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More tools - Luthier, jeweler, fly-tying

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Saw Frame 


I have this saw frame, and to say it's an improvement over standard frames is like saying wagyu beef burgers are an improvement over 1960s school cafeteria burgers. It's much, much lighter. With the cam saw tensioner, it's way faster to change blades and tensioning them doesn't require jamming some pointy steel corner on a normal saw frame into your hand.




Also if you don't buy real jeweler's saw frame blades, do so immediately. They're not expensive (~$20 for 144) and are an order of magnitude better than ones you get in hobby stores.
Nakanishi Brushless Micromotors
Like the flex shaft was a step up over standard Dremel, these are a major step up from any Dremel or Foredom rotary tool. I have the previous model, and it is so smooth and quiet that it has to be turning >10k before I can even hear it or feel it while holding the tool. They're just outstanding tools, making any rotary task easy and fun. They're hiding pricing for some reason, the basic kit of control unit and standard handset should be around $600.
Nut Files
These are unfortunately only available in a few fixed sizes, but if the sizes work for you, they're the perfect tool for creating ad-hoc precies grooves, they are specifically designed to create exact size, perfectly smooth grooves with no further processing - the grooves they are intended for are at the top of the neck of stringed instruments, and if they're not perfect bad things happen.
You can find them at Stew-Mac, LMI, or other luthier supply places.
Hackle Pliers (clamps)
These are used by fly-tiers to hold onto rooster neck feathers (hackle feathers) to wrap them around dry flies, they simulate legs. From a ship modeling standpoint, they are excellent little clamps that come in a number of styles with clamping strength from medium to pretty serious squishing.
The style of the ones to the top left are quite strong, and generally I use some sort of clamping pad to protect the work. The ones lower right are not so strong, and with the wider contact area are really excellent for clamping small bits of wood together.
JS Stockard unfortunately doesn't make it possible to isolate them, you have to start here at the list of companies and check out each one. That's not necessarily a bad thing through, because while you're there you should also check out the precision scissors, the thread bobbins, tweezers, and pliers. They're all excellent quality, there is no such thing as crappy fly-tying tools, at least not from any mainstream manufacturer.
And also my understanding is that fly-tying thread is the #1 choice of some of the better very small scale builders (bottle ships and the like).
Edited by vossiewulf
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Trying to do an inventory of my stuff, coming up with a few more.


First anyone serious should spend some time here, jewelers have a phenomenal assortment of abrasive solutions, particularly for small/hard to reach places. I haven't yet tried the ceramic polishing tools listed on this page yet, but those look really promising:






One type I use regularly are these, the flexacrylic rods mounted in my rotary tool. They are easily shaped into points and rounded tips by running them against a piece of sandpaper.




I also have several types of silicon polishing wheels and points, they are like hard pencil erasers with grit embedded. These are really excellent for cleaning up carvings, those of you doing serious stern decoration and figurehead carving should have these in your arsenal. Several manufacturers listed on this page. The ones I like best for small areas are the Italian 3mm points.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Another one, grab this wax, it's advertised as what the British Museum uses to protect its collection. I use it constantly as it's as easy to use as paste wax, but has no silicone like most paste waxes that can contaminate your woodworking area and ruin every finish you do for the rest of your life. 


I use it to protect steel, for plane bottoms and anything else that needs to be slippery, and both over finishes and as the sole finish. I've been totally happy with every application. Only downside is strong thinner smell, so you need ventilation if you're covering big areas.




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These ceramic fibre files sound interesting (put rather pricey) and I have not been aware of them. They say that they don't break easily, but I would be so sure about this for say a 0.5 mm x 0.5 mm file. Have to look into this for my filing machine.


Here are the relevant Vallorbe-catalogues on files etc. for downloading. They don't give prices, but show the full programme:








In addition to the japanese slot-files mentioned above, you may also want to have a look at joint- or screw-head slot-files as used by watchmakers. They are in the first catalogue above, but can be obtained from other manufacturers as well.


I also found a lot of useful abrasive tools at the dental technicians' supply houses.

Edited by wefalck
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Thanks Welfack for the GV links. 


For the broader goup, all of my needle/riffler files are either Grobet or Gardon-Vallorbe. I can't recommend them enough, all I can say is the performance differential between these and hobby store versions easily justifies the cost, and they'll become tools that someone is going to have to pry from your cold dead hands if they want them.

Edited by vossiewulf
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Couple more...


Best tack cloth I have found. 


