How to Pin, 2 methods

by Cypher




Pinning is one of those necessary evils that is really required if you want your metal and resin models to last. No matter the combination of metal/plastic/resin, superglue only goes so far in providing stability and is woefully inadequate on it’s own for those large metal models and even bigger Forge World resin kits.

How many times have you dropped a precious model only to have its constituent bits fall apart? Well fear not, a well pinned model will stand those little accidents and once you get into the habit of pinning it really is no chore at all.

If you plan to do any kind of modelling you need some basic tools, snips (wire cutters), a scalpel or craft knife, glue etc.

Pinning also requires some basic tools and consumables. A pair of snipe nose pliers, snips, superglue, needle file, pin vice, correct size drill bits and corresponding solid brass rod. You can get most of this stuff through hobby and craft stores. The brass rod and drill bits are easily and cheaply obtained through the likes of ebay or on-line hobby/modelling supplies.

As an example, I got a pack of 10x 0.8mm drill bits on ebay for £3.50 and I found an online hobby store selling 12″ lengths of 0.8mm solid brass rod for 49pence each.

Some people like to use paper clips to pin their models…thats all well and good, BUT, you rarely get a good fit between the hole you have drilled and the paper clip wire because unless you have a wire gauge, how do you know what size drill bit to use? Far better to use a drill bit and wire of the same size. I use 0.8mm and 0.9mm drill bits and brass rod.

A note about Superglue
There are many different types of CyanoAcrylate (superglue), some are better suited to the task of modeling than others.

ZAP-A-GAP CA+ is my superglue of choice because it is just viscous enough to be controllable yet possesses excellent strength and gap filling properties. It is also readily available to order from the Internet regardless of where you live.

1.) There are actually a couple of ways I pin my models, depending on what I am pinning and the difficulty involved with mating the parts.

First and foremost make sure you have cleaned away any flash and debri from the components to be joined. I personally like to give the component I am gluing the pin to a quick file to level the surface and so aid the drilling process.

Any components that have rounded locating lugs (like this Marines backpack lug) should have the end filed flat to stop the drill bit slipping.

2.) With the drilling surface prepared, take your pin vice and carefully begin to drill a shallow pilot hole. A couple of twists should be sufficient. Check that the hole is in the centre of the drilling area.

3.) Once you are happy with the positioning drill the hole a couple of millimetres deep then insert your brass rod and snip it off with about a millimetre showing. This small piece of wire will allow the two halves to fit fairly closely.

4.) Now you need to try and firmly press the two components together as accurately as possible…after a little practice you will find this quite easy.

If you now look at the component you have NOT drilled you should see a small indentation where the pin has pushed against the metal/plastic/resin.

This is your ‘X marks the spot’…the place you need to drill out to get a good join. Try to drill the hole in the ‘marked’ component at roughly the same angle as the pin in the main component and be careful not to drill so far as to punch out the opposite side…see a little further down on how to gauge how deep you have drilled.

5.) There is a another method of achieving the marked component. Paint a small blob of paint on the pin and gently press the components together. The paint will mark the spot to drill on the opposite piece.

6.) You can now remove the small bit of rod from the main component (it’s done its job!) and drill the hole to a depth you think is suitable. I normally go for around 5mm but its more a judgement by eye thing.

An easy way to tell how deep you have drilled is to put your nail on the drill bit next to the surface of the model then withdraw the drill bit. The distance between your fingernail and the tip of the bit is the depth you have achieved.

7.) Before you glue the rod in place give it a dry fit to make sure it slides into place ok.

8.) Once you are happy run a small amount of superglue into the hole and push the rod firmly home. Wipe away any excess superglue from the area and give it a few moments to cure.

9.) Snip the rod off with enough length to support the other piece (I normally leave more than I require and trim to fit) then dry fit to make sure it all looks okay.

10.) Once you are happy with the dry fit of the two pieces run some super glue into the hole of the second component and fit the two pieces firmly together.

Cypher’s Top Tip

CyanoAcrylate cure’s by reacting to small traces of surface moisture (which is why it is so damned good at gluing your fingers together!) To get a really good bond apply a small amount of glue to one piece, then breathe a couple of times on the opposite piece, before joining them together. Curing should be very quick and prevent the need for an accelerator which actually creates a weaker bond.

For a little extra strength I carefully run some more superglue into the crack of the join, this also fills any small discrepencies between the components. Unfortunately some kits have such poorly fitting components that you will need to dig out your putty or use a Cyano Powder to fill the gaps!!!

These are my Sternguard conversions pinned using the pinning method just described…yes…even the plastic scope and ammo clip!

The second type of pinning is for those joins that are difficult to judge the pin locations – where using the method above wouldn’t be achievable.

Complicated conversions tend to suffer from these difficulties so this process involves pinning the model AFTER you have glued the components together and given the glue sufficient time to cure.

1.)Using my Sternguard conversion I will show you how to strengthen the join between the Marines metal hand and his plastic bolter. As in the previous example, carefully drill a pilot hole then make it deeper and deeper. Slow and sure with frequent checks on the angle of drilling is important here so as not to damage the model detail.

2.) Because you are effectively drilling into two seperate components it is very important to gauge the depth you have drilled to. For dissimilar components like metal and plastic it’s not too bad because as soon as you start seeing plastic swarf (in this case) you know you have reached the second component and therefore need to be extra careful. Again, the little measuring trick I mentioned earlier comes into play.

3.) Once you have found the distance between your fingernail and the drill tip you need to superimpose the drill bit over the model at the angle you have been drilling…this will effectively show you how deep into the second component you have drilled.

4.) I actually drilled a little further than the photo shows to give maximum strength to the join. That done, a quick dry fit with the brass rod, a drop of super glue and insertion of the rod will give the join its strength. I tend to use a thinner super glue for these joins as it is able to penetrate to the second component more easily.

5.) Clean up the excess glue…

6.) …and snip off the rod as close to the model as possible this time.

7.) Finally, using a needle file carefully remove the excess brass rod until it is level with the model surface. A quick dab with some super glue will seal any gaps!

This Sternguard Heavy Bolter conversion was completed using the second pinning method.

And there you have it…two ways to pin your models.


Just to show I am not completely fixated on Space Marines, here is a little tip for all you Ork Mekaniks.

The older metal Deff Dread and Killa kans are quite heavy models but once you have the main bodies put together and the legs pinned in place they are quite sturdy…the same cannot be said for the close combat arms which can break quite easily unless pinned.

1.) Start by carefully drilling through the close combat arm buzzsaw or klaw. Once that is done tack it in place on the arm itself with a small blob of superglue then drill through the hole you already made into the arm and out the other side. Use the dry fit process for your rod then glue it in place and snip it off. You can actually get away with quite a lot on Ork models because they already look so ramshackle that a bit of wire poking up does not look out of place when painted.

2.) Next, file the arm joint on the Kan/Dread (I happen to be using a Kan) body flat then find a thick point on the rim and carefully drill a hole and fit a pin…glue it in place at this point.

3.) As with the first example I gave you, offer up the close combat arm and ‘mark’ it so you have a point to drill. You may notice on the photo I already have a hole on the arm…that’s because after I drilled it I was unhappy with the angle of the arm in place…

4.) …so I had another couple of goes (hey, I never said I was perfect  )

5.) After a bit of trial and error I decided to keep the original pose after all. Kuh!!!

That’s all for this tutorial, thank you all for reading, I hope it was informative…now go pin something!