Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tools of the Trade: Rotary and Rivets

Occasionally I'll be updating my "Tools of the Trade" as I add new tools to my toolbox.  Or in this case, ones I forgot to add in the first place.

This time around, it's both!  

We're going to take a look at a new addition in the form of a Micro Mark hole punch and hammer, as well as the tool I should have never left out, the Rotary Tool.

Rotary tools are an integral part to a converter's arsenal for any sort of major overhaul of a figure, or involved model project.  The selection of brands we have to choose from, and the bevy of attachments for said brands are all welcome additions to our choices of tools to make our jobs as hobbyists easier and expand our range of options for conversions and scratch-builds alike.

I've been lucky enough to sample three brands of Rotary Tools; Dremel, Black and Decker, and Craftsman.  I've also sampled both corded and cordless versions of the Dremel brand.  I've also come to the conclusion that in the end, the brand you purchase is really not all that important.  There are a couple features that I think are important, though, and those are variable speed control and comfort.  It's got to be comfortable to use, this is a power tool and more at ease you feel with it, the better off you are.  Variable speed control is essential for being able to best control the tool for each application you're using it for, be it cutting, smoothing or shaping.  

My rotary tool of choice is the Dremel Stylus pictured above.  The way you hold it is very similar to a writing implement and helps give you a greater deal of control.  It's cordless, so you've got to rely on the charge it carries, so remember to put it back in its cradle when done.  It's price point is about 60 dollars, so it's fairly affordable for what you get.

The new tool in the toolbox actually replaces one I already had.  The Micro Punch Set that I purchased from Micro Mark, coupled with a hobby hammer, very quickly displaced  my previous hole punch set.  Recommended by Jeff Wilhelm from Dragon Forge Designs, this tool combination is a huge improvement in creating plasticard discs for use as rivets and other conversion parts.  Pick the diameter you want, slide the plasticard in-between the top and bottom plates, pick the appropriate metal rod and a few taps of the hammer later, you have a perfect plastic disc for rivets. It's a touch pricy at 45 dollars, but honestly worth every penny for the job it does.

I've learned when modeling in this hobby, a varied and extensive toolbox and repertoire of techniques to pull from are essential to some amazing conversions.

Add anything new to your toolbox lately?

- Tim 


  1. I love unique tools. That hole punch is awesome. What is the size range of the punches?

    Also, I too have the stylus and it is perfect for hobby minatures. I've had mine for about two years, use it a lot (especially for pinning, they have a collet that will hold my .032" bits) The range of speed is awesome. 2 for super slow dirlling (so you don't melt the plastic instead of cut it) and 10 for crazy rippin' and a tearin' and then any where in between. I even did a tutorial on using it as a lathe to make things from plasticard rods. I've had it for about 2 years now and haven't noticed any loss in battery either. 10/10 stars from me for that thing.

    Thanks for making me aware of that hole punch, I'll be picking one up.

  2. Interesting! I've not seen that style of hole punch before, I'll have to track one down. My Dremel is an invaluable tool - definitely worth the investment. I went with a corded version however the cordless does seem like it would be more convenient.