I recently started playing the X-Wing Miniatures game and I love the detailed models used for the game. The models sit on top of plastic pegs that are easy to break off, and the easiest way to avoid this issue is by magnetizing the models using small ring magnets on the ships and steel balls on the pegs. It also looks really cool when the models can swivel and bank.
My brother-in-law gave me a bag full of magnets and steel balls. There are two different sizes – 3/8″ balls for the larger ships, and 3/16″ balls for the small ships. The small balls work well for most of the small ships, but there are a few (like the G1A Starfighter) that are a bit too heavy and flop around if they aren’t sitting straight. So I used the large ball on a few small pegs, which solved that issue.
The first step to getting the ball on the peg is to remove the top-most portion of the peg that would normally slide into the ship. Take a pair of pliers or wire cutters and cut off that top portion.
The next step I did was to “round out” the top of the peg where I just cut off the tip. I used a rotary tool and a round grinding bit (which is about the same size as the large steel ball) to make the top of the peg concave.
Make sure to wear safety glasses (and possibly gloves if you have shaky hands) and carefully grind out the top of the peg, checking your progress with the actual ball you will be using. You want to make sure it will stay on top of the peg without rolling off even before you put glue on it.
Once satisfied that the ball sits well, it’s time to glue it on. I’ve found it better to sand the ball a bit with sandpaper to roughen it up first as it helps it to adhere to the peg a bit better and it also helps prevent the magnet from slipping.
I like to use Gorilla glue – specifically the gel type. It doesn’t run when you apply it and it holds really well.
Just apply a small dab of glue on the top of the peg, then set the ball on top. It should be glued on after a few minutes, but I usually wait a couple of hours to let the glue set before putting anything on the ball.
The process for the large ships’ pegs is the same, but you would use the large ball when testing if the top of the peg is concave enough. I mentioned that I also used the large ball on some of the small pegs – I considered doing more of those, but there are some small ships that wouldn’t fit well on the large ball, like the Starviper and HWK-290 because of how the magnets fit in them. But it is definitely nice using it for the other ships.
I plan to show all of the ships I’ve magnetized, and the location of the magnets since the spot where the peg originally went wasn’t necessarily the best spot for the magnet (either due to space or the center of gravity on the ship).