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Mar 16, 2006, 08:02 AM
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The Tools Money Can't Buy

How many times in scale modeling have we run into a situation where we need a simple tool and simply can't find it anywhere?

As modelers, that shouldn't be all that big of a problem -- after all, making stuff is what modelers do! So next time you find yourself in a bind for "just the right tool for just the right job", look at making your own. That way the tool can be taylored for a specific job, and the next time you need it, you'll have it.

Here's a few examples............
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Mar 16, 2006, 08:07 AM
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Two Ways To Make Lightening Holes

A simple tool for adding lightening holes or holes for wire or cables to pass through can be made by sharpening brass tubes. A dremmel cut-off wheel can be used to cut "teeth into the tube, or a countersink tool used to simply sharpen the end of the smaller tubes. On the larger ones, a combination of both works well.
Last edited by P. Tritle; Mar 16, 2006 at 08:32 AM.
Mar 16, 2006, 08:11 AM
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Cutting Hinge Slots in Small Control Surfaces

Cutting hinge slots in small control surfaces can be done with an X-Acto knife, but it's easy to cut yourself in the process, so this tool was made to make small slots without the danger of serious injury.
It was made from a piece of .020 thick brass, 3/16" wide, lashed into a dowel handle. The cutting edge was sharpened with a file. I made this tool back in 1997 and am still using it today.
Mar 16, 2006, 08:15 AM
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A Simple Soldering Tool

When was the last time you burned your wife's thumb trying to solder wires together. Since you only get to do that once, I made this tool to hold the wires together during the soldering process. It only takes 2 wooden cloths pins and a couple scraps of hard balsa or light ply to make, and never complanes when I touch it with a hot iron!
Mar 16, 2006, 08:17 AM
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dottney's Avatar
That's brilliant!! Gotta make one right away.
Mar 16, 2006, 08:21 AM
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Making Cockpit Combings for Open Cockpits

Splitting the tube for cockpit combings is almost impossible to get right without some kind of jigging tool.
This tool was made simply by drilling an appropriately sized hole in a hardwood block and cutting a slot into it for a #11 knife blade. The tube is loaded into the hole, the knife blade inserted into the slot and the whole deal pinched in the vice. Just pull the tube through the tool and you have a perfectly straight cut!

This idea came from Dumas boat plans. So far I have 3 of them for 3 different size tubes.
Mar 16, 2006, 08:22 AM
Jody Bradshaw
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Thank you for sharing your secrets. You may make a plane builder out of me yet, instead of just a poor pilot.

Mar 16, 2006, 08:31 AM
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A Simple Gouging Tool

When it comes to cutting a nice true slot in a landing gear mount beam you can make a simple gouge from steel wire with a dowl handle to cut perfect slots in balsa or basswood. I made these in several different sizes to accomodate most of the standard wire sizes.

These are just a few examples from 2 coffee cans full of specialty tools I've made over the years. Many were made to do one specific job that might have only been used once, but in the long run, it took less time to make the tool to do the job then it would have to do the job without it.

Now, lets see the tools you've made for some of the more unusual situations you occasionally find yourself in!

Mar 16, 2006, 08:36 AM
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Thanks Guys. I've been planning to do this thread for awhile and just didn't get to it. Hope some good can be had from it, and will add more stuff in the future as it comes up. Hope a whole lot of good can come from it.
Mar 16, 2006, 08:45 AM
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You can buy these but they are getting harder and harder to find. It is the best cutting razor blade for trimming tissue, silk, mylar covering I have ever found. It is the mythical carbon steel blue blade. I thought I had a lifetime supply, but I am getting worried that I may last longer than they do. Last year I found a German substitute somewhere on the internet. They are carbon steel, but thinner and not "blue" but the cut like hell! These things are really double edged and you snap them into two pieces and then use needle nose pliers to snap the point at an angle. They are so much sharper than any other blade, including scalpel blades that I have ever seen in 55 years of modeling.

Pat Daily
Mar 16, 2006, 09:12 AM
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I raided my Stepdad's stash of Gillette Blue Blades many a time as a kid. Cut out the printwood for a lot of Comet kits with them. Got in some trouble with my Mom, the nurse, for using them to scrape Ambroid glue off my fingers. Gotta pay attention when you're doing that ;-)

Great ideas Pat, thanks for posting them.
Mar 16, 2006, 09:28 AM
Sam Talley
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Here are a couple of tools that I made because I am thrifty (cheap) and I needed to cut some lightening holes and transfer the contour of a fuselage.

The circle cutter is made from a rectangle of aluminum cut from a Diet Coke can, wrapped and taped around a Magic Marker. Need a hole larger or smaller? Just get a different marker. I am sure there are limits to the diameter, but this worked for my project.

The contour gauge is just some bamboo skewers held in a frame made of foam-core board, nothing fancy, but it works.
Mar 16, 2006, 09:43 AM
Balsa is love....
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Originally Posted by P. Tritle
When was the last time you burned your wife's thumb trying to solder wires together. Since you only get to do that once, I made this tool to hold the wires together during the soldering process. It only takes 2 wooden cloths pins and a couple scraps of hard balsa or light ply to make, and never complanes when I touch it with a hot iron!

My wife's thumb? How about my own! I'm making one of these today - great solution Pat. Thanks for sharing your tool secrets.

Mar 16, 2006, 09:52 AM
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Make your own tri-stock

From an old MAN article (sorry don't remember the authors name). The drawing should be self explainatory.

Mar 16, 2006, 10:51 AM
North East England
Sometimes when using a standard sanding block, you damage delicate parts of the model, so spend a half hour making 'mini sanders' from offcuts of hard balsa or thin ply with sandpaper glued to them - square ones, long ones, any shape or size - they come in very handy. My most-used one is 1" square with a bit of hardwood CA'd to it as a grip - just been using it to round-off the edges of a fin/rudder ready for hinging.


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