Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

The three Ts. Lift the lid on the secrets of how you do things so others can have a go.....
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Nutter
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Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by Nutter »

An Idiots Guide to modelling in small scales.
By Mike Sharp aka Nutter
What I am doing is gradually documenting how I am doing things for my Zm layout, the only difference to normal T gauge modelling is the bodyshells.
My General background.
Tools used are very basic apart from electronics tools that I have due to having worked in the industry for years.
I do not have a dedicated workbench and do all my modelling on the dining room table.
I have been modelling at various levels of skill over the last 50 years and even now still feel I am a beginner. The most important thing is DON’T rush things.
I am not going to teach people skills like soldering, woodwork etc. just show how I do things.
Mains electrics can be dangerous. Extension blocks suppling power to the bench are best placed at the rear of your working area.
Tools
Some items can be picked up quite cheaply if you know what you want and are prepared to wait if you get bargains online but as always buy with care.
The first part of this list are items that I personally cannot do without.
Good quality lighting. – I use 2 types, I have a halogen desk light that came from Ikea many years ago, and a LED clip on spotlight that came from Lidl. This is other than normal room or natural lighting dependant on when you do your modelling.
Cutting Mat. – Currently have 3, 2 small A5 ones and a larger A4 one.
Needle Files – have built up a collection over the years of about 30 – some picked up at model shows, some bought in the local market.
Knives – These are personal choices but whatever you get make sure you get a stock of spare blades – you WILL need them. Useful for general use where a scalpel or similar sized blade is not needed are the cheap equivalent of the Stanley knife available from Poundland or similar.
Junior Hacksaw
Tweezers – on these buy the best you can afford and make sure you get super fine pointed tips on them
Either an old chopping board d if the cook in the house has replaced one lately or a offcut of 6mm MDF or similar. Useful for when you are using a saw to save damaging cutting mats ,or soldering small pieces.
I keep a stock of Round headed dressmaking pins that get used for all sorts of things, holding parts together whilst glue dries, applying glue to small parts and even clearing nozzles of aerosols, glue tubes etc.
Screwdrivers – assorted sizes, look at watch or glass repair ones as well.
Pliers/Cutters again people have their own choices but a pair of flat nosed pliers that do Not have serrated jaws are essential for bending small brass metal items. Cutters need to be decent quality because if mistreated by cutting the wrong material will be totally useless.
Decent Steel ruler 6” and 12”
Electrical Multimeter. Essential to check those wiring problems and find those wire connections when you took a short cut and did not label / document which wire goes where or used the same colour wire throughout.
Painting – Decent brushes/ airbrush, don’t bother with the under £20 airbrushes I won’t touch them. Paints your own choice but clean brushes etc. straight after using them (old paste jars can prove handy) if applying PVA mixes cheap disposable brushes are OK but keep an eye out for bristles coming out of them.
Small trays/boxes to keep stuff in. Useful I have found are the wedge shaped plastic food trays that some cheeses come in. Some of the foam type trays can be useful along with the pins mentioned earlier to keep things in place whilst assembly is taking place. Small parts not is use keep in miniature ziplock bags and stick a label with the part no and description on the bag.
Stock of suitable glues for what you are planning on doing – nothing worse than running out halfway through the job you are doing especially when the shops are shut.
Magnifier when needed.
Cotton buds – useful for all sorts of odd jobs even the sticks and be used.
Scissors, note pad, pen, pencil,
The other most useful thing I have is a sheet of 6mm plate glass that I got as an offcut from my local glass merchants, make sure they can remove the sharpness from the edges. Being flat, thick and fairly heavy I use it to assembly stuff that I want to keep level, square etc. Also if you are using pins to apply glues you can put a little glue on the glass and dip the pin in it to transfer to the model. The residue can be scraped off when set using the edge of a steel rule.
Another useful purchase is those large plastic clips that you can get from the Poundshops sometimes.
I also have a large quantity of specialised tools like razor saws, pin vices, Dremel or equivalent, micro drill bits, soldering equipment, security fastener tools, digital microscope to take pictures of that tiny stuff. Digital camera to document the process of projects Small vice, Ultrasonic cleaner etc.


