Sunday, June 28, 2009

Making 1mm Sculpting Tool Tips - Part 4

The next tool tip is one of my favourites in its 2mm version. I call it the sculpting knife because even it is not "sharp" it looks and you use it a little bit like a knife.

To start making this tool tip, you have to prepare your spring steel rod in a new way. This time you have to give the end of the rod the shape as it would be cut diagonally but with a light curve. I guess, that sound cryptic so I hope, pic. 21) can make it a little bit clearer.

If you god your steel wire prepared that way, you have to flatten it with hammer and anvil until it looks like in pic. 22. Take your time and work carefully, because this form is a little more difficult to achieve. And again: work equally on both sides. It’s the same as I said about the spatula tool tips: Don’t make it too flat, because you need some material left for grinding it later.

If you got the right shape, you have to grind the tool tip like you did with the spatula tool tips. I recommend giving this sculpting knife tool tip not a completely flat surface, but a slightly rounded one. The "edge" of the sculpting knife should be sharpened, but not as sharp as a real knife or the mini knife tool tip, I’ve explained before. You don’t have to cut things with it, just to push and smear putty from here to there. A "too sharp" edge might be a disadvantage here because it could leave marks on the putty that you do not want. After all it should look like in pic. 23).

This tooltip I call the finger tool tip because you use it like a small finger on your sculpting.
To start making this tool you have to prepare the end of your spring steel rod again. This time you have to give it a tip, but not a sharp, pointed one, but more a little rounded one like you see on pic. 24.

When you got this, start flatten the end of the steel wire with hammer and anvil after heating it up, like I explained above. But just flatten it a bit and not too much. Don’t flatten it as much as the spatula tool tips. The flattened sides will be rounded later and you need to have some material left for grinding to give it the rounded shape. After that you have to give the tool tip a shape like an "S" by first bending it in the one and after that into the other direction. Pic. 25a) and 25b) will explain better what to do.

If you got the right shape it’s time again for some grinding. You have to round the edges of the tool and also the flattened surface should have a slightly rounded shape. This time it is a little bit more work and it’s a bit more difficult, because of the form of the tool tip and because the edges should be much rounder as on the spatula tool tips for example. Once again an abrasive pad would make this job easier.

Again after completing the shape, clean all scratches from the tool with fine abrasive paper and polish it.

I found this tool really useful and it’s the other one of my favourite two tool tips (beside the sculpting knife). So it would be a good idea to have this both tool tips on each side of a two-sided tool holder. In a later tutorial I will show you, how to build such a two-sided-holder/handle.
The next tool tip is a quite simple one. You just have to start with a rounded end of the steel wire rod like I explained for the round edge spatula tool tip. This time, you have to do the round shape very carefully so it is really symmetrical and looks like the half of a ball. Then you just have to bend the top of the tip a little bit like you can see on pic. 26. You can do this with heat, hammer and the cone-like end of the mini anvil or with pliers. If you use the hammer be aware not to flatten the steel, but just bend it. While using the pliers, be aware not to leave too many scratches on the tool tips surface.

That’s all. Just clean and polish the surface and you got a fine tool that makes a good job when it comes to smoothing out the putty, because it’s a burnishing tool.

The last tool tip for in the 1mm size I call the rivet tool because you can make rivet-like structures with it while using it like a stamp. Even it is not really a sculpting tool, but more a sculpting aid and even you don’t have to do any bending or forging here, it fits perfectly into the 1mm tool tip-range and that’s why I explain it here.

The base of this tool is not steel wire, but a cannula. There are cannulas (hollowed needles) out there in different sizes and you have to get one with a 0,9 mm (or 1mm if you can find one) diameter.

First cut off the sharp end with the cutting wheel and the rotary tool. Be careful, the edge is very sharp and wear safety glasses for that. Then cut the other end so you got a tiny tube with a length of about 4 cm. It is important to use the cutting wheel or even a very fine saw if you got one. But don’t use nipping pliers or pincers for that, because they would press the sides of the tube together and make it worthless. All you have to do now it to refine the cut and to clean the edges of the tube. For that use very fine abrasive paper and maybe a needle that you slightly push into the tube and rotate it to remove all sharp metal pieces. I’ve found a very small cone-like grinding stone for the rotary tool for that (it’s from a dentist), but I guess, not everyone out there has such a thing.

On pic. 28) you can see the final rivet tool tube.

As I said, with this tool, you can create a rivet like structure while pressing the end of the tube into the putty like you see on pic. 28. So basically it’s the simplest form of a "stamp-tool". In a later tutorial I will tell you a little bit more about the use of stamp tools for sculpting miniatures.

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