How to Assemble Warhammer 40k Miniatures Like a Pro

Rusted Space Marine

How to Assemble Warhammer 40k Miniatures Like a Pro

As a warhammer hobbyist with over 20 years of experience assembling, painting and playing with miniatures, I often get asked by new players for tips on how to properly assemble their new Warhammer 40k models. Proper assembly is crucial not just for aesthetics, but for gameplay as well. Models that are assembled poorly can negatively impact your ability to play the game.

So in this guide, I’ll walk you step-by-step through the model assembly process, from getting your tools prepped to attaching limbs, weapons and accessories. My goal is to help you avoid common beginner mistakes so you can end up with amazing looking miniatures that also function properly on the tabletop.


Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Before starting any miniature project, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper tools for assembly. Here’s what I recommend having on hand:

  • Clippers – You’ll need a nice sharp pair of hobby clippers specifically designed for cutting plastic. Ensure at least one end of the clippers has a flat surface. This allows you to lay the flat side near the model piece you’re cutting out to minimize excess plastic remnants on the piece after clipping. I prefer double-spring loaded clippers as they tend to make cleaner cuts with less effort.
  • Craft Knife – Useful for removing excess plastic bits, mold lines, and freeing stuck parts. I recommend a #11 blade for precision work. Be very careful not to accidentally cut pieces off the model. Never cut towards yourself and consider a cutting mat.
  • Mold Line Remover – Safer than a knife for beginners. Use to scrape off any mold lines or excess plastic along joints. Smooths pieces for superior connections. The Games Workshop mold line removal tool has a handle and is very easy to control.
  • Plastic Glue – Creates an incredibly strong bond by melting the plastic pieces together, unlike superglue which just glues surfaces. Use sparingly. Look for precision applicators like fine tipped bottles or brushes. I use Tamiya extra thin cement.
  • Clamps – Helpful for keeping glued components aligned as they cure. Alligator clips, rubber bands, hobby clamps and inadvertent pressure like resting a book on top can be useful.
  • Super Glue – Mainly used on resin or metal components. Can also quickly tack small plastic pieces in place before reinforcing joint with plastic glue. Useful to have both glues on hand.
  • Green Stuff – Two-part sculpting epoxy. Mix equal portions together until uniform color is achieved. Can fill small gaps and be sanded once dried.
  • Paper Towels – For wiping up any excess glue seepage between joints.
  • Storage Containers – Like small cups to hold pieces from each step as you assemble. Keeps everything organized. Film canisters work great.
  • Flashlight – For finding any pieces that may drop on the floor, even in well lit rooms.

Eye of terror metallic

Step 2: Remove Pieces from the Sprue

Warhammer miniatures come molded to a plastic frame called a sprue. You’ll need to use your clippers to remove each piece you want to use, one at a time. Refer to the assembly guide included in your box set to determine the part numbers you need for the particular model.

As you’re removing parts, consider the following best practices:

  • Stabilize small or delicate pieces with your fingers as you clip them to prevent bending or damage.
  • Prioritize clipping from thicker plastic attachment points first, then twist remaining small connections.
  • Double check part numbers against illustrations to avoid mistakes.
  • Do NOT remove every part from the sprue right away or you risk losing pieces!

Step 3: Clean and Dry Fit the Parts

Before gluing, you’ll want to clean up each piece and test fit how they attach. This prep work takes a bit more time up front, but the payoff is visible in the end miniature. Specifically make sure to:

  • Trim excess plastic from where part connections exist using your mold line remover and craft knife. Get surfaces as smooth as possible. Pay special attention to Removes excess flash plastic from joints that will connect directly to other components.
  • Thoroughly scrape any visible mold lines off individual parts so they’re less noticeable when painted. Run your fingertip over all edges to detect mold lines.
  • Use fine grit sandpaper or files to smooth down surfaces. Be careful not to destroy details in the process.
  • Wash resin or metal components in warm soapy water to remove mold release agents still present. Rinse and allow to fully dry before priming or gluing.
  • Dry fit parts together without glue first to find the desired positioning for that component and ensure proper connectivity between pieces. Reposition as necessary before the next step.

Step 4: Apply Plastic Glue and Attach

Once your pieces are prepped, you’re ready to permanently assemble them:

  • Lightly apply plastic glue to the connecting points on BOTH pieces. Allow a few seconds for it to start melting the surface. Less is more, especially on small contact points.
  • Quickly connect the pieces in the orientation you want and hold together firmly for 20-30 seconds, using clamps or tweezers if necessary to keep steady.
  • If the joint will bear significant weight, consider pinning the pieces with a paperclip or length of wire for added strength once dried.
  • Small amounts of glue may seep out along the seam. Use a paper towel to quickly wipe any excess away before drying if needed.
  • You can gently reposition the pieces while the glue is still wet if needed. But work swiftly!
  • Fully assembled models may need support or braces in gravity prone positions as the glue dries over the next 1-2 hours. Plan ahead.

As each section cures, repeat the process until the model is fully assembled. Take care moving models before the bonds have hardened.

Step 5: Drill Barrels and Magnetize

Before painting, some additional options to make your models more realistic and flexible on the tabletop include:

Drilling Gun Barrels: Carefully drill holes into the end of any weapons with barrels (guns, cannons, etc) using a pin vise and small drill bit roughly the size of the barrel opening. This creates deeper shadow effects when painted.

Magnetizing Components: Glue small rare earth magnets into torsos/arms/weapons and use to make interchangeable equipment and pose options. Just ensure opposite polarities line up for attraction.

Brush Sizes

Step 6: Accessorize and Final Touches

If your unit comes with alternate heads, combat knives, grenades or other gear, refer to your assembly guide regarding proper positioning. Consider “dry fitting” accessories to perfect placement before gluing as it can be tricky.

Be sure to keep any leftover bits! Spare heads, weapons, etc… can be used to customize future projects or turned into battlefield debris.

Mistakes to Avoid as a Beginner

Even veteran hobbyists make mistakes, but here are some common assembly mishaps to watch out for:

  • Using too much glue and melting details off models. Remember less is more with plastic glue!
  • Getting glue in spots you don’t intend which can leave discolored fingerprint smudges on models after drying.
  • Forgetting to dry fit first before gluing and realizing parts don’t quite fit the way you want.
  • Clipping pieces over carpets where they can disappear into abyss, never to be seen again! Always clip over bright solid surfaces.
  • Assembly instructions are NOT always 100% accurate! Dry fit and test things before gluing if something seems off.

So be vigilant, take your time, and don’t fret over the occasional mistake. Even imperfectly assembled models can be elevated through creative painting techniques later on. Pinning broken parts later is also an option if disasters happen.

If you follow these steps, you’ll end up with fantastic looking miniatures ready for priming and painting! For more tips be sure to check out our other articles and YouTube channel here at Warhammer Universe for everything miniature related!

Let me know if you have any other assembly questions in the comments. And may your models forever do justice on the tabletop battlefield!

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