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Old Nov 19, 2015, 12:02 PM
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What are your favourite modelling tools?

Hi, just wondering what tools have you found to make model building easier. We've all seen or bought the usual hobby knives, razor saws and so on, but I'm interested in what you've been able to use or adapt for your models that wasn't necessarily meant for that job.

For me, I've found a dovetailing saw to be really excellent. Admittedly this saw was up-market and not cheap, I paid $90 Australian for it a few years ago. It's a Veritas Dovetailing saw, fine tooth version, which has 20 tpi (teeth per inch), and that is pretty fine. A standard carpenter's tenon saw has, I think, 10 or 12 TPI, maybe lower, and even their other dovetail saw is 14, so this one is pretty fine, but I'm glad it is.

Being fine pitch, it takes longer to cut right through but it does leave a really nice finish, much cleaner than other saws. Usually you must plane and/or sand the cut grain after sawing, but this one needs so much less as the cuts are clean, so long as you can cut straight. That too is much easier with a quality saw. I don't press down, I just let its own weight carry it through as much as possible.

For cutting spruce spars it's *perfect*, the cut is very neat and I just quickly sanded it and that was all it needed. I tried it next on 100mm / 4 inch wide balsa sheet, and was surprised just how nice the finished cut was. To me it honestly looked just as good as the end grain of the sheet was when I bought it. Partly because this saw has only had light use so its teeth are still super sharp, but I don't think light balsa is going to blunt it very quickly. When it does finally go dull, I'm going to invest in a professional sharpening job and keep using it, I love it that much. I've also got a cheap, $8 dovetail saw, some cheap brand, and it's OK I guess, but not in the same league as this Veritas saw, not by a long way!

So what examples of favourite tools that work well for modelling have other people found? Anybody found a small plane, for example, that works well on balsa? I'm not really happy with hobby store razor planes, and those traditional straight razor blades are actually really hard to find where I live. I've got an old carpentry block plane, which is the little mini one that fits in one hand, but the blade's been lost. Again, I bought a cheap plane to replace that, but it's terrible! You've got to have quality tools. The cheap saw has coarser teeth, so it should cut faster, but it's far less sharp so it actually took twice as long and was difficult to control, kept jamming, and the finished cut was jagged and rough. It's well worth the price of the better tool if you can afford it.

Looking forward to hearing what you guys have found.

EDIT: I tried to get some pictures of the different quality of cuts but you couldn't see the difference in them. But I tried comparing them again while I took the photos, and the Veritas (good) saw actually left a finish that was BETTER than the sheets' end grain when I bought them! Not bad for a hand saw. And the cheap dovetail saw, no way would I cut dovetail joints with it! What a mess, it just shredded the grain, left wood fibers sticking out everywhere, and tore out enough fiber to leave "tracks" about 3 to 5mm long all over the place on the underside of the cut. From nicest to worst cut, it goes Veritas saw with NO sanding, new sheet sanded, new sheet with no sawing or sanding, cheap saw. That cheap saw was so bad you couldn't use that piece on a model! And yes, the good saw cut so clean it was as good or better than I could do with coarse paper on a brand new sheet. Great saw!
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Last edited by BernardW; Nov 19, 2015 at 12:10 PM. Reason: Add info
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Old Nov 19, 2015, 01:46 PM
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Even though I am using it for its intended purpose, my favorite is easily the razor plane. It is so satisfying to make long curly bits of balsa.
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Old Nov 19, 2015, 02:09 PM
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i love mine too. faster than sanding for many spots.
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Old Nov 19, 2015, 02:37 PM
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Yeah I would like to use one but the blades are a problem, I can't find anywhere left that sells those old style razor blades, except the hobby store where the razor plane came from. And they charge more than I want to pay. How long do you get out of a blade before replacing it? Is there an alternative you can sharpen yourself?

I've got a Stanley block plane but the blade's missing. It's too big really, but the advantage is, when I was making furniture etc. I bought high-quality sharpening stones and I could get my chisels and planes literally razor sharp. I have to make a special trip but I'll get a new blade for it. I liked that plane, it's palm sized and well made. Check this TINY plane out:
https://www.carbatec.com.au/handtool...-plane-veritas

Isn't it sweet? But I've been told it's TOO small, you have to hold it so tight your hand gets tired in no time. The guy in the USA who's got one told me it was about 30 bucks and beautifully made. I believe it, same brand as my good saw.

