Saturday, September 12, 2009


Hi again,

Today I will not present any new tutorial about making sculpting tools.

But I have another goody for you.

When I have a look on my blog I discovered, that it is a bit hard to read, if you didn’t start right at the beginning with the first posts.

In newer posts I refer to what I’ve wrote in older posts sometimes and If you haven’t read this older post it might be hard to understand.

That’s why I come to the decision to merge all the posts and tutorials so far in one file and to offer the whole thing to you as a pdf-file.

So that’s the news for today:

You can download all the tutorials in this blog so far as an eBook.

This eBook has 128 pages and it is called:

“MAKE YOUR OWN SCULPTING TOOLS – a guide about how to build sculpting tools for sculpting in small scales”

The download is completely free for using it privately. Of course any reprint or any use in a commercial sense of the eBook itself or its content is only allowed with my explicit permission.

I’ve made two versions of the eBook with different resolution, one for reading it as an eBook on your screen and the other with a higher resolution for printing it out.

Here are the download links (right click, save target...):


MAKE YOUR OWN SCULPTING TOOLS – print version (pdf: 15.2 MB)

I hope you like this

Friday, September 11, 2009



Today I want to talk a little bit about armatures for sculpting miniatures.

I guess most of you are familiar with the basic aspects of sculpting miniatures. So you surely know that you’ll need a solid foundation for putting your putty on if you want to sculpt a humanoid miniature (and not only a “blob”).

There are two alternatives for such a foundation.

1. You can take a so called dolly. That’s a skeleton-like substructure cast from white metal. There are several different versions of these dollies available from different manufacturers (for example: Reaper, Ebob, or Hasslefree Miniatures to name a few).The advantage of the dollies is that you don’t have to worry about proportions, because you can use them just like they are. The disadvantage is, that because of the material, they are made of, they break quite easily when you try to bend them to get the limps into the pose you want to have. Because of that, some (more extreme) poses can’t be sculpted with these dollies. Another disadvantage comes from the preset proportions, because only small variants are possible.

2. The second way to build a foundation for your sculpt is to make an wire armature from scratch. Usually two pieces of wire are twisted together so the twisted part forms the torso, while the wire ends are bent to form arms and legs (pic. 2).

The advantage of these wire armatures is that you can do every pose you like. The wire can be bended easily into the needed position without breaking. You also can do every variant of size and proportions because you do it all from scratch and so there’s no restriction to pre-cast proportions. In reverse, the disadvantage is that you have to find the right proportion again every time you do a new armature. Another disadvantage is that it is difficult to get a “5 point armature” (1 head, 2 arms, 2 legs) from twisting two pieces of wire together. Usually you can choose between a “3 point armature” (head and legs) or a “4 point armature” (two arms and two legs). In both case you have to add an armature/wire for the arms (3-point armature) or the head (4-point armature) later.

So both, dolly and armature have their advantages and disadvantages and I thought about a way to combine the advantages of both, while eliminating the disadvantages.

So I came to the idea to cast my own “dolly” with cast-in wire parts for the arms and legs.
The advantage of this hybrid-armature is that you got a “5 point armature” with some proportions, but also with legs and arms, that could be bent without breaking.

I developed two versions of this kind of armature (I call it “Schellert-armature” because of my last name). The first version has a complete torso including hips while the other ones torso exists only of head, neck and ribcage.

The first has more given proportions while the other one allows more adjustments regarding the height. On pic. 3 you can see the two versions and their use.

I admit that it’s a bit of work until you get such a hybrid armature because you have to do a “master”, build a drop-casting mould from it and then cast the armature. Maybe it’s too much work if you just sculpt a few miniatures. But once you’ve got the mould, you can cast as much armatures as you like quite fast. So if you need some more armatures for your work, maybe it’s worth to invest the time.

So this is how you can make your own “Schellert-armature”:
I assume that you are familiar with the process of making drop cast moulds from heat resistant rtv-silicone rubber, because I won’t describe that. If not, there are lots of tutorials that can be found on the internet. It’s really not as complicated as it might look on first view.

First of all you need an “original” of the armature. Instead of wasting many words about how this has to be made, I just show you in pic. 4 how my master-armatures look like.

To fix the wire parts, I just drill in small holes into the sculpted part and glued the wire in. I used wire with a diameter of 0.8 mm for that.

