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What tools have you made for yourself?  (Read 45745 times)
« on: March 15, 2010, 12:23:23 am »

A few months ago, Shawn asked everyone if they used any "jigs" in the construction of their puppets.  At the time I really didn't use any such guide, but I did have several things that I had built to assist me in the construction process.  Let's call them tools.  So I'm wondering what kinds of tools everyone else has built for their workshops.  Anybody?

Here are mine:

The Keys to the Kingdom:
I love dowel.  I use these labelled pieces to measure the parts already built into a prototype, and to choose which size to use next.  They rattle pleasantly.

String Dolly:
'Nuff said.

Sticker Spoon:
This thing's for peeling the annoying barcode stickers off of dowel.  Why do they need to use such gummy glue?  I didn't really invent this tool as much as discover its workings in a piece of scrap wood that my brother left in my workshop.  I made this one when the scrap wood finally broke.

Bit Block:
I use a few bits regularly, so I'd rather they were all ready-to-hand.

Glue Smudge:
My fat fingers can't reach to the bottom of the right angles where the pieces of wood that I'm gluing meet.  But with a piece of dowel that I've sharpened I can dab the glue right where I want it.

Controller Template:
I made this after Shawn asked about the use of jigs, otherwise I'd have posted it earlier.  By placing the template on the side-stay of the controller and pushing a pin through the holes, the places where large-gauge holes are supposed to be drilled are marked.  Time saving!

And here's the thing that I built today, the Joint Stringer:
My hands are sore!  It's a miniature juggling act to hold the different pieces of a joint in the right relative positions and tie a tight, accurate knot at the same time.  So  the Joint Stringer acts as an extra hand or two.  It's really just a miniature vice six inches across.  Here it is with a joint being strung in it:
Or for a sharper angle I can use it this way:
The extra holes allow me to reposition the bolts if they get in the way.  For such a simple device, it sure took me a long time to think of it.

Now the rest of you folks.  Is there any thing that you've built, no matter how simple, to help you in your work?

Nikole H.
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2010, 05:45:03 am »

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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 08:00:01 am »

Brilliant ideas! I've bookmarked this, because I'm currently in the middle of writing a 'gift guide' for the puppeteer's workshop. Little useful gadgets like this are exactly what I'd be writing about - so if you have any more good suggestions, please post them!
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2010, 08:27:20 pm »

Well, Na, if you have a guide going, maybe you'd like to add a few of your own?
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2010, 09:00:30 pm »

Well, I have some ideas, but I'd really love to see all the gadgets that other people are coming up with. More out of personal curiousity than anything else!
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2010, 09:05:41 pm »

You've gotta share if you wanna be shared with!  Let's hear it!
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2010, 11:37:47 pm »

Good point Smiley

I don't have any pics at hand, but here's some ideas:

 - Get a foam block they use for flower displays, grab a piece of dowel and poke holes in it (not too far down, just about an inch or two) an inch or so apart. You can now use the foam block to put rods in it. It's good for mass-production of gluing wire into dowel for rods. I've got a block with about 20 rods stuck in it, and it keeps your rods nice and straight while they dry. (Just be sure to wipe down the rods after taking them out - I find the foam leaves a little grit on the dowel) You can do the same but to keep your pens, pencils, etc handy

- Not really a gadget, but I've found that a good way to store patterns you use a lot is to get a magazine file holder (see link below) and some folder tab dividers (second link). Put the tab dividers into the file holder, labelled for each pattern, and then slot the patterns in between each divider. I've been finding it much better than having a plastic pocket or other type of folder; I also tend to use patterns a lot, so this keeps them neat, tidy and still on my desk where I can see them and quickly grab whatever I need. (A piece of masking tape is handy for smaller patterns, because then you can tape them to the divider and not have to go looking for it in amongst the larger pieces)



... I don't really have any other gadgets or useful suggestions, except for the obvious ones (storage units, etc)
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2010, 08:34:41 pm »

I discovered that my little vice can hold the tiny pieces of wood that I'm drilling and sanding with my dremel:
Not a huge surprise, but it sure does make them easier to hold onto!  My hands thank me again.   Smiley
StiqPuppet Productions
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2010, 04:43:47 pm »

I have a few things that I use like an old paper towel table top holders....to keep tape organized since I have about 8 different kinds.    I also use the knives holder magnets that stick on the wall for keeping my scissors and other tools within reach when I need them.

If you check out the pictures below you can see my studio that I work in and how it is organized.  I have many more ideas that are simple but work and pretty cheap as well.





Daryl H
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2010, 08:12:09 pm »

Hey Daryl, would you mind me using some of your pics in an article I'm writing? (Mentioned above)
StiqPuppet Productions
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2010, 10:37:19 pm »

I would be honoured Na no problem...thanks for asking.

Daryl H
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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2010, 02:14:55 am »

Thanks Daryl! It may be a while til it's online, I'm very backlogged in writing stuff at the moment. But I'll post a link when it's up.
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2010, 11:53:56 pm »

Every little thing counts, right?
I started sewing and discovered another tool that I "built" for myself.  It's this huge block of foam!:
I pin my patterns to the block to hold them still while I transfer them to the fabric.  I drew on the edge of the foam so that I wouldn't carve it into puppet heads in a moment of desperation/inattention. 
That's it!
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2010, 06:52:05 am »

Thanks guys for sharing those great ideas!  hug
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2011, 09:50:45 pm »

I solved another technical problem by building something to help, so I thought that I would resurrect this thread.  The problem was that I wanted a shoulder joint made out of a wooden ball and a dowel.  But how to drill the hole into the dowel without endangering my hands?  Here's my solution, a vice designed to hold the little wooden ball for my drill press:
And somewhere in the middle of this mess is the vice at work:
And finally, here is the very snug fit I get when I use the vice:
Maybe I should start making drum sticks...
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