My tool list
Ever wondered what kind of tools I use to craft my builds? I'll attempt to list them all and link to where you could get them!
Basic Cutting Tool
I personally prefer the 18mm snap off blades for the long cutting surface. The extendable blade makes it easier to cut thicker foam. It’s good to invest in a slightly more expensive (£4-£10) handle and use the cheap stuff you get from poundland and the build quality of the handle will affect your cut. The one I use is a Stanley one I found at Homebase. I love this product because of how easy it is to change the blade.
Don’t feel like you must use blades to cut out foam. Scissors can work just as well. Personally, I find using the extended blades gives me more control but it does require a flat work surface to work on.
I use a piece of MDF from Wickes as my surface. It’s cheap and replaceable. I do all of my cutting, gluing and painting on it. I prefer it to cutting mats because I don’t have to worry about looking after it. Once both sides are ruined, I just pop it into the garage, sand it down and use it as a surface for storing.
A lot of people just use it to mark edges but it can also be used to cut straight lines. I know it sounds obvious but the amount of times I’ve seen people trying to cut straight lines free-hand and ended up with “straight enough” edge is worth me mentioning. The straigher and cleaner the edge, the better the seams will be.
Although you can use your box cutter to cut fine details, a scalpel will give you more control and cleaner edges. Get the 100 pack. They get blunt extremely quickly and there is no point in sharpening them.
SharpenerI don't really recommend using a sharpener because they won't recognise the "life time warranty" if you use it so often in cosplay. But if you're adamant about getting one instead of just swapping out your blades, this is the one that I used to use.
I cannot stress this point enough but one must keep the blade sharp. As soon as you feel like you have to put additional effort into cutting the foam, that’s when you should recognise that the blade is blunt. At that point, I would recommend to switching the blade out for a new one.
When cutting the piece of foam, try to use one smooth slicing motion for the cut and limit how much you “sawing” of the foam as this would leave a jagged edge which will require additional sanding. This is especially hard to avoid when cutting tight curves so try to use a scalpel instead for additional dexterity.
I would recommend the fine tip Sharpies as it doesn’t run after you mark the surface.
Hot Glue Gun
Fantastic piece of kit for gluing things together. Works well on foam but it can get extremely messy. There are lots of different makes of glue guns. I would recommend 11mm x 200mm glue sticks because if you use smaller ones, you'll spend more than looking and replacing glue sticks than gluing stuff. I'm currently using a Bosch Glue Gun. And please, DO NOT BUY WIRELESS GLUE GUNS! They suck hard balls.
This is one of my most used tool. I primarily use it for sanding and and drilling small holes. I personally use the brand Dremel but any brand should be fine. There are literally hundreds of attachments available for it. It’s extremely good for sanding down edges and seams and also to get into small gaps where the belt sander can’t get to. I keep it on a stand on my desktop so I could easily tidy up edges.
The Dremel Extension saves me a lot of time and effort. This extends the sanding bit. The reduced weight gives me a lot more control of the sanding tips. Everyone loves a well controlled tip.
If you’re looking to paint/spray paint, I would recommend tape up the edges you don’t want coloured up with painter’s tape. I wouldn’t recommend buying masking tape from poundland. I’ve experienced a lot of “bleeding” with cheap tape. The effort fixing the paint job is not worth the extra few pounds saved on cheaper tape. I have been using Frogtape (the green one) and it’s doing me just fine.
Soldering IronSoldering irons are not just used for electronics. It can also be used to engrave patterns into foam. With the hot knife attachment, it would create very nice battle damage wounds.
I would recommend getting a butane gas soldering iron as it’s portable. You don’t want to be engraving indoors as the smell of the fumes do linger. I got mine here.
I've always done shading by hand with a paintbrush and have always been reluctant on spending a large sum of money on an airbrush. Since I've first come into contact with an airbrush at the Artyfakes Training Course, I have fell in love with the airbrush. The effects you get with an airbursh combined with hand shading/ weathering will make your costume stand out from the crowd. You can use cans of compressed air but in the long run, it's much more expensive than buy a compressor. The one I'm currently using can be purchased here. I would always go for one with a tank. Thank me later for this decision.
For the paint, I just use a standard acrylic ink. It comes in a variety of different colours. You can use other paint such as tinned out acrylic paint but it seems a bit too much effort for what I need it to do.
The first time I've used a belt sander, it was terrifying. After having a few goes on it, I wondered how I was cosplaying without it before. The speed and consistency you can get from a belt sander on foam is amazing. It is extremely difficult to create a clean, long edge with just a Dremel but with a belt sander, it takes just minutes to edge a sword. You can get these in any DIY store. I got mine from here.
Jigsaws are easier to store but if I had the space, I would get a bandsaw or a scroll saw. A knife just doesn't have the power to cleanly cut thick pieces of foam or acrylic.