Hobby Tip - Making Rounded Rivets, Pt. 2

 Now for the actual process of making rounded rivets. The initial introduction and materials summary can be found in Part 1.

 Let me put out a disclaimer of sorts to start with here before delving into the actual step-by-step. I know there's likely a ton of other methods out there for making rivets and there's nothing especially earth-shattering about my own method. Three other techniques I'm familiar with are: using small dots of PVA glue to build up a "rivet" shape, gluing small plastic bead-shaped "spacers" from a water purifier filter into place in shallow drilled divots, and simply using round styrene rod thinly cut into measured "rivet-height" lengths and glued where needed.

 I think this method gives a reasonably realistic-looking end result and I've found it to be a bit more durable than glued-on rivets, where I've frequently had my rivet work scrape off or easily get knocked off - especially when working with metal figures where the plastic-to-metal bond isn't so strong. I've also found the "rivet setting" part of this writeup to be equally useful for other things like small studded spikes or even horns on figures. The downside to my rivet-making method, and I'll lay it out plain now, is that the "setting" part is slightly more time consuming than some of the other approaches mentioned above - on the other hand, if you make a whole lot of rivet "blanks" in batches during down time (like when watching a movie you've already seen a hundred times), then that's the bulk of the work done and the rest is just placement.

 I would suggest to anyone trying this method of making rounded rivets that they take all safety precautions necessary - there, that's my public service announcement duties covered for the month. No, really, I personally check over all my equipment and tools before I start any work to make sure that nothing is damaged or compromised, that everything is firmly tightened and nothing is out of place and that my eyes are shielded from possible flying debris. As a general rule, I always try to use my Dremel immediately over (if not slightly within) a small, portable wastebasket so as to minimize the odds of something being flung loose as well as to collect as much waste, dust, and stray particles as possible.
  1.  To get started, take a length of the 0.4mm diameter round styrene rod and set your Dremel on the lowest speed setting with a medium sanding disc firmly in place. You want to hold the length of styrene rod perhaps 1/4" up the rod from the end to be shaped and be sure that you always shape the end of the styrene against the portion of the medium sanding disc spinning away from you. (I'm left handed, so for me that's the bottom.) You might want hold the styrene rod with hobby pliers, forceps, or even tweezers - anything so long as you can maintain a firm grip on it. Myself, I'm comfortable pinching the rod between my fingertips with the remaining length pointed outwards away from me while shaping it, but I also have very steady hands and maintain a constant focus on my work to avoid injury. (At the lowest speed setting, my particular Dremel can be used for polishing, light finish woodwork, or even shaping and buffing fingernails in a slightly different hobby; I wouldn't use my hands to hold material at any higher RPM settings, however.)

  2.  Even at the lowest speed setting, the medium sanding disc is capable of melting the styrene rod through friction - we actually want to take advantage of this as it makes the shaping process easier. With very light taps of the end of the round rod against the portion of the disc spinning away from you, twisting the rod slightly at every tap to expose a new face to the sanding disc, holding it at about a 60° and you'll start to see friction melt the styrene in the shape of a rough "bullet" point. I should note that at a low speed setting and with about 1/4" of the styrene rod exposed, you'll find that the end "jumps" constantly away from the disc while shaping - this isn't necessarily a bad thing as it limits the amount of time and friction that the styrene is exposed to in contact with the sanding disc, but it does take some getting used to.

  3.  Gradually you want to move the very end of the now-semi-pointed styrene rod to more of a 45° angle in relation to the disc, and maintain the process of touching the very end against the spinning disc with very light taps while making sure to twist the rod slightly at every tap to expose new surfaces to the disc. You'll quickly note that it begins to assume more of a rounded aspect at the end.

