Picking up those brushes again.

Hi and welcome to the occasional mutterings of Dave Doc, a military modeller and some time gamer. Gaming and model making has given me a real education, History & Geography(obvious really), Artistry, Politics, Economics, Logistics, Project Management -you try building miniature armies without the last 3.

I will use the blog to record my creations & the odd occasion I actually do some gaming.

I have always been inspired by the aesthetic side of gaming. Playing on well constructed terrain using excellently painted units is always a joy.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Basic Soldering - adding bayonets

I have had a few people ask me to do a more detailed post on my conversion work and in particular soldering. If you are of a certain age and remember the wonderful covers of Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated that where adorned with fantastic creations of Napoleonic units made by Doug Mason  (which he has been showcasing on his own blog recently) this is what first inspired me to attempt it. Also chatting over the years with Doug and getting a masterclass direct from him was great.I already knew how to solder from youthful days as an apprentice it just needed the application of some tools and techniques to make it more practical to convert those precious figures

.As I am working on Doug C's (you did not think i got his Sudan collection for free did ya?) Old School American War of Independance 71st Highlanders that need some of this doing I have taken the opportunity to photograph things along the way

I will do a series of hint's n tips for this. So what do you need to do for something simple like add some nice sharp non bendy pin bayonets to your lads?

Low Wattage Iron, ordinary "cored "solder, helping hands tool, needle files and liquid flux - Bakers No3 
  This is the key ingredient!
Soldering irons are rated by power , I use 3 different irons from 12watt , 25watt , and 100watt.

The higher the power the greater the heat effect – and ability to melt to toys!

However the principle you are after is to be able to apply contact from the iron for the absolutely shortest period possible , yet still have enough heat to melt the metal and form the solder join. 

So using too small an iron means you don't get enough heat to thoroughly melt all the area to join, and it will fail and break . Applying heat for too long because you are asking it to melt too large an area can cause detail to melt. Use the right tool for the right job.

For this job I will be using the small iron which is made by Antex with a small “bit”

The other factor you need to cover is a little Health & Safety. and wear some wrap around eye shields as if you slip or burn yourself unexpectedly you may flick the iron and molten solder may fly off . I have not had a problem myself but it makes sense. Also always thoroughly wash your hands after handling solder and solder in a ventilated area.

So a before shot - you know the problem  - with those those wonky bendy bayonets
Well i am going to add a bayonet made from an ordinary household pin. The first thing to say is that they must be "mild steel". "Stainless steel" won't solder. How to tell the difference bend the pin with pliers to 90 degrees. Mild steel will bend, stainless steel will snap! (Top tip that from Gerry Elliott - ta)

 So first up - cut off the old bayonet but leave the little side attachment piece at the end of the musket. - Gulp - now you done it!
Cut a pin to the length you need and put a slight bend into the end you are going to solder onto the musket.

When soldering you must ensure that the areas you intend to join are clean and oxide free . So use a needle file to give the area a quick burnish to a shine and blow or brush off any filings.

Next I used the "helping hands" device to hold the pin and figure together. I do it myself now by just holding the pin in the crocodile clip and the figure in my hand , but using both clips on the "helping hands" is a good starter guide as it means you can just think about what you do with the iron. The slight bend on the end of the pin will allow it to melt into the musket end but still means the pin will form the bayonet slightly to the side - as it would be.

Brush (using an old brush) some liquid flux onto the tip of the iron - it will fizzle and coat the bit.

Brush on some soldering fluid flux to area to be joined.

Touch the bit of the iron onto the solder - the flux will help draw it and make it molten and liquid on the bit.

Touch for a fraction of a second the bit onto the area to be joined the flux will help to draw the solder from the iron and form a joint. This is the bit you need to practice !! (the old lead pile does come in useful occassionally you know) I would describe it as painting with molten metal . As you get used to handling it you can be more creative.

Any excess metal can be removed or shaped with a needle file or a mini power tool with suitable grinder attachment.

and hey presto - it's done - now repeat another 36 times!!

To wet the appetite , I have converted these basic figures into a piper and drummer with a little application of the iron

More on these lads next time


  1. Awesome! Keep the tips coming!

  2. A great tip and I am sure not quite as easy as you make it sound but such help as the wattage of the iron makes all the difference, I am guessing I would not be able to use my old gun!!!


