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Tools & Supplies
Discussions on the latest and greatest tools, glues, and gadgets.
Hosted by Matt Leese
Free Supplies
Illinois, United States
Joined: February 10, 2004
KitMaker: 2,058 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2004 - 05:39 PM UTC
I have a good buddy who runs a coffee shop and he gave me a whole sleeve of plastic shotglasses!
I use them for paints, washes, scenicking, etc.
I also get my paper napkin supply from him, great for messy people.
My girlfriend is office manager for a landscaping company, hence...OFFICE SUPPLIES and LANDSCAPING SUPPLIES!!! :-)

Rhode Island, United States
Joined: December 08, 2002
KitMaker: 833 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, December 03, 2004 - 05:55 PM UTC
I have a friend who is a dentist and just happened to ask him if he had any old tools he was going to throw out. What I got was about 50 Midevil looking dental picks, prods, scrapey things, cavity fillers, blood letting devices and spatula type tools. Both right and left handed! They were too dull for dental work but they work great on plastic!

Next time you find yourself in the chair ask your dentist if he has any tools he wants to get rid of. But do it before you end up with a mouth full of novicane and drool your request all over him.
Michigan, United States
Joined: March 20, 2004
KitMaker: 604 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Saturday, December 04, 2004 - 01:49 AM UTC
. The steel wool thing works good, but I use water instead of vinegar.

. Ask your dentist for his old burrs (mini-drills, etc.-they usually get tossed after 1 or 2 times). They fit in most hand tools and come in all shapes and sizes.

. Emory boards cut into strips and clamped in the metal head of old brushes make great mini-sanders.

. Metal band-aid boxes and pill bottles are good for storage.

. The plastic cups from fruit snacks/pudding for mixing, etc.

Indiana, United States
Joined: October 16, 2002
KitMaker: 5,272 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Saturday, December 04, 2004 - 02:06 AM UTC
Another I just came up with the other day: Use those pesky AOL cd-roms you constantly get in the mail for paint and super glue pallets. Beats the heck out washing my "good" pallets.

Kentucky, United States
Joined: December 01, 2004
KitMaker: 535 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 09:30 AM UTC
Ok these aren't free, they are a whooping 44 cents on sale but you get to eat too. What is it? Why it's POT PIES you know the cheap-o Kroger or Wal-mart brand. They make great tins for mixing paint or keeping small parts together so they don't get mixed up or lost.

Just a tip.
British Columbia, Canada
Joined: February 23, 2002
KitMaker: 256 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - 01:41 AM UTC
Ya know when you were in art class in highschool and
you had to carve out a design on that eraser type material for silkscreen printing,save that stuff for modeling with,cuts like butter,paints up and glues up beautifully.Build whatever you have a fancy to build out of it,I`ve used it for boxes to building parts to making a vice mounted on the front of a vehicle.
Another one is Q-tips,get the plastic tube ones,you`ll never be short of a plastic tubes.
Round toothpics,cut the ends off at various lengths to make wine or beer bottles.
T-Shirt paint,I use this for weld seams and filling.If you apply a bead of paint it dries as a bead of paint.
Washington, United States
Joined: February 07, 2002
KitMaker: 498 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - 03:36 AM UTC
After 3 kids, I learned that babyfood jars, the two smallest sizes, are great for mixing paint and keeping brush cleaner in. The square plastic ones that fruit now come in are great for keeping indy link tracks. Also since all 3 of my kids were Preemies, I had to give my wife an injection twice daily and now have a large box of unused syringes and needles for barrels and applying "White Glue Rivets". I also file a needle end flat and use it to "twist" flush rivets into aircraft skin.
The hospital also gave us about 3 dozen small 4oz. graduated clear plastic bottles with tight sealing lids for formula that I use for mixing paints to keep long term. The list goes on and on..... (:-)
Colorado, United States
Joined: January 10, 2005
KitMaker: 193 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 05:31 AM UTC
If you know any Mary Kay ladies get them to hook you up with some of those Styrofoam palettes they have, They are perfect for mixing paint or washes as they hace about 8 depressions of 2 different sizes in them. My wife got some an they are sweet.
Donegal, Ireland
Joined: May 14, 2002
KitMaker: 9,763 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 10 posts
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 10:09 AM UTC
Buildings from those white polystyrene meat trays. Save them up for a while as they come in different thicknesses. They cut very easily,scribe with a ball point pen, glue with white glue, can be detailed with cardborad from cereal boxes, pillars/columns from Mc Donalds straws and stirring stick rafters.
Building below cost less than 50 cents probably.

This is only one idea. With a little imagination a lot of dio bases could be built for next to nothing.
North Carolina, United States
Joined: February 22, 2002
KitMaker: 11,718 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 100 posts
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 10:44 AM UTC
Even better - At my local grocery store I can ask for a tray or two for free - no meat purchased and no meat on the tray so you don't have to clean it at all.
Be pleasant with the butcher and you can get quite a bit over time.
Kansas, United States
Joined: January 24, 2002
KitMaker: 2,748 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 12:09 PM UTC
Gotta love those foam meat trays

I first used them years ago when helping my daughter create a castle for a school project (didn't want to use much of my "precious" diorama materials). It was so great and easy to work with, I've laid in quite a large stock and now use it for lots of stuff -- part trays, home-made sanding sticks, dio sidewalks and pavement, dio walls, etc. Now it's part of my "precious" diorama material ...