THE FINAL THING THAT IS MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL IS DO NOT NEGLECT ANY OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS/PETS IN THE HOUSE
IT COULD BACKFIRE ON YOUR VALUABLE MODELS.
ENJOY THE HOBBY
Mike
DON'T knock it at least I am trying to do something, with only one good hand.

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dkightley
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by dkightley »

I have a couple of things to add to Mike's excellent work area guide....on the subject of knives:

I would recommend two types of knives....a modellers knife with a chunky handle that you can get a good hold on, and a short handled scalpel. And make sure you get and keep a good stock of blades....I bought a box of scalpel blades some time ago, and I've got plenty left. And having a stock of blades to hand will ensure you always have a nice sharp blade in your knife/scalpel at all times. A blunt knife is not a knife, its a danger!!

And a safety note with scalpels...from a lifetime of using them!! Always treat a scalpel as if its the sharpest thing EVER! But don't be afraid of them...and get into a habit of leaving them in a safe place while you're not using them, well away from your workbench edge, and NEVER use force when cutting with a scalpel; let the cutting edge do the work for you. And a thought to bear in mind...you'll see the results of a scalpel cut a long time before you feel it!! Having said that, a clean scalpel cut does tend to heal quickly! :?

A quick hint. Don't throw all your used scalpel blades away. Keep a few handy to use as glue applicators, etc. It'll save gunging up your good scalpel blade!

Finally, on a general safety front, do make sure you keep your work area clean and tidy. If you have small fingers around then either have your work area in a safe place, or take time to encourage safe practises. eg what to do and not to do at or near the workbench; eg its not a play area, encourage using tools in a safe way, etc. My dad taught me how to use basic tools safely when I was very young....and if was a skill for life!
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk

Reith01
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by Reith01 »

Tweezers are definitely a problem, even those used for SMD. I'll have to file a fine pair to superfine.

(Also, I'd like to buy the patience of a saint but few model shops seem to stock it.)

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dkightley
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by dkightley »

Doug Kightley
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Reith01
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by Reith01 »

Having made a couple of buildings now it's clear that a good supply of blades is needed. I'm using about 3 per building. Cutting out tiny window apertures needs a very sharp blade. The moment it feels rough when dragged its life is over for those most intricate jobs. It can be relegated to more general cutting tasks.

I now have 2 Swann Morton No.3 handles now and prefer the cutaway 15A blades for the intricate work. The 11 blades are good for long cuts but they can flex a bit so, ruler or not, they need care not to let them flex into a "bent" cut. I still prefer the rigidity of the Xacto with the 11s for thicker card.

I have a long way to go, fed up with non-square window apertures! Knife blades also cause burrs which have to be flattened. However, I notice the reverse sides are clean so next one I'll be setting out the cutting for the reverse side.

cheers,
Ivor

hank55
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by hank55 »

Reith01: In my paper modelling life period :mrgreen: I succesfully used a kind of boxmaking die-cutting tools to cut out even very small holes in thick bookbinding board grades. Either you may try to purchase them in a specialised workshop or you might try to make the tools yourself from thin square pipe shaped steel sections although I must admit that it is not that simple to purchase them and grinding inner edges of the square pipes was always a horrible task - I used needle files of various sizes. Then you need a half-pound hammer, a hard workbench and a place where hammering does not disturb your neighbours. :mrgreen: And possible fringy edges of the hammered holes - if any, usually the cut hammered this way was smooth - you may treat with a cyanoacrylate adhesive aka superglue enabling to file even ordinary 80 gsm office copy paper.

Reith01
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by Reith01 »

Paper craft. Yes!

Thanks for those tips. The cyano trick – perhaps that should be posted as a separate tip. Dealing with smoothing out edges it works well as long as the rest of the structure is up to it (i.e. won’t buckle).

