I get the About.com Miniatures blog posts on my RSS reader and occasionally I do glean a helpful tidbit or two. And sometimes their recommendations are good but my own methods are better! Here’s my take on their article “5 Time Saving Tools for the Model or Miniature Workbench.”
A glue spreader is a useful tool, I’ll agree to that. But you don’t need to spend money (even $1) to get one. I know lots of people use toothpicks, which are useful but also somewhat wasteful. I use something that is both free and reused/recycled: cardboard. When I need more glue spreaders, I just cut cardboard into little strips and use those. I don’t have to clean them, and they are just making a useful stop on their journey to the recycling bin.
When working on props and tack (and even models, on occasion) I often need devices to hold things in place as glue dries or epoxy sets. But you certainly don’t need to spend $20-30 to do this. As stated above, you can make your own magnetic jigs out of household items (found cheap at thrift stores) but there are other cheap fixes to this problem.
To hold things flat, you can use pretty much anything heavy. In fact, miniatures are so fragile that you usually don’t even need something heavy, just something that puts pressure on the glued spot. For gluing leather bits, you can take the $1 you didn’t spend on a glue spreader and get a bag of miniature safety pins (from a craft or hobby store, dollar store, etc.) to hold things in place. These pins are reusable and super useful. Another technique, good for holding drying models, is to wrap wire around the drying item to fix it in the proper position until it can hold itself. The wire can be used again and again… and then end up as the basis for a stablemates tail.
Ok, the Boing toothbrush holder is a fun item and if I found it for $.49 at Goodwill I would probably buy it. But what I found instead was a squat, fat, heavy vase-thing, and that works great.
It’s a lovely article, with some good ideas. Here’s my interpretation: