Home Forums General General I need advice on a vice

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  • #136890
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    I figure the time has come to attempt one of those jobs I have been putting off my whole life: replacing the bent and broken pikes, flagstaffs and lances on my 15mm Minifigs.  I’m going to buy a pin vice hand drill and I was wondering if anyone had any advice on which ones are good quality.  Also, I’m assuming it would be a good idea to get some kind of clamp to hold the figures in place while I perform the surgery.  Has anyone got any recommendations for this?

    The Minifigs I am hoping to repair are old 2nd gen figures and their hands are quite small.  Has anyone successfully managed to drill out the hands on figures like these or would I be better off filing a groove into one side of the hand and gluing the pike in place.

    Finally, what is the best thing to use for replacing pikes etc.  Is piano wire the stuff to use?

    I guess I’m asking, is lock down the time to take up a new vice or should I stick to the vices I’ve already got?

    #136892
    MikeMike
    Keymaster

    Been using my Hobbycraft Pin Vice for years, no problems.

    https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/pin-vice-double-ended-swivel-top/570267-1000

    Never used it for hands though.

    I have a vice like this with rubber jaws:

    Mine came with rubber jaws, but you can buy inserts for ones without.

    #136893
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Thanks Mike,

    That looks like just the job.

    #136894
    OB
    Participant

    I’m interested in this too.  What size drill bit would you use for 15mm Minifigs?

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #136895
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Looking at the hands on my renaissance pikemen I think I will need something under 1mm but I am not sure how feasible this is.  I think it will take a very steady hand to drill successfully without snapping the bit.

    #136896
    Tony Hughes
    Participant

    I find that using a pin vice is much easier to control if the figure is held in the other hand. Be gentle with pressure, trying to force the bit won’t help. Only increase the pressure a bit once it starts to cut and you can see dross coming out. If you have difficulty getting started then try using a smaller bit to make a pilot hole.

    I’d advise getting one of the sets that run from about 0.5mm up to about 2mm but the ones around 1mm will get the most wear and may need replacing more often. Splash out on a good set of bits and they will last with careful use, poor quality sets blunt too soon and are impossible to work with after a short time. Surprisingly drilling plastic seems to be more affected that metal by the sharpness of the bit and it can be murder trying to start a hole on some curved surfaces.

     

     

    #136897
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Thanks Tony,

    This is probably a stupid question but how do you tell if you are buying good quality drill bits?  Is price the only guide to this or is there a brand you would recommend?

    #136900
    Geof DowntonGeof Downton
    Participant

    What size drill bit would you use for 15mm Minifigs?

    I usually start with 0.5mm, then enlarge the hole if I need to. I use 0.6mm lace pins as spears, for example.

     

    Finally, what is the best thing to use for replacing pikes etc.  Is piano wire the stuff to use?

    I use brass rod in an appropriate size. If you want a head you can flatten the end with a hammer and anvil (or something smooth and stiff enough to serve as one), then file the flattened end to shape. Steel rod/piano wire will work, but is less easy to flatten.

     

    I second Tony’s advice to hold the drill in one hand and the figure in t’other. On occasions I have been known to use a sewing needle/metal scribe as a centre punch, ‘though not with a hammer!

    One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.
    Ahab, King of Israel; 1 Kings 20:11

    #136903
    MikeMike
    Keymaster

    Agreed on poking a pilot hole with a stabby thing first.

    #136911
    OB
    Participant

    What a useful thread. Thanks everyone especially General Slade for starting it.

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #136912
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    I agree with others’ advice.

    Note also that brass rod is much easier to cut and work than steel wire. I’ve notched my wire snips trying to cut the wrong stuff.

    “The Minifigs I am hoping to repair are old 2nd gen figures and their hands are quite small. Has anyone successfully managed to drill out the hands on figures like these or would I be better off filing a groove into one side of the hand and gluing the pike in place.”

    I repair a lot of small figures. I work with obsessive care, but I often destroy a hand in the process of drilling it out. I attach the replacement bit with a blob of  two-part epoxy to whatever fragment or stump is left. In 15mm scale, no one notices the damage under a coat of paint.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #136913
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I need advice on a vice too. I’ve done booze, drugs, pre- and extra-marital sex, spending too much money on motorbikes, and some low level criminal activity. Can anyone think of anything else?

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #136915
    Mike HeaddenMike Headden
    Participant

    I’d agree with almost all the above – brass rod not steel; good quality bits and, yes, sadly price seems to be the best guide; stabby thing to make a guide hole (I use my old Helix school compasses – the bit for the pencil gives you something to push down on). However, I prefer to have the subject firmly clamped in a vice rather than held in the other hand – less chance of turning up in A&E with a drill bit sticking out of the side of my index finger 🙂

    I’ve successfully drilled out the hands of 10mm figures (never again, life’s too short!) so 15mm should be doable with patience and a good eye (or an optivisor if the latter is in short supply).

    It does depend on the metal used for the figures. High lead content may be bad for the health but it seriously reduces strain on the fingers!!

     

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!

    #136916
    Geof DowntonGeof Downton
    Participant

    …pilot hole with a stabby thing first.

     

    …but it’s called a “stabby thing” for a reason, and there’s a good chance that your finger will become a “stabbed thing”. Thimble?

    One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.
    Ahab, King of Israel; 1 Kings 20:11

    #136918
    Mike HeaddenMike Headden
    Participant

    …pilot hole with a stabby thing first.

    …but it’s called a “stabby thing” for a reason, and there’s a good chance that your finger will become a “stabbed thing”. Thimble?

