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Author Topic: Recommended Tools?  (Read 1957 times)
Anarchy97
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« on: June 18, 2012, 11:26:15 pm »

I'm fifteen years old, and am currently on summer vacation. I'm more of an introvert when it comes to social situations, and so I've spent my summer thus far researching things to do. I somehow came to the conclusion that I wanted to build something. After searching through the inscrutables website for several hours I noticed steam punk lamps came up quite a bit. Having never heard of steampunk before, I decided to look it up. I instantly fell in love. For the past week I have been looking up pictures and creating my own ideas. I was wondering what recommended tools (and seeing as how I have no real idea what I'm doing, what those tools do) anyone might have? Please let me know. I'm eager to start.
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HR
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2012, 11:36:10 pm »

It depends on the materials you intend to work in, but the basics are something to cut with (saw, knife, scissors, snips etc), something to make holes with (drill, punch, awl etc)  and something to join it together (glue, rivets, solder, stitch, weld etc). Give us an idea of your intentions and we can be more specific.
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trampledbygeese
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2012, 12:04:48 am »

Welcome to Steampunk.

I would say, if you can afford it, get a Dremel rotary tool.  Although, this might be a bit of an investment for you just now.  This is the one electirc tool I use the most in the lab workshop.

A good set of screwdrivers and a comfortable hammer are next on my list of must haves.

You can often find hammers, pliers, wire cutters, rivet guns, and no end of other hand tools at yard sales for next to nothing.  Most of these need a little bit of love however.  By fixing your tools you acquire skills that you can later use on your projects.  Sometimes, you can sell your repaired tools for quite a profit (hint, antique shops).

What kinds of materials are you thinking on working with?  What sorts of things would you like to make?  It's usually best to pick a project then seek out the tools.
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Anarchy97
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2012, 12:09:27 am »

Well obviously a must have for any steampunk is a neat pair of goggles, Some basic leather and brass is what I figured I would start with, then once I got better into I would get into the steel and other materials. What's the difference between a soldering and welding?
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von Corax
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2012, 06:20:05 am »

Second the recommendation on the Dremel. Infinitely useful tool. A few weeks ago my father was struggling with a mangled cotter pin on the tractor, and I was able to say "Waitaminnit! I have just the thing!"

Well obviously a must have for any steampunk is a neat pair of goggles, Some basic leather and brass is what I figured I would start with, then once I got better into I would get into the steel and other materials.
If you're doing anything with power tools, your first investment should be a good-quality pair of non-steampunked safety goggles. You can steam up your second pair.

What's the difference between a soldering and welding?
Mostly temperature. When you weld, you're actually melting the edges of the workpiece, and then adding some extra molten metal (usually the same material as the workpiece) to fill in the gaps. With soldering, it's only the filler material that melts, and the filler is a different metal from the workpiece (lead/tin, tin/antimony or pure tin are common, and can solder copper, brass or steel.)

I'd suggest waiting to learn to weld until you're a few years older and can pay for the courses yourself, unless you have a friend/relative who's certified and is willing to teach you. (You're not actually too young to learn; it's just that it can be expensive.)

For soldering, you'll need to figure out what sort of work you want to do, and what scale you'll be working in. For electronics, a really good quality, adjustable 50 watt iron is indispensable. (If you pay less than $50 or so for a soldering iron, you've paid far too much.) Stained-glass artists typically use irons in the 80-100 watt range, and for plumbing or structural soldering you'll want a butane or propane torch of an appropriate size.

Hope that's of some use to you.

Regards,
Prof. Darwin Prætorius von Corax
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Anarchy97
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2012, 07:03:41 am »

Well thank you, I appreciate everyone's advice. To my luck, my stepfather is a mechanic who is currently building his own motorcycle, so I'm sure I could pick a few things up from him... The help is much appreciated, and I am looking forward to job searching for the summer. So cost will hopefully not be too much of an issue.
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HR
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2012, 01:41:46 pm »

Helping a (patient) relative or friend on a project is probably the best way to start and if you could find a summer job with someone who actually makes things you will be on to a winner.
A dremmel would be a usefull tool as it is very versatile, if you do get one just get some waste materials like old bits of wood or plastic or even old tin cans and have a play with it  (drill holes, cut it, use the bur on it etc.) you will learn a lot and it wont matter if you make a hash of things.
If you can find copper pipe of the right diameter for goggles (I use 45mm pipe) then the hard part is already done and you can let your creative side lose on them.
Good luck
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trampledbygeese
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2012, 05:53:23 pm »

I'm learning to solder this week too.  I have someone to teach me, but I'm curious, what sort of safety equipment should I have?  Safety goggles and...?

I'm soldering brass and copper (mostly brass).  Hopefully this won't be too difficult.  Any tips?
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Narsil
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2012, 07:30:57 pm »


There are three key things for successful soldering

The first is joint preparation.

-Generally there needs to be a small gap between the two pieces to be joined into which the solder can flow, but it does need to be small, no more than the thickness of a sheet of printer paper,  solder is not good at filling big gaps. Ideally joints should have as wide a surface area of overlap as possible and need to be securely supported during soldering. 