1. Lasts forever as long as sealed in plastic bag.

2. Reusable many many times.

3. Most important, leaves no nasty sticky residue on hands or work.




This filler putty is made for plastic modelers and is not appropriate for filling large areas, but it's one I still use often on wood. It's:


1. Very very smooth.

2. Does not stick to fingers and spatulas nearly as much as say Elmer's or Famo.

3. Dries at least as fast as Elmer's/Famo.

4. Water cleanup.



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My dad worked on Canadian military jets during his career in the RCAF.  With jets, most if not all nuts/bolts had a securing wire twisted on to them to ensure they don't unscrew similar to the picture below.




This tool was made to do just that.  The pliers clamp on to the wire and by pulling the screw thread, they turned the pliers thereby twisting the wire.  I figure they will be invaluable when I make my own eye bolts.  I haven't figured out yet but I'm sure they will have a lot more uses in the model building world.



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Can't really pass by without adding to the thread. Plastic modellers will know these, work just as well on thin metal as they do on plasticard, perfect holes or perfect disks time after time. Not cheap, but when you use them, you know it is a quality set of punches.






First used mine to do a super-detailed cockpit on a 1/32 FW-190A-8 back in like 1991. They work very well, just has limited sizes. If you look on Otto Frei there are  punch sets with a wider range of sizes, but they're also pretty expensive.

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My dad worked on Canadian military jets during his career in the RCAF.  With jets, most if not all nuts/bolts had a securing wire twisted on to them to ensure they don't unscrew similar to the picture below.


This tool was made to do just that.  The pliers clamp on to the wire and by pulling the screw thread, they turned the pliers thereby twisting the wire.  I figure they will be invaluable when I make my own eye bolts.  I haven't figured out yet but I'm sure they will have a lot more uses in the model building world.




Interesting Derek, scaled down yes that looks like it could do a number of useful things.

Edited by vossiewulf
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This is made for watchmakers, so it's quite sticky but leaves nothing of itself behind. People figured out that would make it also useful for cleaning rotary burs and files, and now also sells for that purpose. It doesn't replace a file card for big files or a fine brass brush for needle files, but used together they will make your files and burs look brand new. I use it whenever I stop to do a deep cleaning on a file, you can squash a needle file into it and pull it out without a speck of the sticky stuff remaining on the file. It's kind of creepy that it's as sticky as it is and yet leaves a total clean surface. Probably lots of other uses for it too.


(Link to its listing on Otto Frei)





(Link to StewMac listing. They're not cheap, this one is about $30, but they have a mini one at $24 that might be a better ship use option)


This is another scraper, one favored by luthiers. It comes from the "heavy" school of scrapers and hence requires a very different and light touch, with these you mostly let its own weight put on the required pressure. And it's got a good selection of straight sections and curves which would make it a one-stop-shop for scraping hull planks level. I couldn't find mine when I was scraping down first layer of planking on my LN, but I will be using it on the final boxwood planking- very good quick way to level planking without the risks associated with planes.





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Thanks for the link about the scraper, very interesting video, I have some 1/8th x 2" tool steel plate so might give something like this a try. the steel he is using looks to be about 3/16th thick.

The card type (as he calls them) do get quite warm on the finger tips and he is correct when he states that it takes a while to learn how to sharpen them properly.



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Welcome Michael. However the one I have seems fully hardened and it would seem to need to be, so you'd need to be able to heat treat or have someone do it for you. Also if you want some special shapes, contact Ron Hock at Hock Tools, he will usually do things like this for what I consider very reasonable prices (like my knife blade was $20).

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Another one I should have remembered, anyone who prefers PVA should try this. First, it's high quality PVA designed to hold together guitars that live under pretty significant stresses for decades. But that's not the super spiffy part, this also has an invisible dye that becomes visible under black/UV lighting. Guitar makers can't afford a single spot of glue anywhere, and someone at some point had this great idea and it's in common use by luthiers now. All you need is a UV light handy, and you'll never have a stained finish ruined by a spot of glue you couldn't see.


I've never tested, but it's supposed to be fully repairable with joints separating at 190 degrees.


LMI PVA Instrument Glue


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On 3/9/2017 at 3:35 PM, Landlocked123 said:

Hi Vossie,


That's a very interesting shape they came up with to show off the the blue putty. 😊😊😊🤔


LOL. I took it out and it looked exactly like a blue turd. So I tried some de-turdifying squishes before taking the pic, not noticing that I'd actually made it worse :)

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Meant to report back here. Yes, these magnets are going to work quite well as clamps, in fact by lucky guessing I think one of the two sizes is about the perfect one for ship modeling applications (1/4" x .100", 6.35mm x 2.54mm) .