To make it clear:
For the original, I took 4 pieces of wire and glue each of them into a hole that I’ve drilled into the “torso”. For casting the armatures, I only use two pieces of wire. These two pieces are twice as long as one of the 4 wires used for the original. These longer wires are bent and will be placed into the mould before closing it. Then the molten metal will be cast into the mould and around the wire parts, so they will be fixed tight into the torso of the cast armature.

I made two different versions of the Schellert-armature that I called x-type and y-type.

The x-type has a full torso with head, chest Spine and hips. So while the size of the torso is fixed on this “dolly”, you can do a little variation with the length of the arms and legs (wire parts).

The y-type torso exists only of the head and chest without casted spine and hips.
Instead of the spine and hips there are only the wire parts. On this version you can also do variations to the length of the torso, because spine and hips have to be formed out of the wire, so you can choose the length of the spine. So with this kind of armature, you can do miniatures with different sizes (see pic. 3 above).

So the trick regarding the wire parts is that when the metal is cast around them, they are perfectly fixed.

On the x-type armature, the two arms are made from a single piece of wire as well as the two legs.

On the y-type armature left arm and left leg on the one side and right arm and right leg on the other are each made of a single piece of wire.

If you have problems sculpting the torso or if you are unsure about the proportions, just buy the Reaper-dolly (the “advanced” ones), cut off arms and legs and use the rest as a starting point for sculpting the torso. When the torso is done, just drill in holes and add the wire parts.

Then you have to make a drop cast mould with heat resistant rtv-silicone rubber from it. In relation to a full 30mm miniature, the part of the armature that has to be cast with white metal is quite small and this could be a problem for the casting process. So the white metal that you’ll cast into the mould should have enough “pressure” to fill the whole cavity of the mould. To achieve this I recommend an extra-large gate (sprue) as you can see on pic. 5). If this gate is filled with molten metal, the weight of that metal will give the needed pressure.

While making the mould I also recommend the following:
You have to set the parting line on the object you want to make a mould from to define, what’s in mould half A and what’s in mould half B. Usually you try to set this parting line roughly into the middle of the object to get a well balanced mould.

But in this case you shouldn’t do this. Because later you have to put the wire parts into the mould it would be easier if the cavity that holds the wire is a little deeper. This helps to prevent the wire parts from accidentally falling out of the right place while casting the molten metal in. So try to create your mould in a way, where the wire parts are set predominantly into one mould half (see pic. 5b).

When you’ve got your mould with cut in gate, sprues and air vents you can try your first cast. Before you cast the white metal into your mould, you have to place two bent pieces of wire inside the mould as you can see on pic. 6a and 6b).

First you have to straighten the two pieces of wire. Then you have to bend them at the right point into the needed angle with a flat nose plier. You have to try a little bit to get the right angle. Place the wire parts into one half of the mould at the right position. Then carefully close the mould without letting the wire parts slip out of their positions.

Now fix the closed mould with rubber rings or a clamp or something like that and cast the molten white metal in.

The alloy I use contains lead. Personally I prefer this because the casted armature could be bent better when it contains lead and also the mould cavity is filled better because of the lead. If you don’t want an alloy with lead because of health issues, try a lead free alloy. Personally I’ve got no experience with lead free alloys for casting this kind of armature.

When the metal has cooled down and you open your mould, the white metal should have enclosed the wire parts. Remove the gate and the sprues and your armature is done (pic. 7).

If your armature didn’t come out right from the mould, it’s maybe because the mould is too cold in the beginning, so just try again. After some casts, the mould should get its working temperature. If the results are still not good, try to widen the cut, where the gate “touches” the cavity and/or cut some additional air vents.

That’s all. Now you got your mould and you can cast as many armatures as you like.
If you got plenty of them, you can use them also to do a pose study, just by trying out some poses to see how they will look. Because you already have the basic shape of a human (head, torso arms and legs) it’s easier to get an idea about how a miniature with this pose will look like.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Sculpting tool made from a dentist probe

Today I post just a quite small and simple tutorial about how to modify a dentist probe to get a sculpting tool that's quite similar to the "finger tool" I've talked before (see post about making sculpting tool tips from 1 mm steel).

But even this tutorial is quite simple, the tool you get is quite good. At least I use this tool quite often. So this tool might be ideal for those who didn't want to do all this tool tip forging and handle making I've talked about in former posts to get a sculpting tool.

As a starting point for this tool, you'll need a simple dentist probe like the one you can see on the following pic. 1). You can find it quite simple with Google or on eBay.

