Bases are very handy for miniatures. They can provide
- an additional source of creativity (customizing the base)
- extra protection
- better gripping and transport of the miniature
All of my bases are designed and built to be used with magnets
for storage and transport. First, here a couple of reasons why
Magnets are not very useful unless you have something magnetic
to stick to them, which can include another magnet, but usually
ends up being steel. A very cheap and simple solution for round
bases is using washers. You will have to choose to have them be
a few mm larger or smaller if you are trying to match metric bases
with washers made based on English units, but that is a small
A great advantage to steel bases is that they add ballast to
the system which is great at reducing the incidence of miniatures
Games and miniatures stores may have useful stuff as well, especially
those that cater to historical miniatures hobbyists. Warweb.com's
accessories page lists some steel bases in various sizes;
I have not seen them, but the cost is comparable to washers, so
the pricing seems reasonable.
Making a flat
square base magnetic
This is the easiest of all of the approaches. Simply buy some
1" wide or 1/2" wide magnetic tape and cut an appropriate
piece then stick it to the base. You can also use a square magnet,
but that can get expensive.
Games Workshop Slottabase With Magnetic Tape
Advantages: This method leaves the the door open for future changes;
you can pop out the magnet tape with little difficulty if you
tire of it. You can slap a zinc washer on the bottom to provide
weight and stick that to a magnet strip.
Note: Magnets can stick to magnets, but you should test it first.
Most magnetic strips do not stick very strongly to magnetic strip.
Disadvantages: Not as robust and does not hold in place as strongly
as the putty
and washer approach.
- I start with 1/2" wide magnetic tape, which is also
about 1/16" thick.
- I cut the strip in half and glue one on the back of the other.
I bend them a little bit here as I stick them together to remove
the curvature from the original roll shape. This leaves me with
a long strip of 1/2" wide, ~1/8" thick magnet material.
This thickness just barely projects from the bottom of the base,
providing a stable base without noticeably affecting the height
of the model.
- I then use "The Chopper" a cool little cutting device
that can be found in modelling shops.
- If I am chopping out a bunch at once, I cut the long strip
into two strips, as The Chopper
can accommodate a 1" cut.
- Set the spacers and chop away! You need two different spacings
for the two different compartments in the bottom of a slottabase,
0.32" (5/16" or 8 mm is fine) and 0.22" (5.5
- Peel off the backing and stick them firmly into the base bottom.
- I then press them between two stiff objects, using about 30
or 40 pounds. You probably don't need that much weight, a few
heavy books will just fine. This is just to insure the tape
is well affixed to the base.
- Done! This holds my Tyranid troops quite rigidly.
Simple Washer Bases
The procedure is remarkably simple. Just glue a washer of appropriate
size to the bottom of a mini. I recommend affixing a washer to
a proper base, e.g. I use Games Workshop 40 mm large round bases
and "fender" washers (1/4" inner hole, 1 1/2"
outer diameter). Fender washers are ideal as they come in large
sizes and have more material than a standard washer (smaller hole
cut out of the middle).
- 5-minute epoxy
- Primer appropriate to the materials used.
- Base material - for these I used standard plastic GW
- Steel-zinc Washers, 1 for each base. I highly recommend
taking the base to the hardware store with you for a good
- Lay the base upside down
- Slather epoxy into the high points of the base underside.
Tip: I usually hold the base in place by pushing down
in its center with the tip of my hobby knife; the hole
in the fender washer makes this easier.
- Smear a bead around the inner edge
- Gently lay the washer on top
- Gently position the washer in the center (it can be
a pain to re-center it once it nestles down in a ridge,
so be careful to center it properly the first time)
- Gently press down on the washer to insure a good fit
(careful not to push it off center)
This results in the following:
Games Workshop Slottabase With Zinc Washer And Internal Weight
Advantages: This makes a very durable, heavy base that is attractive
Disadvantages: Somewhat permanent modification to the base (although
you could always cut away the miniature from the base if you were
really desperate for a change).
Cost: for 32 bases, I spend about 40 minutes, $2.50 in Milliput
Standard Yellow/Grey epoxy resin putty, and about $2.50 in washers.
That averages out to about 16 cents and 75 seconds per base. For
the shot approach, the shot cost is negligible, but depending
on how generously you use the superglue, the amount of superglue
used can easily rival the cost of the putty. With the amount I
use, the superglue can cost slightly more than the putty used.
