Wargaming Tradecraft: Pinning your Models and Impaler WIP 2 / Axer WIP 4

Pinning your Models and Impaler WIP 2 / Axer WIP 4

As I touched on briefly in my post about manual drills (or pin vices), pinning is the act of using wire to add support to a joint rather than just gluing things together. Usually, plastic models don't need to be pinned - plastic glue creates a strong bond by chemically melting the two pieces together. Metal parts are trickier than that - you can just glue them together, but they can break apart.

While creating an army that I'm putting a lot of effort into, the last thing I want are ugly cracks where I've glued broken parts back on.

You can find rolls of wire at hardware stores for less then $10 - and believe me, 50 feet of wire goes a long way.

The wire needs to be thick enough that it'll offer support - that means no thin craft and jewellery wire. It also needs to be thin enough to fit inside the small joints (arms, legs, wrists, etc) that our models have. 16-20ga is probably a good range.

I use 16 gauge wire. It's worth noting that wire "gauges" (thickness) is measured backwards. The higher the number, the thinner the wire and the lower the number, the thicker the wire. (And yes, it can go into negatives)

The "galvanized" part just means it's water resistant. (I've had so much moisture in my apartment lately that even with 3 dehumidifiers, this wire is starting to rust)

Pinning the Troll Impaler pt1
Pinning is pretty permanent, and if you drill the hole in the wrong spot, there's usually not enough space to re-drill the hole, so be sure about the way you want to fit parts together.
Pinning the Troll Impaler pt2
You start by drilling a hole in the center of the joint that you're connecting - on both sides. Make it deep enough that the wire can get in there and feel secure.

If you're glueing the model together before painting, you can put some super glue into both holes, stick some wire in, and push the parts together. If you need to paint them separately, just pin one side.

Since things don't always line up perfectly when you pin, test the joint first. Move the limb around, bending the wire, until it's positioned how you want.

Since there won't usually be room for a second hole, if you make a mistake you'll have to just drill one of the holes bigger. The pin won't provide as much support, but it's better than nothing. (Or use green stuff to create an unusually shaped "pin".

BE CAREFUL - not only is it possible to drill too far and go all the way through to the other side of whatever you're drilling, but as you're holding these small parts, your hand or finger will often be on the other side of the part, right where the drill is going to punch through. Using an electric drill speeds up the process, but increases the risk. Also, a dull drill bit spinning fast will quickly heat up the pewter - not only getting very hot, but snapping your drill bit as the metal gets soft.

As you should always do when drilling, use an exacto knife's tip to create a small indent into the surface before drilling. This will prevent the drill bit from sliding around.


I usually use an electric drill and am just very careful. Even then, I have trouble getting the bits deep enough and snapping them as metal heats up. I talked previously about using machine oil to condition metal parts after cleaning rust off them. Today, I tried using oil to help the drilling process and WOW did it ever work! Basically, I began drilling a bit, added a drop of oil to the start of the hole, then was able to drill the hole without stopping. No heating up or bending bit. Keep in mind you won't want to glue with the oil still there, I'd suggest wiping it off first. Also, there are better coolants than oil, but this stuff works and is easily accessible.

For unusually shaped connections, where center points aren't obvious, put a generous dot of paint on one side, then fit the other part in place. This will leave some paint in place and show you where to drill.

Pinning the Troll Axer pt1

Pinning the Troll Axer pt2 w/ green stuffing
In especially awkward positions, things might not quite fit once you pin them. Some larger joints don't fit perfectly and might've needed some filling anyways.

To take care of these, I get the pin in place, then place a ring of green stuff around the joint.

Add super glue to the inside, then press the two halves together.

You'll have to finish it off by scraping away the excess green stuff and then cleaning it up to make the moulding look natural

Take a look at my Step by Step page for the entire Hordebloods project.

Here you will find each model broken down into links showing each step:
Concept, Works in Progress, (for both modelling and painting) and Final Shots


  1. Pinning; a necessary evil. Good advice.

  2. Thanks :) Never really done it so religiously before.


Please keep all comments civil and language appropriate for a child-safe environment.