As this article would be a very short one just talking about 1 basic tool, I decided to write about 2 tools at once: Craft tweezers and wire stripper tools.
1. Craft Tweezers.
Every profession and every hobby has its own tools. In the miniature hobby, tweezers are indispensable, with the emphasis on ‘one’. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to tools to hold small parts.
Everyone Has Their Preference.
When I go to a workshop, the first thing that comes out of the participants’ bags is ‘the box’ with fine tools, which always contains (at least) tweezers.
After a workshop, it sometimes happens that some of the participants call every one to ask if maybe their tweezers were taken by mistake bye someone else ..because they do have another one, but the one they lost was such a nice one and they have no idea where it was ever bought?
In my workplace, too, a long search preceded my current tweezers. But now that I know which one I want, I make sure there are at least a few around the house!
What is the most important thing when you purchase tweezers? Of course, there are the basic things, such as flexible suspension, good closing, and strong tenacity without breaking our workpieces. A mouth with or without ridges and above all: straight or curved? I swear by bent, but not everyone can handle that.
Different Kinds Of Tweezers.
In addition to the normal tweezers, there are the so-called cross tweezers or clamp tweezers, which open when squeezed.
Another important thing to consider (especially in our case) is the iron tweezers! Then it can become magnetic, which can sometimes be useful, but it is usually annoyingly irritating if metal parts get stuck to the tool without being asked to do so.
And is it necessary that the tweezers can withstand heat, for example when soldering? Ribbed jaws provide better grip on a workpiece, but can scratch or leave marks on softer materials. All in all, I am not a fan of that myself, but others swear by it.
The next thing to wonder about is: can the tweezers be cleaned easily? Because glue is easily attached to them (you bet !) and is not always easy to remove, especially if it has ribbed jaws and glue sticks to more materials than a magnet.
There are so many types and sizes of tweezers that it is impossible to give specific advice about which one you should buy for the miniature hobby. (I’m sorry !).
It’s Totally Up To You!
It is often a very personal choice. What is perfect for one does not work at all for others. Certainly to beginners I would advise to not spend a lot of money right away when purchasing tweezers.
You might prefer to buy a cheaper set with various shapes and materials first, to try out which type fits better in your hand and works the easiest to pick up and hold miniature things. And sometimes good luck lends a hand.
When I met my partner, he already used very fine curved tweezers for his work, suitable for fine electronics. An anti-magnetic, heat-resistant tweezers, with a flat mouth that is very sturdy and hard, so I can almost use it as a pair of pliers (if he doesn’t see it :-)).
Fortunately, he remembered the supplier, so we both now have one. He no longer has to grumble (so often) about where his tweezers have gone. But now, where did I leave the other 2 again? Our ‘stuff’ gets easily mixed up around the house as you can imagine 😉
There’s a ton of choices in craft tweezers on Etsy.
2. Wire Stripper Tools.
When installing lighting, a part of the insulation of electric wires must be removed, this is a process that is usually called ‘(wire) stripping’.
If we don’t do this or do it the wrong way, the metal conductor inside it, the ‘core’, will not make contact in the plug or terminal to which the wire has to be attached and the lighting will eventually not turn on. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about dollhouse lighting or lighting in a big house, cables need to get stripped.
Yet there is a very important distinction: wires for miniature lighting are usually very thin (0.3 mm in diameter or even thinner!), that there are actually no good (affordable) tools to get this job done properly.
It doesn’t help that a lot of cord attached to dollhouse lighting is of poor quality, especially the insulation. If you use a little too much force to strip the wire, the cord will break or you will only stretch the insulation without releasing the metalcore.
Only one thing works with such a wire: melting the insulation with a lighter. It’s not ideal: if you put the flame on it for too long, the wire will be stripped much more than was actually intended, but sometimes you just have no other choice. Yet there is an inexpensive wire strip tool that is probably already present in many households: an alligator clip.
An Alligator Clip, How To Use It.
These things were once designed as clamps to temporarily connect cables, but they have also found their way into other applications, such as photo card stands. Apparently they can also serve as wire stripper tools.
Place the end of the wire in the clamp, squeeze the jaws together with appropriate ‘Fingerspitzengefühl’ and pull off the alligator clip along the length of the wire.
If all goes well, the insulation of the wire will ‘break’ where the teeth are and the metal core will be exposed at the correct length, ready to make a good electrical connection. I admit: it takes some practice to get the right result, but once you get the feel for it, you will see how well it works!
Please note, these clips come in many different sizes and qualities. For a wire stripper, you don’t need top quality, but you need to make sure that the teeth of the clamp fit together. If there is too much space in between, it will not work.
In theory, the size doesn’t matter much, in reality, it must be as small as possible, but not that small that it is easily lost.
Where do I get an alligator clip? On Etsy of course..
Tweezers and a wire stripper are necessary tools in the miniature world, one of the basics, besides the ones I mentioned in this article.
None of these are very expensive, so I would advise buying those as quickly as you can because you will miss not having them soon enough 😉
Do you have any questions about these crafting materials for miniatures, please comment in the comment section and I will answer as quickly as possible.