I am buying the little tubes of superglue I use for $1 apiece
and I use up a tube with about ten or fifteen bases, depending.
Note: Squadron putty or other toluene based putties will not
work well. They need to be applied and cured in layers, and will
not adhere well to the washer.
- One 1" round GW slottabase
- Two pea-sized pellets of putty
(I used Standard Milliput Yellow Gray), one slightly smaller
than the other.
- Cyanoacrylate glue
and Shot - I used ~25 pieces of 7 1/2 Shot (0.095"
diameter), but 0.090" diameter might be better*
- One 1" diameter zinc fender washer
* - I chose 0.095" based on the 0.100" cavity depth
under the base, but over the text bas-relief the depth is about
0.090", so if you had 0.090" or smaller diameter shot,
you could just fill the whole thing up as you see fit.
Note: If you use the putty, I recommend doing these en masse
since you have to work the putty together anyway. I prep 1/4 of
a packet of Milliput Standard Yellow/Grey and about 40 washers
and bases. That much putty will generally work out to about 32
bases, but that is variable.
Clean Base & Washer
- Trim and file excess plastic from the slottabase
- Clean the washer and slottabase with soap and water
- Prepare the proper amount of putty and form two small pea-sized
pieces, one slightly smaller than the other. You will learn
by trial and error how big this needs to be.
- I wash my hands here to reduce the propagation of putty residue.
- Mash the putty into the two side compartments on the underside
of the slottabase. The ideal piece of putty would not quite
fill the compartment and would just barely break the bottom
plane of the base. This will allow the washer to stick to the
putty without having so much putty that the washer cannot lie
flush against the washer. If you see that there is too much
putty, pull it out, reduce the amount, roll it up again, then
insert it back into the space.
- If you do the above correctly, there will be no excess and
you are essentially done. If there is any excess squeezing out
of the base, clean it up. Note that the balls of putty do not
exactly fill the space, that is to allow some room for the putty
to flow into rather than squirting out from the edge of the
- Wash your hands again to rid yourself of the putty residue.
- Let the putty cure and harden
- Place the base face down on the table
- Apply superglue to the area where you want shot to go; put
it down in a thin layer that just barely wets the surface for
now. In the case of 0.095" shot (Size 7 1/2), shot over
the lettering in a slottabase will sit a little too high for
the washer to lie flat against the base, so put superglue everywhere
else. Some slottabases, like that for the Genestealer, do not
have lettering and can be filled completely.
- Hold the base over the container of shot.
- Grab a pinch of shot and gently drop them into the glue areas.
Try not to overfill it (honestly, with 25 pounds of shot for
$20, you could probably waste 50% of what you use and never
get done using it).
- Apply superglue to the shot. You are trying to completely
wet the shot with superglue to achieve better durability, stability,
- Apply superglue to the rim of the base and any raised areas
that might contact the washer.
- Press down a washer onto the base, being careful to center
- Allow the superglue to cure
Putty vs. Shot - Which Ballast Is Best?
The only metric I really have is to test a top/front heavy unit
and that is definitely the Genestealer unit from Games Workshop's
Warhammer 40k miniatures game. That particular unit's base can
be filled completely with shot, but for this comparison I took
the worst case scenario and filled it with the same amount and
position of shot that a slottabase with lettering inside would
be able to accommodate. They both give the Weeblanid
effect with a Genestealer. The shot seems to be the tiniest bit
better, but the difference is almost nonexistent.
The method you choose will vary with your tastes and supplies
at hand. I had to hunt for loose shot and when I found it (Carter's
Country, I-10 and Campbell, Houston, TX), I could only buy 25
pound bags. So I have shot for life now. I will no doubt share
the wealth with my friends since it was only $20 for the bag and
I will be unlikely to use more than 10% in the next few years,
unless I start loading shotgun shells.
Overall I prefer the putty method:
- quicker overall - it takes an average of about one minute
to make putty-filled bases and you can do some steps in bulk,
like mixing the putty. With the shot approach, you have to go
from start to finish for most of it and a bulk or mass assembly
approach is not really feasible.
- does not require a supply of shot - this is a small annoyance,
but storing pounds of shot is aggravating.
