines, and several other dark things lurking in the shadows. A Large portion of the Undivided are painted, and I want them done before I start anything dedicated to any specific god. I've got a great idea for a Nurgle Daemonically Possessed Predator that would go well with the Plague Marines, so I think they'll be first after the Undivided center of the force. So, plenty to see in the future. For now, some talk about tools of the trade.

Ok, with that said, on to the Tools...

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

Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

Tools of the Dark Manufactorium ~ Part 1

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.

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* ...

Ok, so ends Part 1 of my rambling on about Tools. In part 2 (coming soon) I'll talk about Files, Sanding tools, Brushes, Sculpting tools, and maybe some other odds-and-ends. As I mentioned earlier, once these introduction articles are done (l like to answer most of the "What did you use to do that?" questions up front so I can concentrate on a specific subject at hand) I'll settle in to more about painting, building, and getting a closer look at my own army that is a constant Work In Progress. Not to mention all of the projects I will be doing for the studio along the way. I hope it will be an entertaining, informative, and inspiring plog.

As always, comments, questions, and general musings are always welcome. Thanks for reading.

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

Made in nz
Strategizing Grey Knight Chapter Master

Auckland New Zealand

Very informative and being a light weight with scratch building I can see some gaps that filling in my tool department, I look forward to your next installment

IceAngel wrote:I must say Knightley, I am very envious of your squiggle ability. I mean, if squiggles were a tactical squad, you'd be the sergeant. If squiggles were an HQ, you'd be the special character. If squiggles were a way of life, you'd be Doctor Phil...
The Cleanest Painting blog ever!
Gitsplitta wrote:I am but a pretender... you are... the father of all squiggles. .
Made in gb
Sword-Bearing Inquisitorial Crusader

London, England

Thanks for this, it's great information to have. It reads like a shopping list for the dream hobby workshop!
Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

Tools of the Dark Manufactorium ~ Part 2

Ok, on with Part 2 - Filing, Sanding, Sculpting, Drilling, Burnishing...

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; I forget who makes it, 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 Part 2 on 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'll talk bout them when it makes sense.

So, I ask you the reader (if you are indeed, actually still reading) what you'd like to hear about next? Scratch building, mould making, resin casting, my painting methods, I've got some material on all of that. Or, I can just keep documenting what's on my bench... well that will happen either way.

Ok, thanks for reading, hope it's 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."

Made in ru
Dipping With Wood Stain


Wow... Just wow...
You, sir, did a great job posting this articles - that's a lot of useful and interesting info in a clean and clear way. I take my hat off!

I am but a nervous man, by circumstance and by my own deeds
Slow and Purposeful! Painting, sculpting and procrastinating. - My P&M Blog here on Dakka.
Me Facebook. Feel free to contact! =)
I'm on Instagram too! Yay! 
Made in us
Boosting Ultramarine Biker

Maryville, TN

This is just a great PM Blog and your results are also very well done. Subscribing.
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut

Charleston, SC

Just stumbled in here and glad I did. Excited to see where this all goes.

Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

The Pressure Chamber ~ Another concentrated dose of equipment information. This is a more advanced article for those who are feeling ambitious or are just curious.

During my research into building this type of equipment I encountered a few fool-hearty individuals who documented Pressure Chambers that were literally bombs just waiting to go off. Even as a complete novice I could tell some contraptions were just plain dangerous. Common sense is the rule of the day, so beyond very common sense safety precautions (Read: use Safety Goggles and Gloves whenever the situation calls for it!) I will also add the following warning so there is no doubt.

WARNING: Working with pressures and/or vacuums comes with a certain level of calculated risk. Assembling and using this type of equipment carefully and correctly will reduce this risk to virtually nothing.

However, accidents and manufacturing flaws can happen, and with the pressures involved things can go wrong in an instant. There are no slow-motion 'Hollywood moments' where you can 'dive for cover'. If you are unsure of doing this kind of production, then don't.

There are very real (Read: Dangerous) reasons why safety valves must be in place and operational. Do NOT take shortcuts, and do NOT improvise, beyond the common sense changes to build something like this.

Now with that scary sounding warning said, many people use Pressure and/or Vacuums day-in-and-out with complete safety. There is the rare horror story about how things can/did go wrong, but life itself is a risk really. Driving in a car is a calculated risk that most people take every day. This is no different - use and maintain the potentially dangerous equipment properly, and the odds are vastly in your favor.

