New Digs!

     Hard to believe I’ve been AWOL since August but that was when the world changed and I found out I was getting short fused tasking to move.  So everything gets packed up and shipped out.  If you’ve never moved overseas it takes a while for your things to arrive by ship…  a long while.  Which I guess is the origin of the phrase ‘a slow boat to China’.  For the curious it takes even longer when moving from one overseas location to another – those pesky customs officers at both ends just want to peek into everything.

     Well we are in are new home now.  All our stuff has finally arrived.  The walls have been painted and pictures have been hung.  My ‘Honey-Do’ list is down to two pages so its time to get down to the real business at hand.  During my absence I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with the blog and I’ve come up with an idea I hope you’ll enjoy.  In addition to the normal WIP posts and the eventual section on model evaluations I’ve decided to include a post or two a month on a tool or technique that I have found particularly useful and this is the inaugural run of these ‘Tool-Time’ posts.

     Many of you are probably familiar with Micro-Mark tools.  If you’re not you should give them a look.  Now I get nothing from them for this so I don’t care if you check it out or not but they do have a lot of cool gadgets.  Most of them are geared for the model train enthusiast but are easily adapted to micro hobby uses.  My latest favorite is the Universal Clamp (Item # 21129).Image

     This clamp is awesome for working on miniatures.  It comes in two main components.Image

     The clamp head can be used with or without the wooden handle.  The clamp head comes with eight steel pins, although I only have six installed for these photos.  With the precision drilled holes and expanding jaws pin placement should allow you to handle almost any miniature.


     I think one of the really neat things about this clamp is the thumb screw which opens and closes the jaws allows you to hold a miniature under compression as I am here with a 1/6000 scale Ticonderoga class cruiser from Figurehead.


     And you can hold a mini under tension by expanding the jaws with the pins placed inside interior hollows.  Although the picture is not the best this technique works very well with GHQ minis which feature hollow undersides.  The aircraft carrier in this photo is GHQ’s excellent 1/2400 scale model of the PLAN Liao Ning.


     The ability to place the pins inside the hull have the obvious advantage of providing unobstructed access to the entire hull for painting or detailing. 

     I was looking at this clamp for a long time before I decided to commit and I’m not at all disappointed.  A word about the price.  Currently (Jan 27, 2014) Micro-Mark has it listed for $31.95 but I wouldn’t (and didn’t) pay that much for it.  Micro-Mark is always having discounts and flash sales and if you’re looking for tools or other hobby products it is useful to sign up for their email notices.  They send out notices two or three times a month.  If you don’t like the spam I can understand that but I got this clamp at about 40% off their current list price during one of their flash sales so it can pay off.