  4. At this point, you'll likely be able to finish off the rounding process with extremely light taps of the very end of the now-shaped styrene rod end against the sanding disc, again making sure to continue twisting the rod with every contact - if done lightly and carefully enough throughout the whole process, you should essentially have a smooth, natural rounding to the end of the styrene rod with a minimum of wasted material. If the shape is slightly off that's not necessarily a bad thing, as the appearance when eventually mounted on the figure can help to contribute to any "battle damage."
 My first attempts were a bit rough looking to start, but if you do things right you ought to end up with something along the lines of the rounded-off example on the right:

Sample Rounded Rivet picture
 At this point you cut a short length off of the styrene rod in addition to the rivet - I'd suggest about a millimeter or so, but it all really depends on how much depth you have in the area you're wanting to place your rounded rivets.

The next part is relatively straightforward: for the sake of consistent spacing and level appearance, you'll likely want to take a ruler and a soft lead pencil with a good point and go along and mark where you're going to place your rounded rivets - you'll know before you start the next step of drilling if things look good appearance-wise, and you can always adjust your planned placement at this point since everything is simply markings on the figure. I prefer to use mechanical pencils with 2B grade lead for as they make clear marks even on metal figures, erase fairly easily afterward and are soft enough that they don't gouge sheet styrene if you're doing layers of custom conversion.

 Now you take your drill bit that matches as closely as possible to the diameter of the round styrene rod you've used to make your rivets, and sink placement holes to at least the depth of your length of rounded rivet (remember I suggested cutting them off the rod in 1mm segments or thereabouts). You might want to drill slightly deeper than the length of your rivet cut-offs, since you can always put a little extra glue in the hole and simply hold the rivet in place to the correct depth until the glue sets up a bit.

 Once you've got your holes drilled for placing your rounded rivet lengths, you'll want to use tweezers or something similar with a narrow-but-firm grip to hold the length of rivet near the top, apply a small amount of cyanoacrylate glue (CA glue, Krazy Glue, Zap-A-Gap, etc.) around the lower end of the rivet length and, placing the end into the hole you've pre-drilled, hold it at the height you want the final rivet to stick out (or course, this assumes that you may have been a little off on the depth of the hole - if you're able to drill precisely right or have the foresight to test fit and/or shorten the length of the rivet "insert" before gluing and slotting it home. I would suggest CA glue over polystyrene (plastic) cement, since an excess of plastic glue on the slotted end of the rivet when mounted in/on a plastic figure could creep up and deform the rounded rivet shape at the visible end that you've spent your time making. CA glue also allows a bit of leeway in terms of adjusting the fit of your rivet before it sets, tends to fill any gaps better if your holes weren't able to be the same diameter as the styrene rod you used, and can be wiped away without melting/distorting the final appearance of your rounded rivet if you did happen to use a little too much glue at the base before slotting it home.

Here's an example of rounded rivets made following the guidelines above set into a sheet styrene "plate" over the skull of a converted figure:

Skull Plate with Rivets
As you can see in this close-up picture of some finished ones I've left some of the rivets imperfectly shaped and in a few places not put anything into the holes I've drilled for them, all with the idea of getting across battle damage, or perhaps "wear and tear" on the figure.

Here's more of the same with finished pictures of the rounded rivets in several places across a full figure, the same as seen in the top-down head picture above:

Inducted Ultramarine Berzerker WIP


Hobby Tip - Making Rounded Rivets, Pt. 1

(Hey, what can I say - our whole family has been simultaneously sick and the 'Net seems to have eaten my first attempt at posting this, so here we go again.)

 Somewhat building upon last week's Hobby Tip, this one is geared specifically towards making rounded rivets in 28mm (or roughly 1/35th scale) as a part of converting your figures/models. The reason I say "converting" specifically is that it's a little involved and slightly time intensive to get set up, but once you're rolling along you can make any number of rivets for use at a later time - and the rivet "setting" can be done at any point if you have an appropriate-sized drill bit and pin vise (or improvise, as I'll get to).

