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Thread: Making Sculpture Tools

  1. #1
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    Making Sculpture Tools

    Hey everybody,
    I've been looking around online a lot to find places that sell a good variety of modeling tools, but haven't been able to find any that sell everything I'm looking for cheaply enough. So, I started looking around on how to make your own tools, and came across this site, which seems to have a lot of good info including wire widths, lengths, types and where to buy them. Hopefully this will save you all some time and money.

    http://www.claysculptors.com/wires.htm

    -mole
    "You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." ::c.s. lewis
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  4. #2
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    Cool thread moleman,

    as far as my offer on the subject I have this link http://www.danperezstudios.com/works...king_tools.htm I dont know if it'll save you money because there are a lot of tools involved (including a hammer dremel rotary tool and small anvil.) but there are some good Ideas here.
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    That's a good one too. I saw that one earlier, but yeah, he does have a lot of extra equipment, but his methods seem good...you could probably substitute the anvil for just a metal pipe or something.

    Any of you sculpting vets have any input on how to create your own tools?
    "You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." ::c.s. lewis
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    Making your own sculpting tools is very satisfying but also remember to keep an eye out for tools made for other purposes. These are some of my favorite "found" tools.

    In the "Make Up" or "Beauty" section of a department store:
    Cutical pushers/cutters - These come in wood, plastic, metal and rubber tipped. They work very well as clay shapers and detailers.
    Files and Emory boards - These come in paper board, metal and foam blocks. I use them to sand cured polymer clay and to clean seam lines on resin casts.
    Blackhead remover - This is a sturdy metal tool that looks like a small loop tool. It can be used as a loop tool or ridges can be carved into the loops (with a Dremel tool) to make small rakes.

    In the "Dental Care" section of a department store:
    Tooth picks and plaque scrapers - The metal ones are the best. Of course, any dental tool makes a great sculpting tool.
    Gum stimulators - The ones with the rubber tips are best. These are nice clay shapers for small detail areas.
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    mole,

    I have been dying to start a thread on tools and tool making!

    I took a cue from PERFECT TOUCH and started making my own. Heres a photo:
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  9. #6
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    I also forgot to mention that the spatula tool at the top was made using the teachings of Dan Perez. I can explain or demonstrate any of the methods or materials I used in making any of theses tools if you would like.

    Here are some of the larger tools I made with music wire and brass tubing. The fourth and fifth ones from the top are compliments of Smellybugs texturing tool from his awesome tutorial. Notice in the second photo that I solder rather than crimp. I did not have any luck crimping. The wires always came out or twisted eventually.

    Ray
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  10. #7
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    Hey Shrader,
    Thanks for those photos. Its always nice to know that this stuff can be done. If you find the time and would be willing to share any techniques/materials lists, I'm sure it'd be appreciated. Or if you just go over your images, and let us know the widths of wires/ piping, etc. you used. Thanks so much.
    Also, where do you usually buy your supplies? Hobby shops? Any online? Any resources would be helpful.
    Finally, that one rake tool you have looks like it came from a banding saw blade. Is that what it is, or did you just get a flat wire and file edges onto it?
    Thanks again.
    "You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." ::c.s. lewis
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    Ok let’s start with the wooden handled loop tools. As I said before I first saw this type of tool at Perfect Touch tools. However, I decided I could make this type tool considerably cheaper than I could buy them.

    The wire is probably the most important part of the tool. Not just any wire will work. You must use hardened steel wire. I used two different sizes.

    For the finer tools I used a .015in/.381mm guitar string that I found at a local music/instrument store. The string cost about a $1.50. Photo A.

    For the larger size tools I used .020in music wire from K & S Engineering that a local hobby shop happened to carry in stock. I also found K & S wire at a university bookstore that sold supplies for the engineering and architecture students to work on class projects. See Photo B.

    The wood handles are just 5/16 hardwood dowels that I bought at Home Depot. I cut the handles to 5 1/2 inches in length. I cheated on these because I have a mini metal lathe that I used to turn the dowels while I hand sanded the tapered ends. Sanding by hand, without the lathe, would take longer but would work just as well or I would chuck them in a drill. I’m working on a resin handle blank to save time on sanding. See photo C.

    In the next post (I have to take the photos) I will show how I make the wire loops.

    The rake tool is made from a scroll saw blade. It was one of the harder tools to make because I had to heat the saw blade with a propane torch before it would bend. A little more tricky!

    Ray
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    Awesome man...thanks for the post. I can't wait to see the rest. Do you have any particular preference to using the brass tools or the wood ones?
    I'm heading out to a local hobby shop tonight to procure necessary supplies. I've also read that for some other tools, you can contact local dentist's offices and see if they have any old dental tools they don't need anymore. You could probably pick those up cheap too. Keep it all coming!
    "You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." ::c.s. lewis
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  13. #10
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    I do not want to be the only person posting on this thread!LOL!!

    I want to see everyone's favorite sculpting tool! Your most heavily used sculpting tool! You know the one! The.....if I lost this tool I would cry for six weeks and need serious counseling tool! So post a photo for us!

    I will do these next steps in seperate posts so they are easier to read.

    Next, we have to make the loops. In photo D, for the round loop tool, you can see I’m using an older mini table vise. You can still get these for about $15.00 to $35.00. You get an appropriate sized drill bit, in this case I’m using a No 34 or a 7/64 sized bit and clamping it into the vise with just the shank showing.

    In photo E I cut a short section of the .015 guitar string and wrap it tightly around the drill bit shank about halfway in the middle of the cut wire.

    In photo F] I grip the ends of the wire with a small pair of pliers or vise-grips and begin gently twisting while pulling. This part takes some practice.

    In photo G you can see the finished loop. I apologize for the photo being out of focus, but my camera is giving me trouble.
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  14. #11
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    In photo H for the triangle shaped loop tool, I use this section of brass angle stock that I also purchased from the hobby shop. Notice that I crimped the opening slightly to make a smaller triangle.

    In photo I I use the same twisting method as I did before.

    As you can see in photo J I have used a small pin vise with the smallest drill bit I could find to drill a hole in the end of the handle. (In this case the resin handle) If you don’t have a pin vise any power drill will work, just be careful. All that's left to do is super glue the loop into the end and your done!

    More on wooden handled tools to come later.

    Mole, each tool has a specific application. I use the both the wooden handled ones and the brass handled ones for the appropriate job. EBay is the best source for dental style tools. Search "sculpting tools".
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  15. #12
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    Mole

    It just dawned on me that I had not provided a size reference between the two tools! So, here you go.

    Ray
    Last edited by RSchrader; July 4th, 2007 at 12:22 PM.
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  16. #13
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    Wow man, very nice. I like the wrapping technique. I was thinking too, if you don't have the vive grip and drill bit, or the angled brass, you could probably just use nails in a wooden board. Hit in a single one for the loop, and three in the form you want for the triangle one.

    I just went to the hobby shop and home depot today and bought some materials. I picked up some basic .02, .04, and .06 music wire, some brass tubing, dowel rods, a Bernz-O-Matic mini blow torch to head the metal ends and to solder with ($15 bucks at Home Depot) some dowel rods, and dremel attachments for cutting the brass. If you can't do that, any hack saw that will cut metal should work. If you don't want to do the blow torch thingy, you can just cut things and pick up a soldering iron for cheap...like $10.

    So, I'm going to start playing with this stuff, and taking pictures along the way to see if I get anything vaguely successful. I've never done any of this before, so if anyone else is in the same position, I'll let you know how difficult it all was to do. I'll post pics later.
    "You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." ::c.s. lewis
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