Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Must Have Hand Tools

The tools at right don't look very impressive, but when I'm working on miniatures, they are a "MUST" have item. When I run out of the emery board fingernail files, I feel lost! I use them all the time for cleaning up edges quick sand jobs and shaping any carving work I've done.

The three needle files at right represent a bevy of metal files that I have and use. (I got a bunch of them in a rummage sale; and rarely use all of them.)You can "get by" with having and using four needle files:
   - a square-shaped file
   - a round shaped file
   - a flat file (with no cutting edges on the sides)
   - and a D-shaped file.
The black "thing" shown is another fingernail file. I use it "sometimes."

The other "tool" you need in this category is a solid clipboard with a nice, flat board, a file folder full of various grades of sandpaper, and a tack rag. The clipboard holds your sandpaper in place, and then you can pull your wood pieces across it to sand. If you have a rubber finger piece that filing clerks sometimes use to push papers, that can help with adding friction to the piece of wood you want to sand. When I sand a flat side of the wood and the other side won't show, I use the tack rag to wipe any dust off that side of the piece. This sometimes makes my fingers slightly tacky,too, which helps with sanding the board. If not, I sometimes lick my fingers and press down on the wood with my damp fingers to push the board back and forth across the sandpaper.  It gives just enough friction that I can move the board across the sandpaper. You don't have to press very hard - just enough to make contact. Let the sanding material do the work.

When I'm sanding edges of a miniature board or lengthwise on a thin edge of a longer piece, I count the number of times I push or pull the wood across the sandpaper. I then flip the board around 180 degrees and sand it again for an equal number of strokes. That way, I don't end up with a trapezoid or badly deformed piece of wood. ;-)

Here are the sandpaper grits I use in my workshop:
100, 120, 150, 180, 220, 320, 400, 600, 1500
If the wood you're working with is already quite smooth, you can probably skip the 100 and 120 grits and start at 150. I usually do between 20 and 40 strokes with each grade of the paper. Recently, I read through a woodworkers' how-to site and they claimed that when finishing wood projects, a craftsman only needs to go to 220 grit. I can definitely feel a difference on my pieces when I don't go to the finest grade of paper. But then, we're talking MINIATURES here and not some rough piece of furniture!

After I've sprayed Deft on my natural wood pieces, and it has dried thoroughly, I usually have some 0000 (that's four zeroes) steel wool on hand that I gently wipe across the piece. Never do the steel wool with much vigor - it can cut right back down to the bare wood and destroy a nicely stained and varnished piece!


Norma said...

Great stuff George, thanks. But 'scuse me - what's Deft??

Cheryl said...

Thanks for sharing all of your great tips!

Evelien said...

thank you again for the information! I use the fingernailfiles a lot too!

groetjes Evelien

Tabitha Corsica said...

I don't comment here very often but I have to say you have always have really helpful information. Thank you!


Kathi said...

I agree that emery boards are essential! I need a new one right now!

Caseymini said...

George, thanks for the clipboard idea! I have one for you if you don't already do it. I cut the emery boards in quarters. First lengthwise and then on a diagonal crosswise. You can get into lots of smaller areas with them in this size. An old pair of scissors will do the trick.

George the Miniguy said...

Wow! So many comments for what I thought you all might consider a boring topic! Thanks, folks!
Norma... I'll talk more about Deft soon. It's what I use to finish a lot of my wood projects.
As usual, Casey, thanks for sharing your additional thoughts. Indeed I DO cut the fingernail emery boards for getting into tight spaces. Sometimes I have cut them as narrow as 1/8" and the full length of the board.

Peach Blossom Hill said...

Great information. I need a small round file. I'm going to print out this info to put in one of my three-ring binders. Thank you for the great tips.


Karin F. said...

George pls do a post on corner clamps. I'll be needing to buy some soon.

Victoria said...

Thank you George for such great post!
Btw, there's an award for you in my blog!:)

The Dangerous Mezzo said...

As always, George, a great post.

I recently received the Sunshine Award for blogging, which asks the winner to nominate six more winners :) Yes, it's a chain award! I chose you ...

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