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Beginner marking tools

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Hi all 

So I’m just starting out my first ever kit. The lady nelson. I’m looking to get some entry level marking tools that would be helpful for my build. 
marking kit planks, making sure bits are square etc. 

if anyone has any recommendations that would be amazing 


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Boy! Is this something that is prone to get into a love me, love my tools sort of zone.


I will just show my most often go-to basic tools for this


First is a 6 inch steel ruler - Imperial and metric.  The ships I model  are Imperial based, but metric is easier to subdivide a distance with.

a 3 inch machinist's square10117_R-1.jpg.2a4ef036447538b1a60519c586f476b7.jpg

a technical lead pen  61VdRc0p3gL._AC_SL1500_.thumb.jpg.c84eed5d637216d775d50aab654c5fb9.jpgwith soft lead 2mm insert  41sJ6hnN24L._AC_.jpg.97e328bd5a434b34e9aa771cbbbb4153.jpg and a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to keep a ~60 degree wedge instead of a circular point.


Old time woodworkers seem to prefer a knife mark  and a violin makers knife like this 3mm 161302.0.thumb.jpg.34b78d3fa862632282f8b7ced5391bd1.jpg

I did not learn about a knife mark  until I was too set in my ways.


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You'll need a compass, too. These are easily sourced on eBay. High quality ones can be had used for pocket change, or you may want to score a classic set of old school drafting instruments if you remember your high school mechanical drawing and geometry classes. (If not, buy a used mechanical (or "technical") drawing high school textbook on line. If you need to mark off fixed distances, like for marking stations on a keel, a compass is the tool to do it. This is one tool where you will appreciate quality. Don't buy one of those cheapo jobs we had in geometry class. Get a proper, solid, compass that holds 2mm compass lead, not one that holds a pencil and has a sloppy joint that's going to move on you. https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Professional-Diameter-Geometry-Precision/dp/B07FWG5SJP/ref=asc_df_B07FWG5SJP?tag=bingshoppinga-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=80882875798513&hvnetw=o&hvqmt=e&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=&hvtargid=pla-4584482455153217&psc=1

 (Check the forum search feature for "drafting instruments" to see discussions of the finer points of these "old school" tools. There are a lot of these instruments floating around these days with CAD having replaced the old "tee square and triangle" draftsmen. The professional quality old time stuff has become quite collectable, as it's quite beautiful and satisfying to use, but can still be found for a fraction of what it cost new... and when they were new, these highly accurate technical instruments weren't cheap. Today's "CAD-sters" may sneer at them, but, hey... they put man on the moon!) 



Marking tools are a lot more effective when used with measurement tools. In terms of modeling measurements, I've long found a good pair of dividers, and/or a set of proportional dividers, essential. (There's a top of the line Keuffel and Esser decimally scalled 10" set of proportional dividers on eBay right now at a very good price: https://www.ebay.com/itm/194401263840?hash=item2d4337e0e0:g:ulkAAOSwKZJg6zF0) Use this forum's search feature to look up "proportional dividers" to learn how these handy devices are useful in modeling. (The measure distances and they translate one distance to any other scale distance you set them to. They also serve as regular dividers for taking up distances.) Find used high quality dividers on eBay under "drafting instruments." (Only buy top quality instruments. Do not buy any instruments made of brass. They are cheap Indian knockoffs and next to useless.)




Also get a caliper. There are lots of options. They come with a sliding rule scale, dial readouts and digital readouts. You'll need these for measuring the thickness of wood, etc. For modeling purposes, you don't need a $500 Starrett special. A $20 one will do just fine.




A good rule, and particularly scale rules, used in conjunction with your dividers, are essential for measuring scale distances and sizes. Architect's rules are handy. They have twelve rules on a single triangular rule, each having a different scale, e.g. 1:1, 1:2, 1;3, 1:4, 1:8, 1:16, etc. These are relatively inexpensive. Really good rules are not much more expensive than the cheap plastic ones and have finer scales. The cheap plastic ones have wider scaling (writing) on them, but are entirely suitable for modeling. Make sure the rule you buy has the scales you want on it. (Inches, halves, quarters, sixteenths, etc.) Laser etched metal scales are preferred, e.g. https://www.amazon.com/Architectural-Laser-Etched-Architects-Draftsman-Engineers/dp/B094ZBWGLV/ref=asc_df_B094ZBWGLV?tag=bingshoppinga-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=80333187610152&hvnetw=o&hvqmt=e&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=&hvtargid=pla-4583932714589816&psc=1









