Painting clips are among the most known and widely used DIY tools among modelers. Whenever you are painting by hand, airbrushing or using spray cans, you need something to hold the parts. Sure, you could buy a painting base from one of the popular brands. They’re very expensive for what they offer though. When it comes to getting most bang for your buck though, you’re far better off making your own.

DIY Painting Clips

As usual, let’s start with a list of materials:

  • Bamboo skewers – available at your local grocery store. If you have some left once you’re done, save them for a BBQ.
  • Alligator clips – you can get those from hardware or electronics store. I like to have them in multiple sizes.
  • Some tape – I like the black electrical tape for this.
  • Hobby Knife
  • A pair of pliers

First, cut the skewers down to size. Usually just I chop them in half. At full length they’re too long for me to comfortably use inside my spray booth.

This step is optional, depending on your preference.

Cutting skewers to size.

With skewers cut to size, we can begin to mount the alligator clips.

While medium-sized clips should fit just fine, smaller ones might require you to sharpen the skewers a bit.

Preparing the skewers.
Using the pliers we mount the clips on the skewers and secure them in place with a bit of tape. Securing the clips.
Fitting the bigger clips might require you to wrap some tape around the skewers instead of sharpening them. Mounting bigger clips. Mounting bigger clips.
There we go, all done. Finished clips.
Bonus – if the part is difficult to hold with an alligator clip, you can always use some Patafix / Blu Tack to mount it on a skewer.
Here’s an example of painting parts mounted using Patafix / Blu Tack and different sized clips. Painting example.

Don’t drop the base!

We have our painting clips, but before we start painting, we should probably consider something to hold them while the parts are drying. I’ve seen quite a few guys simply using a styrofoam block as a base for the clips. Sure, it works, but it’s also very light and therefore unstable. Would you trust something that can be knocked over easily with a shiny candy coat on a custom build you spent two months on? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

Let’s build ourselves something more reliable. First off, the shopping list:

My stockpile of cardboard. Some sturdy boxes. Tools we need.
  • Some corrugated cardboard. If you’re like me and have to order all your kits and supplies online, you should have a big stack of cardboard boxes. On a side note – how can there not be a single proper hobby shop in a city of 300,000 people?
  • A sturdy box to use as base for our base. It’s optional, but helps with stability.
  • Some tape
  • Sharp knife
  • Scissors (optional)
  • A show you need to catch up on. This will take quite a while. (optional, but highly suggested)

Most of the build revolves around cutting out the cardboard stripes that would fit our base box. In my case it’s roughly 25 x 6 centimeters.

I also tape them together in pairs of two for a bit of extra stability.

Preparing cardboard strips.
Another advantage of taping rectangles together. By taping them to full-size ones, you can make use of leftovers that are too short to be used on their own. Using leftover stripes that would be too short otherwise.
That’s pretty much the entire process – prepare the stripes and stack them tightly in the base box. Stacking the cardboard inside the box.
There we go – a completed base. It’s a boring and repetitive process. Luckily, House of Cards season 5 just dropped on Netflix. Completed base.

If you don’t have any box to use as base, don’t worry. You can still make a sturdy base – just keep taping the stripes in pairs, then those pairs together into fours, eights and so on.

To finish up, use tape to create a “floor” for the cardboard, so your painting clips don’t fall through.

Alternative base, without a base box.


While it takes a while to complete, it’s one of the most useful tools for painting. Compared to commercially available painting stands it’s dirt cheap and more versatile.

Painting Clips Finished

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