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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tools of the Year

Being thrifty, I'm slow to upgrade my hobby tools. When I do open my wallet to make an upgrade, I rely on the reviews and recommendations of my fellow bloggers to help me find the good stuff.  To that noble cause, I've compiled  a list of my favorite tools and upgrades in 2013. The envelope please!  
Daylight Triple Bright Lamp:  This was my top upgrade of the year. The Triple Bright lamp puts out 250W of high-powered wide-area lighting. For painters over 40, you'd be surprised by how quality lighting can improve your painting! The lamp is very adjustable and I angle mine so my minis are top and front lit.  The first time I used it for miniature photography, the quality of my pictures improved. Literally, this lamp is brilliant!
Pro Arte Series 107 Spotter Brush 2/0 and 3/0:  The Pro Arte series is made for miniature painters and it shows.  The point is very short and the effect is like using a micron pen for applying small, precise detail.  I can't find a US distributor at the small sizes but I did find a UK eBay store that ships to the US. I use these for 15mm and 28mm detail work. Since they're not Sable brushes, the tip does curl under heavy use.

Raphael 8404 Kolinsky Sable Brush 0:  In my collection of Kolinsky Sables, the Raphael beats all others by keeping a perfect tip month after month.  It's my go-to brush.

Dremel drill + the 225-01 Flex Shaft:  I've been using a pin drill for years.  Drilling out hundreds of 15mm Xyston hands is grueling and painful work.  This combo lets me drill out a hand in seconds and the flex shaft gives me a smaller, lighter and more precise tool.  I can't believe I took so long to come around to this solution.  It's so good, I could use it for dental work. The Dr. of Brushes will see you now!
Tamjima Grass Tufts:  I used to be a Silflor tuft guy but I like Tamjima's better.  No gluing required. Peel a clump from the backing paper with tweezers and place it directly onto the base.  I keep a variety of heights and colors on hand for all of my basing needs.

Paint Stand: This is actually a nail polish stand but for $22, who cares? It goes together in minutes and holds 78 Vallejo paints comfortably.  Foundry paint pots fit comfortably as well. I have one up and I'm going to get a 2nd for Christmas.  The obsessive compulsive part of me highly approves of this upgrade!
Vallejo Paints: My paint collection needed a refresh and I was looking to make a big paint buy in something other than Vallejos I use. I like Vallejo but with so many choices, I wanted to shake things up by buying a set in a different line.  I did try other paints this year but each came up lacking. After much thought, the hunt ended with me back where I started.  I picked 70 new Model Color Vallejo paints from The War Store and set them up in my new paint stand. 
Robart Hobby Paint Shaker:  At 5000 shakes per minute, even John Henry couldn't beat this machine. Don't forget to buy replacement straps as they do wear out.

Alibris Books: Yes, Amazon is THE online book seller.  For out of print, hard to find and expensive military history books, give Alibris a spin.  They're an online network of independent booksellers. With such a deep inventory, I've locating hard to find titles and occasionally, they come up cheaper than Amazon.

Core Sec Omni-Ruler: Cor Sec is a US company that makes (among other things) measuring stick in 1" segments. Each segment is threaded and colored so you can quickly custom build to any distance you like. I mixed and matched colors to build 2", 4", 6" and 12" sticks. Now that I've been using them, I'd never go back to a plastic ruler!
I'm sure there are many great tools I haven't heard of or thought of yet. I'd love to hear about the ones I missed.  What were your favorite tools this year?

39 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post, Monty, most informative!

    A comprehensive round-up of useful items the discerning hobbyist should have on his or her workbench. And (note to my beloved wife) a potential Christmas list as well...

    "Darling, a daylight lamp? You shouldn't have!"

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    1. That's how the Daylight lamp ended up on my painting table. Glad that the list might be useful!

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  2. I agree, Tamjima Grass Tufts are great to use also I like the nail polish stand good idea here...

    I would like a Daylight Triple Bright Lamp for Xmas Monty.. what are my chances? ;o)

    cheers,

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    1. It took me longer to put this post together than I planned! Hopefully, it's not too late for Christmas ideas.

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  3. Very interesting Monty.

    Even though I already use Kolinsky's I think I'll try that Raphael as I haven't tried that one yet. I had a daylight light for years which is a must and while I really like Vallejo paints and have quite a selection I would be lying if I didn't say Foundry were primary and most loved paints.

    Christopher

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    1. I'm still going to do a Foundry buy but I need to reload PayPal with a painting commission. Somehow, I'm back down to nearly zero again! For painting in triads, I suspect there's nothing better.

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    2. Ooops....I said "I had" when I meant "I've had a". I wouldn't paint without a daylight lamp any more. Good luck on the Foundry when you get a chance!:-)

      Christopher

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  4. What a great list.

    Now that I know there's such a thing as an automatic paint pot shaker, I'm wondering how I can possibly live without getting one myself! :)

    I desperately need something like your nail-varnish stand too, as it's getting hard to find the right colour paint in my messy bench top covered in all sorts of crud...sorry, that should read "current project".

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    1. LOL! My paints were all off the circular rack and sprawled over my table. I was constantly knocking them over and rearranging them. Then I saw a recent post by Gillies at The Wilderness of Mirrors and I thought "I must get organized like Gillies!" See, you all do influence me...every day!

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  5. Great list. I just dropped an order for some Grass Tufts.