Edited by Bob Cleek
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5 hours ago, Jaager said:

a technical lead pen  61VdRc0p3gL._AC_SL1500_.thumb.jpg.c84eed5d637216d775d50aab654c5fb9.jpgwith soft lead 2mm insert  41sJ6hnN24L._AC_.jpg.97e328bd5a434b34e9aa771cbbbb4153.jpg and a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to keep a ~60


I use technical lead holders as above extensively for drafting and marking. While it's a matter of taste, I suppose, I would consider a 6B or 8B lead way too soft for anything other than making "tick marks." Those grades of lead are very soft. They leave a lot of graphite dust on the work surface, smear easily, and often make a bit mess. (They're just the ticket if you are using pencil lead to mark plank edges to simulate seam stopping, though.) The soft lead doesn't hold a point for long, either. If drawing a 16" line with a soft point, it will wear down as the line is drawn, and the line "weight" (width) will be greater at the end of the line than at the beginning.  I'd say nothing softer than an HB and preferably an H2 grade lead, which is much harder. Harder lead doesn't break as easily, either. 


A chisel-shaped edge on a lead is proper for a compass, but not for a pencil or lead holdler. On a compass, the chisel edge is presented to the surface with its thin edge perpendicular to the line to be drawn, so it leaves a narrow line and wears evenly. On a pencil, a chisel edge will only draw a  relatively consistent weight line as long as the chisel edge is always presented parallel to the line to be drawn. If it's skewed one way or the other, the edge will quickly wear down and leave a heavily weighted (wide) line. 


Technical lead holder points should be sharpened with a "pointer," which creates a very sharp perfectly conical point which can be renewed easily with a "twist of the wrist" circular turn of the holder inserted in the "pointer," which also contains the graphite dust and keeps it from getting everywhere, which is a major problem when using sandpaper. (Which, alas, cannot be avoided when sharpening compass leads.) They're cheap, too.








Old school cast iron desk model of the same device below. Once a common drafting room fixture. Frequently for sale on eBay.





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Here are the tools that I would consider to be the minimum necessary for measuring and marking out:


0DC27BB4-B248-496D-B35F-350BB318CFBD.thumb.jpeg.1b7981cbfb1ef6c9d1fa864a52f5da93.jpegSome comments-


Architect’s scale:  This is marked off in different scales as explained above.  I build my models in feet and inches but I assume something is similar for metric modelers.  While these are not expensive, get one that is easy to read. Unfortunately since there 10 different scales, it is easy to make a mistake by measuring something with the wrong scale.  A spring clip on the scale at least makes you Lay it down correctly.


Metal Ruler:  My Engineering school drafting instructor stressed that Architect’s scales were not straightedges; hence the metal ruler-  Target, $1.00


Square:  I have a couple of Machinists scales like Allan mentioned but if I could only have one square, I like the sliding beam square shown.  In addition to working as a square, it also works as a marking gage.


Dividers:  Get a pair with the bow spring and screw adjustment.  The others with just the friction joint never hold the measurement.


Technical lead holder and pointer.  After seeing others use these, I dug out my old one from Engineering drafting class and bought a pointer for $10 on EBay.  I use 4H lead.  I will never go back to a wooden pencil.


Although I have a digital caliper, I don’t consider it to be essential.  I try use scale. Measurements, either directly from my Architects scale or using the dividers to transfer measurements from the scale to the work.  I use the caliper mostly for measuring drill bit diameters and checking thicknesses of stock.


These tools reflect my personal work habits.  I have tried ideas that others use but didn’t work out for me.  You will develop your own preferences too.



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If your work involves metal, here are two things that I consider to be essential; a scriber and Dykem Layout blue.  Layout blue is painted on a metal surface and layout lines are scribed thru the blued surface.  I’ve tried other things; magic markers, rattle can paint, but nothing comes close to working as well.  I bought a can on Amazon.



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If you'll go to the article database here (https://thenrg.org/resource/articles) there's two relevant topics... The first is "Plans and Research" and the second is "Materials and Tools".  Unless you're like many of us, myself included) and are a toolholic, only buy tools as you need them and as you progress on your modeling.

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3 hours ago, mtaylor said:

Unless you're like many of us, myself included) and are a toolholic, only buy tools as you need them and as you progress on your modeling.

... and when you do buy a tool, buy the best quality tool you can afford. The better tool produces better work and will last longer. You'll save money in the long run that way. 


And never loan a tool unless you don't mind buying another one.

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