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:
Pro Arte Series 107 Spotter Brush 2/0 and 3/0:
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!
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:
Tamjima Grass Tufts:
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!
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.
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!
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.
: 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?