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  6. Thanks Dart! I posted it up to TMP as well and I've been reminded that I must buy a foam cutter next. Money, money, money...it always comes down to that.

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  7. Great Wish list for the painter! When you first reviewed the Daylight lamp, I thought that would be a must buy. Then, I promptly shoved that info to the back of my mind. I think I need one and Amazon has them for under $60!

    The Raphael 8404 series are, indeed, great brushes. For me, the 8404 is nip and tuck with the W&N Series 7.

    Alibris is a great place to pick up obscure books.

    The Core Sec Omni Ruler looks quite useful. I may have to investigate. It would sure beat painting range sticks...

    Thanks for putting this together!

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    1. Oh, and those Tajimal tufts look brilliant! Quite inexpensive too.

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    2. Your welcome Jonathan! I'd been painting under 2 500 watt halogen shop lamps. After burning through 1, and cooking the lamps out of the 2nd, I needed a more elegant solution. It's not cheap but it delivers the high volume of light my old eyes need. ;-)

      Thanks to painting contracts, I had a bit of money to spend on upgrades this year and so far, these upgrades have turned out very nicely!

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  8. I'm a big fan of spotter brushes. I like Rosemary & Co. They make them in Kolinsky sable, red sable, and synthetic:

    http://www.rosemaryandco.com/index.php?route=product/search&filter_name=spotter

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    1. I didn't know they made spotters. Good one! And Giric, I also love the cutting tool you feature in your last post. I'd like to do some terrain work this winter. That's 2 things I "need!"

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  9. I could use everything on your list. The benefits of the light would be tremendous and what a great idea on the paint stand. As for spotters, I'd seen some when I last bought brushes, but didn't know anything about them.

    Your blog finally showed up on my blogroll tonight.

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    1. Anne! I've notice the blogroll isn't behaving right. And comments too at times. Ah well, good luck on the painting challenge!

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  10. Greate blog post Monty !

    Perfect with some recomendation, like the Paint Stand: most, looks realy nice.

    Thank you very much for sharing !

    Best regards Michael

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  11. Very helpful information!
    Thank you.

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  12. Going shopping on the internet right now! :-)

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    1. Excellent, Glenn! I'm glad I could help!

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  13. That lamp looks spiffy Monty, might have to check it out. The dremel idea is good, too. I'll try it out as soon as the sound of the tool stops freaking out my 2 year old. Got one from Santa a while back, but can't use it when she's in the house ;)

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    1. It is a scary kind of tool, lol! The lamp should be pretty safe.

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  14. Waouh! What a list Monty...and, did I dream? A paint shaker? I didn't know it existed...I may write to Santa Claus if it is not too late ...
    Thanks for sharing,
    Phil.

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    1. France is one of Santa's first stops! I hear he especially enjoys a good AAR.

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  15. Interesting list with some very useful stuff. Be honest though, the paint shaker is a true sign of laziness, isn't it?

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    1. As good as Vallejo is, they can settle over time. And Vallejo doesn't have an agitator in the bottom to get a good thorough mix. I can't come close to giving a bottle the shaking the paint shaker gives. When I got my 70 new paints, I ran every bottle through to have them mixed and ready for use!

      Plus, you can multitask! While its shaking, I'm painting. Or browsing blogs. ;-)

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  16. I'm intrigued by the Dremel flex shaft - that's going on the Christmas list, but you have a paint shaker! Really?

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    1. I have to laugh about the paint shaker. If you use paint pots, I suppose you stir them. For dropper bottles, it really is useful!

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  17. Cool stuff, Monty. That nail polish stand is exactly what I was looking for. Best, Dean

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    1. Thanks Dean! I'd been hunting for a stand for quite some time before I came across this low cost solution!

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  18. Good haul there Monty!

    There are three that I want to go into (I will leave out comparing my DIY paint cart to your nail polish stand):

    Daylight lamp:
    When my old trusted lamp (halogen bulb) did bit the dust last year I got myself a daylight lamp as well (I think we talked about this earlier this year) and I think it was one of the best investments I ever made. The light is simply great natural and most important... I can paint for hours on end without my eyes tiring!

    The Dremel flex shaft:
    I have one of those myself and have loved it for years. That is until I got myself a cordless drill from Hitachi for DIY work. One day it was in reach when I wanted to pin a mini and I was to lazy to get the Dremel out. So I just tried that one out. I is one big, heavy and ugly bastard compared to the flex shaft, but still I felt the results were more precise. Now I have been using the Hitachi ever since.

    Paint shaker:
    Regardless of what people say. I think it is really useful, especially with home mixed paints or paints you have not used in a long time. Unfortunately none are available here in Germany. I have looked the rob art up and that is not available either. At one point I got so hillarious that I even started thinking of designing one myself together with a friend who is an engineer and turning it into a Kickstarter. One that does without the strap... maybe one day!

    But no matter what... great selection of gadgets!!!

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    1. Burkhard! Agree, interesting and agree! If I could keep only one of my upgrades, it would be the light. And thanks for having my back on the paint shaker. ;-)

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  19. I like the look of that drill, wonder if they sell them over in the UK? I'm off to investigate! Cheers!

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  20. Monty,

    You should call my wife and let her know about this stuff...I don't think she's done too much shopping yet!

    -ds-

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    1. With as quick as they deliver from Amazon, you could still be in luck! :-)

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