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  • Improved painting rig.

    This article covers how to make an adjustable painting rig to hold based figures while they are being painted. I doubt if anything in this article is beyond the skill of most of the people here, but if you're young you might want to get the help of an adult who doesn't mind getting bloody and swearing a lot for the cause of mini painting.Most minis these days come on slotta bases, and I can't be the only one who finds that holding a tiny base while I paint causes cramping, or worse, the dreaded shakes. So with that in mind, here’s some instructions on how to make a rig to take the 'Pain' out of 'Painting' (see what I did there? Pure gold!)Before you start making the rig I'm afraid you're going to have to purchase some hardware, so lets take a look at the different bits that are going to hold the mini on the rig, and make the rig adjustable for different sizes of base.As you can see it's not rocket science. Any good hardware store will be able to supply a screw (not self-tapping, I used one about 5mm in diameter), a nut to fit it, a washer of approximately the right size, and a rubber washer or grommet (usually found in the plumbing section). It is important that the rubber washer has a tapered shape. It's that shape that will hold the mini base down and in place. For a rig that will hold only round bases you'll need 3 lots of hardware, and for a square (universal) rig, you'll need 4. Also buy a smaller flat head (very important!) self tapping screw so that you can attach your rig to a piece of wood. If you don't have any wood, a broom handle is ideal, and you're in the right place to buy this as well. This might seem a bit expensive at the moment but bear in mind that you can make a lot of rigs from one broom handle, and there's no glue involved in the rig construction so you can always reuse the metal pieces and rubber washers.Once you have the hardware then we'll move on to the hard bit. The baseplate!For this article I'm going to show you how to build a rig for round mini bases, but I'll also go into how to make one for square bases.Start with a very thick piece of plasticard, the thickest you think you'll be able to cut. Take a compass and make a small dent a good 3 to 4 inches from the side of the sheet. This will be our centre mark. Now use a ruler and the compass and draw two circles. One each for the sizes of the largest and smallest bases you want your rig to be able to handle. In my case I drew two circles of twenty-five and fifty millimetres in diameter. If you're making a rig for square bases take your base measurements from side to side, rather that corner to corner.Now, place a rubber washer so that it's slightly outside your largest circle (or square long side) and make a mark through the centre of the washer. Repeat this at two other roughly equidistant points (ooh, the big words!) for a round rig, or on each flat edge for a square rig.Now draw a line from the centre hole to the outer marks. Put the rubber washer on this line and move it in so it just overlaps your smallest circle (or square) by a couple of millimetres, and make more marks through the rubber washers.If you're making a round rig you should now have some marks which look like this. A square rigs marks will be more..uh..square. Less triangle, more diamond.Now the fun bit!Drill holes in the outer marks just bigger that the size of your main screws, and one in the middle the right size for your self tapping screw. Using a file or rotary drill join the pairs of outer holes and, while you've got the tools out, remove the excess plasticard so that your baseplate looks attractive (always important). In the diagram you can see that I have flat edges on the sides of the baseplate. This is to stop the rig rolling away when I put it down, and to let me put the rig and mini down on the table when I need to do fine detail work that requires that the mini be very well supported. Countersink the centre hole to accommodate the self tapping screw.Now, using the above diagram, put the rig together and attach it to a piece of wood with the self tapping screw. The flat head on the screw will mean that the mini base can sit flush on the baseplate. The wood can be cut to any length that you feel comfortable with, and if you paint standing up (?) you can just use the whole broom handle! I went with about 8 inches as this is short enough to enable me to move the rig around freely, and long enough for me to rest the rig on my chest or a table if I need extra support. Now put a test mini on the baseplate and move the rubber washers in to the sides of the base, tightening the screws one by one. It is very important at this stage to make sure that the wood isn't so thick that it fouls the tightening nuts when the rubber washers are moved in to the smallest base position. Make sure that the rig holds the bases you want it to firmly and securely, and check that the screws slide easily inside the grooves to enable you to adjust the size of base being held. Making baseplates isn't that hard and I made 2 others before I got the rig working the way I wanted it to. One last tip is to try not to use mechanical devices to tighten the nuts as eventually this will damage the baseplate (unless you've chosen to make it out of metal!) and it will also mean that changing minis is not as quick an operation as it could be. Finger tight should be just enough.To finish up, I'll post some other ideas for baseplates designed for holding different sizes and shapes of base.Standard square baseplate.Offset square baseplate, for minis that overlap their bases. Careful when trying this one. It will only work well for one size of base!God of all baseplates!I hope you enjoy building and using the rig (do I sound like Norm from ‘The New Yankee Workshop’?) and please comment if you think I could make any changes for the next version.
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