You have to cut the tip of this probe a few mm behind the first bending of the tip like you can see on pic. 2). Then you have to grind down the cut end of the tip to flatten it.

You can use a rotary tool with a grinding stone or just abrasive paper for that.

Just give it a smooth surface and round off all edges.

Finaly the tip should look like those you can see on pic. 3) and pic. 4).

Be sure to give it a clean surface with no scratches left.

Work with fine abrasive paper or even better with fine abrasive pads and finally do some polishing to achieve this.

As I said before, this is a kind of "finger-tool". It's quite similar to the tip that can be found on the famous "Wax 5" but it is much smaller. So you can do quite delicate work with it.

On the next picture you can see a comparison of this tool and the "SG" dentist tool from Tiranti ("Wax 5").

I hope, you'll like this tool.

It's only a little bit of work but you'll get a lot with it.


Sculpting tool tip made from a hobby knife blade

In this tutorial I want to show you how to make a very nice sculpting tool from a hobby knife blade.

Maybe some of you already know this or even use this kind of tool because it is quite common.

Even Tom Meier who is known to use only quite a few different tools to do his ingenious miniature sculptures uses this tool. If you want to know, how exactly Tom Meier’s tool looks like, have a look on his blog. He has posted a photo of his tools there.

It is quite simple to make this tool. All you need is a blade for a hobby knife (x-acto-style), some sheets of abrasive paper and a little patience. A rotary tool with a grinding tool would be helpful.

All you have to do is to blunt the edge of the blade over the whole length.

The blade’s tip is too pointy for sculpting. So you have to grind it down and to give it a slightly rounded shape. Instead of doing the whole process with the abrasive paper, you can try to carefully break off the tip of the blade with fine flat nose pliers and then to round up the line of breakage with the abrasive paper.

Finally you also have to grind down the sharp edges on the flat sides of the blade and to round them up, so they won’t leave ugly marks in the putty while sculpting.

On the following pic. 1) you can see how to do this.

Just refine the edges and the surface of the grinded blade with very fine abrasive paper or abrasive pads. You can finally polish it, if you like.

This blade has to be placed into a holder for those hobby knife blades (obviously).
You can also use a SCHELLERT-tool as a holder for this sculpting tool tip.

That’s all. This is a nice tool for basic sculpting, like blocking out the rough proportions of a miniature and for blending layers of green stuff or procreate together.

Monday, September 7, 2009



About the next thing that I want to show you, I’m not sure, if it’s really a useful tool, or more a kind of tool-fetishism. So it’s up to you to decide if it’s the one or the other.

The use of callipers is quite common in life size sculpting. It is used as a sculpting aid to check proportions and to transfer sizes onto the sculpting. On the following photo you can see such typical sculpting calipers (pic. 1).

I thought, even though we do quite small sculpts, such a tool might be also useful for us miniature sculptors, so I made this miniature-version of a caliper. You can see this caliper on the next photo (pic. 2).

With this, you can check the proportions of your sculpture (for example: have both arms the same length? Is the left biceps thicker than the right one?) or you can transfer the correct length from a ruler to the sculpt or in reverse, check the exact size of a sculpt-part by putting it between the caliper "claws" and then checking the length on a ruler (pic. 3).

It’s not difficult to build such a caliper. In short words, you just need to cut out the two "claws" of the caliper from a sheet of metal and to fix them with a bolt and nut. And that’s how it goes:

You need a sheet of brass with a material strength of 1mm. A piece 10cm x 10cm would be enough. There are different qualities of such brass sheets out there. You should take the "hard" quality so your caliper won’t bend too easily. Theoretically you could use other metal for that, but 1mm aluminium would be too soft and therefore would bent too easily and steel would be really hard to cut, so I recommend the brass. This kind of brass can be found in hardware stores or building centres or in model craft and hobby stores.

Then you need a bolt and a nut with m3 size of . Be sue to choose a bolt with a flat head, otherwise it might stand in the way when you hold the caliper later. You also need a special nut, a self-locking nut. This kind of nuts has some sort of plastic inside that prevents the nut and bold to accidentally unscrewing. The thread of the bolt would stick into this plastic. This kind of nut is important for your caliper to work properly. These nuts can be found in every hardware store or building centre. If you are not from Germany (and I guess, most of you are not) you don’t have to search for those nuts and bolts with metrical system. Just get those small nuts and bolts that you can find. The correct size isn’t that important here. You can also use bolts (screws) from the computer store (see below). You just have to be sure, that the hole that must be drilled in the calliper claws have the same size as the bolt you use.