 To start with, here's a picture of the materials you might likely need:
Making Rounded Rivets Materials
Out of all the items in the picture, the most important material would be styrene rod of a very small diameter: here we have .015"/0.4mm diameter in a package of 10 - it might not seem a lot of round styrene rod, but given the output product it tends to last quite a while (of course, that also assumes you're not covering an entire Games Workshop Baneblade conversion with these - if you were, I'd probably recommend a larger diameter of styrene and a less involved method and/or the services of a good, professional psychiatrist). By personal preference in making rounded rivets, I'd recommend Plastruct styrene products as they seem a little more accurate/precise in their measurements and also seem to be generally available in smaller diameter sizing, but conversely are also slightly more expensive (or so it seems locally) than other generally available manufacturers, such as Evergreen Scale Models. Just for comparison's sake, I included a length of the 0.4mm round styrene rod next to a length of 0.5mm rod: there is a difference appearance-wise and scale-wise on the final figure, but you can reasonably use this rounded rivet method with any diameter of styrene rod - I'm thinking that for "chunkier" sizes, though, you'd have to be a bit more thorough in your rounding off, whereas the smaller diameters will look good even if slightly uneven.

 In the image above we also have two grades of sandpaper - medium-fine grit (120) and 800 grit wet/dry - both of which you might try, although I'd lean more towards the medium-fine 120 grit myself if I'd be doing this manually. I've shown my variable-speed Dremel with a medium grit sanding disc mounted - this is actually the means by which I'd recommend you round off your rivets and the method I'm going to focus the Hobby Tip writeup on, but this is straightforwards enough that you could likely settle on a sandpaper shaping method without too much trouble (and I'd recommend rounding down the styrene with a fingertip pressing the very end of the rod lightly onto the paper, from past experience).

 There's several pin vises in the image - one of which is home made. The one without the rotating "hand rest" was the first one I bought (from Sears, I believe, although not a Craftsman product but a "generic" brand) and is perfectly fine and very inexpensive - it also came with an assortment of different bits. The other, slightly fancier one, was picked up at a train/model hobby store and was slightly more expensive (but still under $12) and did not come with bits but came with several "chuck" inserts of varying hole diameters. The reason I mention this is that ideally, for very tiny rivets using the method I'll be laying out, you need to drill shallow holes of matching diameter; the plain pin vise doesn't tighten enough to grip the size drill bit needed, whereas using a very small size drill bit in the slightly fancier one was a relative piece of cake. The third "pin vise" in the picture is actually a length of wooden dowel (end rounded with sandpaper for comfort) with the appropriate-sized bit glued into (via two-part epoxy and a thorough soaking of CA+ glue) a matching diameter hole to just below the beginning of the "threads" on the tiny drill bit itself - not the most elegant of handles, but it gets the job done and is easily portable.

 Now we get to the drill bit: a size #74 high speed twist drill bit made by Precision Twist Drill Co. (one of a bag of like 20 or so matching-sized bits) and the same diameter as the small "standard" rivet size as represented by Games Workshop on a large number of their 40K figures - also the perfect size to make holes to inset the previously-mentioned .015"/0.4mm diameter round styrene rod.

Now for the process! (In my next entry, of course...)


Hobby Tip - Using Guide Templates

 Pardon the personal info, I suppose, if you're strictly just following along for hobby-related stuff - you can skip past the block of my rambling here to the next section.

