Posts Tagged ‘plastic


Makin’ Things to Make Things

For several years now, I’ve been using a small tool that I built. Originally, I just wanted something I could use to apply small amounts of glue to things, without constantly replacing a toothpick. I had a push-pin, that was falling apart, from being heated up over a candle, to melt plastic with the tip. I took the metal bit out of the push pin, and jammed it into a piece of plastic tube. Eventually, I glued a length of brass rod into the other end of the tube, and filled the end into something of a chisel. It was perfect for reaming out holes to accept that size rod, for hinges or reinforcement. Another, larger piece of tube was glued on over the original, to provide an easier to hold handle. This eventually gave way to a second tool, made from a single piece of brass, with both ends filed; one into a tapered tip, the other into a chisel. That second tool served me well for quite some time, but the plastic was beginning to fall apart, and I eventually put an irreparable kink in the long end of the brass. It was replaced by a slightly longer duplicate.


Now, this tool gets used quite a bit, possibly more than any of my other tools. The short pointed end gets used for applying small amounts of glue or oil to various projects, and for putting model putty just where I need it and smoothing it out. The chisel end has been great for carving out narrow trenches in plastic, when I need a slot. But, brass bends easily, and doesn’t hold an edge well. I prefer the tapered end to be somewhat blunt, but the chisel end is effectively a cutting tool. I’d been wanting to make one with a harder central shaft. (Oh gods, the search hits that phrase is going to get me….)


Anyway, I was using some of the larger size of piano wire I keep around on a project. I’d ruled this out for making a tool out of, because I thought it was too narrow. While it is narrower than the brass I’ve been using, it actually fit very well into the small styrene tube I use. With the brass, I always had to bore the tube out just a little bit to fit. This is not as easy as it sounds. At least, not with the tools I have on hand. The piano wire filed easily enough, and readily took on a much sharper edge, than the brass ever would. In fact, the tapered end is a bit sharper than I’d like. I’ve already had a chance to use this new tool on a couple of projects, with different materials. It’s even more useful than the old ones. That sharp chisel end not only digs and cuts much better, but it’s also great at removing burs from soft plastic after I’ve been grinding on them with a moto-tool. The old ones were never very good at that.



From top to bottom, is the original tool (mk.1), the replacement for the second tool (mk.2.1), and the new one, with the piano wire core (mk.3) laying on a one inch grid.



December 2019
« Jul