I'll start by blathering bit about Pressure vs. Vacuum when resin casting, for people who might want to know. Both processes are trying to achieve similar results in different ways - removing trapped air bubbles and helping the resin get into the finest details of a mould. Nothing will 100% guarantee no bubbles on every single cast, but these processes try. Since I don't have a Vacuum Chamber, yet, I'll get it out of the way first with just an explanation.

Vacuum ~ When you apply an almost complete vacuum to poured resin in a mould, it will cause any trapped/dissolved air to literally try and 'boil-out' of the of the liquid resin. The vacuum both lowers the boiling point of the liquid resin, and literally pulls bubbles to the surface as the pressure drops. This can be a very messy, so large resin pour gates, vents, and sprew sections are added to a mould to contain the bubbling resin. With the right object and good venting, a Vacuum on its own is very good at removing bubbles virtually 100%, and combined with pressure (Slower kicking resin is usually needed to do both methods), is about as close as you can get to flawless casts. One trick that you need to keep in mind with Vacuum is that the escaping bubbles need a clear path to a vent or sprew, or they remain trapped. Vents, pour-gates, and channels are always a careful consideration for all moulds, but more so with Vacuum-only degassing. Top-down split moulds work very well with Vacuum-only degassing because of the nice direct line the bubbles can take out of the object.

The major drawback of a Vacuum Chamber is the cost. A good quality* Vacuum Pump is not all that cheap, and then you still need a proper Vacuum Chamber, which again, is not so cheap. A few people use a single chamber for double-duty, both Pressure and Vacuum, but I'm not fond of the idea personally. Chambers are usually designed to take a specific type of strain (maybe I''m being too paranoid, but hey) I don't like the idea of stressing one in the opposite direction to its design. I have however found a Vacuum Chamber that actually has a built-in pump that works on compressed air. So, you can use a much cheaper compressor to do double duty powering the vacuum pump. I'm saving my nickles and dimes for one as I'm discovering that certain shapes are very suborn in how they hold bubbles, and I thing vacuum is the only reliable way to cast them. Me... want... Vacuum... Chamber! *Grunt grunt* Err... where was I?

Pressure ~ As I'm sure you can imagine, Pressure works completely differently than a Vacuum. When you apply Pressure you are attempting to literally crush bubbles into nothing. Small bubbles (~1mm or less) will literally dissolve into the liquid resin, and once it's hardened the air can't escape. Larger bubbles will be crushed down considerably and if they are in the right places (sprews, vents, back-sides of flat pieces) they will be small enough to not matter or be easily filled with Greenstuff.

Pressure is not quite as effective at removing bubbles as a Vacuum, but again, with proper venting it does great things and will get rid of most of them most of the time. The other great thing about Pressure is that it will force resin into even the tiniest and finest details. That is why when it is combined with a Vacuum you'll get the best results of both processes. But, Pressure does very well on it own.

You can get pre-made Pressure Chambers from all sorts of Sculpture and Casting Supply shops. I have a local one in my city, but there are many online. With a pre-made Chamber you will get a higher quality piece of equipment, hands down. It will also cost about 3-4x the price of a home made Pressure Chamber. That is also why a Pressure Chamber is more attractive in general - the cost of setup is much more reasonable. A good quality* Compressor is not nearly as expensive as a Vacuum Pump, and a Paint Pressure Tank is also within reach of someone who wants to give this a go. It's still rather expensive, but you have to weigh the advantages of making good casts (not wasting as much resin) and just how many things you want to reproduce, with the costs of putting this together.

*Good Quality - When working with resin you usually have small windows of time before it begins to set, or 'kick'. You want to apply the Vacuum and/or Pressure as quickly as you can, so bubbles can be removed before the resin thickens. There are resins that kick slower giving you more work time, but they also cure slower, so there's a real 1-for-1 trade off. A quality Compressor or Vacuum Pump will fill/empty a Chamber in 15-to-30 seconds. Speed is key to good bubble removal if you want to use faster kicking resin.

Also worth noting is that most Compressors will use 1/4in or 3/8in fittings, and you will want to use NPT (National Pipe Thread Tapered Thread) fittings. Usually, MNTP = Male Fitting, and FNTP = Female Fitting, but sometimes the acronym can be slightly different. NPT fittings are tapered (unlike normal nuts and bolts) so that they get tighter-and-tighter as they are screwed in place - this ensures a proper seal. And speaking of seals...

A few things worth taking the time to talk specifically about.

