Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Stripping Miniatures

We all make mistakes from time to time, I once dated a girl from London.

So when we do, how do we deal with our mistakes, well, I didn't throw brake fluid in her face. But, we can use brake fluid to strip models...

Stripping models is fine. I've done it probably more times than I've painted a miniature. But don't aim for this, this is what I would call a negative ratio. And is crap.

What can we use - below I will outline the chemical arsenal I've used in the past few years.

What it is actually used for? It's a paint and varnish remover. Usually for wood and metal. I've used it to get Hammerite from a gate before, and I didn't like it then.
What can I use it on? Metal models only. Unless you want plastic and resin models resembling an acid trip dream of fat people. 
What is it like for us and the environment? Awful, there's a lovely picture of fish floating upside down on the back of the tin. It will burn your skin pretty badly and its hydrophobic, when you add water (i.e. cleaning up after) it will go stringy and white, like whatever George Michael leaves on a toilet wall.
Recommendation: If its all you have and its a metal miniature you're stripping go for it. Takes less than 10 mins to use but protect your hands personally, I wouldn't suggest buying it for that purpose. Read on.

Brake Fluid:

What it is actually used for? High boiling point (~200c) glycol-ether based non-oil liquid used in the hydraulics of brakes and clutch (kinetic to pressure energy transfer).
What can I use it on? Plastic and metal... Use the dot4 variety, leave the models in it overnight and come back to it, scrub with a toothbrush and your models will be back to their original plastic or metal composition. Do not put resin in, it goes limp and floppy. 
What is it like for us and the environment? Pretty bad, don't dispose of in the drain. Doesn't do harm to my skin and my skin is pretty awfully ripped up.
Recommendation: I used it a lot, but not anymore. Its excellent in application but has problems in disposal. You also have to keep it out of the way of children and animals. Its a distinct carcinogen.

Dettol or pine scented cleaner:

What it is actually used for? Cleaning up that pathetic cut that kid got on his knee. And cleaning. And apparantly diluted can be used as mouthwash.
What can I use it on? Plastic, resin and metal.
What is it like for us and the environment? Fine, really. I mean I don't advise you put it in your fish tank but its a pine scented thing which is a human friendly cleaner.
Recommendation: This really works. Mix it with water (I go about 1:6) and leave your minis in it, it will strip them overnight. Be careful with resin, leave it in too long it will also go floppy and brittle. For that reason I leave it in for only an hour or two and then scrub. Resin strips slightly easier than plastic but is also brittle.

Oven spray:

What it is actually used for? Cleaning ovens. I've used it on walls before to get rid of grease (I come from a home that used to love chip pans*).
What can I use it on? Plastic, metal and resin.
What is it like for us and the environment? Not too bad, and is a product which can and will be flushed down the sink so don't worry too much. Though it will sting like a sod in any cuts on your hands.
Recommendation: I personally never had much luck with it, but I know people who have. This is probably a better idea if you don't want to buy something specifically because spouse or parent will have some (if not, then you should buy some, ovens are disgusting).

Hydrochloric Acid:

What it is actually used for? Well, I owned a bottle of 34% strength HCL (essentially 34 parts 100% HCL and 66 parts water its more complicated than this but I'm not going molar here) for the use of differentiation between carbonate and silicate rocks. Its great for this.
What can I use it on? Nothing.
What is it like for us and the environment? Awful.
Recommendation: This was a folly. But my mum thought I was a magician when I cleaned the back-yard.

Well, in summary. I use dettol for everything now. But my journey through the chemical world has taught me a lot, and shortened my life - nobody mention that I smoke.

* - A chip pan is a metal pan left over a burner on the hob, in which boiling hot oil is heated and vaporised so that the wall behind it looks like a yellow mushroom cloud. It's possibly the most dangerous item in the home, of English/Scotch people.


  1. Fairy Power Spray - it's literally the best all-round paint stripper I've used. It's not too caustic, although I still use gloves. Whack the items-to-strip in a tupperware tub, hit them with a coat of the Spray, put the lid a hour or three the paint will begin dissolving. Perfectly fine on plastic or metal, I've yet to check it with resin.

    It can also be quite cheap - around Christmas it was about £1.49 for a spray bottle. I stocked up - standard price is around £2.50 to £3.50 but it can be filtered and reused.

  2. I'm glad of that, I'm going to get onto that because Dettol is remarkably expensive.

    Starship Troopers is on.

  3. Acetone free nail polish remover. Superdrug (the blue one), about £1.35.

    Works in a couple of minutes, you should definately check it out. I've tried it on metal and plastic so far with no ill effects.

    1. Cheers Mate, I'll have to give that a go. What about on Resin?

  4. I tried it on a forgeworld turret at the weekend. Came out fine, though it might be different with different types of resin. As always, test it on something unimportant first, but it works for me.

    I wouldn't leave anything in too long, just in case. and scrub well in warm soapy water!

  5. I have just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the hottest virtual strippers on my taskbar.