Tungsten Putty

In the endless search for the perfect weight to get my men up to the 3.3 or 4.0 gram weight limits that most leagues operate under, I have tried many things from bb’s, nuts, washers to lead tape and even pieces of solder. It often takes many strips of lead products plus the added problem of knowing you are using a potentially unsafe product. Nuts and washers can work, but they must be glued and don’t allow you to remove that 100th of a gram that may put you over the weight limit. Plus, when glue dries, it loses moisture and changes the final weight. My answer came, thanks to my 6 year old sons involvement in his first Pine Wood Derby. These events are very competitive (for the adults at least) and you will see guys employing all kinds of methods to achieve the fastest car with the least amount of bulk. In Pine Wood Derby, weight is speed! Aerodynamics play a role as well, but weight is the king and many races are determined in micro seconds. This is where I discovered Tungsten Putty!

Tungsten is the world’s 4th heaviest metal. It weighs up to 1.8x as much as lead and over 3x the weight of the Zinc/Pewter weights available through the Boy Scout Shops and Hobby Shops. Tungsten Putty is made from Tungsten Powder. It is blended with a putty type compound and a few other ingredients to create a Tungsten Putty that is very malleable, easy to apply and will not dry out even after several weeks exposed to air and sunlight. Tungsten Putty is Child Safe. It does not contain any hazardous chemicals. I purchased my putty from an online Pine Wood Derby store http://www.pinewoodextreme.com/detail.asp?item_number=418081 but there are many outlets from fishing stores to hobby shops that carry it. Mine cost $4.95 for 1 ounce (1 ounce = 28.349 grams). Easily enough putty to get a team of 3.3 figure/bases up to competitive weight. The thing I like best is how clean, un-bulky and quick it is to use.

Balance is a key ingredient to getting your figures to run properly and is a good subject for another post. Weight can be used to get an unruly figure in balance by properly positioning the weight. Tungsten putty may be very useful for fine tuning a figure. My purpose, however,  with this article is to show how to get an already balanced figure quickly up to competitive weight. The entire process, shown below, took under a minute to get this Buzzball QB up to weight.


The Tungsten Putty, the figure, the base and the scale.

A pinch of tungsten putty gets the base/figure up to 3.30

A pinch of tungsten putty gets the base/figure up to 3.30

I smashed the putty into a thin layer on the base.

I smashed the putty into a thin layer on the base. (Don't ask me where that .01 of a gram went, but with the putty I can easily get it back)

Only a small rise can be seen between the base and the figure, but not enough to make any discernable advantage or disadvantage.

Only a small rise can be seen between the base and the figure, but not enough to make any discernable advantage or disadvantage.


Comments (10)

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  1. detroitchild says:

    I’m curious of the advantage of Tungsten Putty over lead tape.

  2. Weirdwolf says:

    I have used both, but I’m not a fan of playing with lead especially when we want kids involved. Tungsten is heavier by volume, so you can get more weight in to a specific area without going over weight limits. It’s not going to replace lead tape because it has disadvantages for under the base application, but it is one more tool that we can use in developing our players.

  3. Electric Coach says:

    I think the .01 gram loss may have come from a barely noticeable amout of residual putty left on your fingers.


    The Electric Coach

  4. detroitchild says:

    Thanks Wolf.

    Maurice, I purchased some of the Tungsten Putty after several post in the chat forum. I have found it a little messier to deal with than both lead tape and the blue poster tac putty. I have found that you need a lesser amount of TP but it does leave a small amount of residue. I’m gonna keep experimenting with it and will report my experiences.

  5. Weirdwolf says:

    That’s great Don. It is not perfect, but I think there are some things that it could be helpful with. It does require some more experimentation. Ultimately, I would like to see the manufacturer of the tungsten weights create a specific weighting system for our hobby. Something in equal increments that would either self adhere or snap in place under the base or platform. That would be the coolest!

  6. Electric Coach says:

    I have yet to get into using Tungsten putty. I am working with bolts right now. Given the fact that the putty clings, it might be useful as a weighted adhesive for a bolt.


    The Electric Coach

  7. CoachRip says:

    I have been on the fence about this, but after reading the article I am going to try it.


  8. CoachRip says:

    On a side note, ……..the lead tape is harmless, if it was, it would be banned. Don’t get caught up in an over reaction like the government that just banned millions of dollars worth of toys because of the china situation………………Salvation army and other like type organizations were forced to DESTROY used toys and perfectly good childrens’ clothes because of “trace amounts of lead. Studies show that a common metal snap on a baby “onesie” could be in a child’s mouth for days and NEVER get lead poisoning, …..BUT, since there is that evil lead in trace amounts all those clothes had to be destroyed.

  9. Michigan Joe says:

    A tip for lead tape…you can apply a strip under the platform of the figure and seal it with a clear coat just like you do the figure so that you don’t have to think about constant handling of lead.

  10. Johnny Musket says:

    I totally agree with CoachRip…I shoot tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition a year, I handle lead in my job, I melt it to mold my own bullets….get my lead levels tested every year, and it’s never much higher than the amount of lead in the average person who doesn’t come in contact with it. It’s not that dangerous.

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