 Just for the sake of noting it; this has been one of those weeks. Our 5-year-old daughter came down with an unrelenting hacking cough/cold/ear infection/103° fever combo which jumped off on Saturday and has continued on its merry way since then, with the exception of the fever breaking, thus allowing her to enjoy the remainder of her second week of school ever starting today. I feel bad for her being sick, but at the same time her personality and behavior took a complete turn-about from her usual pleasant self and roughly about that time dad apparently joined the Infernal Hierarchy so far as she was concerned, and every suggestion, request, or glance from me was met with immense disdain if not full-blown tantrum - and guess who the stay-at-home parent is? Today our 7-month-old son seemed completely off, hardly ate, and alternated between screaming and looking extremely tired/fitfully sleeping all day - he's also generally a pleasant baby and mostly predictable other than teeth, but he's also apparently got a helluva set of lungs. The long and the short of this all being: not a lot of sleep and not much done related to miniature painting or modeling all week. On the positive side: my wife and I saw the movie 9 at the theater and it was an excellent film, I got a call from an agency offering placement in a contingent position (which is nice, since I've been unemployed since February) although I still need to meet with them, and my unemployment benefits were to run out next week - but I apparently qualify for an extension, so while income isn't as good as it could be in our household, at least we'll continue to maintain the status quo as I try to find something manageable. (There are aspects of being an unplanned stay-at-home-parent which are nice, but I gotta confess I'd much rather have regular, stable employment and a bit more predictability - I've been employed more or less continuously since I was 14, and it's been a helluva adjustment, not the least of which being that our son was born the week after I lost my job.)

 I'm essentially still working on the conversion portion of a commissioned Chaos Lord for a Games Workshop 40K Thousand Sons army, and while I've been making progress in fits and starts and keep plugging along, I don't feel I've made enough in any one particular area to post pictures of "finished" sections. I'm essentially building a brand new head with a Thousand Sons-styled "headdress" for him, however, and figured out a useful trick in terms of trimming sheet styrene of a set thickness to a specific even width - the part of the head I'm working on is the outer trim of the headdress containing the ribbed panelling, which means I'm nearing the finish line on one of the trickiest aspects thus far.

 If you happen to find yourself needing lengths of sheet styrene to a specific width (and where it's impractical/unavailable to buy pre-cut sheet styrene), today's tip might come in handy. Hopefully anyone who's worked with sheet styrene (AKA plasticard) is familiar with scoring the stuff with a hobby knife or something similar to get a clean break of the styrene to a desired shape - well, I've been doing that for the most part but I'm finding myself needing to trim down a vaguely even 3mm wide length of 1mm thick styrene into an even 2mm wide strip (or thereabouts). The length of styrene is just a little too narrow to get an outright even break along a deeply scored line, and in trying to separate the excess off with needle-nosed hobby pliers, it more or less tore along the scored line - but with rather rough edges along the sections where the styrene was not pre-scored. Ideally I want it the correct width before I glue it in place on the figure, so I only have to worry about cutting the various lengths I need.

 That's where I hit on the idea of simply drawing out on a piece of paper the correct width and shape length of styrene I need smoothed out and to the correct measurements - a guide template or "cutting guide" of sorts, like I would use if this were a larger piece of wood I were shaping with a router or band saw, only one that I can set the strip of styrene onto on my cutting mat. This is the tricky part, since as I said, it's more or less already the correct width along the length of the strip - well beyond the point of drawing the areas that need to be trimmed off onto the piece itself and then cutting along the outline, since most of the unwanted excess is gone and I'm now just trying to tidy things up to a specific width.

A hopefully self-explanatory picture:
Cutting Styrene Tip

 What simply needs to be done past the point in the picture is to shave or cut the styrene length back to where I can see the pencil lead again, which should be fairly easy since I have a visual reference of my 2mm target width to aim towards. There's a number of advantages to this: it's on a cutting mat where I can get leverage; I don't have to hold the narrow length with needle-nosed pliers or a vise and using some other method to shape the styrene length where the edges won't be as "crisp"; and I don't have to "eyeball" the correct width at all since it's right there in front of me (unlike if I used a Dremel-mounted sanding disc, needle files, or sandpaper outright).

Questions? Comments? I'm thinking this technique ought to be applicable to tidying up custom-cut shapes as well that for one reason or another can't be cut out precisely (such as an outline drawn on the styrene itself) - an awkward-shaped addition of extremely thin sheet styrene to the face place of the Chaos Lord's helmet comes to mind, for example.


