We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

The best hobby tools for Warhammer

Whether you’re painting Warhammer miniatures for contests, converting a custom army, or building terrain, these are the essential hobby tools.

The best hobby tools - a montage of an artist emoji surrounded by tools including a lamp, brush cleaner, and dremel multi-tool

When it comes to building, painting, and converting miniatures, there is a bewildering plethora of useful gizmos and gadgets on the market. This guide introduces you to the best hobby tools every miniature maker and painter should consider for their workshop. For each item we’ve described the pros and cons, and identified which kind of hobbyist it would suit best.

This guide is a roundup of the useful bits and bobs that don’t fit into a neat category – they’re all good tools, but they cover everything from cutting to cleaning. We have dedicated guides for the main staple hobby tools: the best miniature paintbrushes, the best airbrushes for miniatures, the best paints for miniatures, and the best hobby knives.

Brush rinser

Spa day for your favorite brush

Today’s best deals
Brush rinser specifications:
Best for Dedicated miniature painters
Reasons to buy
  • Keeps brushes in good condition for longer
  • Guarantees no cross-contamination when changing paints
Reasons to avoid
  • Water jar requires regular refills
  • You will knock it over at least once

A brush rinser is an extremely over-engineered water pot that looks like a water cooler designed by a soviet rocket engineer. It uses a gravity fed reservoir to top up a small pool of water. After you clean your brush in the pool, you can push a little button to drain the water away into the base, and fresh water will flow in to refill it. This means you can always clean your brush in pristine water.

This is very much a hammer to crack an egg-shell – you could just swap out your paint water when it’s dirty. But if you want the very best results, or want to keep your best brush in pristine condition, this is a good tool. It eliminates the risk of your paints being contaminated by the paint water – mostly a risk with metallic pigments – and lets you thoroughly clean off your brush after each color.

The water reservoir needs to be refilled, and the base emptied of water, about once an hour. If it’s not situated on a level surface the water pool can overflow. You will absolutely knock over the whole thing at least once.

Despite these issues, the author continues to use the Green Stuff World Brush Rinser review sample he was provided, even though he’s not a competition painter, and rates it highly. Non-branded versions are available and are functionally identical.

Proxxon thermocut hot wire cutter

Create unbelievable gaming terrain

Today’s best deals
Proxxon thermocut hot wire cutter specifications:
Best for Terrain makers
Reasons to buy
  • An essential tool to create the best quality XPS model terrain
  • Industrial quality engineering
Reasons to avoid
  • The basic guard rail is very basic and is worth upgrading
  • The optional foot pedal accessory is essential for fine control

If you want to make your own Warhammer terrain or other miniature scenery, the Proxxon thermocut hot wire cutter is an incredible piece of kit. It functions like a scroll saw, but instead of a blade it has a tensioned wire that heats up when powered. Once you’ve got the hang of this tool, you can make extremely clean, extremely precise cuts into extruded polystyrene foam (aka styrex, pink or blue foam, or XPS), a strong and light material that’s perfect for scenery.

To get a sense for what’s possible, check out the work of miniature artist Gerard Boom, and his book ‘Tabletop Terrain from XPS foam’ – or attend one of his workshops if you ever have the chance.

While there are other foam cutters on the market, the Proxxon is extremely reliable and durable. Because it’s so popular, you can buy a variety of aftermarket upgrades – Boom makes some, and others are available on Etsy. We recommend getting a better guide rail as the included rail is rather rudimentary.

While you can do an awful lot by making straight cuts in XPS, Boom has demonstrated some techniques that require you to turn the power of the machine on and off at precise moments, so that you can reorient a piece of foam without removing it from the wire. You will need a foot control pedal accessory to do these techniques.

The Master’s Brush Cleaner and Preserver

Essential brush care

Today’s best deals
The Master’s Brush Cleaner and Preserver specifications:
Best for Anyone with a brush they care about
Reasons to buy
  • Keep your brushes in good condition for longer
  • Lasts for ages
Reasons to avoid
  • None

If you paid money for your brushes, pay money for brush soap. Gently cleaning your brushes with soap after a painting session will greatly extend their useful lifespan, and ensure that your favorite brushes retain a good point for longer.

We’ve selected The Master’s Brush Cleaner and Preserver as the author has had good results with it, and a single pot has lasted years. Other soaps will also do the job.

Green Stuff World tentacle roll maker

Get Lovecraftian

Today’s best deals
Green Stuff World tentacle roll maker specifications:
Best for Model converters
Reasons to buy
  • Easily create tentacles and cables
Reasons to avoid
  • You need to be familiar with greenstuff to get the best results
  • Easy to lose parts of the tool

The Green Stuff World tentacle roll maker is a simple plastic contraption lets you roll strands of greenstuff between two textured plates, embossing textures into the the surface. It makes great flexible tentacles and cables for model conversions.

When using the tool, leave your greenstuff to partially cure until it loses its surface stickiness before putting it between the plates. If you’re trying to emboss the greenstuff with a fairly deep impression, it’s better to use a gentle pressure and roll the greenstuff backwards and forwards several times – pushing too forcefully will just squish and flatten the greenstuff.

Dremel lite multi-tool

The go-to tool for drilling barrels and pinning joints

Today’s best deals
Dremel lite multi-tool specifications:
Best for Model makers, converters
Reasons to buy
  • The best way to drill tiny holes in models
  • Many other uses including mold-line removal and buffing super-metallic paints
  • Tool-free accessory changing is quick and easy
  • Cordless
  • High build quality
Reasons to avoid
  • Relatively low torque may not drill into metal minis reliably
  • Being tool-free means this has a slightly weak grip on drill bits or accessories.
  • Drill bits not included

The go to use for a powered hand-tool in modelling is to drill tiny holes into your minis. That can include drilling out gun barrels, and holes for metal pins to support the joints on metal or resin models. But with other accessories mounted you can use them to sand mold lines, or buff high-glossy metallic paints.

