[Archive] Sculpting Miniatures - Tools of the Trade [ Input wanted! ]


So, as Chaos Dwarf generals, many of us do a lot of sculpting.  I know it was my first really foray into sculpting green stuff. If you’re like me, you started here:

The GW sculpting tool.  This has been my go-to tool for quite a long time.  

Later on, I expanded my arsenal just a bit with this:

Gale Force Nine’s set of tools.  I’ve found that I don’t use the other two tools all that much, still relying on the GW-style tool.

Now I am looking into GF9’s larger set (which is 40 bucks):


Additionally, I have read a lot about clay shapers, and they seem to be exactly what I am in need of lately.  Great for making GS smooth.


I am thinking of getting a taper point and a flat chisel…

But, I am not sculpting expert.  I don’t know if these tools are worth their weight or not.  I was thinking we could get some of our more advanced sculptors to give some of their reflections on sculpting, and what tools they find most useful.

Do you know great suppliers of such tools?  Maybe they sell miniature armatures as well?


I Have clay shaper D. and I’m very exited about it. someone on this forum made a post a bout it months ago and it has been lining around but resonantly i’ve picked up sculpting and I love it. will definatly try to buy E or C as well.


I have about 13 tools, but I have to confess, I only use one of them to do scales and most of the other work on the forums.
should really learn to use the rest of them.
I have one similar to the metal set above, but it was a set for wax and there 12 of them.

Oh and it looks similar to set you show, eBay sells them for about £10 as wax sculpting tools.


I use a GW sculpting tool and my fingers for 99% of the work. I have 2 dental tools which I use for difficult to reach areas, but I could easily manage without them. You need a tool with a sharp edge and a flat surface, and that is enough most of the time. I don’t even use the small end of the GW tool often, just the blade.

Oh, and I use a pin to do super-tiny work like breathing holes in helmets. Just a regular pin off a noticeboard. Its good for chainmail too.

I certainly wouldn’t use clay shapers to smooth GS - too clumsy for my liking. The flat edge of the sculpting tool is usually enough, and the inside of my first finger does large areas.

It reminds me of painting; knowing your brushes gives you better control. I know people with drawers full of brushes that they’ve used once - better to have 3 brushes that you use all the time :wink:


The tool I use almost all the time is my sculpting straw.  Just a thin drinking straw cut to a point (curving cut rather than straight).


I bought a set of tools that are really useful.  I bent some of the curved ones so they form a more complete loop.  Great for sculpting the curves in cloaks

Which I got in Hobbycraft (for people in the UK), but google Shesto Probe Set and you should find it.  The one 3rd from top is especially useful, so I’d recommend trying to get that one even if you don’t get any others.

I use a Papermania embossing tool for doing chainmail and other rounded dents (like the beards on my Berserkers).  One end is slightly bigger than the other.


GF9 tools are a waist of money, really. Got a set myself, but never use them.

Like Nitro, I only use one single sculpting tool. And the sculpting tool I use is called a Wax Carver #5. Bought mine for TinBits (they call it “zahle A” though): http://www.tinsbits.com/webshop/product_info.php/products_id/50/cPath/8/sculpting/sculptingtool---zahle-a.html

Tiranti sells one as well:

- but there are probably a lot of others out there.

I would recommend you buying one good tool rather than a set of 6-8 useless ones.

Next, I recommend getting a high quality scalpel and a set of size 0 clay shapers - for all the detailing and smothering - these really make miracles :slight_smile: taper point and a flat chisel are musts - but also the Angle Chisel has been very useful to me.


@clam: Size 0 eh? Not size 2?  Size 0 looks so small!

This set seems pretty good, has that Wax5 that clam recommends, the GW tool, the embossing tool Grim likes (I think), and some other useful ones:


I’ve heard tools like this are good for cloth folds?

Does anyone have any experience with these?


I’ve done a bit with the gw tool and a pin bit I’ve just bought a set of 12 tools from heresy for £12 ready to attempt sculpting from scratch.




Pretty good stuff.


haven’t done a great deal and definitely nothing from scratch but I bought a set of 8 and I only use maybe one or two regularly. My most used / favourite is a clay tool (I think)


Mechanical pencils are a must in my limited experience I have managed to pull of some wonderful work with these tools with a plethora of sewing needles pins and the likes to create my EXO armoured squats with not much more than one. Not to mention intuitively you hold a pencil whilst scetching out your work with pencil this then helps you transfer from paper to putty.


I too only used GWs tool for along time, then added some random stuff I had around and found usefull. Like a pencil, needle, fine tube etc. But when I found out about the “clay shapers” it was a big wow. I find them very usefull and use c,d,e alot.


So what do you do with the clay sculptors? is it to smooth large-ish areas?

Might be a good investment for me, I tend to do my best with the normal tool, then use a file when dry to remove errors.


Interesting thread. I merely use the GW sculpting tool and my fingers most of the time. For hard-to-reach flatting out and certain details, an ordinary hobbby knife can come in handy, as do a sewing needle for tiny details, including breath holes in helmets.

I’ve always been far better at doing detailed rather than flat areas, and as such have long struggled with cloaks and plate armour. As of lately this has improved thanks to the experience that w.i.p. Chaos Dwarfs have given, but I still have to use super glue on occasion to hide nicks and nocks in (dried) folded cloaks. With a brother demanding cloaks on all his Swordmasters, it would perhaps be called for to purchase Tiranti’s SL to better pull off all those large textile areas.


Clay shapers are awesome for smothing down areas without leaving fingerprints often you can use them to sharpen edges too. That said I have also used a eraser on the back of the mechanical pencil that worked just as good at times but for that recess where it just wont reach a clay shaper is just the thing. Oddly another tool I use is something that you would use too often is a dental floss pick… I know but I just find it works (:


they remind me of dental floss on a frame like the ones my wife uses;-

not sure they would be strong enough though. :~


So what do you do with the clay sculptors? is it to smooth large-ish areas?
Might be a good investment for me, I tend to do my best with the normal tool, then use a file when dry to remove errors.

Jepp, any area really big or small. Armour, clothes etc.


Does anyone use the fabled Wax Carver No.5 (other than clam)?

Accortding to this link, Clay SHapers come in 3 colours, indicating, firm/soft or extra firm. What colours do those that own them have?


I actually first bought a white(soft) one and then when I went to buy another shape I accidentially got a grey(firm) one. Not realising this untill I got home and started to work. After trying the two different I found that the grey(firm) shapers are the ones I use, the wite one went to a drawer somewhere never to be used again… :stuck_out_tongue:

I use the c,d,e grey/firm shapers.


Great to know! Thanks Tjub!