Younger modelers often ask me what tools they should buy. Now you know that there is no straight answer to that. Most of the stuff I have has been collected over a number of years. Normally, I buy a tool as I need it – often I buy it and never use it! So, last week I decided to clean up the model room and at the same time make a list of things I regularly use. So I laid in a supply of brews, put the new Snotkop CD on the stereo and started with the …

Big Tool Inventory

Stanley Knife – Regular scalpels are for wimps, so I use a man’s knife! It is great for opening and slicing through the contents of cardboard cartons de­livered to your front door, particularly the tops of boxes containing rare and expensive kits … and the Studio 27 decal sets packed on top of the kits. Also great for conducting blood oaths with fellow modelers at the SANNL.

Oxyacetylene Torch – Used almost exclusively for lighting those stale workshop cigars hidden in the back of the photo-etch box … Mrs Grumpy would never think to look in there! Indispensable for setting fire to the workbench (I must remember to close the model glue after I have used it).

Scribing Tool – Don’t fuss with the fancy Tamiya item, I got mine off the instrument tray when my dentist wasn’t looking. The very thin end is great for digging splinters out of your fingers, while the thicker end is normally used to dig holes in car bodies and slice open hands.

Superglue – Vital equipment for any modeler. Squeeze the wound closed (see above) and apply superglue liberally to stem the flow of blood. I heard they used it in Vietnam – dunno if that is true, but it sure works!

Superglue Kicker – Required to accelerate the setting of superglue. Useful for particularly large wounds.

Whitworth Sockets – Once used for working on older British motorcycles. They are now used mainly as stands for painting small parts.

Drill Press – A tall, upright machine, useful for suddenly snatching flat aluminium bar out of your hand and hurling it across the model room at mach 1 speeds straight into the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar.

Dremel – This is such a great tool. Sometimes I don’t have a job for it, but I just grind things because it’s cool. Generally used to melt the wheel arches of customs car models and flinging tiny parts so far away you don’t even bother to look for them. Also removes fingerprint whorls and in about the time it takes you to say, ‘Sh*t, what jus happened?”

Tweezers – An essential tool for odd jobs around the model room, like removing bugs from the interior of your model before going to the I.P.M.S. nationals, and eating potato crisps without getting your models greasy.

Unknown Thing – I’ve got a funny thing here that I bought years ago in Cape Town, but I’ve never used it. It’s a sorta cylindrical shape, with a knurled nut at one end and two levers at the other. It’s made of blue anodized aluminium and when you turn the nut, the levers move up and down. If anyone knows what it is, please let me know, ‘cause I’d love to use it.

Desk Light – The modeller’s own tanning booth, it is an excellent source of vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin,” which is not otherwise found in a modeller’s workshop. Often used to melt model cars while you let them dry under the light overnight, but its main purpose is to consume 60-watt light bulbs at about the same rate as 105mm how­itzer shells might be used dur­ing, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge.

Air Compressor – A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power station 300 kilometers away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Taiwanese airbrush, so that you can spray clear lacquer all over your fingers.

Until next time …

Use the right tool for the job!

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