Sunday, April 7, 2013

Magnetic Vent Covers - A Revised Storage Solution for 15mm Miniatures

New fix for an old problem.

Old fixes sometimes stop working. It almost always happens at the least convenient time. Like when other things are demanding attention and money.

This time around, the old fix was the storage solution for 15mm miniatures I settled on awhile back. With my collection of painted 15mm metal men growing nicely, I needed more storage space. "No problem," I thought, "I'll just throw together another container and move on to the next project."

The first sign of trouble showed up when I inspected the container I magnetized earlier for reference. The strips of magnetic material showed clear signs of damage. Even the limited wear and tear from figures coming loose and bumping into the edges was enough to cause chipping. This sparked some concerns about the durability of the material.

My concerns grew deeper when I took the roll of magnetic material out of storage. It was even more damaged. Granted, I look through my storage bins fairly often, but the roll was placed to avoid knocking into anything else.


Worse, when I started to cut strips of material off the roll, I found that the stuff would not uncurl. Even laying the strips flat overnight under some books was not enough to remove the curl. I tried using the strips anyway, but they would start curling up in the container. Even gluing them down with super glue failed to combat the problem.

In the end, I had to start over from scratch. Researching a new fix was not something I wanted to spend time on, but I was out of options. I had to find a solution that would fit into a limited budget and would avoid the wear and curling issues.

I found out about magnetic vent covers after a little time with Google. This stuff is normally used for sealing up unused metal vents in a central air system. A set of three 8x15 inch sheets is less than $5 (US). Cheap enough to justify picking up a pack to experiment with while keeping other options open.

Sheets cut to fit.

The material comes in smooth sheets. One side is colored white to blend into walls. The business side is a dark brown. It cuts easily with a good set of scissors.

Seems to be working alright.

Multiple layers are ideal. A single layer produces a fairly weak magnetic field. 15mm miniatures based on steel washers will tend to slide around and come loose. Laying down additional layers on top of each other increases the magnetic attraction, but the sheets have poles like any other magnet. Laying down a sheet in the wrong direction will weaken the overall strength of the magnetic field. A little trial and error is enough to work out the best placement. As a bonus, the additional layers do not need to be glued down. They stick to each other on their own.

Overall, this looks like a winner. It is as effective as any other fix I have seen. The cost is very modest. And, since the sheets are easy to cut, it is simple to customize to fit the container I have available.

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