At the very least you'll need Teflon Tape to make any joins 100% air tight. I prefer Loctite 242 however. Add some of this liquid to the threads before screwing parts together and after a 24 hour cure they are sealed and lightly locked in place, so they won't lose that seal later on. Be sure to test your seals before you try to cure something over several hours.

Also worth mentioning is the Moisture Trap to the right. Moisture will cause serious problems with resin and RTV curing; this device is added to the line to catch that moisture before it gets to the chamber. You are most at risk of having a moisture problem if you are in a humid location and/or trying to use a Compressor that is not large enough so it is overworking. When you compress air it is heated by the process and can absorb extra moisture; a Compressor that is too small will run constantly and also create more heat. If the really warm humid air is added to a cool Pressure Chamber it can quickly condense and cause problems.

You can use the above line filter to catch moisture, but the better fix is a larger Compressor. If you use a larger Compressor it runs much less; the air has a chance to cool and condense before it's added to the chamber. If you are in a partucularly humid climate you may have no choice but to get a filter, but don't rule out the Compressor if you're using a small one.

The Dynamic Duo - A converted 10 Liter 'PowerFist' (Gotta' love that band name) brand Paint Pressure Tank, and a 2HP 5 Gallon (~20L) medium-duty Compressor.

1)The key things you want to take note of in a Compressor are; The Horse Power (2+HP - more is better, but my 2HP does just fine), the size of the reservoir (3+ Gallons - again, more is better if you have the room), and a built in Regulator. My compressor also has space for two hose connections. While not needed, it's nice to have, since I can keep the Chamber hose connected and still use the Compressor for other things. Good Horse Power and a large reservoir will be key to filling the Chamber quickly.

The Pressure Chamber is created from the previously mentioned, Paint Pressure Tank. Tank Example #1, and Tank Example #2. There are other brands and sizes, but the key thing to remember is the Working Pressure Range, and Maximum Pressure Rating. When applying pressure to resin, the sweet spot seems to be about 40-50PSI, so the Working Pressure Range should be in that range. Some people will use as much as 80-90+PSI, but after 50PSI it seems the improvement is minimal.

You want to stay well away from the Maxium Pressure Rating, and should look for a Paint Pressure Tank with a Max Rating of 80+PSI if you will be working at 40-50PSI. My Pressure Chamber (built from Tank Example #2) has a Working Range of 30-50PSI and a Max Rating of 80PSI.

2) This is the very important Emergency Pressure Release Valve. Beyond adjusting it to release at a suitable pressure, do NOT attempt to alter or block this little valve. Test it regularly to make sure it's working smoothly. I have mine set to slow-leak at about 60PSI, and I think it would completely blow-out at about 65-70PSI, but I've never taken the Chamber that high.

3) This is the Regulator that came with the Paint Tank. I have a Regulator on my Compressor, but with a second on the Pressure Chamber I can crank the Compressor up to 120PSI and set the tank to top-out at about 60PSI. No matter how fast I fill the Chamber, it slows nicely once it reaches about 50PSI, and I have plenty of time to turn off the pressure. It is attached to the tank with the original hardware, but I rotated it a bit so the bulk of the valve hardware in over the lid, and not hanging off the side. Note: This regulator has 1/4in NPT fittings.

4) This is where the hose for a Paint Spay Gun would have attached. You can either cap the fitting or remove the fitting and cap the hole, like I did. There is also a pipe for drawing paint that leads down from the inside of the lid that needs to be removed, but you'll see that later. Note: This hole requires a 3/8in NPT plug.

5) This is the Quick Release Valve and the Compressor Hose connection. When I built this for some reason It seemed to make sense to put the Quick Release on the Chamber itself. In hindsight I think I will switch the Quick Release to the Hose at some point in the future. Note: These are 1/4in NPT parts.

6) The Pressure Inlet Ball Valve. It is very important that you use valves that can handle the pressures involved. Many toggle valves won't be able to hold up, and will have slow leaks. A proper High Pressure Ball Valve (1/4in NTP Brass Ball Valve Example #1 and Example #2) is rated upto 600PSI and will guarantee a good seal.

I was only able to get my hands on 3/8in Ball Valves when I was assembling my Chamber, so I had to add a few 1/4-to-1/8in connectors with my assembly. With 1/4in Ball Valves all you need is a few straight 1/4in NTP connectors to attach the Ball Valves, Quick Release, and Regulator hardware together.

