The Little World – The Warm Orgasm Of Cleaning Up

Think what you will about the pride of accomplishment and possession that grips a modeller during their time in the workshop  – I say there is no thrill to equal that of cleaning the place up after completing a project. And in some cases it does not even have to be after successfully finishing something…sometimes just the act of getting free of the whole wretched mess is reward enough.

I don’t know what kind of modeller you are, or in what direction your work has taken you. Nor what sort of workshop and tools you have. I don’t even know whether you are a neat and tidy person in yourself or a wallowing hog. Wherever you fit in the spectrum from surgical cleanliness to cow pies on the counter, you will have gotten to the same point at sometime in your career – you’ve finished the last thing possible on your model and put it carefully up on the shelf for posterity.

Now look around. Does it look like a minimalist living room or does it look like Stalingrad? Can you see the floor? Can you see the walls? Is the paint on the ceiling? is the paint on the cat? Is the cat on the ceiling? Whatever – it is time to recover the place and get ready for the next idea.

Find the tools. You will not find them all the first time you look. You may not find some of them no matter how hard you look. Accept an attrition rate of drill bits and tiny hand tools during the best projects. If you have lost the bandsaw or the air compressor, however, check that the workshop locks are still present.

Then start to pick up the off-cuts from whatever you were using. Are any of them still useful? Save them in special boxes that you can throw out in a year when you realise you were wrong. Or save them for 35-40 years and discover that you were right.

Are there any half-used tins of paint? If so, tip them all unto a bucket and paint the back porch with the result. It will either be flat grey or a salmon colour, depending upon whether you are a good moral person or a pervert. The neighbours will know by looking at the porch.

Collect all the parts that you find on the floor that skittered out of your hand or the bench vise as you were making them. Regard these as the working models of the parts that you then had to remake when you were unable to find the first ones on the floor. Throw them in the bin and curse them.

Clean the bench top. Possibly with a broom, possibly with a cloth. Possibly with fire. Just get it back to a semblance of flatness as you will be building your next project on there and it is no good trying to get things in plumb if you are sitting on old glue blobs.

Sharpen the pencils and cap the marker pens. Try the old ones out to see if they are dry enough yet to throw out. Hammer the ruler flat again.

Clean the paintbrushes by rinsing them in the appropriate thinner, working the bristles carefully. Rinse them, shape them so that they have a straight edge, and then throw them into the bin. They sell better brushes than you have just ditched in packets of five for three dollars.

Gather all the sprues, boxes, unused decal sheets, instructions, and spare parts from the kit that you have just finished – note that fully 3/4 of what you paid for at the hobby shop is still in the box and is now totally useless. Go to the hobby shop tomorrow and ask for 3/4 of your money back. Tomorrow will be a special day for you…

And finally, vacuum the floor and benches. No matter how clean you got it before, this final step will suck up the final detail part that you could not find on the sprue ( you’ll see it clearly just before it shoots up the vacuum nozzle ) and make for hours of fun as you sift through the dust bag to find it. We can supply a book of words to say while you look, but don’t let the kiddies read it.

The Little World – The $ 2 Shop That Is Worth A Million Bucks

dscf0201If you live in a big city you will likely have seen a $ 2 shop somewhere in town. They can be found in little shopping malls or larger city streets. They can pop up where other businesses have failed or where a badly shaped gap has been designed into retail real estate.

They are not to be sneezed at – for a certain type of person, they are a treasure trove of value. I know – I am just that sort of shopper. For me, the local $ 2 shop is one of the best resources I know.

My local is in a mall, and is comprised of one little rectangular bay in the main drag. It is three aisles jam-packed with all sorts of cheap goods in small packages. The shelves and racks stand ceiling-high, and if you spot something up the top that you need, the shop assistant will hook it down for you with a mechanical grabber. Nothing is ever over $ 10 and most things are the proverbial $ 2.

The shop is run by an Indian family and I have seen a number of the members in there serving behind the counter at various times. I think the kids are bored witless when it is their turn to serve, but staff is staff and if they are family they can be scolded!

I just love the variety of stuff they sell there. I wander each of the three aisles and exercise my imagination over every weird tool or craft material or cheap toy. The mental inventory I take is as valuable as a catalogue because the next time I need a supply of batman masks or plastic ping-pong balls for frog’s eyes, I know exactly where to get it. Since I am a scale modeller as well as a studio photographer there are no end of strange little bits I need and the $ 2 shop is where I find them.

I used to call it the Crap Shop, but I think that is needlessly pessimistic. I’ve never crapped out when I needed something – This week’s purchase of $ 2.50 of wooden coffee stirrers is currently being made into a picket fence for one of my dioramas and I am a pretty good fencer, if I do say so myself. Touché…

Thank you, $ 2 shop. Long may your door stay open.


The Electric Screwdriver


The British television who ” Dr. Who “* has featured a device that they call a “sonic screwdriver “. It would appear to have been made of a real screwdriver with added prop bits, and quite possibly lights up when the actors presses a button. All very well, but it is no match for a real-life electric screwdriver when it comes to actually doing work.

Now I generally pooh pooh the wife buying tools – she has made some monumentally expensive blunders getting the wrong items for some home handyman jobs and we’ve beaten a regular path back to Bunnings to get our money back or the things repaired. But I will tip my hat to her for the purchase of a small green Ryobi 4V screwdriver kit. She done good.

It is modest enough – a pouch with the tool, a charger, and a bar of screwdriver heads. it is simple – one trigger and one switch to send the thing forward or reverse. You can dial the degree of force with which it twirls the screw heads round and the changing of the bits is a quick push of the chuck.

Best of all, it carries enough charge in its lithium battery after about 1/2 hour of plug-in to work for an hour or more. I used it to disassemble a metal gazebo and it made easy and fast work of what was a daunting task. It is also good for assembling cabinets when you have to drive in phillips-head screws. No more sore wrists.

A novelty? Yes. A frippery? No. this makes production assembly or disassembly possible and you can use it in places where you could not get purchase to swing a standard screwdriver. Hope it lasts.


  • I did see one episode of this and was prompted to suggest that they change the title to ” Dr. Why? “.