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I love it when something goes wrong. It gives me the opportunity to create a solution. Let me explain after the jump. 

I received some macro extension lens tubes for my DSLR camera for Christmas. These are fantastic for getting even closer to subjects. The subject fills my camera’s frame more because I can focus closer. There is a downside however, I can see things on the paint job that I couldn’t with the naked eye. Including paint rub.

Paint rub happens if you handle your model too much. Since 1993, I’ve always held the base and painted the model. Occasionally, resting a finger on the model to steady my hands. That’s a long time doing the same thing. I have to break this habit to stop rubbing paint of my models.


Early Concepts – Epitome of over design

I’m a Graphic Designer (print background). So I’m use to coming up with ideas and concepts to solve problems. Whenever I start conceptualising, I always over think it and over design it. This is to try and visualise all problems and solutions. Gradually,  I’ll strip away the over complicated ideas or work them into the design in a more elegant way. The first concepts above had a separate stand, adjustable finger rest with clamp, spring loaded grippers, nuts, bolts etc etc. It’s crazy and needed reworking. It’s good to see what it shouldn’t look like.

Revised Concept  – Streamlined

The revised concept above is much closer to what I ended up 3D printing. You can see a handle which is made from two halves which is bolted together. It has a a recessed area at the top for 50mm, 40mm, 32mm and 25mm bases and I’ve written a note for a cork insert.  The stand is gone, I’ll just make sure it’s flat at the bottom so it can stand. The spring loaded clamp has been removed and shims will be used instead for different sizes. The adjustable finger rest has been removed completely. This could be an add on for future versions. 

Getting the size right.

With a rough idea of how I wanted the handle to work, I needed to find out what size and shape would be the most comfortable. I used Play-Doh and moulded it into my hand. This gave me a feel for what height and diameter would be comfortable.  I also decided it needed some “dimples” to act as a grip and a place for finger and thumb tips to rest.

The next stage was to create my handle in CAD software called Fusion360. Here you can see some changes from the concept sketch. The cavity for the cork has been moved to the bottom of the handle. Instead of a single bolt, holes have been added for three bolts. This helps prevent the two halves twisting and to make sure there is enough force to clamp the cork and the bases at both ends.

First Prototype

I was really keen to print off a prototype and test the handle. Overall size and shape were fantastic. I pretty much just had to tweak my support structures in the 3D print slicer software to get a more accurate print and adjust the size of the shims by fractions of a mm and I was done. 

Tale of Painters Merch Banner 760x100

Meet Garfy’s Get-a-Grip, which was almost named Garfy’s hand job, which before that was almost named the rim job. 

Ta-da! The finished grip. You’re probably wondering “that’s a lot of time and effort to create something that Citadel sells for £5” but let me run through some of the useful features that you can’t get on the Games Workshop one. 

1. The orange shims have a tapered wall that follow the angle of Games Workshop bases that when clamped together grip the model’s base with no chance of it falling or springing out

2. With no shims added, the handle will take a 50mm base. The Games Workshop one only goes up to 40mm.

3. The cork insert at the bottom makes this really versatile for painting small pieces or models not mounted to a base. Just pin a paperclip to your model piece and push it into the cork. 

4. I can print out more of these. Instead of only owning one and having to swap out the models. If I want to batch paint 10 space marines I can print out 10 holders. That would cost me £50 in model holders at a Warhammer store.  

5. I can have these in any colour I want. I hope you like my Tale of Painters colour choice.

Now in fairness, mine has a couple of downsides too. 

1. Mine won’t grip oval, square or non-games workshop bases. However the cork side is flat so you can blutac or lightly glue odd sized bases to that side. 

2. The Games Workshop one is quick to change models with its sprung loaded grip. Mine requires undoing three bolts to release the miniature, which is more fiddly. I use an electric screwdriver with a clutch. It takes seconds to undo with no fear of stripping heads or over tightening.

Great size grip feels comfortable.

Thin enough to hold comfortably like a pen, to paint those hard to reach areas.

Dimples make it it easy to grip it any way you want.

The mock base edge even means you can hold the”base” like you use to.

So what’s next? Well I’m going to use this for a couple of months and see how I get on. I might return to the design and include a finger rest. I’m already thinking the finger rest arm could form fit into one of the side dimples and have a square hole in the side so the handle’s two halves also clamp the finger rest. Not sure if a plastic finger rest will be strong enough but might be. 

They take a long time to print. It’s not practical to stock these in my eBay store. I might take a few private orders on Facebook for friends but I can’t really compete with GWs £5 per handle.

Available now on Thingiverse for free, you just need a 3D printer.

If you would like to download and print Garfy’ Get-a-Grip yourself then check out this link at Thingiverse. All the info you need to print this is there. It’s free to download. If you like it, feel free to tip me. It’s greatly appreciated.

Shapeways are expensive, but cheaper than buying your own printer. 

For those of you without a 3D printer but want to Get-a-Grip, you can order one at Shapeways. Shapeways will print in high resolution on industry standard machines. A Shapeways print will be better quality than mine! Their price is expensive and it’s there if you need it. You could always order it from Shapeways and make resin casts from the master? The quality from Shapeways is second to none. Better than what I can achieve at home.

Hope you enjoyed this slightly different post. It was a really fun project for me.


I’ve decided to sell a new and improved  MKII version on eBay. Check it out. 

Garfy's Get a Grip - now available on ebay