7) The Pressure Release Ball Valve. Another 3/8in NTP Ball Valve that is used to let the pressure off before opening the Chamber to take out the newly created object. The Regulator is clearly marked with arrows that show which end is the inlet and which is the exit. Note: It is not a good idea to ignore this valve and use the Emergency Release Valve to vent the Chamber. You should test the Emergency Valve regularly, but beyond that you don't want to put any extra wear on that vital safety component. 'Nuff said?

I've wrapped a piece of clean rag to the end of this valve and secured it with a rubber band for noise reasons. The valve tends to whistle when the pressure is released, and this cloth makes the valve hiss instead of squeal like a banshee.

And that's about it; 2x Ball Valves + a few 1/4in NTP fittings + a couple of Quick Release parts = One Pressure Chamber. But, there are a few small changes that need to be made to the inside of the Chamber...

A few small changes to the inside of the lid.

1) One down side of using a Paint Pressure Tank is that the bottom of the tank will usually be curved. A simple solution is a cake pan placed in the bottom of the Chamber. Use a small Level to make sure it's sitting flat. They come with a non-stick coating, so hard resin peels right off.

2) This is the stump of the old Paint Pipe. I used a rotary tool with a cut-off disc to chop it off and smooth the burrs. It will do nothing but get in the way if you don't remove it.

3) This is the air inlet with a small modification. By adding a 'T' split to the end you prevent high pressure air from blasting straight down into the Chamber. Just in case there some exposed liquid resin in an open-topped mould is right under the inlet, this will stop potential splattering.

4) And on a side note, be sure to clamp the lid in the same general spot each time, and it will develop a nice divet/ridge that the camps can better lock onto. Also, always remember to tighten the clamps 2-by-2, across from each other. Read: Tighten the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock clamps at the same time, then tighten the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock camps to match. You want to get the camps firmly tightened, but don't be crazy and try to tighten them down really tight. Too tight can cause much bigger problems than not tight enough.

As a few final things worth mentioning, be sure to test the seals before you need to cure a mould in the the chamber for 6+ hours. Test seams with soapy water to see if there are any leaks, and then do an overnight pressure test. Pressurize to ~50PSI and come back 12 hours later. See just how many PSI were lost over that time. If you're losing more than a few PSI it might be a slow leak on a join, or you might need to tighten the lid just a bit more. As an added precaution I did this test in a secluded corner of my basement, out of direct line-of-sight. If this contraption did happen to 'pop', It seemed best that it be well away from everyone.

Now, to give a good visual of why making moulds under pressure is a very good thing, and how it removes 100% of the bubbles from curing RTV rubber. Using a Vacuum can also remove air from mould RTV rubber, but as with resin, it bubbles and froths up a lot so it needs to be in a very large container to contain the mess. Also, even if you do Vacuum de-gas the RTV rubber, you can trap bubbles and air as you pour the mould. Pressure solves all of this in one step.

Unlike resin, when you cure a mould under pressure even larger bubbles will 100% dissolve into the RTV rubber. Even after pressure is released, there won't be a single bubble in the rubber. Also, just like the resin, the pressure will force the rubber into every detail of the prototype. Make sure the prototype is flawless, as the pressure will replicate even the slightest details.

Left: RTV Rubber not cured under pressure. Right: RTV Rubber cured under 50PSI of pressure.

A little left over rubber that cured in the bottom of the mixing cup is an excellent visual aid. In this picture you can see that the RTV rubber looks the same on the surface. Beyond the rubber curing in different cups (the left was in a more glossy cup than the right) on the surface they both look near flawless. Cut them in half and you can see the difference. When you mix RTV rubber, it's all but impossible not to introduce a small amount of air into the mix.

When you pour the resin into an non-pressure-cured mould all of those tiny bubbles will collapse and crush, just like the bubbles in the resin. Most of the bubbles will be far enough from the object that they will have no effect on the cast. They are also small enough that you won't see any major 'warping'. But, there will be many bubbles that are close enough to the object being cast that they will have an effect on the item. The most common defects will be small bumbs, spikes, pimples, and even the odd tiny mushroom-like growth that is a bubble that actually filled with resin and popped free during de-moulding the cast object. While a bit humorous and a little Chaos-looking, it's not at all desirable.

If you are casting just for yourself, and/or don't plan on doing too many casts of an object, you can remove these defects easy enough. A good file, some sanding sticks and/or sandpaper, and maybe a razor for the odd thing, and the piece is totally usable. I does add labour to every object created, so once you have a Pressure Chamber it really is in your best interest to pressure-cure your moulds. Beyond removing bubbles for pressure-casting, you will get a generally superior mould with virtually no defects.