#hobbytiptuesday - Making Sharpened Teeth

 Note: for simplicity's sake, I'm simply going to use reference "teeth" throughout this Hobby Tip writeup, but the technique is applicable for just about anything on a figure that one would want as a length of pointed object: sharp teeth, spines, spikes, claws, studs, spurs, and all the way up to tusks and the like with thicker lengths of styrene. I've been using this method for a while and found it useful in shaping a wide variety of add-on details with my miniatures.

 I would imagine a lot of people sculpt pointed teeth, spikes, etc. from the same material with which they are doing customization or additional sculpting onto a figure. Personally, I prefer to make sharp teeth and similar details out of length of styrene rod, which I can buy in a variety of pre-sized diameters and grind to shape. I find it gives me a bit more freedom to sculpt details on a figure, drill in holes for the "sharp bits" afterward, and then (if necessary) sculpt gums or additional flesh around the solid styrene. I also find that by making teeth out of a firmer material beforehand, it allows me to make adjustments directly to the teeth as the project goes along, if need be, before putting them in their "final" position. Personal opinion again, but I figger that added details sculpted around the teeth respond more dynamically to having them there as an existing hard physical object what I than I feel I'd get if I were trying to do them as a part of the overall process with a medium like Green Stuff or Milliput - to each their own, though.

Here are the materials I generally use in making teeth to add to figures:
Making Teeth Image 1
 Lengths of styrene rod, available in many hobby stores or through suppliers of Evergreen and Plastruct products; sandpaper - I use a 120 "medium" grit here, although that's a matter of personal preference from trial and error; Tenax 7-R Plastic Welder - couldn't recommend this stuff more highly for a variety of uses with plastic miniatures and bitz; a sharp hobby knife of some type; and alternatively, a Dremel or other high speed rotary tool with medium or coarse sanding discs - it goes a bit faster in terms of shaping a point, but is a bit sloppier due to melting of the styrene in the process (I'll focus on strictly sandpaper here in this Hobby Tip, but you can get the same results with careful quick taps of your styrene rod on a sanding disc at a low speed).

Making Teeth Image 2
 Holding the styrene rod at roughly a 45° angle to the sandpaper, you want to shape a quick point first with application of pressure slightly behind the end of the rod and short, quick drags of the rod backwards on the paper. I find that you get better results if you work near the outer edge of a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface, twisting the rod as you go with your other fingers to keep a different surface of the styrene against the paper with every burst of friction - eventually, if you keep twisting it evenly, you end up with a centered point.

Making Teeth Image 3
 Once you have your initial centered point, you move your grip slightly so as to make light, quick drags of the styrene rod backwards along more of the flat surface behind the shaped point. Again twisting as you go, you'll find that the surface of the sharpened shape begins to lengthen with repeated dragging across the paper with application of pressure further behind the initial point - in other words, you can vary the length and curve of the tooth's "pointiness" by adjusting how you grind down the remaining styrene rod behind your initial 45° angle. This particular example tooth in the picture ended up being about 3mm in length with a gradual curve to the top as I used a thicker styrene rod and drew out the "point" by sanding against the "flat" of the styrene rod.

A few steps not shown, but hopefully self-explanatory:
 After shaping the tooth to whatever curve and length desired, I generally give the tooth still attached to the end of the styrene rod a quick dip into the jar of Tenax 7-R - what the stuff normally does is liquefy plastic it comes in contact with, so you can brush it on in small doses and let capillary action and a little pressure "glue" plastic parts together seamlessly. In my case, with just a quick dip of the piece I've sanded to shape, it "firms" the whole dipped tooth up to a hard, smooth length of styrene so fine points at the end of long gradual tapers are less likely to get broken off. (Barring having a jar of Tenax 7-R handy, a similar effect could be achieved from an extra- extra-fast dip in straight acetone - acetone, however, is more likely to ruin the shape of your sanded tooth if it is left suspended in the liquid too long, and it takes a little longer for the styrene to solidify completely again as compared to using Tenax.)

