One builder's tools

Discussion in 'Tools of the Trade' started by lancer525, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. lancer525

    lancer525 Member

    I thought I’d post a photo of the tools and things I use while building, so as to give others an idea of the kinds of things that they might find useful while working with paper. It might also serve as a means of helping show new builders the types of tools that might come in handy when just starting out.


    A good metal ruler. Aside from my hobby knife and scissors, its an indispensable tool. For my scissors, I use the Fiskars micro-point and the Dura-Sharp hobby scissors. They have excellent feel, and I could get both of them in Left-handed versions.

    After many broken tips using X-acto blades, I switched to Excel blades, and am much happier. They last about 12 times longer than X-acto, and stay sharper without the tiny point breaking off. I colored a paper clip with red, yellow, and black so that I could use it as a blade-cover, and immediately see where it is on the workbench.

    I used to be a draftsman, many years ago. I worked for a house construction contractor when I was an undergrad in college, and they needed someone who could draft changes to the blueprints for the inspectors. A lot of those drafting implements have come in handy. Circle templates, triangles, protractor, lettering guide, and my erasing shield have all come in very handy.

    Good cutting mats. I have two. I got the grey one at a sewing store, and it came with a rotary cutter. The orange one I bought at Wal-Mart on sale, and they’re both self-sealing.

    Beneath the protractor in the photo is a small ink brayer. This little roller comes in handy when you need to laminate two parts together.

    A Rolly-Styk. Shrike made this most excellent tool, and it is great for rolling out strips into curves. It has a bunch of other uses, and you can get them directly from him here:

    That neat little yellow-and-blue thingy in the bottom right corner of the grey mat is a circle cutter I bought at a craft shop. It only cost $4.95 and it’s a fantastic tool.

    Tweezers. I bought a set of tweezers in the jewelry-making supplies section of a craft store. These are great for grabbing little tiny parts and manipulating them in the assembly of a model.

    The blue thing between the tweezers and the Rolly-Styk is a seam ripper. I got this at a fabric store, and it is great for scoring grooves in parts so that you can fold them better. An important thing to know when using it, is that if you don’t have the prong with the red ball down, while using it, you’ll cut your parts on the score line. The point of the long prong is curved slightly, and that curve is on the inside surface of the U shaped opening. The red ball is the other prong, and in between the two is a sharp cutting edge. Hold the seam ripper like a pencil, and make sure the ball-prong is down instead of up. If anyone is confused by this explanation, just say so, and I’ll post a demonstration photo to clear it up.

    Over on the orange mat are two sets of hole punches. One I got at the craft store, and it has three cutter heads: 1, 3, and 4 mm. The other was a set of six that I bought on eBay and they’re actually leather hole punches. They came in six sizes: 1/8”, 5/32”, 3/16”, 7/32”, 1/4", 5/16”. I’m sure they come in other sizes, but these were the ones in the set I bought.

    I also got a set of wooden clothespins, and cut the angled tips off to make them squared. This way, I can get the grip surface all the way down on small parts. I also took one of them apart, and use the two separate pieces as pressing tools. Very handy.

    I bought some large nuts and washers at a hardware store, and use them as small weights for holding curved flanges against flat parts, and also for generally weighting down small parts to other small parts. Some guys use coins, but I don’t have enough spare change laying around to be able to do that... LOL!

    A good mechanical pencil and Click-Eraser for making marks, and erasing them.

    In the upper right corner of the orange mat is an empty pudding cup. These things are an excellent tool to use as glue-pots. What I do is put a small dollop of glue on the bottom (with the cup upside down!) and it keeps the glue off my workspace, and puts it at a convenient height for picking up a small drop on the end of a toothpick or craft stick like those shown in the photo. Off to the right side are some white plastic bowls that had heat-and-serve meals in them. They're good for holding small tools and other uses.

    Up there in the left corner of the photo, is a small magnifying glass taped to a piece of 2x4. My eyes are grateful. Notice the bevel on the cut? It keeps the wood out of the way and lets you work right under the lens.

