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Thread: A guide to modding tools and some of their uses

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Peterborough, Ont.

    Default A guide to modding tools and some of their uses

    Alright, I figured that since there isn’t a post like this around yet, and I got nothing to do since I have a mean ass hangover, and because I want more rep, I would make this thread all about a bunch of hand tools and there uses.
    I am training to be an electrician so I happen to have bunch of tools at my disposal so here we go.

    Before I get started, I just want to point out the importance of quality tools. If you bought it from the dollar store then you can’t call it a tool. Quality tools can take a beating and keep on coming. Spending 30$ on a pair of side cutters may sound ridiculous, but they will last you many years. And maybe even your whole life if you take care of them. 30 1$ side cutters will last 30 cuts.

    This guide measures the usefulness of each tool with a 3-tier rating scale:
    If you are putting together your first took kit then this tool is a must buy. Buy all "high" marked tools before others, unless you need specialty.
    These are tool that would be useful to have but are not required
    Tools that would merely be cool to have are marked with low.

    First of all, let’s look at the average disorganized tool pouch.

    As you can see, I have tried to cram all I can get into this nifty husky bag. And it works great.
    Before I get into the individual tools I would like to ask that you excuse my camera skills and messy room. The off center pics I have to blame on the freight train going through my head.

    Alright, so what do we have first?

    Electricity Finder Medium

    The electricity finder (as I call it) is a useful tool that can tell you if electrical current is present, without direct contact. Depending on what one you buy they can detect current from as little as 9V.

    I even included and vid to show you it in action. I screwed up a bit though, the first wire I test is the USB cord for my camera (sorry for not showing)

    O yeah, the vid is 23megs because im an idiot

    Cost: 10$~

    Work Radio High

    Unless you are one of those people that hates music I would highly recommend having some music playing while you work. It makes the time go by much faster and easier. The on I picked up is actually a sat radio with boom box attachment. Really helps!

    Cost: 20$-150$~

    RJ-45 Crimper Low

    This little tool is specifically for working on network wires. It has a blade for stripping network wire without damaging the little wires, and it can crimp rj-45 heads(the average network wire head) onto wires. Useful if you do lots of computer related wiring, such as running cables.

    Cost: 25$~

    Precision Screwdriver Set Medium

    These come in handy not that often, but when you need a precision screwdriver there aren’t many substitutes. It is really handy to have a set like this around. Note: when you buy precision screwdrivers, as mentioned above do not buy them from the dollar store. These will not perform nearly as well as a slightly more expensive set.

    Cost: 15$~

    Mini Multi-screwdriver Medium

    Something like this is not really needed, but it is a good in-between filler for your other screwdrivers. It can out perform a precision screwdriver, and fit in places your main screwdriver set cant.

    Cost: 8$~

    Big Multi-screwdriver Low

    This is just like the screwdriver mentioned above, except bigger. Not really something that you have to have, but again, it comes in handy. And if you can find one like mine where there is an extendable magnet grabber thing in the barrel then you have a tool that comes in real handy.

    Cost: 10$~

    Screwdriver Set High

    Alright, now here is something that everyone must have. If you were putting together your first tool kit then this would be the first thing you would buy. A good set of screwdrivers is the basis of a tool set. What you should start off with would be a #2 and 3 Robertson(square) a #1, 2, and 3 standard(slot), and a #2,and 3 Phillips(star) at least.

    Cost: 30-40$~

    Tape Measure High

    This is another one of those "must have" tools. The tape measure is the base measuring median. For more precision I also suggest a good ruler. The quality of a tape measure is not that important(in case modding at least).

    Cost: 7-30$~

    Wire Strippers Medium

    How else are you going to get at that sweet sweet coppery inside? A good pare of strippers are paramount in your quest for modding greatness. Shown here are the manual strippers. Not as used in case modding, but still a good tool. Most modders use auto strippers which I will be mentioning farther down. Again, the more money you spend on your strippers the cleaner and easier the job will be. I ****ed around with cheap-o strippers(no pun intended) for far to long before I finally saw the light.

    Cost: 18$~

    Side cutters High

    Although they are usually only used for cutting wires, a good expensive pair of side cutters can cut through many other things(plastic, thin metal, misplaced zipties.

    Cost: 30$~

    Mini Standard(slot) Screwdriver High

    I put high priority on this because of its high odd-job usefulness, and its low cost. This little tool is one that you will find many uses for. And if you don’t have on it will be something that you never think of but need a lot.

    Cost: 3$~

    Flashlight Medium

    A good little flashlight is always something useful to have on hand. As you can see mine came with a protective rubber tip which im sure has saved the bulb more then 1 time. You may have also noticed that I wrapped the end in electric tape. This is for when you need 2 hands and a flashlight(tapes a lot easier on the teeth)

    Cost: 12$~

    Bolt cutters(that what I call em' at least) Low

    I know what you’re thinking when you look at that pic, "man whys he got that up it the most useless tool on the planet". And I agree, this thing sucks. However, I have found a use for them. Bolt cutters. If you look closely at the picture you will see a series of holes just above the handle. These are common sizes for bolts. Your bolt just a bit too long? Screw it into the right hole and squeeze. Ta-da, a shorter bolt!

    Cost: 5$~
    i am the "starving artist" of the modding world

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Peterborough, Ont.

    Default Re: Guide: Tools of the Trade

    Grips Medium

    Another one of those "useful to have around" tools. A good big pair will give you considerable grabbing power. Useful for bending and pulling.

