Michelangelo and da Vinci were true Renaissance Men; skilled sculptors, painters, architects, and engineers. However, their great works did not come into existence purely by the waving of hands. They, like every man before them, stretching back to the creation of fire and the wheel, relied on tools to bring their vision to reality. It is in that spirit that we move on to discuss the implements of creation, the tools of the trade.
Crack open your toolbox and get a hardware store on speed dial. I am… THE HOBBYIST.
With any given project, I use somewhere in the neighborhood of six to twelve different tools. Inevitably, as the project’s demands change, so do my tools. As a matter of philosophy, I prefer to generalize rather than specialize whenever possible. A knife is a knife; do I need really five knives for different tasks when one will do fine?
As Jack Nicholson once famously said in Tim Burton’s Batman, “Where does he get all those toys?” The truth is that I buy very little in the way of tools from the hobby shop. With rare exceptions, pretty much everything can be purchased at a hardware store instead, where it’s better quality and usually cheaper to boot. My personal favorite is Harbor Freight Tools, which is just a godsend for someone like me. Luckily for me, there happens to be a Harbor Freight around the corner from my favorite hobbyshop (Hobby Town USA, in case you’re wondering). So, whenever I start a new project, I’ll usually stop in and pay them a visit to see if there’s anything I need.
So, let’s take a look at my toolbox.
First up, my trusty Nexus 7. Whenever I need to look up a reference image real quick, this thing is a godsend. Also good for dealing with other stuff without having to pull out my phone, and watching Netflix while I work.
This is my trusty Dremel multitool. It’s awesome. The thing next to it is an attachment used for detail work, which for me is basically everything I do. If you don’t have one, you should get one. You’ll literally FIND things to do with it.
This is a wood-burning tool. Seeing as I don’t do wood burning, it would seem to be an odd inclusion. That’s before you consider that the ability to deliver a lot of heat (for example, enough to melt plastic) to a very small area might be useful.
These are called helping hands. I literally have ten pairs of these. Just two alligator clips on a bar. This is one of the few tools I use on literally EVERY project. Pro tip: get these from Harbor Freight; the hobby store sells them for ten bucks a pop, Harbor Freight sells them for $3.
Here’s a two for one. The top item is the classic XActo knife. That knife has seen some shit, and keeps on cutting. The second item is called a panel scriber; it’s designed to carve small lines into plastic to simulate armor panels. Repeated scribings deepen the panel lines until they’re at an acceptable depth.
Here’s a tool you’re probably not familiar with. It’s called a Micro Flush Cutter. One side of the cutting blades is flat, so when it cuts something it’ll be flat, rather than come to a point. Very useful for removing plastic model parts from a parts tree.
Here’s another item you probably haven’t seen before: a magnetic dish. It’s an amazing multipurpose tool; it keeps small items together and it keeps metallic items in one place (like very small screws). Super convenient, and super cheap (about $5).
Finally, a three for one. First up is electrical tape. Useful for when I’m doing any kind of soldering to keep stuff from shorting out. Next to it is plain white Sticky Tac. Same stuff we all played with in school, but this time actually used for what it was kind of intended for. Belong that are Precision Q-Tips. See, regular Q-Tips get big and fluffy when you expose them to liquids. These are smaller and more tightly wound, so they hold their shape better. Excellent for precision work, such as applying waterslide decals or cleaning up spilled paint.
Next time, on The Hobbyist… PAINT!