Friday Quick Tip: Glass Bead Rivets

I've never gotten too deep into scratch building or kit bashing in all of my years of wargaming.  But the need has arisen as of late to get serious about both and with that comes new ideas, tips and techniques.  Today I am sharing a method I've known about for some time, but never gave a try, Glass Bead Rivets.

After searching my local hobby store multiple times to no avail, I finally stumbled upon the proper bead size made by a company I never thought I'd find myself supporting, the one and only Martha Stewart empire!  To save you some time I've dug up an online supplier of the beads (Martha Stewart Luster Glass Microbead Onyx), Fabric.com.  I haven't scoured their site for anything else just yet, but you never know what you'll find in any random hobby/crafts shop that might aid your modeling!

You'll also need some Super Glue, a pin vice and drill bit (1mm) for this. GW's drill and bits work just fine for this, so if you've got one, you're good to go!  I suggest doing this by hand, as opposed to using a power drill, as you'll need more control than a power drill can afford you. 

I start each rivet very shallow and usually am able to work 4-5 rivets at once.  Each is only a few light turns of the drill to mark the placement.  Be very light on the drill and I highly suggest using a test piece of plastic to work out just how much pressure you need to apply to get the proper depth.  Don't get ahead of yourself and try to drill to the proper depth in one go.

I dry fit each rivet after getting them started to see just how much needs to come out of the pit.  You want the rivet to be half obscured by the hole with the other half sticking out to create the proper look.  As you can see in the above photo, this one is just slightly above the line it needs to be, and the pit will be drilled out just a few more light turns with nearly no pressure, just letting the weight of the pin vice do the work.

The light adjustments to the depth complete, the second dry fit confirms the pit is at a good depth and the rivet is ready to be glued into place.  I find I test each pit 2-3 times before I move on to the super glue.  Don't worry if you go too deep, you can always create a little battle damage and just drill the hole all the way through creating a rivet that was blasted off/out by a large caliber weapon! 

To apply glue I used a small piece of spare styrene cut to a point and dipped into the super glue.  Had a toothpick been available I would have made quick use of it as it would have likely worked far better! 

Apply a small dab of glue to the inside of the rivet pit.  I didn't even attempt to add the glue to the glass bead itself, I just imagined myself pulling little beads off my hands and arms with small bits of skin attached if I tried!

A small handling tip for the beads themselves, I found that wetting the tip of a finger or thumb made it far easier to move and place the beads as it made them stick long enough to get them into the pits.

Once the bead is in place, I always push them down into the pit using something flat, most of the time it ended up being the butt end of my hobby knife.  This helps ensure the bead is set all the way into the pit instead of floating in the super glue. 

Above you can see the beads on some additional armor plating I've applied to a Leman Russ hull.  The scale is just right for most needs and adds an important bit of detail to otherwise boring sections of flat space.  If you're scratch building/kit bashing a piece of armor this is a must have technique!

I know this isn't the only way to go about rivets!  But as a starting point, it's hard to beat.  If you've got some rivet links, throw them up in the comments!  Used this method?  Show us all your results!  Stay tuned for more tips from the scratch build as I get further along!