Category Archives: Tools

Comparing, describing, making tools of the trade.

Modeling Tools, Make Them or Buy Them?

During the many years that I have been modeling there is always the same question asked especially from newcomers of should I buy the modeling tools or should I make them. The first answer that I would give is are you confident in your ability to do the necessary metal work especially if you are going to make rakes, wire tools and to some extent steels. The other question that I would ask is, where are you situated in the world for buying the raw materials. If you are fortunate to live in the United States as I do then there is virtually an endless supply of companies who can supply the necessary materials to make these tools at a fraction of the price of buying them. The only trade off is, your time and possible the aesthetic look of the tool after you have made it compared to the purchased ones but there again you have the added knowledge of knowing that they are purpose built for your style of modeling.

For this purpose let’s look at modeling steels, these flat spring steel plates are the difference between a rough surface and a smooth surface in the hands of a competent modeler. With this particular tool in its various thicknesses and shapes, it will transform the sketched in model to a finished, smooth ready to go model for paint or Dinoc. As far as the overall look compared to the manufactured steel there is little difference, so for the purpose of making them there is plenty to gain. Continue reading Modeling Tools, Make Them or Buy Them?

Home Made Angle Plates

Over on Clay, Application to Refinement forum “Geep” has posted his remarks on building my angle bracket from the plans provided at my claysculptors website and to compliment his workmanship he has done a fine job. These angle brackets are a necessary item if you are contemplating building a scale model as a home project, purely just to ensure some kind of balance to the model. Many of us who are attempting to create our own little masterpiece will realize that it takes considerable time and money to setup enough equipment to go through the process without the additional hassle of keep running to the local Home Depot for supplies.

The only option for many of these specialized tools is to construct them yourself and with the angle bracket this is no exception. To actually purchase a couple of metal aluminum or magnesium angle plates would cost quite a considerable amount of money, such as you would get from Norton Equipment Corp. The biggest problem is to find a supplier who has the size that would suit the task at hand at a reasonable cost. Initially that was what I had in mind but after considerable research I found that the cost was prohibitive for a project set for the garage, the setup is for hobby modelmaking and not industrial or commercial, so option two comes into play, make your own. Continue reading Home Made Angle Plates

Single Cut Files, An Alternative to DMT

A major concern with sharpening steels is getting them to a point where they will give a superior cut on hard clays. I have mentioned the latest in Diamond Machining Technology but these will be at the higher end of the price scale. What would be a good alternative without the additional high end cost?

Single cut files have been used for this very purpose for many years and the price for a smooth cut, single cut file can range from as little as $10.00 for an eight inch length to $30.00 for a fourteen inch length. My preference would be to spring for the longer length, as this can handle all the sharpening tasks on the steels in your arsenal.

I have in the past and still do use single cut files. This type of file is used primarily for the purpose of obtaining a clean finish on cured plastics, fiberglass, acrylics and polyesters, which makes it ideal for edge finishing because it is extra sharp. These single cut files when setup in a sharpening table configuration make it easy to manipulate a shaped steel against the file to produce a razor sharp edge. When I say sharpening table I’m referring to setting up the file at right angles to a flat plane such as in rebating a piece of wood and setting the file on edge. With a few rubber feet to stop the board from slipping you have a purpose made table for sharpening, be it just the length of the file. Continue reading Single Cut Files, An Alternative to DMT

Diamond Machining Technology, DMT

As you may have noticed, in the past few posts I have been talking about the advent of harder non sulphur based automotive clays because of recent changes to solders used in computer circuitry. This change in direction is extremely important because of the reliance on computer hardware and milling machines in most major OEM studios. With this type of clay you will find that the advantage for the milling machine is the lack of oils that cause major sticking to the cutters being used but what it also means is the added abrasion to the cutting edge.

The bottom line is, the cutters are going to be changed more frequently than before and the cutting feed will have to be that much slower to avoid cutter bounce especially with any cut that is on the deep side. That being said, what does it mean for hand tools that are being used on this hard clay.

During my time using this clay I am finding that the tools are being sharpened more frequently than before and for me the best sharpening medium so far is by DMT&#174, Diamond Machining Technology. Continue reading Diamond Machining Technology, DMT

When Quality Pays

Just recently a colleague of mine decided to purchase a couple of clay mice from a renown German clay tool supplier, Kolb. He would collect them in England, his rational was, he was returning to the UK and it would be easier to have them shipped there and receive them quickly and bring the tools back with him. This way they would not be mislaid at the post office during his absence.

On receiving the items he was surprised to find out that they had been milled from aluminum extruded stock, the type of aluminum that is used for double glazed window frames. This type of aluminum is not the hardest grade but being purchased from a reputable supplier and coupled with German craftsmanship, he never questioned it but he did have his reservations. Generally you would never question the materials used or the workmanship, as in all German made equipment it is usually of the highest standard. These clay mice were machined nicely but would they stand up to the use on hard industrial styling clays, afterall they were manufactured for that very purpose. Continue reading When Quality Pays