-Soldered joints need to be clean, the cleaner the better. Any dirt grease, oil or metal oxides on the surface will impede the flow of the solder and weaken the joint. Joints can be cleaned with wire wool or emery paper. Note that flux is not a substitute for cleaning.

Secondly is control of temperature.

The temptation is to melt the solder and blob it onto the joint like hot glue, this will not work at all well. The whole joint needs to be heated to the appropriate temperature before any solder is applied. Solder will only flow and stick properly if the metal is hotter than the melting point of the solder. If you are doing it right you shouldn't need to heat the solder directly at all, the work should be hot enough to melt it.

Having said that avoid getting the work too hot. Overheating can burn off the flux and cause the solder to oxidise, or even melt the work. Judging the correct temperature for any given job comes with practice and patience.

Thirdly is selecting the correct solder and flux for the job. There are many different types and grades of solder available. In general terms higher temperature solders will be stronger. 'Soft' solders are based on lead or tin and are fine for joints which are inherently quite stable and mostly just need sealing eg joints in copper pipe. More highly stressed joints will require a stronger solder. Depending on the application matching the colour of the base metal may also be a consideration.


In terms of tools its always tricky to provide definitive reccomendations, but if you are working with sheet copper and brass I would say that the following will always be useful:

-Steel ruler
-Scriber
-Callipers / dividers
-Centre punch and dot punch
-Engineers square
-Small ball pien hammer
-Long nose pliers
-A bench vise
-Sheet metal snips
-Jewellers saw
-A set of good quality needle files
-Some good quality engineers files (flat, half round and round 8" size in second cut are a good start)
-emery / wet and dry  paper in various grades
-A hand or battery operated drill (old style drill braces are actually really good)
-A tool box
-Various clamps - clamps are one of the few tools where quantity sometimes outweights quality, it's often good to have a load of cheap ones and a few decent ones. You can never have too many clamps; g-clamps , spring clamps, f-clamps, vice grip pliers, bits of wire and scrap metal and wood...all haev their uses.

For soldering

-Hard and soft solder and appropriate fluxes
-A few soft fire bricks
-A gas torch (the disposable cartridge types are cheaper to buy initially but a torch  that you can connect to a propane tank is much more economical to run in the long term)
-Soft iron wire for securing joints
-Reverse action tweezers

Overall its almost always better to start with a few good quality hand tools rather than try to get a load of cheap power tools. The basics like files, hammers and saws can last a lifetime and it usually works out cheaper in the long run to buy quality. Beware of gimicky plastic tools.
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Professor J. Cogsworthy
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« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2012, 07:15:41 pm »

rubber bands
cheap paint brushes


avoid tools designed to do multiple things. I find tools like that do none of the tasks
they are supposed to be able to well as even a cheap version of the tool.
(GOOD multi-tools are a rare exception, but you have to pay for a good multi-tool
The cheap ones are only good at pinching fingers and being paperweights. )
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2012, 02:37:39 am »

For any tool get the very best your budget will handle. Nothing is worse than trying to do a job with a crappy tool.  Price isn't always an indicator of quality either. For major brand stuff you are paying the sellers advertising budget as well as for the tool.  Example: I use a LOT of mechanics tools having been involved in street rodding some years back. Snap On is beautiful. SK has just as good a warranty they just aren't as pretty.  SK tools cost FAR less. A big plus when getting started.
The list Narsil gives is an excellent one.  As everyone else notes. Personal Safety Equipment is a must. As a blacksmith I can tell you that a wee bit of metal in the eye will result in absolute agony and a trip to the ER.
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2012, 12:40:07 pm »

Since I forgot....Keep your cheap paint brushes separate from your good paint brushes.


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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2012, 02:52:46 am »

And clean them properly. My late father, God bless him,  treated paintbrushes as disposables.

The thing I haven't seen mentioned so far is a workbench. I have the folding kind which also serves as  a vise and is wonderfully useful as well as being portable! Although as generations of Indian village craftsmen have demonstrated, properly positioned feet can also hold a workpiece almost as well as a vise.
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« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2012, 01:53:26 pm »

The workmate folding bench or any of the better knock offs are excellent for a portable bench if you lack room for a permanent one. If you do have room to go permanent then go with something stout.  It's frustrating to chase a bench around the shop while working on a project.
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« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2012, 02:08:02 pm »

My thrupence worth: If you are learning to solder, get a damp sponge for cleaning crud off the tip, and a solder sucker is also a really good idea.

A stand for the soldering iron is also a very good plan - those curly ones are particularly good if they have a sturdy base.
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« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2012, 06:33:37 pm »

If you are learning to solder, get a damp sponge for cleaning crud off the tip…

Even better, if you can find it, is a copper or brass pot-scrubber, as it doesn't chill the tip the way a wet sponge does. Somebody (might have been Weller) sells one specifically for the purpose.