Dremel is the biggest name in cordless hand tools, and for good reason – it makes high quality and durable products. The Dremel lite is a smaller and relatively low powered version of this type of tool, but it’s still specced for DIY – it will work just fine on models.

Razor saw

Sharp, clean cuts

Today’s best deals
Razor saw specifications:
Best for Converters and scratch builders
Reasons to buy
  • Precise cuts with minimal wastage
Reasons to avoid
  • Handle with care, the edge is sharp
  • Will lose its edge and eventually require replacing
  • Cannot make deep cuts

If you want to make precise cuts into models or materials for a conversion, a razor saw is essential. These have very sharp, very fine blades, letting you cleanly cut off components with minimum wastage to the mini.

Because it has a solid blade reinforced by a thick arm, razor saws make straight cuts through material much better than a junior hacksaw or coping saw. However they can only cut to a relatively shallow depth.

We’ve suggested an X-ACTO saw with a cheap handle and replaceable blade. All saw blades blunt, and unless you have the tools and expertise to recondition a blade, a more expensive razor saw will just be more expensive to replace.

Superglue de-bonder

Unsticks the stuck

Today’s best deals
Superglue de-bonder specifications:
Best for Messy model makers
Reasons to buy
  • Save your fingers, mobile phone, and models, from misplaced glue
Reasons to avoid
  • You will inevitably get it mixed up with superglue at least once

Superglue de-bonder dissolves superglue. There’s not much more to say about it – we’ve included it because when it’s useful, it’s incredibly useful, yet not many people know it exists!

Ultrasonic jewelry cleaner

Perfect for pre-paint prep, or rescuing mispainted minis

Today’s best deals
Ultrasonic jewelry cleaner specifications:
Best for Bargain hunters and perfectionists
Reasons to buy
  • Deep clean miniatures to ensure prior to building and painting
  • Strip paint off miniatures for repainting
Reasons to avoid
  • If knocked over, will throw mucky solvent around
  • Theoretical fire risk

Ultrasonic cleaners use high frequency vibrations to form bubbles in a tank of cleaning fluid. Anything you put into them will receive a molecular-level scrubbing.

Water and soap will clean off mold release agent from resin and metal minis, while a bath of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) will fully strip the paint from minis or your airbrush much more rapidly than simply leaving them to sit in the solvent.

It’s possible to strip paint from resin minis as well, but prolonged exposure will weaken or destroy the resin. As with any vat of dirty liquid, be careful not to knock an ultrasonic cleaner over.

If you plan to use IPA as a cleaning solvent, note that it is flammable, so store it away from open flames. Ultrasonic cleaners heat their contents slightly, but as IPA has to be heated to 750 °F / 399 °C to burst into flames without an external source of ignition, it would require a bad malfunction for your cleaner to start a fire this way.

We’ve suggested a jewelry cleaner as a good go-to for hobbyists who will put it to light use. If you want to make extensive use of a cleaner, look for a small industrial unit.

OttLite LED desk lamp with clamp

The best view on your work

Today’s best deals
OttLite LED desk lamp with clamp specifications:
Best for People who spend a lot of time at their hobby
Reasons to buy
  • Makes painting and assembling models far easier
  • Provides more consistent lighting conditions than actual daylight
  • Clamp attachment minimises the space required
  • Flexible arm lets you focus the light where it’s needed
  • Economical LED lighting
Reasons to avoid
  • A regular desk lamp with a daylight bulb is cheaper
  • A lever arm provides greater control over the light’s positioning
  • If you need something bigger and can spend more, consider the Neatfi XL

A strong, consistent light source for building and painting miniatures simply makes it easier to see what you’re doing, which will save your eyes from strain and your fingers from misplaced clippers and hobby knives. There are many choices when it comes to picking a lamp – the OttLite LED desk lamp is a good middle ground when it comes to function and price.

Daylight bulbs and white LEDs mimic natural light, providing an objective view on how your model looks. Unlike real daylight, they’re a consistent light source that doesn’t change throughout the day, and can be directed how you choose – in the miniature painting book ‘The Art of Tommie Soule’, the hobby guru recommends a daylight lamp above the real thing.

OttLite makes high quality lamps, and this one has all the features that most hobbyists will need – a wide LED light, flexible neck, desk edge clamp, at a reasonable price. For a wider lamp with a lever arm, look at the Neatfi XL.

Army Painter wet palette

Keep paint good to go for longer

Today’s best deals
Army Painter wet palette specifications:
Best for Painters in hot climates
Reasons to buy
  • Keeps paint wet and workable for longer
  • Pretty much essential for painting in arid conditions
Reasons to avoid
  • Will grow mold in the sponge if you forget to change the water

All wet palettes work on the same principle. The base of the tray is lined with a sponge, on top of which you place a sheet of semi-permeable paper – greaseproof paper works for DIY versions. Water can pass through this but pigment cannot. Fill the sponge with a reservoir of water and, as the water evaporates out of the paint, it will be replaced by water from the sponge.

This gives your paint a longer working life before it begins to dry, really helpful when working with fast-curing acrylic paints. In arid climates a wet palette is a massive help, and by closing the palette lid you can pretty much stop your paint from drying out between sessions: very helpful if you’re working on particular color mixes.

We’ve picked the Army Painter palette because it has some nice added features, including a stretchy band that can keep the palette securely shut when not in use, and an integral brush tray. But you can get by without these just fine.

If you’d prefer that a machine took all the hard work out of making your figures for you, we have guides on how to 3D print miniatures and recommendations for 3D printers. Of course, you’ll still need to paint them, which is where our guide on painting miniatures will help!