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  • How to Make Gears of Putty

    Hello, everyone. While making some bases up for a few figures, I needed some gears to help spruce up the bases a bit. I didn't have any laying around, so I had decided to make my own.

    The material I used to make the gears is Sculptey oven-baked clay, but any similar clay could be used, like FIMO or other polymer clays. Usually you'd find this in the craft section at an art & crafts type store or department. What makes polymer clays more suitable than air dried clays is the time it takes, and polymers do not harden to a brittle state... they're almost rubbery when they come out of the oven.

    Other things I used were a sharp hobby knife, a hobby drill, random round cylinders (in my case, brass tubing scraps), some baking paper (used for baking cookies ... can find it in the store near the wax paper and aluminum/tin foils -- also handy for making wet palettes ^^ ), and some wire or rods the same thickness as the gears you wish to make.

    Step 1:
    Lay out a small piece of the baking paper. Lay on it a couple pieces of the wire/rod the thickness of the gears, and between them, a roll of the clay, like so:

    For most polymer clays, you need to knead them until they are soft and pliable before using them... that will help keep them from 'cracking' as we flatten them.

    Step 2:
    Over this, lay another piece of the baking paper. This will keep our roller from sticking to the clay. Gently roll out the clay until your roller is riding atop the two wires/rods you set up. This will give you a nice flat piece of clay.

    Step 3:
    Press the cylinders into the clay. Depending on the thickness of the clay, one of two things will happen here. Either its thick enough that the clay will stay in the cylinder as you lift it back up, or thin enough that the clay will stay on the underlaying baking paper.

    Remove the cylinders. If the clay stays on the paper, great. We can finish removing them with a hobby knife after they've baked. If not, then slide the handle of your hobby knife, or whatever device you have that fits, to gently push the clay back out onto the baking paper.

    Step 4:
    Take the baking paper and clay both, and put them onto a baking sheet, and pop them in the oven. Bake the clay following the instructions it came with. For the Sculptey I used, thats 15 minutes at 275F/135C.

    Step 5:
    Take them out of the oven, and back to the desk we go. The clay will be hot initially, but with the thinness we're using here, they cool down very quickly once you get them away from the oven and hot baking sheet. ^^ Using a pencil, draw out some quick guidelines on them.

    Step 6:
    Using a sharp hobby knife, cut in the gears. Since the clay should still be rubbery at this point, you should just need to press flat edge of the tip straight down to cut. In this image, cutting along the red lines would give you a variety of gears:

    Step 7:
    Now just using the hobby drill, drill some center holes, and perhaps some "weight reducing" holes as well:

    You might also use a flat small sanding bit on a rotary tool (dremel) to sand out some of the middle area... how much detail work you want to do at this point is up to you. Perhaps chip away some of the teeth to get worn, discarded gears, etc.

    Now you have your own set of gears to play with. ^^

    Thank you for viewing this article. Show off your gears, and post them in the Miniatures/The workbench/Construction Corner/How to Make Gears of Putty thread! ^^

    This article was originally published in forum thread: How to Make Gears of Putty started by kdlynch View original post
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Darklord's Avatar
      Darklord -
      great tutorial - going to give this a try
    1. poots's Avatar
      poots -
      oooh, you make it seem so simple!
    1. NeatPete's Avatar
      NeatPete -
      steampunk sweetness! I like it, thanks!
    1. seasonman's Avatar
      seasonman -
      very good cost saving idea and detailed enough for all to excel and produce a good finish item well done ..
    1. precinctomega's Avatar
      precinctomega -
      Excellent tute.
    1. Neomorte's Avatar
      Neomorte -
      This such a good idea. I can use this method on a wide variety of other projects that I have had trouble figuring out. Thanks!
    1. Vern's Avatar
      Vern -
      Whoa, that is good - I'll be having some of that, thanks
    1. MamaGeek's Avatar
      MamaGeek -
      Wow, really cool! Thank you!