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MamaGeek

Drill for Pinning

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No! Don't get that one! It doesn't work!

 

You want something like this. You need that top piece so you can twist the drill into whatever you're drilling.

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No! Don't get that one! It doesn't work!

 

You want something like this. You need that top piece so you can twist the drill into whatever you're drilling.

 

No need to be quite so dramatic.

 

It will work, however if you do a lot of pinning - the simpler pin vises like the one on the quilting site will generally lead to more hand cramping. The one which Rastl linked to offers a free spinning top piece which allows you to use more pressure...something that some people do like. Others prefer the double ended vise which allows them to keep two of their more commonly used bits ready at all times.

 

Personally I like to use a jeweler's drill. It has a free spinning top for the application of pressure, and it has a sliding collar with a twisted shaft. Sliding the collar down the shaft spins the bit. Mash your mini into a hunk of silly putty - and then go to town with the drill. Less hand fatigue when you are pinning a few dozen weapons to wrists. Good ones can cost a bit more, but well worth it IMO.

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My rather dramatic 'no' response was due to personal experience. I simply could not figure out why I couldn't drill more than 2mm into anything using the first linked tool.

 

I asked for help at RCon and that's when I found out that the tool was the problem. Using the type of pin vice I linked to fixed the problem and now I can hand pin things.

 

I also have one of the twist drills and have found it useful for some things but not for precision drilling. Mostly I use it to drill the holes in bases since there's some room for slop in those holes.

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For the most part all pin vises work in the same manner.

 

You will have a three or four jaw collet that will hold the bit and a compression nut that will tighten the collet. Depending on the pin vise in question, you may have several different collet sizes to deal with depending on the particular bit size...though most of the time it will be a one size fits all situation. It works similar to a Dremel if you are familiar with them.

 

Some vises come as a package deal, with bits and the pin vise all in one - more often than not though, you will want to go ahead and buy your own as well. Over time, you will need spares anyway - since depending on your habits and the quality of the bits, they can wear out fairly fast.

 

I simply could not figure out why I couldn't drill more than 2mm into anything using the first linked tool.

 

I asked for help at RCon and that's when I found out that the tool was the problem. Using the type of pin vice I linked to fixed the problem and now I can hand pin things.

 

Other than potential issues with pressure and collet size and your own physiology (hand sizes/grip strengths/medical conditions) there is no reason why any pin vise will not drill deeper than 2 mm. The drilling process isn't effected by depth or the manner in which a bit is held - pressure and the condition of the bit itself do change things though. If for whatever reason you weren't able to apply the needed pressure in order to cut into the metal (in which case the bit will burnish the metal and can lead to faster clogging of the flutes) than it wouldn't drill...but that is a different issue altogether.

 

Changing the tools can help for some people...but it is a personal preference - I myself don't care too much for the spinning topped vises. When I want a fixed shaft vise for one reason or another, the top merely gets in the way.

 

I also have one of the twist drills and have found it useful for some things but not for precision drilling. Mostly I use it to drill the holes in bases since there's some room for slop in those holes.

 

A lot of that goes back to tool quality more than tool design. Many of the cheaper China-built jeweler's drills are made with very loose tolerances so the collar wobbles a lot on the shaft. This can make control very difficult. However, a good quality vise will be just as accurate as a normal fixed shaft pin vise. The down side is that you will end up paying a bit more for it...the upside is that you won't be buying chinese junk (if it is under $5 it is probably Chinese...though quite often they will sell chinese junk at higher prices).

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Personally, I use a rechargeable dremel at low speed. I got this one at Walmart (I know, I'm a bad person) for about $30. It has two speeds, 10k and 5k RPMs. I use the slower speed and lots of wax as a lubricant and get my drilling done really quickly. In fact, for the last convention I worked at, I pinned 12 arms to 12 thieves in about an hour.

 

I used a pin vice for a while but it just took too long for me--sometimes 10 minutes to get a very short hole. It drove me crazy.

 

There are those who say that it's dangerous to use a high-speed device with a mini, but I've drilled myself with the dremel only once--the same number of times that I drilled myself with the pin vice (and I've been using the the dremel for much longer now).

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I started using a dremel as well, the speed of the bit can make it a challenge to not mar the surface of the figure so it takes a little practice to get used to the spin

 

I will have to try using the wax; thanx McC; and will also try using the wad of silly puty to hold the fig. Listen to Joe K, he seems to always offer sound advice for minis

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Most of the time I use a small Dremel for drilling pin holes but I have several pin vises as well. They are useful for holding other tools and pinned minis. Proedge (USA) makes one I like alot that has a removable swivel head. It detaches easily for times that I want a plain bit holder. My old Xacto from back when they made stuff in the USA had a removable swivel as well. I don't know about the new ones since I will not buy their stuff now.

 

With either manual or power drilling I always scribe a start hole with a pointy object (like a scriber or pin) to prevent the bit from dancing around and marring the fig. Lubricant is also important to keep the bit from binding in the soft metal.

