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How to Attach Model to a Base


LAV25  profile This is the vehicle we will be fixing to the base.

This article explains in detail how to attach a vehicle model to a display base so that it is secure but can easily be removed.


The reasons for using display bases and how to choose a base is the subject of the article ‘All About Display Bases’ .  Normally when using a display base a modeller has a choice of putting the model loose on the base or fixing it permanently.  If the model is loose then there is the danger that it will be picked up by the base causing the model to fall off and be broken.  This would be ironic as one of the reasons for using a display base is to protect the model.

For this reason many models are permanently fixed to their base.  However, sometimes a modeller might want to photograph or display the model separately, or even to do some more work on the model in which case having it fixed to the base is a nuisance.

The following step-by-step guide shows how to fix a model to a base with a nut and bolt so that it can be easily removed.


This technique involves fixing the model to the base with a nut and bolt.  The bolt comes up inside the model and the technique works best where the nut can be accessed.  The ideal subject is a vehicle with turret or large hatch that can be removed to give access to the bolt head.  If the inside of the vehicle cannot be accessed then a slightly different method has to be used which is shown at the end of the article.

If the model is to have a visible interior then this method probably cannot be used unless the internal bolt can be hidden.

It should also be noted that the bolt will be visible undeneath the model which may make it unacceptable to some modellers.

Step-By-Step Guide

Safety is paramount so take care and wear appropriate safety clothing such as eye protectors and gloves.

Base 01

You will need a bolt, nut and possibly a large ‘mending’ washer.  These are all readily available at hardware stores.  The size and length of the bolt depend on the size of the model and thickness of the base.  An ‘M5’ thickness bolt is ideal for most 1/35th scale vehicles.

Base 09 You will also need an motor drill and three drill bits.  A small drill (1-2mm) for pilot holes.  A drill the same thickness as the width of the bolt (4-5mm) and a larger drill at least as wide as the bolt head (8-10mm).  A modeller’s motor drill will probably not be powerful enough and you will need to use a full size drill with variable speed.  The type that work off a rechargeable battery is ideal.
Base 02

Drill a hole through the bottom of the vehicle.  This is best done early in the construction process and not as here after the model is completed.  Drill a pilot hole first and the main hole with the medium drill.  Hold the model firmly and use the drill on slow speed with gentle pressure.

Base 03

Here you can see the hole in the underside of the vehicle.  The reason it is off centre is to avoid an internal brace inside the vehicle.  It is important to make sure the hole is not situated where it will damage axles or suspension.  You may wish to drill a small pilot hole and then widen it with needle files rather than using the large drill.

Base 04

Place the model on the base where it will sit and mark the position of the hole on the base.  Here a blob of ‘Tipp-ex’ white correction fluid has been put on the end of a metal scriber and quickly put through the hole before it dries so that a white spot is left on the base.

Base 05

Drill a pilot hole through the base where you have made the mark in the previous step.

Base 07

Turn the base over and where the pilot hole comes through use the large drill to countersink a hole just deep enough to hide the bolt head.  You may wish to wrap tape around the drill bit to mark the depth.

Base 08

Here you can see the hole drilled by the large drill.  It only has to be deep enough to stop the bolt head from sticking out proud from the bottom of the base.

Base 10

Now using the medium drill, make a hole right through the base. Make sure there is something on the other side of the base to protect the surface you are drilling on to.

Base 11

Here you can see the hole from the top surface of the base

Base 12

Now push the bolt through the base from underneath.  Hopefully, if the hole has been drilled the right size the bolt will fit securely.

Base 13

This is the bolt head underneath the display base safely countersunk.  You can cover this with a self-adhesive cork or felt circle sold in hardware shops for protecting ornaments.

PZIII interior bolt

The vehicle can now be placed on the base with the bolt coming up through the hole.  The mending washer and nut can then be put on the bolt.  The nut should be gently tightened by hand or with tweezers.  If you screw the bolt on too tightly you will crush the vehicle suspension.

Base 14

The proof of the pudding.  The vehicle can now be safely picked up and moved by it’s base.  It is also much easier to pack it away in a box since the model is less likely to move about in the box.

Procedure when the inside of the model cannot be accessed

Base fixing M113 The interior of this M113 will not be accessible when complete so a metal washer and nut has been glued to the floor plate over the hole that has been drilled so that it can be attached to a base with a bolt.

When it is not posible to access the inside of the model once it has been completed then a slightly different procedure needs to followed.  The method described above uses a bolt attached to the base and a nut inside the model that is tightened.  When the inside of the model cannot be accessed after completion then the opposite has to be done.

The receiving nut has to be firmly attached to the inside of the model before it is completed and ‘sealed up’.  This needs to be done with a strong glue and I recommend epoxy for this purpose.  Care is needed not to get any glue on the thread of the nut and to avoid this happening a blob of Blu-Tak or similar should be pushed into the threads until the glue dries.

The bolt is left loose and when the time comes to attach the model to the base the bolt is pushed through the hole in the base into the model and then screwed tight from under the base.


The above method may at first sight seem to be a lot of trouble, but it is one of those processes that take longer to explain than to carry out.  The entire process took me less than 15 minutes and would have taken less had I done it before the model was painted and the base finished.  Although it cannot be used in all circumstances, when it can be used it works very well.

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