🗜️ Drilling

Updated at 2023-05-14 01:36

A note about drilling in miniature modeling context.

You should mostly be drilling just with a pin vice. A hand-operated pin vice is the most versatile tool for drilling miniatures as it allows fine control for the rotation speed. Electrics drills will melt plastic if they don't support low RPM speeds (revolutions per minute) and they can cause mishaps even on these lower speeds.

Rotary Tools

Rotary tools are awesome for some jobs; especially with terrain. Rotary tools are effectively small electric drills. You can swap out the head e.g. for sanding or sawing. But be careful when using them on small miniatures.

The best rotary tool brands are Proxxon, Dremel and Minicraft. Make sure that the tool you are getting allows 5,000 or lower RPM (revolutions per minute). The higher speeds are OK for wood and metal but high RPMs will melt plastic and foam.

I recommend Proxxon rotary tools. If you want a Proxxon rotary tool for miniature work, you can take either Micromot 60/EF or Precision Drill FBS 12/EF. I mainly use rotary tool for drilling a large batch of miniatures at once or sanding/polishing resin.

There is no reason to buy Micromot 60/E over 60/EF. 60/E just has a steel collet by default and a slightly different shape. You can get steel collets to 60/EF to replace the default keyless chuck. Otherwise they are the same device.

Proxxon FBS 240/E could also be an option, but doesn't have as low minimum RPM as FBS 12/EF. FBS 240/E is also slightly larger than FBS 12/EF.

  • Micromot 60\EF is lightweight (200 g) while FBS 12/EF is heavier (400 g). Both can be held like a thick marker with varying degree of success. You can wrap your fingers around the 60\EF but you have to hold the 12/EF with a pinch grip.
  • 60/EF lowest speed is 5,000 RPM while FBS/12 is 3,000 RPM; and you generally want lower speeds so plastic won't melt. You can get down to 2,000 RPM with both by using variable output power source NG 5/E though.
  • Both come with a keyless chuck but work with steel collets.
  • Both take 0.3 - 3.2 mm diameter bits.
But, in the end, you can use any of the 4 mentioned devices:
+ Micromot 60/EF
+ Micromot 60/E
+ Precision Drill FBS 12/EF
+ Precision Drill FBS 240/E

The above just analyzing which is "the best."
+ Micromot 60\EF (in my opinion, see above)

Generally, you want to use the steel collets for drilling but can use the keyless chuck for other work. They say that collets have a higher chance centering the drill bit reducing the wobble, but I don't see a difference. I think the biggest benefit of a collet is that it moves the drill bit closer to your fingers, giving more control while drilling.

You need a separate power source for Proxxon rotary tools. NG 2/E is OK. NG 5/E is slightly better because of the further speed control but also a lot larger.

Proxxon coil cords are slightly annoying. All the rotary tools have a coiled springy cord. The pull they create disturbs delicate movements. I like to gently straighten the cord half that is closer to the tool to minimize the pull.

Always wear a mask when sanding or polishing. Most of the residue is toxic to inhale.

You can switch the drill head for more functionality:

  • Silicone heads are for polishing surfaces. Not grinding, not sanding, polishing.
  • Corundum (the stone looking) heads are for grinding harder things e.g. pewter / resin.
  • Tungsten vanadium heads are for milling i.e. taking larger chunks away.
  • Diamond discs are for cutting. Duh.