I hope anyone who was interested has found this informative, and it's answered most of the major questions involved with making a chamber. Feel free to follow up with questions if there's anything that could use more clarification. Thanks for reading.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2013/07/31 19:27:46

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

Made in us
Crazed Spirit of the Defiler

Portland OR USA

Great post! I was recently given a vacuum pump with a small chamber meant for deep staining wooden bowls. It is an older version of what Harbor Freight sells. I have yet to use it for Silicon but It pumps down to 27 quickly and holds vacuum well. The reason I mention this is because it is on sale for $89 bucks.http://www.harborfreight.com/25-cfm-vacuum-pump-98076.html

You mentioned the curved bottom of the pressure pot. I have seen many people with their pressure pot turned sideways with multiple trays in it. Such as @07:35 in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMdicfz5Ouk&list=TLikqaTUcOVRU

Keep up the great posts!

Depraved's Workbench (Chaos, Ork, Tyranid, conversions, terrain) http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/396886.page 
Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

*Mutters* Harbor Freight won't ship to Canada, last I checked. *Grumbles*

It was one of the issues I had putting my chamber together, most of the information talked about pieces purchased bought from there to save costs. Princess Auto carries many of the same items, but with different brands and at a Canadian price point. *Mutters another curse* I'll have a look around and see, maybe I can find it here for reasonably closer. The Sculpture and Casting supplier I use has a nice all-in-one unit that runs on compressed air. I'll have to weigh the pros and cons of ready built vs another home built device.

Funny you should show that video, I watched it when I was putting my first chamber together. There's lots of great practical information in the video, but it's a bit funny when things don't go right. Personally I would have started again, and filmed a more successful cast; as a viewer, after getting that far I wanted see the final successful results.

The problem I have with putting the chamber on its side is that it's not meant to be that way. With the bulky regulator and hardware on the lid, it's very unruly to clamp it on sideways. To safely clamp the lid you want to clamp it at 12 & 6 o'clock, then 9 & 3 o'clock; speed is of the essence and I just can't quickly get the lid up in place and swing the c-clamps up, while holding it in place. In fact, after watching the video again I can see that this is exactly what when wrong for Cindy; you can see she struggles with the clamps and lid, and then tightens the bottom 2, then the top 2, (not criss-cross) and doesn't get a good seal. If the chamber has a proper 'swing door' that can support the lid (some expensive casting ones do) then this isn't a problem. I'd rather build a simple rack with 2-or-3 shelves that I can lower into the chamber. I find I don't need to however, the resin I use kicks so fast that I can't fill more moulds even if I wanted to.

Thanks for the input either-which-way.

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

Made in us
Crazed Spirit of the Defiler

Portland OR USA

Good observation about the lid, being clumsy sideways. Also I double checked and the pump I was given is a 3 CFM pump compared to the 2.5 CFM one I linked to. Oh well.

Depraved's Workbench (Chaos, Ork, Tyranid, conversions, terrain) http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/396886.page 
Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

A quick late night update to show a sneak peak of what I've been working on the last while.

Ammo Drums, Smoke Launchers, and Search Lights, oh my!

These still have a few more details to be finished (mostly rivets) but they'll be done soon. I'm trying to keep everything modular and magnet ready. Yep, options and flexibility are good.

I've got a few other bits-and-pieces to go along with these, and I'll show them all off more when I can talk in length about my plans for these new kits. I think I might have a building article to add in the mix as well, but that's a for another post; right now bed ways is right ways.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2013/08/13 07:24:01

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

Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

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? That is 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 325°F-to-400°F.

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 325°F-to-350°F, but heavier plastic (1.5mm+) might need a higher 375°F-to-400°F 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."

Made in us
Thunderhawk Pilot Dropping From Orbit

Incredible work you've got going on here! Those tanks are so cool, very unique, each with such a level of custom detail.

Carry on, please!

Made in au
Boosting Ultramarine Biker


I love those underslung barrel clips on that rhino mounted storm bolter.

"Freehand it like a boss" - starsdawn

My very first blog, wish me luck
Once a Space Marine blog, now corrupted by Nurgles Rot...

4000+ points with elements from the 1st, 2nd and 10th company. 
Made in us
Nigel Stillman

Seattle WA

Wow just... wow

I love it all.

See more on Know Your Meme 
Made in us
Krazed Killa Kan

Wow, this is really informative! I'm still floored that you've made a vaccu-former from a plastic shoe box.

Like my Facebook page!

