Friday, 17 February 2012

Tools

A few people have asked me about the tools I use and where I buy my materials so I'm going to try to cover the basics without sending anyone into a deep coma. I apologise in advance...there's no miniature goodness to be seen here.
If, like me, you became quickly disenchanted with what mainstream dollhouse suppliers laughably describe as scale miniatures, you may have decided to try your hand at making your own. Apart from the immense feeling of satisfaction you get from making something with your own hands, you also have the option of designing something unique and personal to your own style.


Okay so tools. The most expensive item I own is a Proxxon FET table saw.

If you don't intend to take this up as a serious hobby or sell your designs then this cost is going to be hard to justify. You're currently looking at £250 pounds upwards for the saw plus the cost of replacement blades (£20-£50). There are a few companies that specialise in table top saws, so shop around.
Hand saws are the cheaper alternative. This is a 'Gentlemen's' or hobbyist saw. The blade and teeth are much finer than a full size tenon saw.

Obviously the downside to the hand saw is that you will have to invest in a mitre block to cut any mitre angles.

Unfortunately the cut, no matter how careful you are, will never be as precise as that done by an electric saw.

I also have a bench pin and piercing saw to cut anything other than a straight edge






 (such as the circular cut-out shape I made in these doors)



A set square is a must. Most, if not all of your work will involve 90° angles. This is an engineers set square, made of steel and is machined at a perfect right angle. 






 A good quality ruler is also a must. You will have seen this phrase countless times on countless blogs because it is critical to good work.'measure twice, cut once'
If you want to buy a digital micrometer as a measuring device, then fill your boots.
I've never used one since my eyesight and metal rule seem to be doing the job.

The following items I would suggest only if you are working with metal. These are jewellery pliers and needle files for bending and shaping metal. You can normally buy these as a set.



I use a push drill for making pilot holes for handles and hinges. Alternatively you can use a scalpel blade to hold the drill bit as is perfectly demonstrated by the lovely Otterine



Even though I have an electric rotary tool (dremmel is another brand name), I tend to use it more for metal polishing than anything else.



It's not a necessity. Don't get caught up in the 'I need this to make good miniatures' mentality. Sure, good tools do help but they can't replace technique and practise.

Apart from the items I've mentioned above there are smaller, expendable items that you may already have around the house. Tweezers, craft knife, wood glue, sandpaper, masking tape clamps...
Oo, yes clamps. I know people swear by these gluing jigs and they do the job perfectly well


It's personal preference...I use a selection of quick clamps for my work *shrugs* It's up to you

So that just about covers the basic tools.

Materials
As you may already know  I'm a recycling maniac who tries to transform anything I can into miniature. Wood is about the only material that I have to buy and there is a distinct lack of outlets for the sort of wood you will need. Typical lumber yards don't finish the wood surface to a high standard. If you go down this avenue, prepare your self for a lot of sanding =0(

wood supplies is a UK based miniature wood supply specialist. Their wood is of an extremely high standard and perfectly finished. Problem is they only sell at miniature fairs or via post if you submit an order form.
Original Marquetry is another UK based wood supplier. Their wood sawn veneers (1mm-3mm) are exceptional. Great range of fine woods (pear/box/ebony/kingswood) and if your making something fancy, they also sell pre-prepared marquetry inlays
Knife scales are paired wood pieces used for making the handles of buck/hunting knives. I've included this because every so often you find unusual pieces in a thickness that could be used for miniature tables and worktops. The wood won't be finished very finely (normally just wood sawn without sanding) but they can make for interesting designs
4D modelshop  also a UK based store. Model shops tend to stock only walnut, mahogany, Obeche, Bass, Spruce and Ply.

I realise that the suppliers listed are UK based. This is because I've had personal experience with them all and recommend them to anyone interested in buying wood for miniature furniture making. I'm sure similar companies exist in your respective countries...just a case of Googling =0)


Metal sheet, plastic, acrylic etc can be found in any number of hobby stores and online.