    1. Well the gun may be useful if you want a pool of metal.. they good for doing horses legs etc though

  3. Tremendous ‘how to’, but I have a horrible feeling that if I tried anything like that there would be very little left of the original miniature! That said, please do not let my hesitations deter you from further wonderful and informative posts!

    1. it is scary the first time - i have lost a few - but that is what the lead pile is for.

      worth it for me in the end

  4. Again a post right from the Pathenon of hobby-pleasures.

    I never liked to choose between bayonets that are realistic in size but look like cucumbers, and mighty sword-like applications that Conan would've used if he'd ever gotten his hands on a Musquet.

    Now if I had the time and the equipement... I might just try and do what you propose.

    1. aah - all part of my hobby madness.. cheers Dave

  5. Nice guide - been looking for something like this.

  6. Hi Dave,
    My input which was also guided by the Maestro "Doug". I use a RS components soldering iron, fully variable up to 320 degrees. I tend to work "hot" as I used to primarily do repairs with large "contact areas".
    Pins. The first thing to say is that they must be "mild steel". "Stainless steel" won't solder. How to tell the difference (which I originally did in Oldham Market much to the interest of a lot of people).
    Bend the pin with pliers to 90 degrees. Mild steel will bend, stainless steel will snap!
    Lastly, the join you make will now become the weakest mechanical part of the figure. If the bayonet can be done "on the old bayonet" rather than where the socket is, then it will last much much longer.

    1. Great points Gerry - i have clarified the mild steel - stainless issue in the post - I knew that , but had not made it clear - thanks.

    2. There are also "extruded parts". This is where you need to tease the slder out to make parts, typically a part of a musket that was broken. Here, you can make use of "heat sinks". I use two, the first is an Aluminium block that takes away heat immediately or a more subtle stainless steel block.
      The technique (which requires the pataience of a saint!) is to solder with the joint resting on the block! Impossible? Nearly!
      But if you master the delicate balance, most things are modifiable/repairable (I say this this because construction from scratch of muskets onto to bare arms alas Doug was never achieved by myself!!!!)

    3. Yeah - that is a real skill - i reckon i can just about do that (sometimes!) - a post for the "advanced" section!

  7. Nicely done! A good guide, and a good result!

  8. Some great work Dave, your a braver man than me, I'd either leave the bendy bayonet or glue a new one on!

  9. My word Dave, you really do go to the next level. Great to see all that behind the scenes work that you have done and thanks for sharing this with everyone. This is going to be a great looking unit and I look forward to seeing it develop.

    1. Well my goal is always to try and do something unique , and this really does add something extra.

  10. It is very difficult, and very dangerous for me!!! A very interesting guide; thank you a lot.

    1. Cheers. Well you have to challenge yourself to learn new skills every once in a while. It was scary at first , but i soon got the hang of it.

  11. Wow Dave, what a great master class and a very enjoyable read.

  12. Dave, a great post. I got a new variable soldering iron for Christmas but have been wary of using it. This should inspire me to give it a try.


    1. Hope it's pf use in the garage mate. Make sure you get the liquid flux - it makes all the difference.

  13. Nice tip Dave.
    I have played about with soldering irons in the past, with my Warmaster 10mm High Elves as the cavalry standards often snapped off...I would solder them back on , though as you say you had to be a bit 'lucky' or the model melted before your eyes!

  14. Hi Dave, I had not seen this guide before and it has inspired me to give this a go. In fact, having read about this regarding the Mason, Ray, and Gaskin collections, I was delighted to see your guide. Now, I do have one question: does one have to clean off any of the flux residue before painting? Or is this something that makes this particular flux a preferred choice?


Work in hand


No more than 3 things on the PAINTING table at once. Nothing new added until something is finished.

PREPARATION work is done when I don't fancy detail painting. Cleaning up, converting, undercoating etc.

PLANNING is expressions of interest or things that have inspired me to be created with no definite timescale as yet.

15mm Terrain bits
15mm WW2 Germans

On the PREPATION table.
28mm Sudan.

15mm Napoleonics .