My late response is because I did look into making cutters or dies. I can’t seem to find square tube section down to a couple of millimetres. However, I won’t be making too many buildings if I can avoid it (hah, it’s just the time it takes), just a few for a village main street so I hope not to have to cut many more. It does work better cutting from the back. If only I’d sussed that from the start.

Running a thin line of cyano down an uneven edge or wonky window is worth a cheer!

Ivor.

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dkightley
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by dkightley »

........ I can’t seem to find square tube section down to a couple of millimetres.....
Here's some in brass....produced by Albion Alloys.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/albion-alloys ... 1e908c2bfb
Doug Kightley
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hank55
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by hank55 »

Thx for yr replies, I am glad that a couple of tricks I had to learn in the first half of my life spent in the East European short-supply conditions :mrgreen: may be still useful even in the 21st century...

In the meantime one more useful papercrafter's trick came to my mind. You may cut out even quite complicated shapes from paper of a thin grade and then impregnate them using a solution of polystyrene (not the foam!!! - very good are scraps of the stuff from various Airfix aicraft and military model kits) in toluene. Yea, and what more - you may use the same sort of solution to glue the impregnated parts together. The impregnating solution should be quite thick while the glue much thinner or you may try even pure toluene for gluing. Everything depends on how paper absorbs the solution - you should carry out more trials to find a correct concentration. Warning: Please do not forget to ventilate your workplace very intensively. Toluene vapours are not only easily flammable but also well-known dope :twisted:

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dkightley
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by dkightley »

I would have thought wood hardener would be suitable for this. Would avoid playing around with potentially harmful solvents.

Of course, the same warning re ventilation would apply!
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk

Reith01
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by Reith01 »

dkightley wrote:
........ I can’t seem to find square tube section down to a couple of millimetres.....
Here's some in brass....produced by Albion Alloys.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/albion-alloys ... 1e908c2bfb
Thank you, Doug. It would really need steel to get a consistent sharp edge (and I suspect a fair bit of work getting it even). To give an example I'm working on a model that has 10 windows 1mm x 3mm. If I were going to do a number of those I'd have a die made up. It's only for a few high street buildings.

I'm working in Bristol board, thin enough to make this possible (hopefully not too scruffy) but not so thin it buckles when painted.

The high street shops I bought from Shapeways really are too small. I don't want to run into Health and Safety troubles with these tiny t-gauge people banging their heads on the door frames.

hank55
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by hank55 »

I also think that brass is not hard enough.

Try to find a specialised workshop making die-cutting tools for boxmakers. Better a smaller one, best of all an old independent craftsman making the tools by hand for small boxmakers in his region. They use grades of steel able to stand high forces and pressures acting on the cutting rules in flat die-cutting/creasing presses. (Ask a boxmaker what is the Bobst machine, he should know.) For your better imagination: The cutting rules used for making die-cutting tools must 10 000 times per hour stand pressures up to 150 N/cm2. (Sorry to use metric units, I am not that much skilled in the imperial measuring system... :mrgreen: ) The rules must be replaced after 300 000 to 500 000 cuts. The rules are here in Czechia usually made from steel strips 24 mm wide and 0.7 mm thick, sometimes thicker - up to 1.4 mm. When I needed to cut very small openings I asked a workshop to make from scraps various sizes of round and square tubes equipped on one end with extensions for hammering.

I hope this helps you at least a bit.

Edit: If you have to make more walls with the same windows' numbers and positions you can ask the workshop to make a suitable multi-tool. They will fasten more tubes in a plywood plate and you can hammer out all the windows at one fling. ;)

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dkightley
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by dkightley »

There is of course this way to get window infills...... viewtopic.php?f=13&t=150

The same method would also work for cutting walls with windows in them.
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Reith01
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by Reith01 »

hank55 wrote:Thx for yr replies, I am glad that a couple of tricks I had to learn in the first half of my life spent in the East European short-supply conditions :mrgreen: may be still useful even in the 21st century...

