Hobby Drills

I really enjoy the modelling part of the hobby. Almost as much as painting. Converting models also helps me to achieve the WYSIWYG theme that I find really satisfying. It can be as simple as drilling out barrels. As involved as magnetizing multiple weapon options or as practical as magnetizing parts for easy storage. A good drill makes all the difference.

The first (set) of drills I bought was from a shop that sells all kinds of cheap household goods. They were Ok for the price. Especially as I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in a hobby up front. I found them a little difficult to use and I subsequently ruined a lot of bolter barrels. So many in fact I actually had to purchase loose bolters from an ebay seller to complete my first Tactical Squad box set. They tended to bend when used and were not sharp enough to really bite into the material.

Image from: Games Workshop

I then upgraded to a Games Workshop Hobby Drill. The quality was much higher and I was able to get better results. I really like the finish on this tool too. The only problem was that it took a relatively long time to drill, especially if I was constantly changing the drill bits.

I decided to get an electric drill. After a bit of research I learned that bigger is not necessarily better (ahem). If the drill has high torque (spins fast) this can melt plastic. Also, there are a bewildering variety of drills available. Dremels seemed especially popular. I found their website pretty unhelpful though. It seemed a little limited and it was difficult to compare models.

One day, I was killing time in a shop called Tokyu Hands. Each store is a little different. The Shinjuku store has a lot of good hobby stuff. They happened to have several hobby drills. I chose one with variable speed and I also picked up a set of hobby drill bits. It included sanding disks, cutting disks etc. It was very cheap at under 3000¥ all in.


The drill is actually more of a kind of hand router intended for light engraving. Glass and such. It’s powerful enough for plastic and resin without being overpowered. It’s not particularly robust but won’t be seeing any hard use. It has a couple of nice features like a dial for speed giving a lot of fine control. It has a decent sized cable with a plug and socket in the middle that should come apart if I snag the wire on something. The drill bits are easy to change too, although it took me far longer than it should have to work out how (thank you to the wife for that one).

It came in a soft case which, while certainly utilitarian, was not particularly well fitting or elegant. So I store it in Tuppaware. It probably shouldn’t give me so much pleasure but having it neatly stored in a plastic box that matches my other plastic boxes does. That probably means I am some kind of serial killer.

The drill has allowed me to attempt more elaborate conversions. The most useful drill bit so far has been the flat bottom drill bit. Because the bottom of the hole is flat and not rounded, magnets sit a lot better in the hole and you don’t need to drill as deep. This is particularly useful when magnetizing arms to hollow bodies.

I have learned a few things:

  • Start my making a small guide hole with something sharp
  • Start smaller than you want and work up
  • Use a low rpm and work up if needed
  • Ball ended bits are the best for removing a lot of material
  • Drill bits can jump around a bit initially if you futz, so be bold
  • Resin kicks up a lot of dust, so wear a mask
  • I wear glasses, but if I didn’t, I would definately wear safety glasses

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