    Cost: 15$~

    Needle-nose Pliers High

    These are extremely useful, especially when we are talking about the world of small electronics. A must have.

    Cost: 20$~

    Prier Standard(slot) Low

    Basically just a real big slot screwdriver, good for prying stuff among other things.

    Cost: 5$~

    Hammer Medium

    Everyone needs a hammer at some point in their life. If you don’t know what it’s used for then please disconnect and burn your computer, then go back to your cave.

    Cost: 5-60$~

    Zip-Ties High

    A computer modders best friend. These can be used for all kinds of things. The most popular being for cable management.

    Cost: 3$~

    Auto-strippers High

    These useful tools come in two variants, which I will refer to as in-line and split versions. The auto stripper is just like the manual stripper except it does all the work for you. It is defiantly the most favored in the modding community.



    Cost: 5-30$~

    Stubby Multi Screwdriver Medium

    This is the best bang for your buck when it comes to stubby screwdrivers. The stubby is something I consider a must have, only because it is one of those tools where nothing else short of a hammer will do.

    Cost: 8$~

    Wrench Set Medium

    These are good to have around for when you need them. And they usually come in packs giving you everything you need for relatively cheap. They come most commonly in 3 different sets. Imperial Allen wrench, Metric Allen wrench, and Torx wrench.

    Cost: 14$~

    Ok, that ends my guide for now. I will add to it as I get feedback and think of more things. If there is anything that you dis-agree with of that you think should be changed then post about it!
    i am the "starving artist" of the modding world

  3. #3
    Austral Alien
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Newcastle, NSW, Australia


    I've decided to expand on Foxtrot's excellent guide to modding tools with some of my own. I've copied the Original Thread and trimmed out the comments for your reading pleasure. I'll be adding more two this guide over the next week or so and if anyone else would like to add some photos of tools and how they are used for modding, feel free to contribute.

    Some of the tools I use for modding.

    First up, the Rotary Tool, commonly known as a Dremel. Dremel is actually a brand of Rotary Tool, but most people just call all rotary tools Dremels around here.

    Here is my 300 series variable speed Dremel and my old cheapo rotary tool the died:

    I also have a flexible shaft attachement for it which is quite handy for detail work:

    There are a lot of attachments available for the Dremel, including routers and saws and chainsaw sharpeners to name a few. I don't have any of them yet, but I plan to soon.

    The smaller tools and attachments are plentiful too. These are the most common ones I use:

    From left to right, top to bottom we have:
    Various bits and burrs used for etching and engraving.
    Different sized polishing pads, the screw attachemnt for them and some polishing compound.
    Different cutting wheels and the attachment for them. The bigger reinforced wheel is a little more expensive than the others, but it lasts a lot longer. The smaller ones do a smaller cut but don't last as long. Great for everything from cutting plexi to cutting a window in a case and anything in between. Just expect to use a LOT of discs cutting metal. The smaller once get less than a couple of inches cutting before being worn out completely, so you'll be changing them a lot.
    Last up on the bottom right is some sanding drums and attachment. Very handy for all sorts of things when you need to quickly shape something.

    They are just the main ones, but there is a lot more. Here's my box of bits:

    Other things in there include sanding discs, grinding stones, drills, saw drills, wire brushes, plastic brushes and a few other odds and sods I've collected over time.

    A soldering iron is very handy when it comes to wiring up LEDs or extending cables. One day I'll buy a better one with variable temperature, but in the mean time this one does the job just fine.
    In this pic you'll see my soldering iron and stand with a piece of sponge.
    I wet the sponge and use it to wipe the hot soldering iron on to clean the excess solder off.
    There is also some flux solder and a solder sucker.
    The solder sucker is for when you need to remove solder from something. basically you heat up the solder on something until it is molten and the Solder Sucker is just like a spring loaded syringe. You press it down and then hit the button on the side and it sucks up the molten solder into it.

    While I'm talking electronics, I'll put up another handy tool.
    My digital multi-meter.

    I use it mainly for checking voltages and measuring resistance of circuits. It's not really that necessary for modding, but I use it on the car as well, so it's one of those things I like having around for when I do need it.

    A cheap thing to include with your tools is some of these retractable knives:

    For a lot of jobs they are handy to use, from opening new boxes of parts you've ordered, to cutting out card when making templates for a build, or like the green one with the blade out, I also use them when doing Bondo work. They work great to shape Bondo or trim excess off before it fully cured. Because the knives are only a couple of bucks for a 3 pack, I don't care about ruining one or two for other jobs because it has Bondo stuck to it.

    When it comes time to need a straight line or to make sure you have a 90 degree angle while marking out plexi for windows or just cutting the window hole, a straight, square line is important a Builder's Square is very useful:

    My 1/4" socket set gets a bit of use and covers most computer sizes used around. this set I got becuase it was compact and also has the screwdriver and hex bits etc in the kit as well:

    Last edited by Bucko; 09-25-2007 at 09:42 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Crimson Sky View Post
    -Wackello Capello

  4. #4
    Measure once, curse twice nevermind1534's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Detroit, Michigan

    Default Re: A guide to modding tools and some of their uses

    That looked just like one of those spam emails that I get every day. Thankfully the mods here are on top of the ball!
    Last edited by Drum Thumper; 07-17-2010 at 04:51 PM. Reason: Poetic License.

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