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So I was drilling a plastic figure last night, and realized part of my issue with drilling is my hands are stiffening up, and it won’t be too much longer before arthritis becomes an issue. I was looking at Dremel attachements, and came across small rotary engravers, which also might work. Does anyone here have any experience with ways to drill that don’t involve pin drills? Has anyone tried the rotary engravers? If your hands aren’t nimble, how do you drill?

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There are very small drill sets made for the Dremels, not terribly cheap, but not a budget buster either.

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I've never had any trouble using an actual speed-variable electric drill on minis. I realize this is not for everybody, but I am always surprised that more people do not simply use the most obvious tool. With practice, you may find you are able to drill even very small, fragile parts. I suppose there's an art to it, but we are all artists of kind here, yes?

 

I have a Dremel, of course, which I use for fifty other techniques. I never had any luck using it for drilling. It's either a pin vice or an actual drill for me.

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Jewelers use a Flexshaft, which is pretty much a narrow dremel with variable speed, with speed controlled by a pedal, like a sewing machine. It is easy to hold and control. It should work pretty well, but they're expensive. You may also consider a small vice to hold your mini that's getting drilled, so that you can focus on your pin-vice with drillbit, dremel, or Flexshaft. 

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8 minutes ago, Bruunwald said:

I've never had any trouble using an actual speed-variable electric drill on minis. I realize this is not for everybody, but I am always surprised that more people do not simply use the most obvious tool. With practice, you may find you are able to drill even very small, fragile parts. I suppose there's an art to it, but we are all artists of kind here, yes?

 

I have a Dremel, of course, which I use for fifty other techniques. I never had any luck using it for drilling. It's either a pin vice or an actual drill for me.

 

Yeah. Dremels are very high speed tools. I've not had good luck with using them for drilling minis.

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15 minutes ago, Doug Sundseth said:

 

Yeah. Dremels are very high speed tools. I've not had good luck with using them for drilling minis.

 

Even the variable speed ones? I have been using a low setting in the lab for etching into resin for sample labels. Not sure if that would still be too fast for a mini. 

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Actually if you put a regular drill into a vise with the small bit you could use that. You would just press the mini against it.

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39 minutes ago, Cyradis said:

 

Even the variable speed ones? I have been using a low setting in the lab for etching into resin for sample labels. Not sure if that would still be too fast for a mini. 

 

It's possible that there might be something slower, but the standard Dremel runs at 5000 - 30000 RPM. Might not be as much a problem with plastics, but with metals that's way too fast.

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I haven't done it, but you can use a cordless screwdriver with the right adapter (or hex-shank drill bits).  I believe I first saw this in the Hot Lead DVDs by Laszlo Jakusovszky.  

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@FireImp I too suffer from hand issues, and have a hard time drilling bits and pieces. I have yet to find a perfect solution, but here are a few things I have tried/intend to try.

 

*To expound on what I try to solve: I have significant muscle atrophy, pain and partial loss of sensation through my hands and arms caused by an as yet unidentified issue. My grip strength is shot, but it is easier for me to grip something bigger than smaller. I have difficulty both holding the pin vise to drill as well as with gripping the part with my other hand. Many of the things I have tried tend to solve one issue, but not the other. Maybe some of them will work better for you.

 

For the actual drilling, I have used a pin vise and a non-variable speed rotary tool (a cheap non-Dremel brand). My rotary tool is not a giant one, it's only about 5 inches or so in length and isn't wider than maybe 1.25 inches (not a giant one like a standard Dremel). It fits my hand pretty well, and isn't too hefty, so weight-wise my hand can tolerate it. Before my hands got worse, it drilled well; my biggest complaint is that it could send a part flying across the room if my gripping hand relaxed or fatigued, which my hand does; I just can't grip tiny pieces for long anymore. Plus, if you drill a part for a long period of time, the part is going to start warming up, possibly even get hot.

 

To combat the gripping issue, I wrap squishy foam (like you get in blister packs) around the part and then clip it with some type of clip (clothes pin, binder clip, etc); the foam will keep the part from being marred by the clip. Sometimes I use a lot of foam if I have a strong clip/clamp, you could even use a vise if you have one. I always situate the part so it and the clamp can be held against the desktop so I have another point of contact/support. Basically, I'm always drilling into the part at a downward angle, holding my rotary tool like a pencil (which is like trying to use really thick markers).

 

It still isn't perfect, but now I have something bigger to grip than a tiny part. I also put a work glove on the hand that is gripping the part, just for some extra protection in case of a wandering drill towards my hand. And of course, eye protection.

 

Currently, I can't use my rotary tool for drilling anymore; when I stop holding it my hand still feels like it is vibrating for hours. I'm stuck using my hand pin vise. I still wrap the pieces in foam so its easier to hold.

 

I intend to get one of those tiny electric drills that are marketed as "hobby" drills; they have a pistol grip, and are much smaller than a hardware pistol-grip drill. Micromark has one, but it's a bit pricey for me currently. It's not a high-rpm tool like a Dremel, it has an actual trigger so you can control the speed.

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6 minutes ago, Doug Sundseth said:

 

It's possible that there might be something slower, but the standard Dremel runs at 5000 - 30000 RPM. Might not be as much a problem with plastics, but with metals that's way too fast.

 

Wow, I just put the Dremel mini collets in my basket...taking them out again. Metals are what I have the most trouble with.

 

Where do y’all get your drill bits? I think the ones that came with my pin vise are garbage. Or maybe I am a wimp. 

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It won't help with plastic but for metal applications (especially ones that look like a major pain to drill) I forgo pinning and assemble the parts with JB weld epoxy instead of glue. You will need to make sure your work space is well ventilated and mix a much smaller amount than you would think. Be very careful applying the mixture and wipe off any that goes somewhere you don't want it immediately before it sets. Once it dries you will have a very strong bond. I have dropped metal giants assembled this way on concrete floors. The paint took a beating but the joints didn't budge. 

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Thanks Manvsmini, those are really helpful suggestions. I found the Tamiya mini drill on Amazon for a reasonable price, and it sounds worth taking a risk on. I’ll let you know how it works. I did take a look at the Micromark drills and yup...pricey. Not to mention high rpms, higher than the Dremel.

 

JBWeld...great backup idea. I might try that in the summer, but can’t use that stuff inside. No stinky stuff on the house.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Kormydigar said:

It won't help with plastic but for metal applications (especially ones that look like a major pain to drill) I forgo pinning and assemble the parts with JB weld epoxy instead of glue. You will need to make sure your work space is well ventilated and mix a much smaller amount than you would think. Be very careful applying the mixture and wipe off any that goes somewhere you don't want it immediately before it sets. Once it dries you will have a very strong bond. I have dropped metal giants assembled this way on concrete floors. The paint took a beating but the joints didn't budge. 

 

Heh, I pin and then use JB Kwik (the 5 minute JB Weld product) to stick the parts together.

 

Suspenders and belt, man. :poke:

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It may be worth looking at cordless screwdrivers, although you will probably need a drill chuck adapter to use it with drill bits. They have much slower rotation speeds, more of the order of 100s of rpm, rather than 1000s

 

One thing I always do now, especially on metal figures, is to push the drill bit into a candle first to give it a bit of a coat of wax. It makes it much less likely to stick when drilling

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