Author Topic: My tools  (Read 14312 times)

Offline Andrew Rae

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My tools
« on: March 21, 2010, 03:50:04 PM GMT GMT »
Just thought I'd post a wee pic of the various tools I use the most frequently.

So, working left to right...

A Royal Sovereign clay shaper, Flat chisel size 0 extra firm. Could do nothing without this little tool. After the putty is on and roughly shaped, I'll use this for smoothing, shaping, more smoothing, more shaping. Indispensible for me.

Another RS colour shaper, this one was bought from heresy miniatures. Often use this for eye sockets, not used so much but very useful when the situation is right. Still on the look out for a very sharply pointed clay shaper so if anyone knows where to pick one up let me know!

My basic shaping tool, bought from heresy again (can't say I use the rest much...). I use it for rough shaping the putty when it goes on to the figure. Slightly rounded on the other surface so good for smoothing/ blending.

I made this from a bit of brass wire (just using pliers, files and sand paper so not too tricky). Stuck in an old paint brush. Was aiming for a finer version of the tool described above and thats what I got :). Very useful for sharpening up those details.

Next up are a couple of needles, both bluntened slightly. I use the thicker needle more, generally using the fine needle when the putty is fairly cured. Should probably get myself an unblunted needle too for extra fine details...

A dental tool, bought off ebay. Not great quality, but useful for awkward angles of attack and for the likes of folds in robes.

A fine loop of 0.6mm copper wire. Again useful occassionally for folds, eye sockets etc.

Finally, files and a sharp scalpel, because to be honest I do a lot of scraping (which is why I used to sculpt in a GS/BS mix). Shapely long legs generally don't appear just like that so a fair bit of fine tuning is required! Don't be shy about this, it's all to get the final product after all.

So, those are my tools. Would be very interested to see all of yours (oo-er!) to see if I can pick up any tips!


Andrew Rae

Offline snuurg

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Re: My tools
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2010, 06:34:09 PM GMT GMT »
 - a much more comprehensive collection of bits than meself Andrew, but then again I'm a bit of a primitive at this lark - I've got the same heresy clay-shaper thing as you, but I pretty much just use this fella that I got from Tiranti's:

 - and only the funny-shaped end, at that - the bulbous bit at the other extreme is as far as I'm concerned just for balance...

Also I guess I should honour my ratty old scalpel with a mention since it gets to do a lot of work in 'carving back' the occasional mistakey-bits (by which of course I mean hacking off the very frequent mistakey-bits) - blade gets a change only when it's reached the absolute end of its useful life. I have at various times bought and tried various other bits and pieces, but (so far) seem to get on sort of okay with me trusty tiranti #149 :)
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Offline Grekwood

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Re: My tools
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2010, 05:05:17 PM GMT GMT »
 pins and needles shoved into old biro/pen cases  ::)  along with the scalpel, the clayshapers and those 2 metal things....
here's my set of messy under used amatuer tools
zoomed bigger picture here
« Last Edit: March 22, 2010, 05:08:25 PM GMT GMT by Grekwood »

Offline Vermis

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Re: My tools
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2010, 01:49:04 PM BST GMT »
Here's a shot of the tools I always have laid out on my table, with one or two exceptions.  I thought I had more homemade tools, but it probably turns out I like the idea of homemade tools.

Left to right: my first sculpting tool, from GW.  Must be close to ten years old, now.  I didn't realise how rubbish it was before I got a set of good tools from Andy at Heresy.  I've modified it since then - shaping, sharpening and smoothing it with needle files and a couple of grades of wet'n'dry sandpaper.  Now I use it for most of my sculpting.  Unfortunately that means the Heresy set's getting dusty in a box, although I did use only one from the set, myself.

An old knife handle from an Impex set I had when I was a nipper.  The only blade left with it was a JE68 'microfine' like the one it has now, but old and blunted.  Great for sculpting, especially for tiny details, cutting away putty, and a bit of light scraping.  It broke a couple of days ago.  I was inconsolable.  Fortunately a craft shop I go to started stocking spare Impex blades and I had some to hand.

A cheap knife from a cheap set.  See where the collet thingy split on it's first use.  Still useful, but it still annoys me, and the old, blunted blade doesn't get used for much more than chopping putty off the bar/strip and some scraping.

A good quality, brand spanking new knife to replace the cheap one, but it hasn't quite got round to it yet.  Sharp new blade for more slicey activities.

A steel 'spike' and it's handle, from the same set as the cheap knife.  It's held up better and also holds thick darning needles, though it doesn't see a whole lot of use as it is.

A paper embosser with a spherical head.  Useful for pushing round holes (like eye sockets) into putty etc.  It was handy, so I also bought...