    Right behind it is an 8” long steel billet, 2” in diameter. I use that for weight and also as a tapper for the hole punches.

    Glues and adhesives. Every modeler is different, and all have different preferences, so I am by no means claiming to be all-knowing, or saying that my choices are the best. They’re just the glues and adhesives I’ve had the most success working with. In no particular order: Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue, Tombow’s Mono Aqua, Beacon Adhesives Quick Grip, Aleene’s Tacky Glue, and a generic 5 minute epoxy. (Not pictured are Elmer’s glue gel and a generic white casein glue stick)

    In case anyone’s wondering what the batteries are for, they’re just a representative sample of the cylindrical objects I’ve used to help form paper cylinders. They make a wonderful form, and you can use anything from a small X-acto handle up to a drinking glass (if it’s perfectly cylindrical) around which you can form cylinders and narrow rings. I can also post photos of this process if anyone asks.

    That’s pretty much it for the photo.

    If anyone’s got any questions or comments, I’d like to hear them!

    Hope this is helpful.
  2. Ronson2k3

    Ronson2k3 Member

    Great post.. Some of the processing shots would be cool too (rolling parts). I've found hundreds of books on how to make plastic models but never any on making cardboard ones. Perhaps I'm just not in the market as it were but posts like this one are so good a book is really not required.. Keep up the great work..
  3. sakrison

    sakrison Member

    My favorite glue pot is an upside down shot glass (bought at a yard sale for 50 cents). It's compact, heavy, and hard to tip over, and when I finish a project, I can flip it over and fill it with Scotch to celebrate.

    I use a wallpaper seam roller for laminating, bought at a hardware store.

    Great post! Thanks!

    No worries,
  4. kcpstudio

    kcpstudio Member

    Just wanted to jump in here and see if anyone ever saw this. I heard a lot of good things about it so I figured I would share it with you guys.
  5. lancer525

    lancer525 Member

    Haven't seen that "scorit" thing, but it looks pretty good!
    I used to use an empty ballpoint pen, but I'd rather have a purpose-designed tool. I likeit! LOL
  6. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    The "Scorit" looks like an interesting idea, but the scores, at least as far as I can tell in the video, appear rather wide - I'm not sure that would work well for card modeling.

    Worse, the Scorit looks to be optimized for making one specific type of score: a reverse score at 90 degrees down the center of a part with a straight edge. Since only a fraction of card modeling scores fit that description, it's usefulness might be limited for modelers.

    Then there is the price ...$50 for a scoring tool? The awl that works beautifully for me cost under $1, and is much more versatile than the Scorit. :)

    I think the Scorit might be a better fit for someone who "mass produces" greeting cards or similar objects that are simpler in design than a typical card model.
  7. lancer525

    lancer525 Member

    Well, I have to admit at this point that I never got as far as the price.

    Fifty bucks?

    It looks like a good tool, within its limitations, but it isn't $50 good.

    I like my seam ripper just fine. A very fine sandpaper to round off the edge a tiny bit, and I'm scoring for $2.99

    Thanks for that post.
  8. SCEtoAux

    SCEtoAux Member

    Most of the time I use a crochet hook that I enclosed on some scrap wood. A Fiskars store bought thingy is used too, but not very much. The crochet hook came in a crochet kit. I stole the hook :p. I forget how much the Fiskars thingy cost, but it sure wasn't $50.
    The ruler in the photo is a Helix. It has two rubber strips on the underside to help keep it from slipping and a channel on the upper side for your fingers to make it more difficult to cut yourself with a hobby knife. The operative phrase there is 'more difficult', not impossible. :mrgreen:

  9. lancer525

    lancer525 Member

    Dude, I like that ruler!