Waaazag da Kan't Stoppable (ORKS) ~6,000 points
Orks-in-Progress, Finished Orks.
Terrain I'm making.
The Darion Sector War Campaign.
Into the Jaws of Hell 40k campaign.
I do commissions. If you are interested send me a PM and we can talk concepts and pricing. 
Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

Now I know why I avoided the tank tacks; I knew that, no matter how I when 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 and 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."

Made in ca
Brain-Dead Zombie of Nurgle

Looks great, really enjoying this blog. Keep up the good work!
Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

As usual, thanks for the positive feedback; during frustrating builds like these tracks, it really is motivating. Everything is on track (See what I did there? clever, yes/no?) but a little behind schedule. Until I can get at least one more Pressure Chamber up-and-running (very soon) I can get caught in a catch-22 when I need to do casting and make moulds at the same time. With a little juggling I've kept things moving forward and the last new moulds will be done very soon.

I have finally got a Vacuum Chamber in the studio and got it to work right away. It's a very interesting addition to the casting process that took some experimenting to get right, but now that I'm getting the hang of it, I'm very pleased with the results. I'll be doing an article about working with a vacuum at some point in the near future. It's been fun learning the process, and it made it much easier to cast the larger 'Raider Track Links I've been finishing. Speaking of the 'Raider Links...

After some less than enjoyable bench work, the Proditor Pattern Land Raider Track Links are ready for the mould making process.

Everything in these pictures is either held in place with friction, gravity, or poster tack; if any of the fit looks a bit off, it's just because of this temporary fitting. One key point about these kits is that they will require the end builder to remove the small 'key' tabs that are used for the original GW links. It's just easier to remove the hidden tabs then to try and carve out a clean gap in these painstakingly crafted pieces. I would have literally blown a brain-fuse if I happened to ruin a part trying to do it. I completely overlooked them until I had several sections done, and potentially harming them was not a happy consideration at that point.

It's was worth the annoying effort in the end; these tacks really complete the transformation of the GW kit, if I do say so myself.

Where the Vacuum Chamber really helped with the 'Raider Links, it wasn't useful for the smaller Rhino Links. After fighting to get it to work with the vacuum, I ended up going back to pressure only to complete the kit. As tricky as this build was, it really did help me learn some about the limitations of each method (pressure and vacuum) and when to consider using each. Funny how the annoying mistakes usually teach you more then the easy successes.

To the left: Satisfaction with a job well done. Yep, these look awesome! To the right: Frustration given physical form in resin!

When you're building a prototype it needs to be really close to perfect. It's almost scary just what details will be replicated in the mould; even a trace of my finger print is forever immortalized in the back side of the odd part. So, any flaw that would take longer than a reasonable amount of time to fix was tossed into the rejection pile. So many lost links. *Sniff*

So, the all of the track links are done, and I am currently preparing them for moulds as I write this and also casting fresh pieces for stock before the moulds take over the chamber. The Proditor Vehicle Accessories are half moulded, and I'll show them once the entire kit is complete. They are turning out very well, and the Vacuum Chamber has been key in that success.

But that, as they say, is another story...

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

Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

Since the subject came up elsewhere, I figured this would be a good time to revisit a little tutorial about how I do my flat-top rivets. To start I'll say that I plan for all my rivets in my CAD designs; that ensures they will be accurate and well placed. When I use a needle pick to transfer the points of the design that I use to cut out a pattern, I also prick the center of each rivet placement. After using a larger pin to expand the hole I carefully drill each hole as a seat for the rivets I make. Made this way, the rivets are not just glued to the surface, but sit in a seat that keeps them from ever popping off from use.

Now with that said, first up, how the heck do you make lots of consistent rivets? Here's what I came up with...

I call it a Razor Rake. By super gluing spacers between several broken down lengths of utility razor, I get a rake of evenly spaced blades.

The plastic spacers combined with the actual thickness of the razor means I get an even spacing to cut uniform rivets. The plastic spacers just need to match the thickness of the styrene I'm working on - 0.4mm in this case. Once placed, the rivets will stand out a razor thickness in height.

Carefully rolling the 'Rake' over a piece of round styrene scores the plastic. Ready for cutting into rivets.

For the first rivet I start just inside the end. The first rivet will be too short to use, but it makes sure all of the following rivets are ready to go. Once I have the first group of lines cut I can place the first blade in the last line as a guide, and score another group of lines. Working that way I can covert long lengths of styrene rod into rivets very quickly.