I tried using a spoke-shave plane, actually that thing's cool. The advantage is it's compact front-to-back like a razor plane, and it's got these big handles sticking out the sides, but in some situations they can get in the way. Again, it sharpens up great on my stones.

In regular carpentry planes are something you use all the time, so I'm really missing having one model-sized. That's my next tools project, sort out a solution for planing.

Does anyone in Perth or anywhere in Australia know a good source to get those razor blades? I've seen pictures from a modelling site where the guy says, get a box of 100 like this, but I don't know anywhere but the hobby store to get blades at all. At worst I might have to send away for them... but they're considered dangerous goods! How do you win...
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Last edited by BernardW; Nov 19, 2015 at 02:38 PM. Reason: Typos
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Old Nov 19, 2015, 02:48 PM
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Actually how does this appeal to you guys, this miniature spokeshave. Again it might just be too small, it's about 3" end to end:
https://www.carbatec.com.au/handtool...ure-spokeshave

But maybe with those wing handles you get good control. I've got a full-size spokeshave and that did well shaping a LE, but with a small regular plane you can hold the work in one hand and the plane in the other... with a spokeshave you'd have to secure the piece completely so you can use both hands on the tool. But there's ways to do that... if it's already on the wing, you'd jig the wing LE up and that's not hard.
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Old Nov 19, 2015, 03:15 PM
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Razor saws, I used to use them as normal but then the guy at the hobby store showed me to not bother with the handle and just grab the blade by its top. That was a good tip, it's much easier, but I've stopped using razor saws completely now I've dug out the dovetailer, and I use that all the time. Eg. was making a plywood template for cutting ribs, so I just kept on trimming away more ply getting closer and closer to the marked outline with the same saw. Then when it was close enough I just sanded the rest of the way around.

Also my sanding is much better since I bought spray adhesive and instead of wrapping sandpaper around the block, I glue it on flat. Very easy to do, and the old way the paper always shifts around and never stays flat to the block. I can just peel away the paper when it's worn out, plus I don't have paper around the sides of the block. So I not only waste less but can lay the block on its side and move it back and forth on a flat table with the work piece against it and get a pretty close right angle, or any angle I cut the block to. Works pretty good.
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Old Nov 19, 2015, 04:32 PM
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Laser cutter. Far and away my favorite toy, I mean tool.

Andy
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Old Nov 19, 2015, 04:46 PM
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Hmm wonder when all modellers will have 3d printers
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Old Nov 19, 2015, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckimmey View Post
Even though I am using it for its intended purpose, my favorite is easily the razor plane. It is so satisfying to make long curly bits of balsa.
I'm glad I'm not the only one that looks toward to using the razor plane for the curly wooden hair it creates!😛
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Old Nov 19, 2015, 06:19 PM
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I found the answer to razor plane blades, you can get them around here as refill blades for certain paint scrapers, that's about the cheapest. Bunnies have got but Masters do a much better deal, as usual. 100 packs available cheap.

So at last, now I can get a razor plane and not pay dollars per blade.

Coles have got Wilk. Sword blades for old gents who have refused to throw away their shaver since the 1970's but they're $17 for not many. See that's the problem I've had. You ask the 17 year old girl they put on the counter at these giant hardware stores and they never know what the hell they've got on the shelves, or what it is you're asking about.
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Old Nov 20, 2015, 11:15 AM
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increases cutting accuracy a hundred times.

Uses standard #11 blades, get it at Hobby Lobby the craft store. They
make a smaller bladed model, uses the swivel blade.

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Old Nov 20, 2015, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BHOFM View Post
increases cutting accuracy a hundred times.

Uses standard #11 blades, get it at Hobby Lobby the craft store. They
make a smaller bladed model, uses the swivel blade.

Do you put your index finger in the ring?
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Old Nov 20, 2015, 01:11 PM
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That looks like a sweet little knife, Fiskars always make good quality too. How small is it, is the loop made to fit over one finger or do you hold it outside the 2 handles with your whole hand?

On favourite trimmers, I just went to a #2 handle after using a #5 for many years and I like it better already. This one has a contoured handle with a rubbery texture, usually that's a gimmick but I got a cheap straight aluminium one too and I prefer the curvy handle.
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Old Nov 20, 2015, 01:14 PM
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I wonder went all the modelers will have lasers.

Jim

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyKunz View Post
Laser cutter. Far and away my favorite toy, I mean tool.

Andy
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Old Nov 20, 2015, 02:08 PM
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These are actually my favorite modelling tools. And they are definitely not being used for their intended purpose:
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