My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Using Flexible Magnets with Bases

So, I started down the road of using Wargames Accessories steel bases [1] with the thought of using flexible magnet sheets in the transport box. I hated it for two reasons:

1. The steel bases are not thick enough for gripping with my fat fingers (and I do not have fingernails extending beyond the tips of my fingers).

2. The large magnetic sheets seem to attract debris which likes to embed into it (like sand, flock, rocks, etc.). It also seems to lose magnetism over time (and I don't mean years).

So, I decided to reverse the process and put magnets on the bases and steel in the transport box. At first I used rare earth magnets, but found the problems were:

1. You had to drill out holes in the basing material, which took time and created a mess, which the wife says I already make too much of.

2. You had to be careful drilling the holes so the magnet was flush with the bottom of the base. Easier said than done. Sometimes you had to fill in some of the holes as they were too deep, sometimes drill more as they were too shallow, and sometimes you just gave up.

3. You had to be careful gluing the magnets into the base. Too much glue over the top and it lowered the magnetic strength. Not enough glue and when you pulled the base off of the steel sheet the magnet stayed behind.

Finally, I decided to use magnetic strips on the bottom of the bases, as it:

1. Would be flush with the bottom of the base without fiddling.

2. Was easy to cut to size.

3. Was easy to attach (it had double-sided tape on it).

The problem, though, was that last little bit; getting the magnet to stay stuck onto the base. As the strips of flexible magnetic "tape" comes in rolls, it liked to stay curled and the ends would start to detach base (the double-sided tape was not that strong). So you were left with pulling out the super glue and carefully gluing the ends that popped up, but sometimes they would pop up before the glue hardened and then harden curled.

I finally found a solution that seems to be working ... so far. What I do is take the flexible magnetic strips and iron them onto the bottom of the base. The heat from the iron helps melt the adhesive on the double-sided tape giving it more sticking power. To help the process, I affix the tape to the bottom of the base and immediately iron it flat. (If it starts to bubble your iron is too hot or you are ironing too long. Stop if the magnet catches fire. LOL) I then put the base onto a cold, galvanized steel sheet and that helps keep the base flat while the magnet cools and the adhesive hardens.

It thought about affixing the magnets to the bases prior to gluing the figures to the base so I could put a heavy book on top of the bases while they cool, but the problem is gripping the base while trying to hold a hot iron to the other side of it. :-/

[1] I would not recommend using Wargame Accessories steel bases unless you measure each and every base prior to using it as they are not always consistently cut. Expect some losses from bad cutting.


  1. Dale - If you go to about any shop that makes signs you can buy flat magnetic sheet that you can cut to size and just glue to the base (doesn't come with tape). It is very easy to work with and may allow you to avoid some of your problems.


  2. Don is working with that right now, so we'll see how he fares. I have a lot of this tape, in various widths.

    The main thing is to ensure it doesn't separate. that's always been the problem no matter what magnet you put on the bottom.


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").