    Pretty sure I could still put a hole in my finger if I was wearing a Milanese plate gauntlet 🙂

    Figure held in vice avoids most stabby/ pointy thing injuries in my experience.

     

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!

    #136926
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Thanks for the replies everyone.  Tonight I shall order myself pin vice and a set of drill bits.  I will hold off on the desk clamp for now and see how I get along without it.  Then, when the bleeding has stopped, I will buy one.

    You have also sold me on brass rod.  Is 0.5mm reasonably sturdy or do I need to go for something a bit thicker (the next available size seems to be 0.8mm)? I don’t want to replace bendy pikes with something just a prone to bend.

    Finally, does anyone know whether it is possible to buy packs of drills of one size (for example a pack of 10 x 0.8mm drills)?  All the adverts I have found are for sets of drills of different diameters and whilst I will buy a set to get me started it would be handy to be able to buy a pack of whichever drill turns out to be the right size for a 15mm Minifig fist.

     

    #136927
    ian pillayian pillay
    Participant

    Plastic brush head bristles make excellent pikes. They also can bend so you don’t end stabbing you!

    as to the drill bits, go small to start with 0.3 or 0.4 then enlarge as required. You can buy packs of small drills from 0.1 mm to 1 mm from the Range and Trotters Traders. ( I kid you not we have a shop called that in our town)

    Tally-Ho!

    #136928
    irishserbirishserb
    Participant

    In the States, Walthers, is an online model railraod hobby supplier sells individual size/number bits, in two packs and maybe some three-packs.  I would guess that there is a European equivalent.  I’d suggest measuring the actual diameter  of the brass rod, and buying the bit 1-2 hundreds of an inch larger.  When you are  drilling, be sure to clear the flutes of the drill every now and then.  It will make the process a little easier.

     

    #136930
    Tony Hughes
    Participant

    “This is probably a stupid question but how do you tell if you are buying good quality drill bits?  Is price the only guide to this or is there a brand you would recommend?”

    Good question and I’m not sure that the answer is simple.

    Buying from a good retail source that you know or expect to only stock quality tools SHOULD be the simplest way but I’ve found that many these days stock inferior tools. I put that down to plastics and they assume you don’t need decent kit to work plastics – wrong, you do.

    If buying over the ‘net you can get a set of the drills I described very cheap (less than £5) and that is what I did. They haven’t done bad service and after a quite reasonable amount of use the most used are now too blunt to use. I then searched out a specific manufacturer of drill bits (don’t ask, I don’t remember the name) and paid 10 times as much for packs of a few bits in my most used sizes & shared them with a mate.

    I won’t retract the advice but, unless you buy tools regularly (and I used to), you might find identifying a good supplier a lot harder today than it was 30 years ago. I can’t complain about my cheap internet buy so I’d get a pack of those and see how they go for you. If I can find the purchase I’ll post the name of the supplier here when I do.

     

     

    #136931
    Radar
    Participant

    Rather than use a vice to hold the figure I’m drilling, I use blutack. Big blob of the stuff.

    I’ve drilled the hands of 100s of Peter Pig lowland pikemen out (annoyingly the only pikemen in their range not available open handed). Still got all my own fingers.

    Blutack is brilliant. Wrap the figure in the middle of the blob. Push it down onto the cutting mat, for extra security hold in place with your fingers. Blutack provides a buffer zone between fingers/figure/sharp thing if there is a slip. You can angle figures to drill at strange angles. If you need to hold the figure to drill, still wrap in blutack – if you are drilling a number of figures you’ll find hanging on to figures is hard going on the fingers, blutack provides a welcome cushion.

    My other top tip is don’t forget a pilot hole – I use a long RC fuel line cleaning needle thing.

    You may find that drilling/cutting/filing a groove is a lot easier (and much less stressful).

     

    Good luck!

    #136935
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Thanks again for all the replies.  It all sounds like good advice.  I’ve placed my order and I should get my drill (and some blutack) some time next week.  I will let you know how I get on.

    #138320
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Just to update things, yesterday I had my first attempt at drilling out the hand on a 15mm pikeman and it ended in complete failure. Not only did I fail to drill through the figure’s hand but I managed to break the plume off his helmet in attempting to do so.

    I’m not going to give up just yet but I am not sure I am going to have the patience – or a steady enough hand – to do a complete unit.  I think a more realistic option for me may be to drill a hole in the base of the figure to anchor the pike and then just carve a groove in the figure’s hand and glue the pike into the slot.

     

    #138328

    2nd gen minifigs are not the most detailed figures in the world.  Right?  They are also small.  So it might be easier to cut the hand off entirely.  Then sculpt a new hand around a length of rod (brass, copper, florist wire whatever) and stick it to the figure.

    Make a ball of putty (green stuff or sculpt) about the size of the figure’s fist.

    Run the wire through the fist.  It will stretch so you will be reshaping it with a tooth pick or knife blade.

    Stick the fist to the wrist of the figure.

    Note: When you cut the hand off, you might leave a little stump so you have sort of a pin to stick the new hand to.  Definitely shave it down so it is thinner.

    Years ago I used this method on my Napoleonic line lancers.  My medium was glue…because I was 12 and had no money.  I also used sewing pins as lances.  I think putty is the way to go.  So go get your sculpt on!

    John

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

    --Abraham Lincoln

    #138333
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    I don’t think I can bring myself to start performing full amputations at this stage – I would like to keep the original figure as intact as possible – but ultimately I may end up going down that route.  At the minute, I seem to be doing a pretty good job of making an already damaged figure well and truly broken.

    #138338
    Thaddeus BlanchetteThaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    Seconding (or whatever) the Hobbycraft pinvice. I have been using mine for more than a decade.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

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