A paper embosser handle with interchangeable heads, though I don't keep them laid out beside it.  One needle and three spheres.

A bamboo tool based on the article at Reaper Miniatures.  Works well, especially in narrow, awkward gaps, though I barely pick it up.  I think it's the extra-thin 'handle' - bamboo chopsticks would give a better grip, IMO.  And it's started to go rough when I started using it as a poking stick rather than a sculpting tool.

A rivet tool.  I made this a couple of days ago from a bit of brass tube and dowel, when I had a lot of rivets to put in some orky microarmour.  I don't know what the inside diameter is, but it's smaller than a 0.5mm mechanical pencil.  This probably won't sit out with the regular tools.

I have all my clay shapers laid out, though I only reach for the wire-loop one and the cups ocassionally.  But when I do they're pretty handy for smoothing.  I even started using both ends of the wire-loop for shaping - I'm not fond of wire tools but it's turned out useful to flip and use with the tapered silicone head.

An old paintbrush for brushing flecks of dust and random debris off sculpts.

Tweezers.  Straight-nose for holding things, particularly armature wire for twisting and bending.  Fine curved-nose for picking up tiny things.

Still on the look out for a very sharply pointed clay shaper so if anyone knows where to pick one up let me know!

It's not silicone and it'd need a bit of effort, but this might suit you. :)  That's why I had a bit of shaped dowel lying around for the rivet tool.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 12:22:18 PM BST GMT by Vermis »

Offline Andrew May

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Re: My tools
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2010, 12:29:16 AM BST GMT »
And here are mine.

Uploaded with

Top to bottom then left to right!
A pen to mark joints on the armature wire.... mesured with the worlds worst cheapo verniers.
Pin vice for dilling little arm holes etc.
Angle chisel clayshaper for liney bits.
Chisel clayshaper for smothing.
Cone clayshaper for... well, lots of stuff.
Sharp for cutting.
Wax #5 for lots of things.....
Flat edged wire cutters, an essential!
Long nosed pliers for bending wire.
Blunt scalpel for hair and stuff.
Various needle files.
More pliers for the same.
Oh and I use two pins quite a lot, one thin one thick. The business end for pointy holey jobs and the eye end for little liney denty jobs.

Sorry for all the clever scientific jargon in there.  ;D
« Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 12:08:56 AM BST GMT by Andrew May »

Offline Andrew May

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Re: My tools
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2010, 01:27:37 AM BST GMT »
Oh and the edges of my cutting mat are trimmed to make it fit the tin I keep it all in!  ::)

Offline Vermis

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Re: My tools
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2010, 10:57:14 AM BST GMT »
Funny, the pic's not showing up.  Is it just me?

Offline Andrew May

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Re: My tools
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2010, 12:11:35 AM BST GMT »
Sorry Warren, I don't know why but it was "not found" on my imageshack.  ???


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Re: My tools
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2010, 04:08:24 PM BST GMT »

I make a lot of my own tools, but this photo includes the tools that I use on a regular basis.

Firstly I have a piece of 6mm glass. I use this to place my mixed putty on. I suppose the simplest comparison would be to say it acts as my palette. Being glass it does not scratch too easily and is easy to clean up after the putty is dry. It is also useful to lay out flat sheets of putty on when I want a nice flat face to a piece of putty.

Next I have a small tin of Vaseline petroleum jelly (ooh er missus!) this I use as lubricant for my sculpting tools! I usually smear a little Vaseline on the palm of my left hand (the one I use to hold the figure I am working on). Then I can wipe the tool on my palm to lubricate it on a regular basis.

The last thing on the top row is my figure clamp. I have made quite a few of these. 22mm diameter dowel cut partway down the middle, with a hole drilled through the middle, and a 6mm machine screw and wing nut. The bottom end has a brass threaded insert that I can use to screw the figure to a board, if I need to transport it while un-cured (although I tend to use a putty cooker to speed things up nowadays)!

Moving right along to the bottom row!

A pair of stainless steel scissors, used to cut equal amounts of putty from the supplied blocks of two part putty.

150mm stainless steel rule. Used to measure figure height etc. and also occasionally put to use for actual sculpting when I need a flat square edge.

Retractable scalpel. Swann Morten Scalpels are unbeatable. I use the retractable handle as I like to keep my kit portable!

Three Clay Shapers. I have a whole series of these with all the different shaped tips as well as the softer paint shapers, but when push comes to shove these are the three that I use the most! A size 0 taper point, a size 0 and a size 2 "Cup Round" tip. The "cup round" tips have various uses, but are ideal for smoothing putty to get a nice smooth finish!