Nice church, Frank. I may steal that idea!
Donegal, Ireland
Joined: May 14, 2002
KitMaker: 9,763 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 10 posts
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 12:36 PM UTC
Another piece made from the very versatile polystyrene trays

Donegal, Ireland
Joined: May 14, 2002
KitMaker: 9,763 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 10 posts
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 12:42 PM UTC
Another use for them .. making molds for spackel
Built quickly using medium temp hot glue to fix

This is the casting. Hobby spackel, white glue and some colour.

Cut and scribed

The finished article. Its not easy getting 120mm dio accessories, so this makes a very usable alternative.

Ontario, Canada
Joined: March 30, 2004
KitMaker: 289 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 05:59 AM UTC
Wow, some great ideas here. My two fall into the category of not free, but very inexpensive.

1) I purchased a Salton "coffee cup warmer" for a whopping $8Cdn. It is excellent for keeping a bowl of decal water warm. Also very good at helping unstick jars of paint. Place the jar of paint cap side down for a few minutes. Will be much easier to free the cap. Especially good on Gunze and Tamiya paints, but works on MM as well.

2) OxyClean powder (that 'miraculous' stuff advertised on late nite TV) is an excellent hand cleaner if and when you get paint on your skin. Works very well even when removing enamel and or lacquer based paints from your skin without the use of harsh chemicals. I also use it to renew older paint brushes. Mix some with hot water, and let your brushes soak in it for about an hour. They'll come out looking brand new.
England - West Midlands, United Kingdom
Joined: March 09, 2005
KitMaker: 850 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 08:29 AM UTC
Soil. I found after a little experimenting, if you mix in the right amounts of water and white glue it makes a great substance to Celluclay. You can also sprinkle it over things to give texture or a dust effect, or rub it onto vehicles to weather them.
Scotland, United Kingdom
Joined: May 25, 2005
KitMaker: 2,218 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 11:02 AM UTC
What amounts? A rough guide would be an absolute inspiration. Thanks.
Ohio, United States
Joined: October 31, 2005
KitMaker: 108 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Wednesday, November 02, 2005 - 08:50 AM UTC
Here is a sticky I started in FSM forums about free daily household tools. http://www.finescale.com/fsm/community/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=42836
please disregard my "update" becaseu I gave it up due to such a massive input from other people
Connecticut, United States
Joined: November 11, 2005
KitMaker: 87 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, December 09, 2005 - 10:57 AM UTC
this isnt free but i dont know if any of u remeber those old mogram b 52 kits with the jet noise maker thing, but if u take of the bladdes of the impeler then u have yourself a sanding disk motor tool.
Connecticut, United States
Joined: July 30, 2005
KitMaker: 152 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 10:55 AM UTC
I was in my LHS the other day and noticed 1 of those woodland scenics plastic jars for holding and spreading grass, ballast,sand, etc etc and I said to myself all that is is a grated cheese bottle. I went home a little later (after spending a few bucks) and checked in my fridge and low and behold my grated cheese company must use Woodland Scenics distributor b/c they were identical even same color. So there you have it don't throw out those containers.

WoodlandScenics "cheese" bottle: $4.99
Grated cheese in bottle: $5.99
Getting some calories and a useful tool: Priceless

Z. :-)
England - East Midlands, United Kingdom
Joined: August 13, 2005
KitMaker: 357 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - 01:19 PM UTC
Can't claim credit for this (Alsidair from SmallShopEU told me).

Take an empty vacformed pill/capsule holder (Anadin, aspirin, ect), remove the loose silver foil. Drop 3-4 drops of CA in one of the recesses - voila - CA stays wet for ages (fast dry about 10 min, medium about 20). I use a piece of fine copper wire (cut up some 3 core mains cable strip the copper strands and make lengths of 2") held in a spare pin vice , to pick up the glue and apply. When the tip becomes too big, cut it off and start again.
Virginia, United States
Joined: May 09, 2006
KitMaker: 1,349 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, May 12, 2006 - 07:13 AM UTC
thats a good idea, I usually put CA on scraps of masking tape on the desk and dip the wire, but that dries darn fast like that. I actually have a huge blister pack of pepcid with one pill left, I'll try it tomorrow for some railing work
California, United States
Joined: December 19, 2004
KitMaker: 2,870 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, May 12, 2006 - 07:30 PM UTC
I do a variation of this.Put the drops of CA in a beer bottle cap .Then take a wire tie for garbage bags or bread bags and burn off the paper or plastic covering on about half the length.Now take your tweezers and bend the smallest loop you can get in the end.
The remaining paper makes a good finger hold and the loop holds a little more CA than a plain end.The bottle cap is large enough to allow small parts to be dipped while being held with tweezers.

edit: Oh yeah! When the loop gets clogged with old CA,just burn it off with a match and you're good to go again.
Texas, United States
Joined: March 08, 2006
KitMaker: 24 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Monday, June 26, 2006 - 08:27 AM UTC
My dad is a dentist and has all kinds of great things. They can get diorama materials such as plaster of paris and resin type materials really cheap and I'm sure you can get them to give you some. Also old dental drills work well with plastic. The plastic measuring cups of old liquid medicine bottles works well at mixing paints and other things and they also have precise measurements!

Also for wetting decals I use the tops of butter containers. They make the decal easy to get to and are large enough for most decals to become completely submerged.
England - East Anglia, United Kingdom
Joined: April 05, 2005
KitMaker: 71 posts
RailRoad Modeling: 0 posts
Posted: Saturday, September 16, 2006 - 08:02 PM UTC
along the same lineswith what Kirk1313 said, i work in a warehouse that supplies dentist's, so i cant get a whole load of stuff just lying around, and quite a bit get thrown out so im forever in the bin! I get knives, burs etc.

i could even lay my grubby mitts on 3kg bags of sugical plaster, i have no idea if it would be any good for modeling, but i can get it :-)