Another thing you’ll need to get your caliper work properly is a special kind of washer. It will be placed between the two "claws" of the caliper and prevent the two "claws" from scratching on each other and that guarantees a smooth movement of the caliper "claws". So the washer you should use has to be very thin and not to be made from metal (scratching!). So I found that the washer that works best are one of those that comes in connection with the screws (Bolts) for the computer cases and components. These red or orange washers are made of some kind of plastic and they are very thin (see pic. 4).

Beside that you’ll also need two ordinary washers made of metal that are made for m3 screws (see pic. 4).

Needed tools:
As tools you’ll need a jigsaw with fine saw blades made for cutting metal (pic. 5).

Power drill:
You’ll also need an electrical drilling machine (power drill) and a 3 mm metal drill. Also a small metal file and fine grinding paper will be needed.

PC and printer:
Then you need a computer (we’re getting high-tech now) and a printer that is able to print on sticker-foil-paper (nearly all printer can do that) and of course a sheet of transparent sticker-foil-printer paper. I mean these transparent foils on paper that are made to be printed with a pc-printer. Than you can peel the paper off and the remaining printed foil has a sticky side, so you can stick it on any surface you like. The official english term for that paper is "transparency film, self adhesive". At least that's what is printed on the box. You’ll get this kind of "printing-paper" in every shop, were you can by the ordinary printing paper for pc’s.
How to build the caliper:
The base idea is to construct the right shape for the caliper-claw in your pc then to print it out as a template with your printer on sticking-foil, stick the foil onto your brass sheet and cut out the brass around the shapes you see now on the brass with the sticker.

If you want to construct your own caliper shape, I recommend using the software called INKSCAPE. It is freeware and a very good vector-graphics-program for this kind of work.

You can find it here:

But maybe not all of you have the nerve to draw their own caliper shape, so if you like, you can use the shape I’ve made for my caliper and that you see on the next picture.

I made my caliper with two pairs of claws (one longer side and some shorter one).
I found, this will give it more variations to use it and -as a side effect- you can hold it in your hand much easier.

So first you have to print out the calliper shape on printable sticky foil paper.
To avoid problems with the printer settings, be sure that the printed shape has a length of about 4,8 cm. Do a test printing on ordinary paper and check if the size is correct before printing on the printable-foil-paper (pic. 8). Remember: You need two of these caliper-claws to make one complete caliper, so you have to print two of these shapes on your foil-paper.

After printing out the shapes correctly, just cut out the printed part of your foil-printing-paper roughly, peel off the paper and stick the remaining "sticker" to a corner of your brass sheet (see pic 8a-e).

Then, before cutting out the shapes with the saw, just drill in the holes in the middle part of the caliper "claws". For that, you’ll find in the middle of the little circle a tiny black spot that shows where the hole has to be (pic 9). This spot marks the centre point where you have to place the drill.

The reason for me to recommend drilling before cutting out the rest is that the "cutting out" is quite a bit of work. So if you would do the cutting first and the later drilling went wrong, all the cutting-work with the saw will be lost. So I guess it’s better to start with the holes.
Now after drilling the holes, you can start cutting out the shapes with the saw. You might find that the cutting will go on boring slow, but just be patient. Ah, and if your saw blade break at some point, don’t worry, that is quite normal. Just take another saw blade and go on.

After cutting out the two shapes, just refine the edges with a file and grinding paper and round them up except for the small edge at the top, where the two caliper claws meet. This edge should be left "sharp".

Now, all that’s left to do is to screw all the parts together. In the middle is the red plastic washer, than comes a caliper-claw on each side, followed by a ordinary metal washers on each side and then the nut from the one and the bolt from the other side (pic. 11).

Because the ends of the two caliper claws are not exactly at the same level, you have to bent the two "claws" slightly to each other, until the points exactly meet at the same level (see pic. 12).

Screw the nut and bolt as tight that there is some resistance while opening and closing the calipers claws while they can still be moved smoothly.

That’s it. Your caliper is ready to be used. I hope you’ll like it. As I told you before I’m not so sure about its real worth for getting better sculpts, but at least this little brass thing looks really cool, no?