 All that remains is cutting your sanded tooth off the end of your length of styrene rod. Generally I make teeth two at a time - one on each end of the rod following the same process - and then trim them both off the length of styrene, for the sake of saving some time and effort. I would also recommend leaving a little extra length of un-shaped styrene at the base of your teeth to allow for sinking an inset hole for them on your figure, or drilling in a pin in the base for purposes of mounting a home-made tusk or something a little thicker.

Here we have an assortment of finished sanded teeth ready for use:
Making Teeth Image 4

 Through experience, I've found that teeth and spikes and the like made this way prove a bit more durable if you leave a slight length behind your curved point and you mount them on your figure glued into a shallow hole from a suitably-sized fine drill bit. You can then go and shape the gums or flesh around the base of the tooth - or in the case of spiked armor, leave it as-is if you have the length of sharpened styrene rod in a hole of matching diameter.

 As always, I'd appreciate any comments or feedback and if anything is a little unclear wording-wise, I'd be more than happy to explain any part of the process in a bit more detail. (Any excuse to make another entry here, you know...)


Venting a Bit...

 Well, I have to say I'm a little... not exactly sure what word to use: discouraged? disappointed? jealous? Unlike a lot of folks in the blogging community and on the Forum I generally frequent, apparently, I won't be opening my copy of Space Hulk that I ordered and paid for, despite it having been shipped and received yesterday.

 I placed my order at the Games Workshop Hobby Center that I usually frequent, as I like the staff and the store and figgered I'd let my wallet do the talking in terms of doing my part to keep a place I like in business. Ordering through the Games Workshop website and then paying by credit card at the register, the staff asked if I wanted it shipped to my home address or to pick it up at the store.

 Well, given my thinking about spending money on this "surprise release" after I'd already expected to receive/ordered several hundred dollars' worth of miniature-related stuff for my birthday, and not quite being sure how to broach that with my wife, etc. - I just said to have my Space Hulk box shipped to the GW store. I've been following the order online since I placed it, and like a lot folks, saw it was dispatched already - shipped via FedEx, as a matter of fact - and according to tracking it was shipped the 28th of August and set to be delivered yesterday. Well, I'm thinking, "Great! We're going away on vacation to visit my parents-in-law for the Labor Day holiday weekend here and I'll get to relax and check out the game and maybe even play it with my daughter if it's not incredibly complicated."

 I got an email confirmation from FedEx that it had been delivered. Well, I got off the phone with the store after reading all the posts in a Space Hulk thread in the Tabletop General Discussion section of my usually-visited Forum, verifying that it had arrived. The GW store staff confirmed that it had arrived and was in the store, but basically said that I couldn't pick it up until the 5th. I mentioned the FedEx tracking notification and that we were going out of town and that I knew of quite a few persons that had ordered the box elsewhere and had apparently received the set - the staffer said he would call the manager to see if I could come in to pick it up. Well, calling back to follow up, I was told that essentially he confirmed that they aren't allowed to release any of the Space Hulk sets until the 5th, that they were sorry I had been notified of the shipment, and commiserated that if I had ordered it someplace else I, too, would probably be opening a Space Hulk box myself - and that all these other companies that have actually let paid-for merchandise shipped ahead of time to the customers that bought it aren't supposed to be releasing their Space Hulk sets until the 5th either. (I'm also wondering if things would be different if I'd set a home delivery location?)

To compound the sudden discouragement:
 When I was last in the GW Hobby Center about a week ago, the new White Dwarf issue (yeah, the Space Hulk one) had arrived for subscribers and staff were calling everyone letting them know their issues were in. I've had an at-home 2-year subscription with about 7 issues left and there was no joy in the mailbox yesterday yet again.

