Tag Archives: Tools

Friday Click Links

Friday Click Links

Follow along with the story of Twan Baker, the prop baby who has been in two Broadway shows and over half a dozen regional theatre productions. He is kept and cared for by a growing family tree of actors and writers and has his own adventures.

Steve Hoefer has been writing a series of beginner’s guides to various tools, and his latest is on drills and bits. If you’ve ever grabbed a spade bit to drill through metal, please stop and read this guide first.

I’ve been watching some videos of the Creature Technology Company lately, which makes massive animatronic creatures for giant arena shows. This behind the scenes look at the How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular shows just what I’m talking about.

Finally, are you a fan of the Fake and Bake blog (a blog all about making fake food)? Anna Warren, the writer and a good friend, has branched out and started a company called Tactile Craftworks making handmade and hand-bound leather journals with etched details (among other things). They have just started a Kickstarter to produce an Atlas Series of journals, with covers of maps of either Milwaukee or Chicago. Head on over and check it out, and maybe pick up a journal or two!

Friday Fun Links

Happy Friday, good props people!

Though a few years old, this tutorial on making paper clay is pretty useful. Paper clay is a great sculpting material if you are working with kids, or otherwise need a cheap and non-toxic medium.

I always enjoy when Lost Art Press posts 19th century texts about workmanship. This recent one on “Good Workmen and Good Tools” is such a post. Take care of your tools!

Designing a vinyl toy with Joe Ledbetter is a bit different than what most of us do. He steps us through the many procedures one goes through when one designs a vinyl toy and works with a factory to put it into production. It’s kind of fascinating.

Finally, if you want a video to zone out to today, check out this mesmerizing one of Philippe Faraut sculpting a human hand from clay.

The Unluckiest Links of the Year

Happy Friday the 13th to everyone. Aren’t you “lucky” to have the time to read my blog today? Here are some interesting stories and videos I’ve come across in the last week:

First off is this fantastic and epic build of a Master Sword from the Legend of Zelda series. 2Story Props steps through the whole process, from the initial drafting to the final coat of paint, with tons of photographs showing every step along the way.

Bill Tull, the props master for TV’s Conan O’Brien, is back with some budget holiday tips for you. These are particularly funny.

I like this charming antique story of talking tools who argue over who is the most important when it comes to constructing a wooden box. Guess what? It only works when the tools work together and play their unique role.

Finally, production designer K.K. Barrett talks about creating the unique futuristic world of Her. The movie itself, a sci-fi romance film from Spike Jonze, looks fascinating. Though production design is somewhat removed from the world of props, it is always interesting to read how the various production departments on a film work together, and the interview deals a lot with how the physical objects and tactile qualities of the world relate to the story of the film, which is something props masters do deal with.

Black Friday Props Links

Black Friday Props Links

David Neat, author of Model-Making: Materials and Methods, has a blog going with all sorts of model making techniques. Posts on painting, mold-making, working in scale, and more are described and shown with ample photographs.

I really like this illustrated chart of hand tools over at Popular Mechanics. The chart itself is good-looking enough to hang up in your shop, while the tools pictured on it give you a great idea of what your shop is missing.

Smooth-On has a ton of great videos over at their website showing how to mold and cast with many of their materials. If you haven’t checked them out yet, start with one of their newer ones on how to make a mold for a replica of an antique rifle.

If you ever wanted to take the time to make chain mail by hand (as opposed to just spray-painting some crocheted yarn), Make Projects has a great tutorial on just that.

Recommended Tools for the Props Person (SFO Edition)

All props people have their own tools they bring to work. Some of the tools are basic necessities that one should never be without, while others are specialty items that you rarely find at any shop. But if you are just starting out, what tools do you need? The Santa Fe Opera provides their incoming apprentices with a list of tools which they are required to bring. Obviously, their shop is well-equipped; these are just the personal tools which every props person should have. Think of it as a base-line set that you bring to every job, regardless of where it is or what you are doing.

The Opera has two different lists, one for the carpenters (who build the furniture and other fabricated items out of wood and metal) and the crafts persons (who do soft goods, casting and molding, and all other crafts). I’ve paraphrased them below.

For the carpenters:

  • tape measure
  • architect’s scale rule
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • slotted screwdriver
  • drill and driver bits
  • hammer
  • end cutting pliers
  • slip joint pliers
  • diagonal cutting pliers
  • adjustable wrench
  • combination square or speed square
  • utility knife
  • 3/4″ wood chisel

For the crafts persons:

  • needle-nose pliers
  • fabric scissors
  • craft scissors
  • tape measure
  • utility knife

In addition, though the shop has some of the following tools, they are so commonly used that they recommend bringing your own if you have them:

  • precision cutting knife (X-Acto® knife)
  • snap-off blade knife (Olfa® knife)
  • bevel gauge
  • cordless drill
  • steel ruler
  • vise grips
  • ratchet and socket set (especially 1/2″, 7/16″ and 9/16″)
  • box wrenches (especially 1/2″, 7/16″ and 9/16″)
  • compass

Finally, while their shop has some safety gear, it is always a good idea to own a personal set of the following:

  • respirator with organic vapor cartridges
  • safety glasses
  • hearing protection
  • leather gloves

Again, these are the tools required by the Santa Fe Opera, and other work sites may require a slightly different set of tools. However, if you are just starting to build up your own personal tool kit, it is a good guide to refer to for the most commonly-used tools in a props shop.