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...)

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