 I pre-ordered the 3-book Siege of Vraks set early as a birthday present to myself, of sorts - the last book in the series was released the day after my birthday - and the set came via UPS yesterday. I didn't even have to go through the effort of opening up the box - it was already opened for me, well, probably unintentionally and by a large, angry machine... but still! And the special Siege of Vraks slip case included for all 3 volumes has one corner mangled, all pit-bull chewed-on like. And not that it's an amazingly big thing but it was one of the hopeful aspects of me pre-ordering it early... no signature by the author, either. The Model Masterclass book I ordered from Forge World arrived with one corner similarly crushed, folded, and spindled, and while the staff in the UK was nice about shipping a replacement after I eventually was able to contact them, in the process I found that I apparently can't make international calls on our home phone or my cell phone without buying a pre-paid calling card or paying by the minute with a credit card - when the heck did that sort of thing change? Most of my extended family lives in the UK and we used to call back and forth all the time growing up. I'll have to go buy a calling card again to get in touch with Forge World customer service.

 I guess I'm just venting a bit with all my recent "highly anticipated" items from Games Workshop/Forge World getting "shot down" in some way or other.

 I get the concept of a September 5th release date and all, it just feels like I'm being "penalized" (in a manner of speaking) for ordering it through my local GW store, especially since I was notified my copy of the game was delivered already via FedEx and we're going to be away visiting relatives through Monday - a vacation it seemed like I'd be able to bring the new game along for and get family involved in playing during 4 days of relaxation.

 I also understand the problems with shipping large packages overseas re: my Forge World stuff. I guess I had hoped this time the rilly expensive book set would arrive unscathed - it was disappointing to see the UPS guy walking up the driveway to drop a large box off behind the house and I'd been looking forwards to the books and when I bring the cardboard box inside, the end is hanging open and the contents were damaged. Thankfully not the books, though! (And a small box of bits I ordered when calling back about the Model Masterclass book arrived safe and sound, too.)


Hobby Tip - Balanced Tools

 Are your tools balanced? (This concerns using Dremel High Speed Rotary Tools, specifically, but I think the underlying idea is important enough to warrant making a Hobby Tip out of it.)

 I went back the other day and just for the heck of it, reread the manual for my Dremel Rotary Tool - I'm fairly sure I read it when I first started using the thing years ago, but the significance probably escaped me. Now, thankfully, I haven't been severely injured by any of the workshop or hobby tools I've used (*knocks on wood*), well, barring the occasional stab from a hobby knife when I should've known better - and the only problematic thing that's happened with the Dremel has been a few cut-off wheel "explosions" when I've obviously bit off more than I could chew in one go.

 It hit me all of a sudden, though, in one particular section I read that there's a lot of things I just sort of take for granted in using my hobby tools and working with miniatures, and that if I actually stopped and thought about what I was doing - the actual process of what I was doing, mind, and whether I was actually working in the most efficient manner possible - there's probably a lot of things I could change to make my hobby more, um... expedient? Smoother? Easier? Quieter?

 I hope the Dremel company forgives me for quoting from their product manual directly (that, or floats me some advertising bonuses as it's a helluva tool and I use it in hundreds of ways in working with and prepping miniatures and terrain):
BALANCING ACCESSORIES - For precision work, it is important that all accessories be in good balance (much the same as the tires on your automobile). To true up or balance an accessory, slightly loosen [the] collet nut and give the accessory or collet a 1/4 turn. Re-tighten [the] collet nut and run the Rotary Tool. You should be able to tell by the sound and feel if your accessory is running in balance. Continue adjusting in this fashion until best balance is achieved.

 There - fairly simple. It sounds fairly common-sense, doesn't it? Well, yeah, in theory - but how many people have actually took a few moments before charging in with hot wire cutters, Dremels, paintbrushes, or unthinned glues to think whether how they were going about things and whether they about to work, process-wise, in the most efficient manner?

 Any of you have any suggestions or comments along this line in terms of things to think about prior to "setting to work" in this fine-scale miniature and -model hobby?


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