 

Some pin vises come with bits but I recommend buying bits matched to brass rod or your choice of material. Hobby stores usually have a good selection of rod and bits. It is handy to have a couple of sizes of rod with slightly oversized bits to match.

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What other materials, besides wax, can you use to lubricate the bit? What about oil? Will WD40 work, or is Olive Oil better?

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What other materials, besides wax, can you use to lubricate the bit? What about oil? Will WD40 work, or is Olive Oil better?

 

For most people, wax is the most convenient. Normal candle wax works well enough, and almost everyone has a half dozen or so candles sitting about nowadays.

 

If you want something more specific, head to the hardware store for some machinists oil. It is actually designed to lubricate cutting tools, so it is more resistant to heat and other issues than other oils. Due to the nature of olive oil and heat - I would advise against it. Drilling generates a fair amount of heat, and even soft metals can generate enough heat to cause the oil to begin to gum up. When you later glue the pins in place, you will not have as strong of a bond as you would have had due to the carbon film which forms in the hole. Cutting oils don't form this film and normally evaporate without a residue (not the thicker oils - but a high speed oil like Marvelous). Wax on the other hand remains more or less with the drill bit...still it is always a good idea to wash after drilling and before pinning for the strongest bond (a good lipid cutting soap like Dawn takes care of the oils and waxes).

 

WD-40 works well enough. It evaporates with minimal residue - but be sure to coat the bit not the mini. It is hard enough to hold the mini steady while drilling...it becomes even more difficult when the mini is coated in oil.

 

As others have mentioned - Dremels are another option for pinning. They cost a bit more than a pin vise - but are more versatile in the long run. Although the little cordless one linked to would be handy - I would recommend getting one with a lower slow speed than 5K. For various reasons, lower speeds work better with soft metals and plastics - and they are also safer for you should you stick yourself with the bit in the drilling process.

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I like a pin vise with a ball at the end (which fits nicely in my palm):

90300_Pinning_System.jpg

 

The one that I have is from Gale Force 9. You'll probably want to get different bits though: the one that they include is a bit on the large side.

 

Ron

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I use to use one that was similar to the one Rastl first linked. It was good but just didn't fit my hand (I have big giant monkey paw hands), so pinning was kinda a PiTA for me & didn't do it that much. So I took a chance on the GF9 one at the semi-local game store. I'm glad I did, as pinning/drilling is much easier thanks to the ball end. It fits my hand, which in turn takes away the PiTA feel when pinning.

 

I bought a Tamiya hand drill a few months ago & even thou it say plastic only, it works pretty well too. Might not be for everyone, but it a nice little tool to use. I also use a Dremel Stylus as well, but not so much for pinning. On bigger items I'll use the power tools, but for most of my pinning the GF9 works great.

 

btw, Joe, I'm oe of those that don't have candles in their home. I have not a one. :lol:

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My pin vise is much like the one Rastl linked as well, and I'm quite happy with it. You just choose a bit of the appropriate size for your pin, insert it into the business end of the pin vise, and tighten the metal end that surrounds the spot where the bit goes. The wider free-spinning part at the other end lets you hold the drill in one hand and spin it with that hand's fingers while applying pressure with the palm, and hold the mini steady with the other. I'm able to get the bit to turn with very little wobble, which makes a big difference at these scales. Mind you, I have not worked with other kinds of pin vises, and I'm sure the ball-end type and others (perhaps even the one in the OP, for all I know) work well too.

 

Anyhow, the one I have came with a small selection of bits that are really all you need to get you started with pinning. Went for about $7 at Hobby House here in Ottawa (they sell model railroad gear and plastic car/tank/plane model kits mostly, but I've found it is a great place to buy tools for working on minis - the railroad scenery stuff is good for basing minis too). Similar shops I've visited across Canada (and presumably elsewhere as well) all sell similar stuff, so you may not have to shop online unless you want to. After my first bit eventually bound up and snapped off deep in a tiny pewter hole (what a nightmare getting it out, BTW), I realized I would eventually need more of them, so I went out and paid way too much (not that the normal price is excessive - this one actually had the wrong price tag) for a set of one each of all the really tiny sizes of bits (#61-80 IIRC), which is actually great as now I can better match up the size of my bit to the size of my chosen pin (normally a bit of a paperclip). Of course, that means I normally* always use the same bit, and if/when it ever snaps I'll have to get a replacement. But thanks to the kit it came in, I at least know what size number I'll need to get replaced - and these types of shops normally do sell individual bits as well.

 

Also, before you try any pinning, check out this pinning tutorial by Jester. You'll have to endure looking at an extreme-close up photo of Jester's spit, but it will save you enough time, effort, and frustration when you realize you have to somehow make the holes on either side of the join match up with extreme precision, that this momentary gross-out will be well worth your while. Don't waste your time with the various other methods out there - this way works perfectly every time and will not only show you the location of where the second hole should be drilled, but the angle as well.

 

I hope this has been helpful.

 

* for pinning much bigger or smaller pieces, obviously sometimes you will need to vary the size of the pin, thus the hole, thus the bit.

 

Kang

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