Thursday, March 12, 2009

The right tools

It just amazes me what a difference the right tool can make.

I started making miniatures on a lathe around three years ago. I found out real quick I would have to make my own tools to get the really fine details I was after. The mini and micro tools offered for lathe work were just too large for what I had in mind. If the piece I'm working on is less than an 1" in height and only 1/2" wide then beads or coves need to be less than a 1/16" in radius. The smallest beading tool or gouge I could find was an 1/8", twice as big as needed, so I've ended up making most of the tools I use now. I'm a turner by choice but a miniaturist at heart.

I love trying new thing. Something out of my comfort range, but only slightly. I doubt I'll do any food or dolls, there's no wood involved. Unless I wrap polymer clay around a dowel and call it a cake. Nope, not going to happen.

I have had a little success with 1/12 scale miniature weapons IE: guns, knives, lances and a sword. The sword kinda sucked really. Maybe because there was no wood involved in it. My first gun, a Brown Bess, was great fun. It was just for me, to see if I could pull it off. The joy of trying to figure everything out is kinda like putting together a puzzle. It came out pretty good. The second was a British Baker rifle, it's about ten times better. Partly do to the experience from the first and partly do to the pressure of trying to please a customer. I honestly believe some of the new tools I acquired help as well. I recently inherited a master carvers work shop. All the knives any woodworker would need. He had some of the finest blades money could buy. There is a large assortment of mini and micro sculpting gouges and chisels as well. The difference they made in refining the stock definitely shows in the piece. The fact he was a master at his craft shows in the sharpness of the tools. I wish I had taken some of his time and have him teach me how to properly hone an edge. My edges are okay, but his are beyond razor sharp.


  1. I love tools for miniature work! I agree, usually you have to adapt or make them yourself. I just got back from a trip where I bought a set of titanium clippers & some tiny pliers. Soooo excited...

  2. ever see that new yankee workshop show? Norm could make anything, but he had like a half million dollars worth of tools.