Monday, August 31, 2009


Contact lenses box as storage fort two part epoxy putty

Hi again,
Today I just want to share a little idea with you, that I came across even it's not a "sculpting tool" in the literal sense.

Sometimes I have to take some sculpting tools and stuff with me, when I’m on holidays or somewhere else away from home and want to do a little sculpting there.

For this occasions I often thought about how to take this two component sculpting putty with me, because I didn’t want to carry the complete box of greenstuff or procreate with me.

So I had a look for some kind of small boxes to store the putty in while travelling.

Because my wife wears contact lenses, I’ve got the idea to use these contact lens boxes for this purpose and it work quite well.

The advantage is that you have just a single storage, with two separated little boxes and with separated covers. The covers has different colours (or are marked in another way) so you store the two putty components perfectly and you can always see, which component is in which box.

And this box is quite small and easy to store in a bag without taking a lot of space. The amount of putty that can be stored is more than you would need for a 30mm miniature.

Even at home it might useful for storing brown stuff because except to those who do the whole miniature with brown stuff usually you only need small amounts of brown stuff while sculpting

Well that’s not a big idea, but I found this very useful, especially when I didn’t want to carry a lot of sculpting stuff with me.

So just take a 1 mm and a 2 mm Schellert tool and this box with some putty in and you’ve got all you need for sculpting.

Friday, August 21, 2009

HANDLES - alternative to the special adjusting ring


As I promised before, here’s a way to build the tool handle without these special adjusting ring with socket that was used for all handle versions so far. This alternative might be useful because maybe you’ll have problems to find these special adjusting rings with sockets. In fact, I found only one retailer who sells this kind of adjusting rings.

The idea behind this alternative is to combine an ordinary adjusting ring (without this special socket) and a small brass tube by gluing both into the wooden handle like you see on pic. 27).

For doing that you have to find ordinary adjusting rings with the right size. As I prefer sculpting handles with a diameter of 8 mm, the adjusting rings should also have an outer diameter of 8mm. The inner diameter depends on the size of the sculpting tool tips, you want to fix in the handle later.

Basically, there are two sizes for the inner diameter that make most sense: 4 mm and 3mm.

If you want to round (bevel) the adjusting rings, like I explained before, I recommend using adjusting rings made of brass or aluminium. Other materials especially steel might be too hard to grind it down. I use adjusting rings made of aluminium as you can see on the pictures.

An adjusting ring with an inner diameter of 4 mm can be combined with a little brass tube with an outer diameter of 4 mm and an inner diameter of 3 mm (material strength = 0.5 mm) to hold 3 mm tool tips.

An adjusting ring with an inner diameter of 3 mm can be combined with a little brass tube with an outer diameter of…

- 3mm and an inner diam. of 2mm (mat. strength = 0.5 mm) for 2 mm tool tips


- 3mm and an inner diam. of 1mm (mat. strength = 1.0mm) for 1mm tool tips.

Remember if you use this 1mm brass tube: It might be better to use this special pointed headless screw for the adjusting ring like I’ve explained for the “reducing pieces” before (see "the SCHELLERT handle").

You have to drill in a hole into the side of the little brass tubes where the headless screw of the adjusting ring can go through. That’s quite similar to what I’ve explained about the “reducing tubes” above.

To find the right position for the hole, just put the brass tube inside the adjusting ring and mark the right point with a marker, like I’ve explained before for the “reducing pieces”.

Then just drill the hole with the right diameter into the brass tube. The hole has to be as wide as needed to allow the headless screw to pass it.

You can round (bevel) the upper edge of the adjusting ring just like I've explained before for the "special adjusting rings with socket (on pic. 28) above, the ring has already been rounded).

For doing that, just screw the adjusting ring on a spare piece of brass tube with exactly the same diameter as the inner diameter of the adjusting ring. The brass tube shouldn't poke out of the adjusting ring.

Then fix the brass tube with the ring into the power drill. Set the power drill to rotation and grind down the upper edge of the adjusting ring with a small belt sander or a rotary tool with an abrasive wheel. You can see the different stages in the following pic. 29.

If you’ve done this, just glue the brass tube into the hole of the adjusting ring so the headless screw can go through the hole in the brass tubes side. Then you can use this new part in the same way, as I’ve explained above for those special adjusting rings with sockets.

So just glue this part into the hole in the handle as I’ve explained above.
As before, you can use handles made of wood or aluminium.

