Finished Pieces

Tools

Here are some of the tools in my shop that I use all the time.

1) My computer. I’d be lost without my computer.

2) A good soldering iron. If you solder more than once a month I strongly urge you to spend a few bucks and buy a decent quality soldering iron! I have a Weller WES51. It took me around 5 years of steady bending before I finally threw away my 15th radio shack iron and bought a Weller. Once I got it I felt like I had wasted the last 5 years of my life. It was $120 and worth every penny.

3) Tip tinner and soldering flux. Keeping your iron in good shape and prepping your surfaces makes all the difference.

4) Cordless drill. I use this every day for everything ranging from drilling Speak&Spell housings to building walls in my studio. I have a BOSCH 18volt. This thing has never let me down. The only drawback is that it is pretty heavy for fine work, which is why I have a dremel and drill press.

4A) Drill Press. NOT PICTURED. Great tool. A bench top model is cheap, relatively small, quiet and super useful. I use mine mostly for drilling PCBs and hardware holes in housings and faceplates

5) Label Printer. Labeling continues to be one of the bigger challenges in making instruments. I use a vinyl plotter for lots of my labeling but this thing comes in handy from time to time. Prints nice, waterproof labels. I have a BROTHER brand model PT-1750. The only big drawback to these is that the print tape is pretty expensive.

6) Small parts containers. You just can’t have enough of these. If I don’t keep my parts organized I start to go crazy. You can find them at any craft or hardware store

7) Large parts bins. I love these things. They’re great for holding larger parts like jacks and knobs. Every time I start a new project I pull out one of these containers to put all of the screws and other hardware in. You can buy these for cheap from industrial suppliers like McMaster-Carr.

8 ) Multi Meter. If you don’t have one, get one. I think I spent $50 on mine at RadioShack. Never had any problems with it. Make sure to get one with a continuity tester (the icon looks like a little speaker making noise). This is one of the most used features on mine.

9) Helping Hand. Great tool. cheap.

10) Solder Box. I’ll post details on building one of these soon. Simple but super useful tool.

11) Hand Tools. I would be nothing without a good set of wire strippers, nippy cutters and screw drivers. I have several sets of screw drivers, flat and phillips head, ranging from jewelry size to heavy industrial. Not pictured are flat nose pliers, these are an absolute necessity for tightening nuts on jacks and pots. You can do it without but it ends up being a scratched up mess, trust me… get em.

12) FX Pedal Proto Board. If you do any audio circuit design you have to make one of these. read about it here.

13) Bend Finder. Great tool. Build one.

14) Dremel and lots of dremel bits. Great tool, TONS of uses. I have a cordless and corded. I use them both all the time. If I could only have one, I’d keep the cordless.

15) Digital Recorder. One of the fun parts about circuit bending is that the item you’re working on can make the craziest sounds when you least expect it. Having a recorder in the shop is great for capturing those surprises. I have a ZOOM H4. It does great room recordings and just sounds generally awesome. Highly recommended.

16) Digital Camera. Documenting your work is so important…. not just for yourself, but for others. Stop being selfish and take some pictures of what you build and HOW you built it!


Sounds

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10 Responses to “Tools”

  • 1

    Jeff said:
    September 29th, 2009 at 2:01pm #

    I own almost all of the same tools as you do, same soldering iron, same yellow bins, etc, and I agree with your choice of essentials for an electronics workshop.

    For doing serious surface mount soldering work, I would add a stereo zoom microscope (cheaper than you think on eBay), lots of tweezers, solder paste, and a hotplate or skillet.

  • 2

    Ryan Nestor said:
    September 29th, 2009 at 6:34pm #

    Nice setup. You already have a computer, now you need an Ubuntu Studio live cd. Included is jack-audio daemon and jack-timemachine. Jack timemachine will run in the background and when you hit a hot key, “pre-record” the last minute(you can tell it how much) of audio that it “heard.” This is great for bending, when you never know when you might find a REALLy sweet noise.

  • 3

    casper said:
    September 30th, 2009 at 8:49pm #

    Jeff, I’d love to get into surface mount. I have to admit it’s pretty intimidating but I’ve heard lots of good things from others who have gotten into it.

  • 4

    sloromon said:
    February 7th, 2010 at 6:13pm #

    I really want to build one of those solder boxes, now that i’ve seen it in action! such a genius idea! is it just a box with a bolt running through it to hold your solder reel or is there anything tricky to it? i love the idea of being able to bring your piece to the solder, either vertically or horizontally. can’t believe i didn’t think of that myself. GENIUS!

    can you maybe post a few more pictures of it when you get the chance? thanks!

  • 5

    casper said:
    February 18th, 2010 at 12:53am #

    @sloromon:
    There’s no trick. It’s just a box with a bolt through it. Just make a box that is open on one side (so you can insert the solder role) and has a small hole on the face (for the solder to stick through). Then stick a bolt through it to hold the role in.
    I’ve started ordering solder in 1 pound roles which don’t fit in my solder box. It’s awful! I really have to get my act together and build a bigger box.

  • 6

    sloromon said:
    February 21st, 2010 at 10:23pm #

    thanks! i just built one and i’ll be trying it out soon. just gotta find a long enough bolt!

    jon

  • 7

    Andrew said:
    July 17th, 2010 at 7:09pm #

    I was looking at your bend finder tool and I was wondering if you put the wrong k on your bend what would happen? Sorry for the newb question.

  • 8

    casper said:
    August 7th, 2010 at 9:39pm #

    @Andrew: SOrry for the late reply. The result would depend on the bend… generally it means that you wont get the effect you want.

  • 9

    Dylan said:
    December 23rd, 2011 at 1:40am #

    In regards to the solder box, I suggest using an old blank CD spindle. It’s kind of bulky, but it works damn fine.

    I actually plan on building a rack for solder and wire in the near future.

  • 10

    I Hate SPAM said:
    March 21st, 2013 at 7:50am #

    Casper, just a friendly suggestion on ‘tip’ #3:

    Instead of the classic whet sponge, which although quite slowly deteriorates your tips, use something like the hacky sack (I just call it that because Hakko is the first one I ever saw of it’s type.) It looks like a brillo pad without the soap made from brass instead of steel. They can be purchase from many sources for under $10.00. Your tips will last longer and you don’t have to wait for your iron to heat back up after cleaning since there’s no water to cool down the tip. (I use ‘whet’ in the sense of deteriorating the tip to the point of being not useful.)

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