These, with just two on each side, easily put enough pressure on this keel to clamp the crap out of a plank. In fact if we go any larger in size I would guess you'd have more problems handling them and having them cause damage to the piece and that would outweigh the extra pull advantage.


I'm going to glue them together and give them a small wooden handle and put them with my clamps, these are going to be handy. NOT recommended for small kids, not at all toys, very aggressive and will leap through the air or make other things do so.



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Another place to look for good precision tools is surgical tools, particularly micro surgery of various types (duh). However, if it's cheap, it's cheap. The good ones cost, but buy something from V. Mueller or Jarit or Storz and you're getting things that can't be improved and do what they're supposed to do so well you can get distracted just playing around with them.


I've bought a few things from this guy on EBay, he seems to have good prices and also sells used (fully sterilized) tools at good prices. At least I haven't caught anything from mine so far. That's the micro section, also look at the general surgical tools section. And dental too for that matter, we should cover dental probes :)


Some examples...


This is a Jarit-made Yasargill needle holder and is about 8" long. I want it but it's $100. Rationalizations > $50 for a tool like this start to become very tricky for me but I'm working on improving my ability to rationalize.


Spencer type suture scissors that grab what they're cutting.




Castroviejo type, non-locking. Most of these that we'd call tweezers are forceps and most come in locking and non-locking versions. Although locking sounds theoretically interesting I find they always lock when I don't want them to and vice versa. So I avoid locking versions or remove the locking mechanism.




You can't have this one, I just bought it. It's a Storz Blair-type palate hook. I don't want to know what it really does. It was $15 and has a nice hefty stainless steel handle.




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My father was a trained medical doctor (though he never practiced) and a few of his student-time 'tools' were in his tool-box, so that I have been aware of the various types of surgical instruments, such as forceps, needle-holders, pincettes, scalpels, bone-chisels, etc., early on. Now, I have fool complement in my tool-chest. Later in life I became aware of the instruments for micro-surgery (e.g. eye-surgery), such as sprung micro-scissors, and acquired a few.

As my mother trained as biologist, I have also been aware of biological preparation instruments, such as cutting needles and micro-scalpels.

At hobby- and model-fairs and -shows here in Europe there is often a stall with surplus surgical instruments, where you can actually look at them before buying. They are 'seconds', that did not meet the quality standards of the manufacturer, but can be good enough for our puposes.

Various surgical instruments (particularly also disposable scalpel blades) are sold sealed and sterilised. The seal has a certain 'best-before-date', after which the instruments are not considered sterile anymore. Such 'expired' stock is often sold cheap, as it would be too expensive to repack and re-sterilise the items. They are of course new and only not sterile from a medical point of view.

I would be cautious of buying pincettes and micro-scissors over the Internet, as the quality of their tips/shears is crucial for their functionality. Here I would rather spend a bit more and go to reputed manufacturers.


And yes, for some instruments you better don't imagine what they are being used for (or what they have been used for in the case of the anatomical instruments of my father ...)

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Wefalck, being cautious buying over the intertubes is always a good idea, it's 100% caveat emptor out there. But this particular company has been around for almost 20 years, seems to have a very good EBay reputation, and I've bought a few things and they seem to be what I paid for. That's why I posted it here. Not that I can make any guarantees, of course, but if someone is interested in trying some surgical tools they could do a whole lot worse than buying from these people.

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This is a supplier some people already know about, but it's one everyone should know about: RB Productions, home of micro-tool mad scientist Radu Brinzan. He's the guy who was first to realize you could make actual tools with photo-etching, he started with his scribe-R, then moved on to saws and other tools. Other companies including the inevitable Chinese but also large model companies have started copying his tools, make sure you give those bastards the finger by buying from Radu directly. I have quite a few of his tools and use them daily in the shop and I've never been disappointed.


The scribers can be useful for very fine cut marks, but its primary use is for plastic modelers, they are extremely good panel line scribers.




He has a new take on his scriber though with the Scribe-R-File, which has tools lined with teeth so fine that I have a hard time seeing them under a 10x loupe. They're basically .003" files and can draw very fine and clean lines in anything but hardened steel.




But the most useful tools are the saws, .003" thick so tiny amounts of material are being removed and in combination with very sharp teeth, means they cut through wood strip with extreme ease and (especially the pico saws) leave a surface that looks polished.


