In this Creative Tip I’ll show you how to use common sewing pins as small metal details for your models.
Many modelers use small beads for these types of metal details, but in comparison to common sewing pins, they’re much more expensive. You can buy a box of 750 small sewing pins for around $5 USD (which is about 2/3 of 1 Penny (US). Cheap, and, in my opinion, a better choice because the pins are flatter than the spherical beads. They can be found in most craft and sewing stores and some large department stores like Wal-Mart.
To accomplish this task you'll need a few things:
- Sewing Pins
- Pin Vise
- Small Drill Bits
- Spherical Grinding Bit (Dremel)
- Digital Caliper
- Wire Cutters, Nippers, or Pliers that can cut the pin
Select the piece that you want to add detail to. Remember that this type of detail should be used sparingly and only in subtle locations on the model. It’s easy to go overboard with this type of detail.
Lightly sand the area with fine grit sandpaper and mark the points that you want to add the detail with a pencil.
When you buy a pack of sewing pins, not all of them will be perfectly round and symmetrical. Choose one that has good symmetry.
Use a Digital Caliper to measure the diameter of the pins shaft.
Drill a hole for the pin shaft using the correct drill bit. Make sure to either drill completely through or deep enough to secure the pin in place.
Use the Digital Caliper again to measure the diameter of the pins head.
Drill a hole for the pins head with the correct drill bit. Keep this hole shallow. You only want the pin head to look like it’s embedded in the piece.
Use the Spherical Grinding Bit to chamfer the edges of the hole. This will give the detail a nicely finished look.
Lightly sand any surface imperfections.
Using wire cutters or pliers, trim the sewing pin to final size. You'll probably want it pretty short; 2mm or so.
Insert the pins. When it comes to final assembly you will want to permanently fix the sewing pins in place with CA glue (super glue). Use a toothpick to apply a small amount of CA glue to the hole and insert the pin.
I used sewing pins in many places on the Hummingbird. This image shows the variety of looks you can achieve with different sizes of sewing pins. Used appropriately, sewing pins can really enhance the overall aesthetic of your next project.