Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Essential Hand Held Tools

Power tools are a lot of fun, but hand tools are necessary. Hand tools offer precision and fine movement. Which hand tools you need depends on the job, but I'm going to tell you want I use. My projects range from wood working to props and plenty in between.

Technical Mechanical Pencil
I use this the most. I'm always sketching or outlining what I'm about to cut or modify. I don't have to sharpen the lead, and I can switch colors quickly. It's stronger than a typical mechanical pencil. Related to this is a compass, rulers, and a tape measure.

Hobby Knife
Whether it's cutting paper, plastic, or trimming 'green' body filler, a hobby knife is imperative. Don't forget a cutting mat. I've tried sharpening the blade, but for the price of blades it's easier to just switch them out, and blades need to be switched out regularly.

A ruler works, but transferring measurements with calipers is much easier. The hold your finger on the ruler isn't nearly as precise.

Hand Saw and Miter Box
There are times when an object is too small to cut with power tools. I use a hand saw to not only cut through, but also cut grooves. A hand saw and miter box allows for a good degree of precision. I use a hack saw for less precise work, and to make a quick, rough cut a bear saw is essential. 

Sanding Block
Hand tools offer control. A sanding block is essential for finishing, because an electric sander will remove too much material, too quickly.  For curved surfaces, you need a sanding sponge. Blocks and sponges distribute the force of your hand/fingers across the surface to ensure a flat, level surface.

Spray Adhesive
I use spray glue for stencils/painting and to give a surface a bit more tack. If I'm cutting two exact shapes, gluing two pieces of wood together is perfect for duplicating a cut and not leaving any screw holes.

Duct Tape
Tape temporarily attaches things. I use it for mock up, paper reinforcement, or I use painters tape to mark cut lines.

Hobby Files
As I start building intricate props, I've expanding my file collection. There are some details too small for a sanding block, but I also have a lot of larger files. Files help square a corner or edge. They cut through material quicker than sandpaper.

One thing I never have enough of, is clamps. I keep getting more and different kinds and still never have enough. I've got C clamps, quick clamps, and spring clamps. Despite all this, I'm looking at getting some ratcheting straps as well.

Contour Gauge
This is critical for a mask that is symmetrical when you are trying to replicate a certain curve or shape.

Of course there are standard tools you should have, a hammer, a rubber mallet, a set of pliers, an adjustable wrench, and a screw driver set.

You can certainly do a lot with less, but I use all of these tools. Figure out what you want to do to determine which of these would be most useful.
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