I don't press hard enough to cut all of the way through in one go. There's two reason for this. First, the rivets will wedge themselves into the Rake; naturally, that's not good. Second, the blade deforms the plastic a bit and keeping the rod as one piece makes the next step possible...

A quick sanding on a fine grit sanding block will remove the minor deformation caused by the Rake.

I just roll the rod under my finger while sliding it carefully back and forth on the 320 grit sanding block pictured. It just takes a few seconds to smooth the rod back down, and the rivets are ready to cut.

The blade can find the scored lines very easily. With a quick rolling chop they each pop off. (Remember to get rid of the stumpy first rivet.) I find it best to carefully place my finger over the blade while I cut, so I can stop the freshly freed rivet from flying away. They get easily lost, as I'm sure you can imagine.

It won't take long before you've got a large pile of rivets ready to be placed. But then you run into the next problem. How the heck do you place that tiny rivet into its tiny hole? It took a bit of trail-and-error to come up with a surprisingly simple solution...

Prefect in its simplicity; by flattening the tip of an old Clay Pick I made a straight forward rivet pressing tool.

The rivets are so light that all you need to do is add a tiny bit of moisture (Read: spit) to the end of the tool, and the rivet will stick just enough to be placed. Carefully align the rivet to the hole, get it as straight as possible, and press gently but firmly. the flat tool applies even pressure, and most times the rivet will pop right into the hole. Most times.

Sometimes they will be stubborn, trying to go in crooked and deforming the rivet in the process. Rather than futz around with a 'bent' rivet, I just disposed of it and get a fresh one to use. They are easy to make, after all. On occasion the hole for the rivet will also be a problem, but a quick 'reshaping' of the hole with a drill bit gets things right. You don't want to drill the hole deeper, just clear out any glue residue - the usual problem I run into.

Once they're in place they just need a bit of clean-up and touch of glue to lock them in place. 8 down, 600+ to go... *Eye-twitch... twitch twitch*

I've become hooked on the pictured sanding sticks made by Alpha Abrasives. Perfect for all sorts of subtle sanding jobs where a file might be too stiff or aggressive; I use one to give the tops of the rivets a light sanding and make sure they are all the same height.

From there I add a tiny dab of Tamiya Extra Thin glue. The brush built into the lid makes it easy to brush the glue around the rivet. It doesn't take much, and it evaporates away into a very clean join, ready to be primed.

Anything as repetitive as rivets will be tedious to do. This process is no different. The build pictured here took over 650 rivets, each drilled and placed just like this. It can be a bit... daunting sometimes, but it's worth it for the final piece. Once you get a feel for the process and get going it actually progresses rather quickly. Here's hoping people find this informative.

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

Made in us
Legendary Master of the Chapter

Oh that's brilliant

 Unit1126PLL wrote:
 Scott-S6 wrote:
And yet another thread is hijacked for Unit to ask for the same advice, receive the same answers and make the same excuses.

Oh my god I'm becoming martel.
Send help!

Made in us
Furious Fire Dragon


I'm speechless. This is amazing. I just skimmed the images, but I'm going to be combing through it soon. Thanks so much for sharing.

Made in ca
Sagitarius with a Big F'in Gun

Toronto, Canada

*In his best Eugene Krabs voice* “Prepare yourself for a tale of misery and woe! … And delay that skipping… Pirates don’t skip!”

Sometimes I swear projects have a curse on them. I try to be positive and ignore setbacks, and usually that's more than enough to get me through. Mistakes and challenges happen, after all, so there's really no choice but to deal and figure it out. Then there are those builds that refuse to co-operate, testing my resolve to the very end. Yes, I'm looking at you... track links, oh scourge of my recent existence! Apparently, the Dark Lords have some hidden lessons for me to find in these trials.

Several weeks ago I added a Vacuum Chamber to my growing selection of studio equipment. I had a good theoretical idea of how to use vacuum to help with removing bubbles, but there was a definite learning curve to figuring out how to get the desired results. Since I needed to make tons of individual links for the track sections I was building, I used the build to experiment with the new vacuum process. After all of those cast links (and they were a challenge in themselves), I thought I had it figured out.

Thinking I had the process sorted out, I started making moulds for the Rhino Tracks kit, and with that, the curse started messing with my mind. First, I managed to break the seal for two moulds I was making, and this happened...

I tried to adjust the mould boxes after the rubber was poured, but before it cured. Not a good idea.