- is cleaner, simpler, and easier - superglue can be a pain
to work with. The putty-filled base approach does not involved
foul smells or having your fingers randomly stick to the bases.
- no significant cost difference - the cost of superglue rivals
the cost of the putty.
I wanted some bases wide enough and thick enough to facilitate
grabbing the trees mounted on them without having to grab the
- 5-minute epoxy
- Primer appropriate to the materials used.
- Base material - for these I used 3/4" thick Foamular
- Steel-zinc Washers, 1 for each base
- Cut out an appropriately-sized piece of foam
- Place a thin layer of 5-minute epoxy onto a washer and
affix it to the foam
- Sand the foam as desired; I used 100 grit sandpaper
then 220 grit sandpaper.
- Seal/prime the bases. Pick your poison...
- Latex paint - seal and paint in one shot.
- If you are going to use spray primer, you can seal
the foam via your favorite method, such as thinned
down PVA glue, Woodland Scenics "Scenic Cement",
etc. I was in a bit of a rush and since I was going
to flock the whole base, I decided to prime these
without sealing. I ended up with decent results using
Painter's Touch Red Primer (made by Rustoleum).
Same as above, but a slightly different initial approach.
I knew what size washer I wanted, and I wanted the foam
to be very close to the same size. So, I glued the washers
to the foam before cutting it out. I was using a hot wire
so I was able to cut very closely and reasonably cleanly
to produce bases very close to the size of the washers.
Modified GW Flying Bases
Why bother? The standard GW flying bases are notorious for snapping
off at the top like so:
This alone is a decent reason to improve on the design, especially
since it can be a real pain to safely drill out the hole without
messing up a paint job. Other great reasons to make custom bases:
- Ballast - I use washer on the bottom to weigh them down.
- Magnetic transport/storage - again, a washer allows them to
stay securely on a magnetic surface.
- Customized post heights - with the standard GW posts, it is
very hard to keep Gargoyles close together or to push them in
close for close combat without seriously endangering their paint
jobs. By making your own posts you can design the posts to help
accommodate the size/shape of your flying models.
- Versatility - because they are metal rods, if you want to
remove them, you can more easily twist them out of a joint without
snapping the rod. I plan to exploit that using CA glue so I
can easily transfer the mini to and from a different rod for
- 0.078" diameter "music
wire" metal rod, cut into lengths of 7/8"
and 1 5/8"
- GW flying bases (not the posts)
- 1/8" OD styrene
- 5-minute epoxy
- Cyanoacrylate glue
- 1 1/4" fender washers (1 per base)
- The chopper (or your favorite Styrene cutting tool;
a good knife and a steady hand can work)
- Drill bits - I chose my bits to provide just a few mils
of "slop" in the fit.
- One to drill the holes for the metal rods, I used
- One to drill out the flying bases to hold the styrene
bushings, I used 0.136" (#29)
I used 0.078" music wire and 0.125" styrene tubing
for my bases. You could use different sizes as you see fit.
I also wanted washer on the bottom for magnet-assisted transport/storage
and ballast for the mini.
- Create styrene bushings
- Drill out the center of the styrene tube with your
0.081" (#45) drill bit as deep as your drill
bit will allow.
- Cut the drilled section of styrene tube into 0.20"
- Repeat steps #1 and #2 until you have one styrene
piece for each base.
- Drill out the central opening of the bases with the
0.136" (#29) bit to accommodate the styrene bushings.
- Affix the bushings in the bases
- Turn a base over so it is face down.
- Place a small amount of CA glue (e.g., superglue)
around the outside edge of one bushing and insert
it into the base so that it is flush with the top
of the base (which is facing down).
- The final result should be a base with a small styrene
bushing projecting slightly from the bottom, but flush
with the top.
- Affix the rods to the bases.
- Start with a base with a bushing in it.
- Place the base facing up.
- Apply a small amount of CA glue to one end of a
rod and insert it into the bushing until it is flush
with the bottom edge of the bushing.
- Press down on the base gently to insure the rod
is not projecting below the bushing; this will reduce
the likelihood of creating a wobble point in the finished
- The final result should be a wobbly base with a
bushing and rod in it.
- Affix each of these to washers (washing the washers
first for good adhesion is a good idea) with 5-minute
epoxy, and you're done!
- Of course, they look a lot better when primed.