    I've got a regular flat 24-inch metal one, and I'm looking for a better one. That one looks pretty good...
  10. greenelf1967

    greenelf1967 Member

    hey you use the same ruler as I do, have been looking out for a decent scoring tool I use empty gel pens at the moment, that $50 scor-it tool looks like it only does straight lines (that's how far I got in the video before I switched it off laughing my head off) can it do curves??????
  11. lancer525

    lancer525 Member

    I don't think its physically possible to do a curved fold. At least I can't imagine how it would work.

    Try what I did. Go to a sewing store, and ask for a Seam Ripper. Gently sand off the edges on the longer pointy part, and leave the round ball on the other prong, and it will work fine.
  12. kcpstudio

    kcpstudio Member

    That's correct Lancer, I don't think it's physically possible. That's why when you unfold a model with curves you get triangles for flaps instead of long flaps like for straight runs. In any case, the only real bends you get in any paper fold... is a straight bend.... whether its a short triangle flap or long one. Besides, the Scor-it wasn't really intended for paper models. I just thought it was a cool tool. Especially for us who are taking models and then scale them up to 1:1... like weapons or the 3' Terminator Endoskeleton up to 6 feet. Then the Scor-it would definitely come in handy. I guess everyone has his or her way of doing things.
  13. MOS95B

    MOS95B Member

    If it's not the same one, it's really similar, but I also use the seam ripper for scoring. I got mine at WalMart. I got tired of using the sewing kit sized one I had, and since The Missus drags me through the fabric department every time we go there anyway I happened to notice the large, actually hand sized handle on that one.

    I didn't modify mine at all, and unless I really press on it, it doesn't cut the card stock
  14. KCStephens

    KCStephens Member

    I have found the best scoring tool to be nothing more than a dull #11 blade. I just run the blade over the line applying very light pressure so that I don't cut the whole way through the paper. This may take a bit of practice but the results are outstanding - very crisp, clean, and accurate folds.
  15. silveroxide

    silveroxide Well-Known Member

    tools of the trade

    When it comes to tools of the trade, I really use them, such as a good socket set. SAE and Metric. They are round and help in making cylinders. For hole, I use the leatherman hole puncher. It has variable punches in a spoke wheel cylinder. Don't forget the Dremel tool for sanding or drilling. Sometimes I don't want to cut roundels so I use homemade punches from pens or different gauge size pipes. I use my dremel to sharpen the cutting edge. For cutting circles I use the rounded tip scissors, and for strips I have a paper trimmer.

    Well that is my 2 cents worth. By the way, always use a steel ruler, sharp surgical blades will eat into the plastic and there goes your straight edge.[​IMG]
  16. doctormax

    doctormax Member

    There you have it, Me going mad losing bits of builds as they are small and you have a magnifying glass. Now that is the one item i never thought of at all. It would seem to have been the one that any modeler should have a good one. Gave me an idea in fact. have a broken desk lamp the ones that bend. I just tape a magnifying glass to where the lamp part was and hey presto got myself a handy tool and i save a little bit from going to landfill.
  17. papastumpy

    papastumpy Member

    I will admit I enjoy finding that special tool as much as the building. Started out with a few tools, the basics, and I now have a turn table tool caddy that can not hold anymore tools and another round organizer that holds the rest and I am still adding tools, to include the newest, a bone page folder. The object hanging at top of photo is a headband mag w/light and still wear while using glasses. For lighting, one desk mount and one fold up Ott-lite, the best lights I have found. Since this photo was taken, I have added the 12" SS cut ruler w/knob to hold while you cut. This has become one of those tools I use a lot. As of this date I have now bought six different knives for differant types of work, from general cuting to the fine detail work with a scapel. I again like tools:wave:

    Attached Files:

  18. Groovin_fusion

    Groovin_fusion New Member

    Nice arsenal of papermodeling weapons.
  19. wildheart258

    wildheart258 New Member

    Yeah...clearly this hobby has evolved! Tools are starting to rival the plastic modeller.
  20. treker2557

    treker2557 New Member

    One of my favorite tools are the Ott lights and magnifiers. They are great especially when you have tiny flaps you can barely see.

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