One last thing and I guarantee this will save you money. There is a well known phrase used where I live in the North East of England and that is 'Shy Bairns get nowt'! In other words, shy children don't get anything if they don't ask. Don't be afraid to ask for samples, off-cuts etc. I was recently chatting to a bespoke furniture maker about the cloth he used in his designs. Next day, two bags of fabric landed on my doorstep...excess fabric from the templates that the furniture maker used and fabric that was destined for the rubbish tip. Recycling at it's best =0)

Dull stuff over with, I promise some miniature eye candy very soon

Have a great day
Pepper =0)


26 comments:

  1. Well written Pepper! I am lucky enough that my partner works next to a cabinet maker so he goes through their bin all the time and comes home with wood off-cuts every week for me! Gotta love recyling..Hugz J x

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    1. Thanks Jazzi.
      Cool that you have such a thoughtful partner looking out for your miniature needs =0)

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  2. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your tools of the trade. I just bought the same table saw. I love it.

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    1. I saw your first creation with the saw. Really cool!

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  3. This isn't dull stuff! I love seeing other peoples' workspaces and tools. I'm dying for a table saw and drill press. My methods are a little crude at present, but I suppose they get the job done :)

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    1. Crude? Man you're working the modern cool like a crazy woman already

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  4. A very clear and much needed round up. Thanks!

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  5. *gasp*... actual "How To's"??? Your blog is exactly what I need!
    Absolutely a new follower here!
    I just started trying to make my girls their own shop and home out of an old bookshelf... and I have no idea what I'm doing!
    Time to read, read, read!
    http://majokkoshop.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey there Heather, glad you joined the party. There's a lot of blogs out there for tips and techniques. Happy miniaturing!

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  6. Thank you very much for this post! I have been wondering for weeks now whether to purchase a gluing jig and other things you mentioned. I think I'll start building my tool collection now.

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    1. Hey Angie, thanks for dropping by. Looking forward to seeing your creations

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  7. ahh CAPTIVATING read!!! *goes back to re-reading it carefully and without early morning eyegunk this time :P *

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  8. Thank you for showing and explaining the tools - this is Fantastic!

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    1. No problem Tiggy, Thanks for stopping by =0)

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  9. Uhm... just about one of the most useful blog posts ever? Yes! Thank you so much for sharing your tools of the trade. It really helps a person realize just how possible or not possible things are to make... I was shocked to see I already have quite a lot of this stuff on hand!

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    1. Thanks Heather, I bought a lot of tools that were unnecessary, thinking I had to buy them to make good miniatures. I was hoping to prevent others from making the same mistake and to realize that specialist tools are not always needed =0)

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  10. What a pleasant surprise was finding your blog.
    Clear and very helpful. Thanks for sharing.
    hugs
    PS. In my blog there's a surprise for you

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    1. Thank you so much Maragverdugo, you're very kind
      =0*

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  11. Thank you Pepper,

    you have no idea how helpful your post is!! I have just spent the weekend cutting pieces for my kitchen cabinet and cursing most of the time. I dream of a table saw but I havent been sure what to look for.

    Than you, thank you.

    Fi x

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  12. Thanks Fi, I'm happy if anyone takes anything positive from my posts. Happy miniaturing

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  13. Hi Pepper,
    I hope you don't mind but I am putting a link to this wonderful post in my sidebar.
    Thanks for everything you share, you make things seem do-able :D

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  14. I have been wondering if I should get either a band saw or a scroll saw. Would you recommend either? Does your table saw do all the jobs you need? Out of the three which would be best if I want to make modern mini's? Thanks Pep, really appreciate this blog! xo

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  15. Hi Natasha. I have a scroll saw which I use for cutting large, curved shapes (but don't do it very often). I couldn't comment on a band saw because I've never had much experience with them. I use the table saw every single day because I primarily make furniture and need to cut multiple straight edge and mitre cuts. If you're serious on making modern miniature furniture and don't want to do everything by hand then a decent table top saw is a must =0)

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