Also, be absolutely sure that your iron's tip is removeable (if it isn't, you're paying too much for it) and that replacement tips are readily available, because the tip will wear out.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2012, 06:37:47 pm by von Corax » Logged
Uncle Arthur
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« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2012, 05:26:26 pm »

Having worked in electronics a number of years back I can attest to the wear and tear on soldering tips. Radio Shack used to handle a decent iron with interchangeable tips at a reasonable price. Been years since I bought mine and near as long since I used it. They may or may not still sell them.
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« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2012, 11:51:13 pm »

I'd hazard a guess that the best tool by far is an overactive imagination, all of the tools listed above are of value but as far as my contribution to the list:

Overalls, heavy leather apron, steel toecapped boots, eye protection, ear defenders and gloves - especially for the "heavy"* projects.

*ie anything involving machine tools (drills, sanders, planers, grinders, lathes, mills) or hot metal etc.

I'd say its more important to protect yourself against any possible sort of injury! - but there again I'm currently working in an industry that is becoming more and more conscious of the risks to life and limb - when steel and heavy plant equipment bite you - the results can be messy!!
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« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2012, 11:34:43 pm »

One thing with the steel toe boots... When you're working with really heavy stuff be careful. Steel toes can bend and then they really pinch you're toes! (not good)
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von Corax
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« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2012, 03:08:48 am »

One thing with the steel toe boots... When you're working with really heavy stuff be careful. Steel toes can bend and then they really pinch you're toes! (not good)

Actually, it's still good. Without steel toes, the worst case is that your toes are crushed. With toe caps, they get neatly sliced off, so they're much easier to reattach.
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« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2012, 06:03:38 pm »

Something else to think about when buying tools is the running costs, particularly things which are heavy on consumables like abrasives and blades. 

Before you buy anything its good to check out how widely available spares and consumables are and whether you can find a good price on them. Be praticulalry wary of things which use non-standard consumables which are only available from one source as you have not control over the price and supply in the future. Generally better quality stuff will use standard consumables which are widely available. You can often save a huge amount of money by shopping around for abrasives etc since this is often where the big name retailers make their money.

The price of 4.5" zirconium flap disks, for example can vary between £5 and £2 each

edit I just checked B&Q prices for flap disks and they are £12 each, which is crazy, mind you the combination of Bosch and B&Q was always likely to be hilariously overpriced.
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« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2012, 01:00:28 pm »

Question from a new entrant in the 'tactile' field.

Further to the previous comments in relation to the Dremel.

Does anyone know if there's a Dremel 'Complete' kit, should cost not be an issue in my particular case. I've done some searches but keep coming up with Dremel 'alternatives' by other companies which I have no idea whether to consider or information on quality.

And with regards to basic soldering. Is there such a thing as some kind of 'beginners' kit for someone who will be starting at home in a spare room as opposed to working from a workshop / garage / shed?

Thanks.
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« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2012, 03:52:08 pm »

I'm far from an expert, but what I've seen is Dremel makes 'something' kits, like 'wood-working' kits, 'glass-working' kits, etc. The closest to a 'complete' kit I've seen is 'X pieces set', with X as high as possible, but I think if you have some specific work in mind, best is a simple 100-piece set + the specific-field-you-want set.
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Narsil
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« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2012, 06:16:33 pm »

Question from a new entrant in the 'tactile' field.

Further to the previous comments in relation to the Dremel.

Does anyone know if there's a Dremel 'Complete' kit, should cost not be an issue in my particular case. I've done some searches but keep coming up with Dremel 'alternatives' by other companies which I have no idea whether to consider or information on quality.

And with regards to basic soldering. Is there such a thing as some kind of 'beginners' kit for someone who will be starting at home in a spare room as opposed to working from a workshop / garage / shed?

Thanks.

Personally I'm not a massive fan of dremel type tools, there's very little that they do which can't be done as well or better with hand tools.

If by soldering you mean jewellery/fabrication soldering as opposed to electrical then the basics for small to medium stuff are :

-silver solder (available with various melting points)
- a gas torch, ideally with different sized nozzles for different jobs, it is absolutely essential that the torch is powerful enough for the size of work you are attempting.
- flux, borax is fine for coper, brass and precious metal, other metals may require different fluxes
- A few soft and hard fire-bricks for insulation
-emery paper or similar abrasives for surface cleaning
-alcohol for degreasing
-Clamps, reverse action tweezers, wire etc for holding work together

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« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2012, 12:48:12 am »

Don't listen to these crazy, Dremmel obsessed, fools!!

As a newcomer  to the field, find yourself a model kit or a low cost constructor set that you can mess about with to find out some basics of the business of making.

Diving in with a lot of tools and materials is a good way to become disillusioned, disappointed and poor.

Start with something that has an element of re-usability, so you can strip it down and try something else, and which, also, won't break the bank.

Lego, Mechano, K'nex.

That sort of stuff.

Welcome to BG.

p.s. Look about you for things that can be assembled into a pleasing piece without tools. A good eye for shape and form will serve you better in the long run than any number of tools.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2012, 12:56:27 am by Dr cornelius quack » Logged

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