Since I thought my plan was sound, I tried to economize my time and make several moulds at once. In an effort to get them all to fit in the Pressure Chamber I shifted the top moulds too much, with no idea that I broke the bottom seal. It wasn't until I opened the chamber that I discovered the mess it created. Lesson 1: If you're not careful, trying to save time can actually cost you time. I was trying to push the limit of the chamber, and now I know better.

Once that issue was sorted out (nothing to do but start the moulds again – this will become a painful trend over the coming weeks) I completed the set and got to work casting; and that's when my inexperience with vacuum casting came back to bite me.

When vacuum degassing, vents to let the expanding air escape are critical to the process.

I was trying to avoid gates/vents where I could, since more gates/vents equals more cleanup during assembly. These parts are reasonably small, so I assumed a vent on every-other-link would be enough. I was almost right... but almost isn't good enough in this case. The parts would cast (almost) perfectly, but small flaws keep appearing very consistently in every link that doesn't have a proper vent. I tried to modify the moulds by hand cutting some extra vents, but unfortunately it didn't work. Lesson 2: When in doubt, take the extra time to do a single test mould before committing to a larger set of moulds. I assumed this mould setup would work. Baaad assumption! *Hits assumption with a rolled up magazine*

Unfortunately, the vent issue only became really apparent after I had already started the moulds for the Land Raider Track Links. After seeing the problems with the Rhino Track casts, I knew the same issue would appear in Land Raider Tracks if I finished the moulds. So, I returned to the prototypes and added more gates/vents before re-starting the moulds.

Lesson 3: Dropping an uncured mould is bad. 'Nuff said?

Good luck cleaning up a sloppy mess like this while the rubber is still soft. It sticks to everything and smears everywhere. Better to just let the rubber cure, and peel it up later; and this is exactly what I did. While not really hard to re-make, naturally, the waste sucks.

Success! The added gates/vents did the trick, and the parts are now casting with virtually no flaws.

I'll be doing a much more elaborate article on using Vacuum during resin casting in the future. But for now, let me just say that once you get all of the variables worked out, the combination of Vacuum and Pressure is amazing for getting near-flawless casts. When done right, the success rate for casts is amazingly high. However, it's not a process that works perfectly for every kind of component, so it's not a 'one size fits all' solution.

The results with the Rhino Tracks were so encouraging that I was positive the Land Raider Tracks were going to cast just as well. I had taken the time to add the extra vents, after all. Well, it turned out there was another unexpected twist to be dealt with.

Just when I thought I had it all worked out, this strange problem with bubbles cropped up.

Lesson 4: Different components need different vent considerations; not all parts will cast the same, even if they are similar. The Land Raider tracks are a perfect example; all of the longer lengths of assembled links cast perfectly almost every time, but the single links keep trapping bubbles in the 'teeth' of the links. I'm not totally sure what's happening in this case. The parts are similar, so why is there an issue with only the single links? For some reason their size seems to cause bubbles to get really trapped in the 'teeth' with no chance to vent out. Whatever the cause, there was too many flawed casts for me to use these moulds. *Mutters a harsh curse under his breath* All of this would almost be comical at this point, if it wasn't such a waste of labour and materials.

Third time's the charm! With some final changes the newest moulds are finally casting really well.

Ok, so now for the light at the end of the tunnel. The track moulds have finally been completely finished, and they are all casting very well. Curse lifted… I hope. The accessories are catching up now that the tracks are sorted out.

Some successful casts up top; and a size comparison on the bottom.

Again, I’ll talk more about Vacuum Casting a little later. (I’ve already created a larger-than-expected wall-o’-text) It adds a layer of labour to the production, but also opens the door to an improved process for certain objects. If they are the right size and you can add a moderate vent, they will likely cast very well with this method. The search lights and smoke launchers are a good example. Two Dirge Casters, the vehicle Bolter ammo drums, and a few other bits-and-pieces are in the works. Such as…

Another example of a part that will cast much easier using vacuum during the process.

After kit-bashing an Auto-Cannon a looong time ago, some dark creature whispered to me from the Warp, telling me that I could make a bit to the same job in one step. It seems the dark entity was correct. It still needs some more detailing, but the idea is there.

So, for anyone who has shown interest, The Dark Works will be getting an update very soon with everything pictured, and a few other bits. I hope it’s been worth the wait. I can’t say I enjoy the process when it’s this stubborn, but I always like seeing it come together in the end. You defiantly learn more from your mistakes, and I’ve learned a ton that I’ll be taking forward.

More to come…

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

Forum Index » Dakka P&M Blogs
Go to: