Snow day! What better time to tackle that car model you got for Christmas, or that old railroad set you had as a kid, or your old clock collection and see what you can get running?
Well, clear the table, gather your tools, and get busy! Here are some basic tools that are good for every tabletop project.
Coffee stirrers, tongue depressors, and dowels make good props and stands for assembly or repair. Parts can be propped to ensure adhesives and finishes are allowed to completely dry. Flat sticks are also great low-cost stirrers and spreaders for adhesives and modeling materials.
Wood is also an excellent shim material. When clamping pieces in a vise for better control, be sure to cushion delicate parts with a flat stick to protect them from unwanted marks. And wood is not conductive, so any work that involves repairs to electronic components is safe.
Model railroaders and diorama artists find certain wood items, such as applicator sticks and cuticle sticks, to be reasonable replica dimensions for landscape and industrial modeling. Small wood pieces cut from these items can complete a repair where the original material has been damaged or lost.
Cuticle sticks burnish to flatten and smooth foils and sheet metals into the desired effect. Working with moldable materials, basic old sticks bring authenticity to a diorama or layout, or allow you to repair a treasured collectible.
Consider these recommended products:
- 7” Wooden Cuticle/Orange Stick With Double Beveled Ends
- 4.5” Infant Wood Tongue Depressor
- Brightwood 6” Standard Wood Flat Stir Stick/Tongue Depressor
- 5” Standard Polyester Swab With Polystyrene Handle
- Hospital 6” Wooden Applicator Stick
- 12” Wooden Applicator Stick
Also known as swabs, applicators are essentially soft tip material attached to the end of a stick. The tip material can be spun fiber such as cotton, foam, or fabric; the stick can be wood, plastic or metal wire.
Applicators are good for applying adhesives, especially in small amounts. They're also perfect for painting applications—broad tips for larger areas, fine tips for detailing. Replica finishes, such as weathering effects, water surfaces, textures of wood and rock can be achieved with the use of the right swab. Very fine tips can be used to draw fine lines through with paint, to depict the damage of combat or add pinstriping to a classic auto.
The flat face of the broad swab can be used to “paint” an impact point on a surface. Placement of decals is easy with a foam-tipped applicator—no wrinkles or tears, no adhesive left behind to spoil the finish, just a perfect application.
Also in this family of products is the cytology brush, which is easy to handle. It can add detail and is a great cleaning device. Need a puff of smoke or steam to complete the effect? Pull some fiber from a cotton or rayon tip and then securely place it in a setting.
Consider these recommended products:
- 6” Standard Cotton Swab With Wooden Handle
- 6” Tapered Mini-tip Cotton Swab With Wooden Handle
- 8” Oversized Rayon OB/GYN Swab With Paper Handle
- 3” Lint Free Double-Ended Micro Pointed Cotton Tipped Swab With Fine Paper Handle
- 5” Rectangular Foam Swab With Polypropylene Handle
- 3” Small Knitted Polyester Swab With Delrin (Acetal) Handle
- 4” Self-Saturating Isopropyl Alcohol Foam Swab With Polypropylene Handle
- CerviSoft® 7” Sterile Foam Cytology Collection Swab With Polystyrene Handle
Serious modelers and artisans don't take cleanup lightly. Wire-shaft swabs make great tools for cleaning an airbrush. The 91% IPA-filled popule cleans away oil and adhesive. Fiber or foam tips and pointed sticks can be put to good use cleaning up the finished piece to perfection.
The items mentioned are not just for hobbyists, they are truly commercial tools. Graphic artists, art conservators, archaeologists, curators, collectors, professional modelers all employ these simple tools. So don’t let this year's snow days go to waste—grab your tools and get busy.