The "coarse" blades are 40tpi.


The Micros are 56tpi.


Nanos are 76tpi.


And the Picos, my favorites, are 120tpi.


Probably the coolest though is the bucksaw. I had my doubts when I ordered it but as long as you use it as intended (let the blade do the work) and don't go all caveman on it, it works extremely well and can obviously handle much thicker material than the saws above.


Three blade heights, all 56tpi.


Last saw is like a razor blade with a little folded holder, and it comes with the same tpi options as above including 120tpi. Although it works well also, I've found this one to be the most fragile. With any of the saws, not just these, all it takes is jamming them in a cut once and they'll get bent and it's nearly impossible to remove said bends. This one is most prone as the edge, especially offset, is the least supported.



These are what I use for glue in tight places. They get pretty gnarly looking but will last a long time and stand up to having dried glue stripped off them repeatedly, and if you have someplace you want to put glue and a .003" piece of steel shim can't fit, you need to stop what you're doing because you're doing it wrong :)




These sanders for PSA paper are a fundamentally good idea but in my opinion this is a case where he needs to go with thicker material. If these were made of say .015" full hard shim steel they'd be genius. However on the plus side, these are easily bendable so I have some anyway because careful bending can allow you to sand in some crazy inaccessible places. If you're not restoring something and have to do that kind of sanding it's a good guess you didn't think a plan through very well, but still nice to have these to save the day when we decide to do something stupid.


As it is I keep trying to remember to order some shim steel in various thicknesses and making my own, perfect for finish sanding of gunports and the like if they had the right springiness. Or you can buy some cut 8 needle files, that works too. In fact I'm going to order some now. Six inches by 100", gosh I wonder if that's enough.


I like VME, have used them for years, they have some good deals and are honest. I just bought a 0-1" NSK micrometer that was labeled Draper and as such was about 50% of an NSK branded one. After having it in my hands I'm sure it's NSK, and I've saved considerable money over the years with deals like that and have never felt I didn't receive the item I purchased. Also, their own branded tools are inexpensive but really hard to complain about, you could do much worse than buying a VME-branded 0-1" .0001" accuracy outside micrometer, and it's all of $11.









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Thanks for reminding us of the RB products. Meant to look into them, as I am increasingly use Plexiglas, bakelite and styrene for my projects.


Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, before the Chinese began to flood the market directly via ebay, I did buy a few times at VME. Friendly people and good quality. When I happened to be in the USA on business, I had stuff delivered to my hotel. Working for the UN, importing stuff into the EU was also relatively hazzle-free and the US Postoffice offered a 'surface' service that was reasonably priced (but you had to wait for one or two months, which didn't really bother me). Now there is only airmail at ridiculous prices, which makes buying from the USA very uncompetitive. Sorry for the US trade, but the Chinese seem to be able to ship stuff for next to nothing.


While browsing the dentists' and dental technicians' arsenals, I recently came across a couple of interesting tools:


- so-called separation strips. These are used to file the sides of teeth or false teeth. They are abrasive material of various grades on a backing of either Mylar or stainless steel. For the time being I got some Mylar ones, which I bought to make sanders for my filing machine and the micro hand-sander I built. I have not being able to identify an on-line source for the steel-backed ones. One may need to buy directly from the manufacturers: http://www.horico.de/en/neuigkeiten/2-uncategorised/91-alle-streifen.html. The Mylar-strips are about 5 mm wide, while the steel ones come in width down to 3 mm. As you can see in the link, Horico also makes fine-toothed steel-strips, i.e. saws.


This is how the Mylar-backed are sold and they work very well:s-l1600.jpg


- There is also one provider for something like a miniature hacksaw that uses the above steel sawblades or abrasive strips: http://www.ebay.de/itm/172605444198?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT.


I have not seen this on offer somewhere else and this offer appears to be rather pricey. Haven't tried this yet.


- Flexible abrasive and polishing discs:



These are quite aggressive and seem to last a while. I have used them as micro surface-grinding discs on my micro milling-machine.


I should take some pictures of other tools and materials in my chest from the medical/dental realm ...


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Anyone ever tried an ultrasonic cutter? I see no reason why this wouldn't work as well on wood as it does on thick leather in the video on this product page. It's quite expensive but may be something I put on my long-term queue, I own the NSK Emax Evolution micromotor and know that the expense is very much reflected in the quality and sturdiness of the end product.

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