Be sure, that all parts that touch each other are covered with glue. But be sure, that the glue didn’t plug the threatened hole for the headless screw.

After pressing all parts together, remove spare glue (it should not stain the handle) and let the glue getting completely hard.

On the next picture you can see handles in all 3 sizes (1 mm, 2 mm, 3 mm) that are made with the alternative version of the adjusting ring.

That’s it.



As I told before, you can also use aluminium as the base material instead of wood.
So here are some versions of my handle that uses aluminium as material for the handles.

Version 1)
Instead of the wood, I just took an aluminium tube with an outer diameter of 8mm and an inner diameter of 4mm (material strength: 2mm). Everything else is the same as described above.

As it is a tube, you don’t have to worry about drilling the holes, because they are already there with the right diameter. I admit that it wasn’t easy to find aluminium tubes with that size (2mm material strength) and I was only able to find it in the pure, not-anodized quality, so you have to polish the handles (pic. 22).

And one hint regarding the reducing pieces (tubes): If you want to use the reducing tubes with this handle-version, you should keep in mind that the handle is hollowed over the whole length. So you have to avoid to accidentally pushing in the reducing tubes too deep, or they will “drop” into the handle and it would be very hard to get them out again.

Maybe you should think about gluing the reducing tubes permanently into the handle and just use the handle only for tool tips with that size.

Version 2)
The second version might be easier for you to build, because this time I used aluminium tubes with sizes that are easier to find. You need aluminium tubes in two different sizes:

The first is an aluminium tube with an outer diameter of 8mm and an inner diameter of 6 mm (material strength: 1 mm).

The second one is an aluminium tube with an outer diameter of 6 mm and an inner diameter of 4 mm (material strength: 1 mm).

As I mentioned before, you have to check, if you are able to place the smaller aluminium tube into the larger one (see the blog entry about the “Schellert-Tool”).

As I also said before, it’s much easier to find aluminium tubes with those sizes in the hardware store or the building centre and you can find them in the anodized quality as well as in the pure-aluminium-surface quality. Remember: while using the anodized quality, you don’t have to worry about the surface of the handle because it’s just fine as it is.

You can build the handle with those tubes in two ways:
The first one is to cut off pieces with a length of 9cm each from each tube (8mm and 6mm) and just glue the tube with the smaller diameter right into the larger one.

It’s nearly the same procedure like I’ve explained for the “Schellert-Tool” with the exception, that this time, the both tubes have the same length. If you have done this, you just have made one aluminium tube with an outer diameter of 8mm and an inner one with 4mm, just like in Version 1) above, so the rest is exactly the same.

The second way is to take two shorter parts of the 6mm tube (say 2cm) instead of using one 9cm long piece. This time, you first glue the sockets of the adjusting rings into these small tubes. Then you glue this small 6mm tubes with already glued in adjusting rings into each of the hole of the larger aluminium tube. By doing this, you need less material (less 6mm tube) and that means also less weight (even these handles are quite light weighted anyway) (pic. 23a).

After putting it all together, it looks like that (pic. 23b)

One hint regarding knocking in the sockets of the adjusting ring into the aluminium tubes:
As you use aluminium instead of wood this time, the handle is much less delicate and won’t get any cracks even you hit quite hard with the hammer on the adjusting ring to get it into the handle. But don’t let yourself mislead by that to make insensitive use of the hammer now. Even the aluminium might not getting damaged, the brass adjusting ring might.

There are two sensible areas at the adjusting ring.

The first is the inner hole of the ring. If you beat the ring too hard or too often, the brass starts to deform and you might discover, that the diameter of the hole is getting smaller.

It’s possible that a 3mm tool tip that fits perfectly at the start wouldn’t fit anymore if you made too much use of the hammer. If this should happen, you have to widen the hole with a file again.

The second is quite more critical. It’s the threaded hole for the headless screw.
If you damage this so the screw can’t work anymore, your tool holder is a case for the garbage can. So I recommend leaving the headless screw inside the adjustment ring while using the hammer. This reduces the risk of the hole getting deformed accidentally by the hammer blows.

And of course it’s better to grind of the socket of the adjustment ring a little bit (see what I’ve said about the standard tool tip holder above) than to hit harder with the hammer.

Version 3)
The last version of my handle is simply a smaller one.
Instead of using an aluminium tube with an outer diameter of 8mm, I just use one with 6mm.

