Hello everyone! Let me introduce myself. I am Evan. I will be writing some general hobby articles from time to time. For my first article I wanted to touch on a tool you may not have in your arsenal that can be quite useful: a Meat Grinder.
“Wait, what?” You may be asking. Yes, a meat grinder.
But not just any meat grinder. You need to get yourself an antique one, like in the picture. That’s all solid metal, baby. I got this off eBay for roughly $20 shipped. The reason you want an antique grinder is because it’s all metal. Modern grinders have plastic augers (the screw-like part that pushes the inserted product towards the die) and other plastic parts that could easily break. Believe me when I say it takes some elbow grease for what you’ll use it for and you need the metal construction to hold up to the stress.
“What excatly am I using it for?” I’m glad you asked. Rubble! The grinder can make great basing material out of your left over sprues. Take a wire cutter or your regular nippers you use to remove your bits off the sprue (you are using one, right?) and cut the empty sprue into small pieces in some sort of container to keep them for when they’re needed.
Here I used an empty container you get from KFC for their side dishes. (very handy things for all sorts of bits, don’t throw them away!) If your sprue bits are too big you’re going to have a heck of time trying to get them to go through the grinder. However, you want to make sure they’re not too uniform in size as you want a variety of pieces.
Assemble your grinder, attach it to the table and then place a container under it to catch the results. (I like to use the top lid from a GW box) Put a handful of sprue bits in and start cranking! If it gets too hard to turn, back it up a little and then go again. You will do this a lot. Put some strength behind it when it starts to stop, just don’t break your table or the handle. When it wants to stop, you’ll understand why I said not to use a modern plastic grinder. What you will get at the end is a nice pile of rubble that doesn’t look all the same. It’s all twisted up and broken into random sized pieces.
See that right there? That’s modeling gold. A mass of irregularly sized and shaped pieces just waiting for you to use it in a project. If you’re basing a model with a streetscape it could be churned up asphalt. Use it for building rubble for city ruins basing. It could be used for rocks. Use your imagination. If anything, it puts all those old sprues to use. If you’re really ambitious, you can use varying sized sieves to separate the finer stuff from the bigger pieces.
Like I said, it’s going to take quite a bit of elbow grease to do this. To which you might ask, “Can’t I just cut the sprue into pieces and use that?” Of course you can. Not everyone may want to do this. It probably took me about ten minutes (and a bit of sweat) to turn that small amount of sprue into what you see there. I believe the results are worth it. You may want to cut some bits up and leave them whole to make it so it’s not all one type. There is certainly room for more regular, uniform pieces.
You can make a pile of regular pieces, sprinkle the ground up pieces over it and then place other left over bits to dress it up. Being plastic, a little liquid plastic cement on the base first to hold the initial rubble, followed by more over top once set will seep through and seal it all together nicely. Whoever would have thought the humble meat grinder would be a useful tool for basing and terrain?
And just like that, your miniature looks like it’s walking through the war torn cities of the 41st Millenium. Or, you know, whatever setting it may be in. Whatever the setting may be, I hope you think about giving the humble meat grinder a try.