In the meantime one more useful papercrafter's trick came to my mind. You may cut out even quite complicated shapes from paper of a thin grade and then impregnate them using a solution of polystyrene (not the foam!!! - very good are scraps of the stuff from various Airfix aicraft and military model kits) in toluene. Yea, and what more - you may use the same sort of solution to glue the impregnated parts together. The impregnating solution should be quite thick while the glue much thinner or you may try even pure toluene for gluing. Everything depends on how paper absorbs the solution - you should carry out more trials to find a correct concentration. Warning: Please do not forget to ventilate your workplace very intensively. Toluene vapours are not only easily flammable but also well-known dope :twisted:
I'll give the polystyrene trick a go! Why not? :)
I'm using Bristol Board at the mo and sometimes thicker "archival" board. The Bristol board has the advantage of giving recessed window openings but this may be less important on buildings behind those on the front. Eventually they'll be merged with ready made 3D prints from the t-gauge shop.

A combination of paper and board would be useful.

Oh boy, this is some scale to work in. Gone are those easy lazy days with 1:87.

....
Edit. Just to say my son who loves a bit of metalwork talked about a die but with the number of cuts still to make, decided against. Probably another 3 buildings, one of which needs different treatment - a kind of Mies van der Rohe thing that is all window! But I'm no architect, most of my efforts are "adapted" (i.e. plagiarised) from other models!

Relevant to this thread is I'm probably going over to UHU from Roket Card Glue. UHU takes longer to set but doesn't risk making quite the same t-gauge mess!

Reith01
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by Reith01 »

dkightley wrote:There is of course this way to get window infills...... viewtopic.php?f=13&t=150

The same method would also work for cutting walls with windows in them.
Crikey. Very nice but disheartening. They make what I've done so far look a right mess. I drew the windows on ink-jet transparency over the window shapes on the card but getting them lined up decently without making a mess gluing them in has been a right problem. It was hard enough to get the lines thin enough and even:. Worse to light them up. I had toyed with etching but estimated the time for working the technique up to scratch would be too long.

I might as well start again.

hank55
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by hank55 »

Reith01 wrote: I'm using Bristol Board at the mo and sometimes thicker "archival" board. The Bristol board has the advantage of giving recessed window openings but this may be less important on buildings behind those on the front. Eventually they'll be merged with ready made 3D prints from the t-gauge shop.

A combination of paper and board would be useful.
Exactly. Bristol is great for this purpose. I think some 180 gsm (180 grams per square meter) should be OK in this gauge, for smaller parts maybe even thinner.

Reith01
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Re: Idiots Guide no1 Tools and work areas

Post by Reith01 »

hank55 wrote:Thx for yr replies, I am glad that a couple of tricks I had to learn in the first half of my life spent in the East European short-supply conditions :mrgreen: may be still useful even in the 21st century...

In the meantime one more useful papercrafter's trick came to my mind. You may cut out even quite complicated shapes from paper of a thin grade and then impregnate them using a solution of polystyrene (not the foam!!! - very good are scraps of the stuff from various Airfix aicraft and military model kits) in toluene. Yea, and what more - you may use the same sort of solution to glue the impregnated parts together. The impregnating solution should be quite thick while the glue much thinner or you may try even pure toluene for gluing. Everything depends on how paper absorbs the solution - you should carry out more trials to find a correct concentration. Warning: Please do not forget to ventilate your workplace very intensively. Toluene vapours are not only easily flammable but also well-known dope :twisted:
The paper-doping trick has come into its own. I had in mind to model a wide building that's mostly glass. Problem is that the glass has to be almost flush with the main framing and therefore has to be pretty thin. I tried 0.25mm polystyrene but without a fairly thick back undercoat on the inside for opacity it's too transparent. So I turned to paper which takes a coat of black India ink with a white coat over it for internal reflection.

India ink is excellent for adding almost no thickness to the paper while really being opaque.

So I owe you a beer!

Cheers,
Ivor

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