little mens hobby glossary

a generic term for one’s paint brushes.  made from a variety of material, and available in a variety of sizes, they are used to paint one’s little mens. 
a nice to have tool, used to hold two or more components together during assembly.  can be as simple as a rubber band or clothespin, or as complex as a spring clamp or vise. 
a set of hand shears or snips used to remove models from the sprue and to remove vent threads. 
Taking an existing model and using other pieces in existence or fabricated and assembling it in a way to represent a different subject. 
also known as superglue, instant glue, cyano, and CA, it is an adhesive that is typically used for bonding metal pieces, and metal and plastic pieces since plastic cement (see plastic cement) will not join styrene components with non-styrene components. 
CA is typically an acrylic resin that polymerizes (forms long chains of molecules), or sets in the presence of water.  these long chain molecules actually form the bond that holds the pieces of your little mens together.  because it’s the presence of water that causes CA to polymerize/set, some hobbyists keep a small dish of water nearby and use a drop or two to speed up the surface setting of the CA.  
additionally, the mere presence of water vapor in the air can cause the polymerization to begin.  this is why that tube of zap-a-gap is so thin and liquid when you purchase it, but after a couple of weeks (or months) of being opened begins to become more and more viscous. 
depending on brand, most CAs require several hours for the bond to cure between  the two components, and because CA has a low shear strength (i.e. the force applied perpendicular to the join), it can be tricky to work with when gluing heavy components requiring additional modeling techniques for a successful join (see pinning). 
CA fumes can be an irritant to the eyes and mucous membranes.  additionally, it will bond almost immediately with any tissue that is moist (like the mouth, nasal passages, and the eyes), so care must be exercised when using CA.  it can also act as a skin irritant in sensitive individuals.    
the extra film of thin plastic found on a model or sprue.  flash (or flashing) occurs when the mold fails to meet completely and casting material is able to find its way between the mold halves. 
flash is usually very thin, and is able to be trimmed away with a set of clippers or a hobby knife. 
A set of tools with a rough face, or teeth, used to remove extra materials through mechanical action.
green stuff:
The common name for polymeric’s kneadatite.  green stuff is a two-part epoxy resin that comes in a parallel strip of yellow and blue ribbons.  when mixed well, the yellow and blue turn green (just like in grade school!).   
 green stuff is a great material to use for gap-filling, conversions, and sculpting.  using more of the blue ribbon (the hardener) in the mix will cause the epoxy to cure faster and well, harder.  using more of the yellow ribbon (the filler) in the mix will cause the epoxy to cure slower, but will hold greater detail.
most users and sculptors recommend waiting approximately 15 minutes after mixing to allow the putty to firm up just a bit. 
the yellow ribbon is the stickier of the two components and will require more care to avoid having it adhere to everything under the sun.  most users recommend the use of water or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the sculpting tools to provide lubrication.  the drawback to using petroleum jelly is that the model must be carefully washed with soap and warm water to remove all traces of the lubricant before painting.
hobby knife:
a handle with a (usually) replaceable razor edged blade, used for cutting, cleaning, and sculpting (sometimes). 
the point on a model where two separate pieces meet.  A join is usually secured with either CA or plastic cement. 
usually a two piece form into which molten metal is poured, or into which molten polystyrene is pumped to form the components for miniatures.  silicon and rubber molds are the traditional molding materials for metal and resin models.  aluminum is the traditional molding materials for polystyrene.  the type of mold and the materials used to cast directly influences the amount of detail a model may have as does the process involved. 
metal casting typically relies upon centrifugal force (spinning) to fill the mold with molten metal. 
plastic casting typically relies upon pressure to pump the mold full of molten polystyrene and vents to allow the air to escape the mold.    
resin casting typically relies upon even filling of the mold, and for extremely detailed components high pressures to ensure any air bubbles are compressed to microscopic sizes. 