Next up we have 4 of my self made tools. The all have stainless steel tips, which is a real pain to polish to a good shine, but is certainly worth it! The first three all have curved edged "knife" like blades. The third one (the one with the brass handle) is the main tool I use for sculpting virtually all my figures. It is a little short, but I find it ideal for fine detail. The fourth self made tool has a stainless steel needle point (actually taken from a precision drawing compass) inserted into a drilled out brass rod.

A standard number 3 sculpting tool (purchased from a GW shop).

Three hyperdermic needles, all with the sharpened tips ground off. I use these to press small rings into the putty.

Finally, my trusty pin vice. This ball ended pin vice is so much more comfortable to use than the standard type. A really recommend trying them!

« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 04:15:33 PM BST GMT by ironmammoth »

Offline Bork

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Re: My tools
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2010, 11:23:28 AM BST GMT »

A caliper.

two crochet hooks joined together (wire and tape).

next is a homemande tool, two needles attached with hard-curing putty to a piece of wire.

Clay shaper, with a wire loop attached (with putty and wire) to the end.

Four clay shapers joined together (same as above, wire and tape). I cut off some of the shafts to make them less unwieldly, but unfortunately I cut a little too much on one of them (not that big of a problem thoug).

Next is a kind of dental tool I guess. Sanded it down to make it less sharp.

Ruler, I cut off the area just below the 0, to make it easier to use.

A sharp and a blunted scalpel.


In the background two tools I carved out of thick plasticard. They're not bad, but I haven't found much use for them.

I use vaseline too.

Offline Vermis

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Re: My tools
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2010, 01:25:09 AM GMT GMT »
Bargain Books* has a whole lot of cheap art 'n' craft bits in for Christmas.  Amazingly they included a few sculpting things other than plasticene and DAS.  One was a set of seven doll tools for three quid: not the greatest quality and not for miniatures, but possibly useful for a beginner in larger-scale maquettes and figurines.  Like me.
Should be able to make use of most of them, though I'll probably pull the bits out of the drill (shiny handle...) and I have no idea whatsoever what the last thing is for.

* I was going to say 'take a look in your local Bargain Books', but it turns out it's too local for that.  :?
Edit: and it turns out Bargain Books had been bought up by The Works.  So take a look in your local The Works...
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 01:47:47 PM BST GMT by Vermis »

Offline ink the troll

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Re: My tools
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2010, 09:29:51 AM GMT GMT »
(...)  and I have no idea whatsoever what the last thing is for. (...)
it's something like a hole cutter
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Offline moonmin82

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Re: My tools
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2012, 10:01:05 PM BST GMT »
I think I may have developed something of a hoarding habit...

...this isn't even all of my collection! I also have a scribe tool, a set of mini-pliers/wire cutters, some metal tubing for stamping rivets, a GW pin vice tool and a bizarre tweezer/magnifier tool (below right):

My first tool was bought by my dad as a Christmas gift about 12 years ago. I think it may be a Vehe wax carver. My second tool was the first GW sculpting tool. I then bought a 12 piece set on ebay (ToolZone?) and a five piece set of pointy tools. Other dentist type tools have been tought from Tool Box in Meadowhall Sheffield.

It looks like I have the same handle tool as Vermis with the interchangeable heads. I bought it earlier this year with an embossing tool head and later bought a needle head before just buying a set of three double ended embossing tools on ebay. The needle is great for clown collars and eyes!

Regularly I only use 4 dentist tools, 1 clay shaper, needle tool and 1 embossing tool. The Swan Morton knive is coming in handing now I'm starting to scrape.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 10:15:29 PM BST GMT by moonmin82 »

Offline Vermis

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Re: My tools
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2012, 11:57:55 PM BST GMT »
I think I may have developed something of a hoarding habit...

Satisfying, isn't it?

That's a funky-lookin' thing in your second pic.  Does it just have a 'needle' tip or is it shaped?  Do you use it for much?

Also, what kind of scribe tool?  I have one myself, but a bladed thing for polystyrene kits.

Offline captainspud

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Re: My tools
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2012, 05:47:36 PM BST GMT »
I own lots of tools from various kits, but here are the ones I actually use:

1. Clippers (more for conversions than sculpting)
2. Round pliers (for making armatures)
3. #0 Firm Clayshaper - Flat
4. #0 Firm Clayshaper - Taper Edge
5. #0 Firm Clayshaper - Taper
6. Privateer sculpting tool - Oar (and "pointy oar")
7. Privateer sculpting tool - Hoe
8. Dental pick
9. Dental... "flat-tipped inverted cone"? The ends widen out into a small and a medium flat circle.
10. XActo. I prefer rounded blades, but can't find a steady supply of them, so I suffer with flat ones.
11. Pin vice. I have six of them, and keep each loaded with different sizes of bits. I find that I lose the bits if I swap.

And that's what I use to make bad models.
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