Every hobby desk is different, but all of them will share the same essential hobby tools required to build and paint miniatures.
1. Sprue cutters / snippers
A large amount of miniatures will start life in bits, attached to a sprue (frame). The first task is to snip each piece of the miniature off of the sprue ready to be cleaned.
This is where your sprue cutters (or snippers, or clippers) come in. They have small pointed edges perfect for snipping even the smallest parts of a miniature free without damaging it. They’re also perfect for cutting up miniatures for use in kitbashing projects (more on that in another article).
Sprue cutters are designed for clipping plastic and resin and should not be used for metal and harder materials.
2. Hobby knife
Hobby (or craft) knives are essential for cutting, shaping and scraping various parts of a miniature.
Once your miniature has been clipped from it’s sprue, you can then use your hobby knife to slice off any extra lumps of sprue (also known as burrs) that the cutters missed.
You can also remove any mould lines on the miniature by scraping them. This is best done with either the opposite (not sharp) side of the blade, or a dull blade from a knife that’s seen a lot of use. Avoiding a sharp blade here will help prevent accidentally slicing into the plastic.
Hobby knives are essential for building terrain and scenery as well. Perfect for cutting through all sorts of materials otherwise destined for the trash.
This is one tool where it pays to have a couple on your desk ready to go… one with a sharp blade and one with a dull blade.
3. Plastic cement / super glue
Your miniature has been clipped and cleaned, it’s time to glue it together.
Plastic miniatures can be assembled with either plastic cement (glue), or super glue. Whereas resin and metal miniatures will need super glue. There are other glues out there that would also work but here we’re focusing on the essentials.
Plastic cement dissolves the plastic forming a solid “weld”. If you don’t want to be able to separate the individual pieces then plastic glue is great. It’s also great for cleaning up mould lines, gap filling, sculpting and making “sprue goo”.
Super glue, also know as cyanoacrylate (CA) glue, quickly forms a bond between the pieces you want to assemble. It’s a strong bond, but the pieces are still separate and so enough force (or debonder) can separate them again. Sometimes this is useful for when you want to repurpose parts of a miniature down the track.
4. Paint brushes
Paint brushes come in all shapes and sizes. Fortunately you can achieve a decent level of quality with only a few brushes.
A large brush is useful for priming miniatures, applying washes and blocking out larger areas of colour. This brush can really help reduce the time needed for certain tasks.
Next, a medium sized brush is great for smaller areas of detail and layering.
Finally you’ll want a small brush for the highlights and small areas (facial features, eyes, lenses, gems etc).
Another useful brush is one that can be used for dry brushing. This brush should be large and flat/wide shapes tend to yield good results. Dry brushes will quickly lose their shape and become hard to use for any tasks that require precision.
5. Wet palette
When using a traditional ‘dry’ palette for mixing and thinning paints, your paints dry up and become unusable very quickly. Wet palettes solve this issue by providing a hydrated layer underneath the paint to keep it wet. The result is wet paint that you can come back to days after first using it. This is great a way of using less paint and perfect for helping you pick up where you left off between painting sessions.
We currently stock two wet palette options:
- Redgrass Everlasting Wet Palette Painter Lite
- Redgrass Everlasting Wet Palette Studio XL Complete Blue
Or you can view all of our wet palette products.
The hobby tools covered in this article are essential for anyone looking to start painting miniatures. Check out our full range of hobby tools and accessories perfect for any hobby desk.