"All resources will be used to make the army ready for war." - Napoleon, 1813

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Magnetizing Napoleonic Bases

Time for a saw dust storm...

It's time to prepare my bases for transport using magnets.  I have been using rare earth magnets for many years and they are just perfect for miniature hobbyists.  The size I get the most use out of are 1/16 thick by 1/4 diameter (0.25'' Dia x 0.0625''). I usually order mine through Amazing Magnets. If you do make sure you add the "free Sample Pack" when you order. Lots of good stuff in there.

The tools I use are a dremel with a rotary mount, a .0625 router bit and a tray to hold the wood. You will also need a good mask preferably with filters and some eye protection. The MOST important thing is that you have a good area to work with some air movement. Really this is best done outside if possible.  Since I live in Minnesota, father winter has proclaimed NO. I set up two fans to get some air flow going and I covered everything near to the project with old sheets.  Don't keep a coffee near the operations...

My good friend Jon made a nice tray clamp to hold the wood in place. He used plastic but you could make it out of MDF or hard board and a couple of slip clamps.  The size of the opening allows me to route 2 bases in a row.  The next step is setting the router brace to be roughly in the middle of the Litko base and by setting the depth of the bit.

I have one of the fans blowing directly on the project to get the dust away while I'm routing. The whole process took me 40 minutes to do 136 holes. Not bad. The clean up is the real task as everything has to be dusted and vacuumed. Luckily this process only happens once in blue moon. 

The last part is getting out the super glue and getting the magnets in. This is messy because wiping away excess glue always ends up on the figures but It's what we hobbyists have to deal with.  Hopefully this has been helpful. We'll cover transport cases and bins in another post. 



  1. Wow - that is an impressive piece of machinery - and the results show it. Best, Dean

  2. Question. It looks like you're using Litko laser-cut bases. Is there a reason you're doing rare-earth magnets and not their sticky magnetic bases?

    Otherwise, I am interested to see how these play out!

  3. Hi Rob,
    A couple reasons- I've been using rare earth for years with my fantasy, LotR and 40k armies and so I'm used to the product. The other reason is that I've had people in the shop I hung out at use the sticky magnets and have bad luck with them, either from the sticky coming up or even the magnet not working so well.

    I stick with what I know I guess. :)

  4. Just to add my 2 cents Rob...

    The number one reason for magnetizing is so your troops are secure during transport. Rare Earth magnets will not move (at least not much) if you drop your carrying case, Litko magnets will. That, or the fact they will separate from the bases as Eric mentioned since the sticky side is often weaker than the magnet.

    Another reason is that along with the Litko base themselves, they are hard to get a hold of and take forever to order. Plus they do not come in all the sizes we need, like the 75mm rounds or 90mm x 120mm ovals for example. They also add to the thickness of the base, and 3mm is chunky enough for us.

    FYI, I did cover our choice of using Litko bases towards the end of this post:


    On a related note, I've heard many great things about the UK company "Warbases" across the blogosphere. Unfortunately the International shipping part makes them slightly unpractical for us.


  5. I would second Warbases they are my first stop for anything base wise and if you want some thing odd give them a call and if its possible they will make it.
    Like the idea of earth magnets in the base's not seen it before, but then I game so little transport is not a problem I deal with much
    Peace James