For that I use a smaller version of the special adjusting ring that I described above.
There’s one available with an outer diameter of 6mm and an inner diameter of 2mm.The outer diameter of the socket is 3mm on that adjusting ring.

On the next picture, you can see the comparison of the small and the large adjusting ring (pic. 24).

As the inner diameter of the 6mm aluminium tool is 4mm, you have to use short pieces of a brass tube (with outer diameter: 4mm / inner diameter: 3mm / material strength: 0.5 mm) in a similar way as I described for version 2) above.

So glue in the ring’s socket into the small brass tube. Then glue the brass tube with the ring into the 6mm aluminium tube.

If you like, you can also bevel/round the upper edge of the adjusting rings like I explained above.

This handle is made for 2mm tool tips (1,5mm tool tips would also fit in). On the next picture you can see the comparison of the small handle and the large (=normal sized) handle with a reducing piece (2 mm). Both hold 2 mm sculpting tool tips (pic. 25).

On the following Picture you can finally see all versions of the Schellert handle. The handle made of beech wood is covered with palisander(rosewood)-varnish (therefore the dark brown colour) while the other wooden handles are covered with clear varnish. So the pure metal-handles are best for sculpting science fiction miniatures, while the brown handles with the brass parts are best for sculpting steampunk miniatures (joke alert).

So, that's nearly all about the handles, I've developed for holding the tool tips.

The critical point so far is this special adjusting ring, that all handles are built with. So maybe you'll have some problems to find such a special adjusting ring with integrated socket.

But even that would not be a problem. Instead of those special rings, you can use just ordinary adjusting rings and a little brass tube to make a very fine alternative.

Next time I'll tell you exactly how to do this.

Thursday, August 20, 2009



While I’ve explained the building process of a simple handle before, personally I like to do my handles in a little bit different way. First I didn’t like to glue my tooltips into the handle, because then they are fixed for ever. If so, I wouldn’t be able to change the tool tip, to give a two sided tool another tool-tip-combination for example. Even the length of the tool tip can’t be adjusted anymore, if you took glue to fix it. So I found another way to do handles in which the tool tips are fixed with a little headless screw. You have to use a small hex-wrench to do this.
It looks like this.

The trick about making this handle is a special kind of adjusting ring that I found via internet (pic 10.). This nice little thing is an adjusting ring made of brass with a socket to fix it into a hole.

You can order this adjusting ring from this German reseller: .

I’m not sure if it can be found somewhere else. At least I couldn’t find it elsewhere.

For those who can’t get these adjusting rings, I will explain later, how you can use ordinary adjusting rings and a brass tube as an alternative.

So I started my handle with a piece of wood from the 8mm wooden pole. Because one of these adjusting rings will be added to each side of the handle later, I cut the wood-piece not at 10 cm length, but a little shorter (10cm – 2 x (length of the adjusting ring)), say 9cm this time.

Then I have to drill in the hole into both sides of the handle. As the socket of the adjusting rings has an outer diameter of 4 mm, the hole has to be 4mm wide (pic. 11).

Now the little tool, I’ve talked about before, comes into play. I’ve combined an aluminium tube and a brass tube to form a drilling-aid. With this aid, you can place and keep the drill exactly in the centre point of the tool handle while drilling. So it’s a matter of seconds to make a perfectly placed hole. The pictures below (pic. 12a and 12b) explain how this drilling aid is made.

Obviously, the final hole has to be as deep (or a little deeper to stay flexible) as the tool tip will stuck into it.

But here you've go two options:

The first option is the more simple one. You can see it on the following pic. 12c):

a) take your wooden handle
b) drill in a centred 2.0 or 2.5 cm deep hole with a 4 mm drill.
c) just fix (glue) the adjusting into the hole and fix the tool tip in

Because the hole is now 4mm wide, but the sculpting tools are only 3mm wide, this method leave some "wasted space" (see pic. 12c).
But I don't think, that this is a problem, so personally I make my holes that way.

The second option is a bit more work. You can see it on pic. 12d):

a) take your wooden handle
b) drill in a centred hole, with a 4 mm drill, but only 5.0 - 6.0 mm deep (just as long as the socket of the adjusting ring)
c) fix (glue) the adjusting ring into the hole
d) take a 3 mm drill and drill through the hole of the a-ring into the handle
e) fix the tool tip into the handle

Doing the holes this way makes sure, that the hole inside the handle is only as wide (=3 mm) as needed for taking the tool tips.
It's up to you, which method you would prefer.

