Free tutorial - tools and materials in miniature tabletop and board games hobby



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Basic tools and materials for miniature hobby.

This time I would like to present you some very basic tools and materials for miniature hobby. I do realize that there is much more options and tools than described here, but I would like to keep things simple for the newcomers. You do not need to have everything! Start with small set of basic tools and slowly build your workshop. This hobby can become quite expensive if you let it or want to, but in real to start all you need is a few simple tools and materials. At the end of this article you will find the newcomers’ basic tools - this tools that you should have when begin diving into hobby.

At the beginning all you want is to assemble your miniature, paint it and maybe do some modeling on the base. Nothing fancy. Here are tools that will provide you good “price to performance”.

Light - Desk lamp

Light for painting is a subject in itself. I assume that you just begin your journey, so it is enough to say that - do not work in the dark! Great advice sherlock! You’re welcome! :) But being serious, you will work with things that are really small and have many details. You will often work with glue and you want to see clearly everything to not spoil the wrong surface. Some details or textures of the surface are visible only in good light. I guarantee you that sooner or later you will drop on the desk and floor really small parts and you better find them before your cat woke up! You may consider getting two desk lamps from each side to eliminate the shadows and see everything clearly. A lot of painters also try to get bight lamps with close to daylight color/temperature. Why? Because colors look different in different light. If you just start this shouldn’t worry you, just get yourself bright spot to work.


To assembly miniatures or glue things to the base we need some glue or glues.


Get a “Super glue”. What you see on the picture is a polish brand but every superglue is basicly the same. This is very fast drying glue and you can use it for almost everything. Two things I would not recommend it for are paper and foam/styrofoam. This type of glue is too diluted for paper and will soak into it and for foam it is corrosive so it will melt it. But for everything else(plastic, resin, metal) it will do its job! Working mule for 90% of the tasks :) What you need to know is that this glue can leave white precipitate and it is glossy when it dries. It means - if you can, first glue then paint or maybe you will have to correct a few things after. Because of this superglue’s features mentioned above I do not recommend this glue for translucent parts - windows, glass, airplane cockpit etc.. For that you should look for dedicated hobby glue.

One of biggest advantages of superglue is it’s price and amount of glue you need. Oh...I am almost sure that you will glue your fingers together :) Use this glue in small dosage when you glue miniature parts. Also consider to use toothpick for application in certain areas.


You can try Ravell glues for plastic it should be good for resin. Tip - if the glue dried inside the pipe, take the pipe out and use fire to burn your way through again :) Just be carefull...lashes and eyebrows are important in social contacts :)


If you plan to work on some bases and/or dioramas I recommend you to get “PVA glue”. This glue is not corrosive, it is great for paper, sand, soil, foam and other basing materials. It is translucent when it dries and can be diluted with water. It also should be non glossy after drying. Drying time is much longer than glues mentioned before. “PVA glue” it is a “type”, as with everything else there are many brands/producers. Search for “PVA glue” and you will surely find one.

Hobby knives


You need only one, but this tool is must have. In this hobby you will constantly clean edges of minis, cut materials for bases or use your knife for sculpting and trimming. My favorite is the one with straight edge -2nd from the top. He is two-parts: handle and the knife blade. You can always swap knives for different shapes or just to replace them with newer, sharper.



The one on the left is a must have for me. You will need it to cut out the sprues and many other materials like wires, wood, cork ect. The middle one is handy for holding and bending materials and in the middle of the tip it is also sharp so you can cut wires ect. The one on the right is perfect for bending wires in circles. My advise is to buy them in the hardware store they should be cheaper than the ones in the hobby store.



This may look silly, but actually they are handy. Tooth brush or hand brush is useful to get rid of some dust and thin membranes of resin from the model. You can also use it for some splatter paint effect, for texturing or cleaning surfaces. They are cheap, so try it!

Cutting mat


This is not necessary, but I guarantee you if you plan to do this on your home desk or table  then after a few months you will damage it pretty badly. I’ve this little baby mat that I received as a freebie for one of my hobby order. Sooner or later I will buy bigger.



OK, I do believe that you guys have got an agile fingers, but sometimes they are not enough. Some parts of the miniatures are really small and you will need smaller tool to hold them. This tool is also great for gluing materials to the bases and basicly modeling: pushing, holding, bending ect. Search in your hardware store first then look for them in the hobby shop.

Files and sand papers


I recommend to get at least one of these or the perfect trio (3 from the bottom): flat one, totally round one and roundy/half circle. You will need this to clean the mold lines and cut-off sprues joints. You can also use them for “sculpting” and trimming. You can get them really cheap at hardware store.

To have perfect smooth surface it is good to finished it with sandpaper. You are looking for paper with grain from 500-1000 or even 2k if you are too perfect :). The scale tells you how big the grain of sand is. The bigger the scale the smaller the sand grain(smoother paper).

Files are used mostly in modeling/sculpting or for bigger cuts(Sprue from beneath the feets). Small cuts on the mini can be cleaned by gently rubbing with exacto knife.

Wine corks


You probably think “what the hell”? Well these are useful as a handle for miniatures when you paint or sculpt. You can also cut them to use it on the base as the rocks/ground elements. Smaller ones you can get from wine bottles for bigger one you will have to search on ebay or speciality shops. You can place the miniature on them by using “UHU patafix” or “Blue tack”. They are also perfect when you want to pin the model. Their rocky structure allows you to stab the mini to the ground.

