Sometimes a bit of elbow grease is needed and we need to trade in the convenience of power tools for the accuracy of good old fashioned hand tools. Most hand tools are cheap and can be purchased from a variety of stores, a thrifty shopper should be able to pick up all the tools on this list for around $50.
Measuring - $5
Perfect cuts and measurements are impossible without the right tools. Sure, a straight stick is nifty, but will never get things perfect.
A good metal ruler and set square will solve any accuracy issues you might face. I suggest the metal ones as wood and plastic tend to get damaged easily when used in conjunction with knives. A compass and protractor can also come in handy when marking out or making patterns for fan and blow holes.
Files - $15 for a set
Files are great for finite jobs that involve cleaning up edges or shaving off those tiny pieces of excess metal or acrylic.
I like to have a larger set of files in various shapes and coarseness ranges alongside a set of needle or jewellers files for small intricate jobs. I would also recommend getting a set of wire brushes for cleaning your files. Clean debris free files are a lot more effective than poorly maintained sets.
Screwdrivers- $15 for a set
There is no such thing as too many screwdrivers.
Any good toolbox should have a set of large, medium and mini screwdrivers consisting of a mixture of flat and Phillips head. I also like to have a magnetic set handy for retrieving lost screws and installing awkwardly positioned items.
Pliers - $10
Pliers are one of those tools that are hard to explain their purpose. Personally I use them for everything from removing cut panels and large burs to holding wires in place and managing hot materials. They have a myriad of uses and are one of the most multipurpose tools I own. Choose sizes and styles to match your individual needs.
Cutting Tools - $5
I like to have a variety of cutting knives and utensils in my arsenal. My personal favourite cutting tool would be my X-acto knife set consisting of a large choice of blades. I know these sets can be a pain to find in some places, but substitutes like box cutters and Stanley knives are a decent and easy to find alternative. Another principal cutting tool is a good pair of scissors these are ideal for wiring/sleeving jobs as well as cutting those pesky packaging cable ties.
Like all pointy tools keep your blades sharp, dull edges will always make an easy job twice as hard, and usually with sub-standard results. Keep your blades sharp and guarantee yourself a near perfect finish every time.
Nibbler - $20
Nibbler tools are designed for more precise sheet metal cutting and are a great for modders who aren't so confident with power tool cutting. They do not cut fast meaning they require some patience, but the end result speaks for itself, clean precise cuts.
If you don't yet own a nibbler I would suggest going and picking one up they sell for around $20 and offer amazing results. A must own for any mod box.
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