If you are in doubt, choose the first option. It's easier to do.

When you got your hole on each side of the handle, just give the handle a good surface with fine abrasive paper and varnish (two layers of varnish are better than one) it as I’ve explained before. Be sure, that the varnish is completely hardened before going on to work with the handle.

So just mount your varnished handle on a skewer or toothpick or something like that and place it somewhere to dry without catching dust (pic. 13).

Now it’s time to modify the adjusting rings a little bit. The inner diameter of the adjusting ring is 3mm. Of course sometimes it’s a little less, so try if you can fit a 3mm tool tip in. If not, just widen the hole carefully with a round needle file (pic. 14).

After that just fix the socket of the adjusting ring into the power drill and set it to rotation (not too fast). Then I took a fine belt sander to bevel or round the upper edge of the adjusting ring. Alternatively to the belt sander you could also use the rotary tool with an insert tool for grinding. I recommend a rougher grinding stone or even better an insert tool with a cylinder like shaped Grinding paper top. Be careful not to grind too much. The hole for the headless screw shouldn’t be damaged. After getting the right shape just smooth the grinded areas and remove all ugly scratches

Do the same thing with another adjustment ring, because you need one for each side of the handle.

All you have to do now is to glue the adjustment rings with their sockets into holes of the handle. Maybe you’ll need to tap slightly with a hammer, for getting the sockets into the holes. But be careful here not to hammer too hard. If it’s too hard to get the socket into the hole, this might indicate, that the socket of the adjusting ring is a little too large in diameter. If you would nevertheless go on beating with the hammer, the stress of the socket to the wooden handle could get too hard and the handle might form cracks or break completely. So take a fine file and file off a little bit from the socket, so it gets a little smaller diameter (don’t widen the hole instead, because a larger hole would weaken the handle). Then try again. Regarding the glue, you should take one that can fix metal to wood (obviously) (pic. 16).

When the glue has hardened, your tool handle is done. As it is now, it will hold 3mm tool tips because the inner diameter of the adjusting ring is 3mm. You just have to place it in and fix it with the headless screw that comes with the adjusting ring and the hex-wrench (pic. 17).

Reducing Pieces:
As the name indicates, my “standard handle” can be used for all tool tips, regardless the diameter of the steel, they are made of. Of course the handle, I’ve explained above is primarily made for 3mm-tool-tips. To fit in tool tips with smaller diameters, I just made “reducing pieces”. That’s nothing more, than little brass tubes with the right diameters and a hole where the headless screw of the adjusting ring can penetrate it.

For 2mm (and 1.5-1.6mm) tool tips, I took a brass tube with an outer diameter of 3mm and an inner diameter of 2mm (material strength: 0.5mm).

For 1mm tool tips, I took a brass tube with an outer diameter of 3mm and an inner diameter of 1mm (material strength: 1mm).

I choose the length of these reducing tubes so that they poke out from the handle a few mm, so you can easily grab them, if you want to change the tool tip size (pic. 19).

To drill in the hole into the sides of the tubes, just fit them into the handle (adjusting ring).

Remove the headless screw from the adjusting ring and mark the point where the hole has to be with a marker by putting it into the hole of the screw. If you pull out the brass tube again, you’ll see the point, where you have to place the drill. Don’t drill through the hole tube, but only to it’s half. The diameter should have the size of the diameter of the headless screw or better a little bit larger. In addition, you should bevel the edges of the drilled hole, so it would be easier for the headless screw to “find” the hole. Clean the drilled hole from all remaining metal particles, so it won’t get stuck into the handle (pic. 20).

Not much more to say about that. Just place the reducing tube with the right diameter into the handle, so that the hole for the handles screw is exactly placed over the hole of the reducing tube, place a tool tip inside the reducing tube and fix it with the headless screw. The screw will fix the tool tip inside the reducing tube while even fixing the reducing tube inside the handle at the same time (pic 21).

One last hint regarding the reducing piece with an inner diameter of 1 mm:

Maybe you’ll find out that the 1 mm tool tips can’t be fixed tight with this reducing piece.
Even you screw it tight it’s just not fixed inside the handle. If this should happen, it is because the point of headless screw is too flat for the small diameter of the brass tube.

So replace the old headless screw with one that has an extra pointed tip like you can see on the following picture. You can find these headless screws in hardware stores and building centres, or just on eBay.

Next time: other variants of the SCHELLERT standard handle