pin vise:
A small hand drill using small bits (or pins) to drill holes in a model to provide strength (see “Pinning”) to a join, or to add realism (like drilling out a gun barrel).  Various pin sizes allow for a variety of holes and functionality.
pinning is the process of drilling a hole in at least two parts of a (usually metal) model and inserting a small rod to help provide additional structural support, or bear the weight of the pieces.  this technique is a useful one because of the low shear factor of CA glues.  the weight of the pieces will sometime pull the join apart.  pinning the model prevents this.  
Pinning is also sometimes used in plastic models when the join is small or under stress.

plastic cement:
plastic cement is a bonding agent used to join a plastic (or polystyrene) part to another plastic part.   
usually made of some styrene solvent like toluene or tricholromethane, plastic cements work through solvent action.  this means that the glue actually softens the plastic parts, and then evaporates.  once the solvent has evaporated, the plastic then hardens and the parts essentially weld themselves together. 
there are several forms of plastic cement.  most hobbyists are familiar with the tube gel, which is usually squirted out onto a palette and then applied with a toothpick or similar applicator.  the main drawback to this type of plastic cement is that as the gel begins to dry, it has a tendency to form thin web-like strands.  this requires the hobbyist to revisit the model and perform a second cleaning to ensure no webbing remains. 
most experienced hobbyists use some brand of liquid plastic cement.  the technique of using liquid cement is quite simple.  the two plastic pieces to be joined are held together and the glue is applied with a brush touched to the seam between the two pieces, allowing capillary action to ensure the glue is placed exactly where it is needed.
one of the major drawbacks of using liquid cement is that it is very volatile and will evaporate quickly if not kept well capped, and as liquid cement is usually very thin, any excess applied may run quickly across the surface of the model.  if it encounters fingers, capillary action will pull the liquid cement into the fingerprints and almost immediately melt the plastic touching them, requiring a careful clean up and sanding once dry. 
since plastic cement does use a solvent as the principle mechanism to soften the plastic, most plastic cements are considered to be toxic chemicals.  toluene fumes are intoxicating, and can result in nausea, unconsciousness, and even death by asphyxiation. 
exposure to toluene requires that your body metabolize it since toluene cannot be excreted through sweat, urine, or stool.  overexposure to toluene can result in chemical toxicity resulting in cell damage, optic atrophy, cognitive dysfunction, and brain lesions.    
there are some brands of plastic cement available that are marketed as “non-toxic”.  these use d-limonene as a solvent to join plastics, and are considered to be a safer alternative to traditional plastic cements for younger hobbyists. 
regardless, all plastic cements should be used in well ventilated areas and frequent breaks should be taken to minimize exposure.  
a thermoplastic petroleum product that is solid at room temperature.  used in a variety of industries, for our purposes it is typically the plastic in which most toy soldiers are cast.  separate pieces of polystyrene can be joined with either types of model glue (see Cyanoacrylate and Plastic Cement).
it is also known as styrene
razor Saw:
also know as a jewelers saw, this is a fine-toothed saw blade use for cutting both metal and styrene. 
sheet styrene:
sheet styrene is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  since polystyrene plastic can be either extruded or cast, companies like plastruct or evergreen produce styrene in sheets (and sometimes other shapes) of various thicknesses and textures (like cobblestone, brick, or even non-skid diamond plate!). 
typically made of polystyrene plastic, the sprue is the frame that holds the pieces of the models before they are clipped out and assembled.   
slang.  See polystyrene
vent thread: 
a small projection of metal from a model that during casting flowed and formed in the air vent.  these may sometimes be longer than others depending on the size of the vent in the mold, the speed at which the mold was spinning, and the temperature of the molten metal.
white metal: 
a term used to refer to the alloy used to cast metal miniatures.  white metal is usually a proprietary mix of antimony, tin, lead, cadmium, bismuth, and zinc. 
while most miniatures were cast in lead for generations, the move to the use of a lead-free white metal picked up speed in the 1993 new york state legislature when they nearly passed a ban on miniatures that contained lead.