You have make a couple props, but now you want to step up your game. Time to invest in some power tools. I have been using these tools since middle school, but only within the last year I have gotten into making props with them. When you start getting into building props, it helps to have the right tools. With the right tools and knowledge on how to use them, anyone can make something awesome. The questions I get asked a lot are, “What tools do I need?” or “How can I make that?” There are lots of lists on the basic tools, this list will focus on the next step, power tools. So I have come up with a list of the very basic power tools that every prop maker needs. With all power tools, you do need to use the proper safety equipment. Consult the operations manual to find out what it is and where or how to get proper training.
- Drill – This is probably the most basic and useful tool everyone should have, not just prop makers. You can get small ones or heavy duty ones. I would recommend a battery powered one that is 18 volts. They have just as much power, and can be used in more places. When you look for one, get one that fits the size of projects you are working on. cost $30-200.
- Rotary tool aka Dremel – Dremel if only a brand, but it is one of the best. It all depends on the speed, strength, accessories, battery vs corded, etc. I would recommend investing in a good one. This will be the most versatile tools you have. You can do things like sanding, grinding, cutting, etching, etc. cost $10-100.
- Palm sander or finishing sander – This tool comes in a few different forms. They can be round, square or pointed. They all do the same thing. They vibrate the sand paper so it will sand down your project and cut you time down to a fraction. They come in the smaller “mouse” sanders, used for smaller spaces, to a big 4.5in x 11in sanding surface. cost $10-100.
- Jig Saw – These are used for cutting tight corners. You can get different sized blades for them depending on what you are cutting. Some of the better ones will have different speeds so you can cut something more delicate slower or something like aluminum faster. cost $40-200.
- Belt Sander – This is great for when you have to sand down wood or foam really fast. Especially with ridged foam, it will grind it down too fast if you are not paying attention. It also is great for big sections of wood. cost $30-150.
- Osculating tools – These are kind of a cross between a rotary tool and a palm sander. They have various heads that you can switch out. I find that I use this in place of a mouse sander often when I’m away from a power source. You can use them to sand, cut, grind, etc. cost $70-200.
Ok now that I have shocked you by showing the costs, let me give you some advice. The upper price for these is the very professional heavy duty model. Companies that do these things for a living buy those models. The only real difference between the cheaper and more expensive is the options. They all do the basic job in the end. I always recommend buying the cheapest you can and then upgrade as you go. One of the best places to look for tools is a pawn shop. They always have used tools for sale. Most of the time you can get a higher quality tool for the same cost as a cheap one.
So be safe, go forth and build!