“UHU patafix” or “Blu tack”


Originally this products were designed to “glue” something to the wall. I mean pictures, paintings, notes, cables ect. In this case you would not have to use nails and damage your wall. Big advantage of this product is that if you pull enough you can glue it out from the surface without destroying/damaging the surface itself. Most of the time you can use it again. It behaves like a sticky bubble gum. It is often used to temporarily glue the miniature or part of the miniature to the surface, to masking(when you’re painting with airbrush) and commonly to transporting your miniatures.



If you plan to paint your minis then at the beginning I recommend to get two 1 seize brushes. One for proper painting and all “clean techniques” and second one for “damaging techniques”(for the brush) like dry brush and all other modeling/sculpting stuff. You can also use them for precise applying putty or PVA glue. At the end always clean your brushes and do not let the paint dry on them. After some time the paint gets between the hairs on the neck and you won’t be able to get good pointy and steady tip. Brushes like this start their second life as modelling tool and “dry brush” instruments :) This is the first time I recommend to get a tool from a hobby store. Probably it’s one of two types of shop where “good enough” brushes for reasonable price are available. The other is art shop, but here you may get two types of brushes: one really good and really expensive and second just cheap. Do not buy brushes from markets or similar places. They won’t work. I hope to write more about the brushes and paints in the future.



These are common and easy to get. They are nice to have and sometimes can be useful when you want to glue two pieces together and your fingers are not enough or you just lack patience :)

Mini hand drill


I bought mine in a hobby store. I advise to use “manual” tool rather than electric. Making holes by hand takes more time but it also gives more control. Miniatures are small and fragile so this is quite important. I use this tool for  “pinning model” and for modelling/sculpting. As you see on the picture I have also set of drills from 0,5mm...and above. Of course everything is in the wrong place and order but you get the message :)



You won’t be able to pin your miniature without wire. They are also used for modeling, making patterns, armature for sculpture, trees ect. Simple, good material. I’ve got few thickness, but for fragile miniature I use 0,5-0,6 mm wire.

TIP: For bulkier minis as a pin a lot of people use steel paper clips, They are stiff, hard, great for this job!

Sculpting and modeling tools


At the beginning you will not need them, but after some time you may want to approach things like assembly in more advance way. You may want to fill the holes between parts of your miniature with putty or you may want to sculpt something by yourself. There are so many tools for sculpting and almost all sculptors have their favourite. I will try to simplify it and tell you this - you need a tool for applying, smoothing and sculpting putty. Something that will do 70-80% of the job. Look at the top one. It has this cylindrical tip/shape on the left. It is important because hard edges will leave significant marks on the surface. Sometimes you want to achieve this too but accidentally when you add material or sculpt organic shapes. Another great tools that almost all sculptors uses are “clay shapers”. Those with white tips on picture above. They are used for smoothing putty and sculpting in soft putties and clays like fimo,super sculpey etc. Repeating the same move with soft tool can also give you good results and it’s more controllable. These are sell in sets.

Where to look for the sculpting tools? I know that Andrea Miniatures has a set of sculpting tools in offer. It is OK but they are a little too big in my opinion. GW had one tool, but mine tip was bad casted and all bumpy. A lot of people uses dentist tools as a sculpting tools.These are always well casted. The downside of the last idea is that when you try to buy them online it’s hard to tell what size this tool is in real. I ended up having bunch of them and picked one that I liked the most.

At the end - it is all about your skills, training and habits. I saw movie where “JAG” sculpted almost 80% of the model using piece of hand made wood/stick(like a toothpick).



As we said above, you may want to fill the holes on your minis. There are many products that may do the job. Some are just dedicated to this task like Mr. HOBBY on the left and some are more versatile like greenstuff on the right. The left one, like many others in this category, is half liquid so it fills holes easily and application should be simpler, the right one is a classic two part epoxy for sculpting.

Quick clarification: Greenstuff is just a name for the putty not a brand name. Why green? Because when you mix two colors you will get green. Why mix two colors? The idea of sculpting is to work in something soft and be able to shape it. Once you do this you want something solid, so…. People come up with product that is soft, gives you some time for moedling and after that time in normal room temperature it reacts/dries and become hard. One part is epoxy, and the second one is hardener. The countdown starts when you mix them together. You will have about 40 min sculpting time. After that time the mas will become harder and harder. TIP: try to avoid using middle part where two materials connects. Cut the putt from the sides. Middle part is already harder and it’s not as fresh as you would like to.

As I said before, there are hundreds of products in this category. I just mention two types and “GS” is one of the most common and popular(it doesn’t mean the best!). I will try to expand this topic in the future. For now you just need to know that if you want to try play with it - get yourself some Green stuff.

Mini saw


This is just an addon to your workshop. If you plan to work with plaster, wood, harder materials and the pieces are bigger then this thing may be useful.

That's it. I do not want to overload you with informations, brand specific products or “how to use” instructions. I wanted to show you fairly simple, cheap and useful tools and materials. In the time I will try to add more articles on specific subject like assembly, putties, paints, basic concept of painting minis etc.

Basic list

I do understand that people have limited resources and I will repeat it again “You do not need all of this stuff!”. Start small, go to your hardware store and get yourself survival kit. : )

  • Super glue

  • Hobby knife

  • Hobby Brushes(if you are going to paint)

  • Flat file

  • Clippers for cutting

Get used to them, do something cool, do not pursue for products. A lot of cool stuff you’ll be able to do without complicated equipment or products.

I hope there are some of you that find it useful or maybe you have got friends that this will help them. If you want to contact us do not hesitate and drop us a line at or