I recently did a video review of the new Citadel Tool set. It's not a hard-hitting piece. Mostly first impressions, I guess. Overall I was pleased with the tools, less so with the price.
Of course, that wasn't really enough for some people. I think that they wanted me to condemn the tools outright strictly based on their price. There's at least one blog out there that does this by showing that you can save half by buying cheap tools.
But is that a fair comparison? My impression of most of the tools is that they are built very well. The cutter in particular feels great in the hand and is really nicely designed.
Sure, there are any number of tools that you could buy to do essentially the same job and save a crap ton of money doing it. But I like to have nice tools - not just adequate tools. So what if I gave myself a budget based on the price of the Citadel tool range and got the best tools that I could get from elsewhere. What could I get?
Okay, my budget for a cutter is $35. A quick look around at my options tell me that the Citadel cutter is indeed at the extreme high-end price for this type of tool. I see a couple of options that would do as good or better a job and still save me money. Here are my top two choices:
If you Google "Best Sprue Cutter" you'll find a ton of links to this particular cutter. It looks good, seems well made, and everybody raves about it. Based on that alone I would probably look at going with this one. Sure, it's not as burly or sexy as the Citadel version, but it looks like a solid tool.
So, we've got the money. We might as well spend it. This comes closer to the $35 limit, but that's because it's not just one pair of cutters. It's 3. Each one with its own angled cutting head. An interesting idea, but I don't know that I'm going to want to spend time deciding just which angle is going to work best for a particular piece. No, I think I'll go with my first choice. Maybe I'll put the savings into one of the other tools.
This is one that I want to take a close look at. I've worked with a number of pin vises over the years and the cheap one do tend to fall apart. The funny thing is that the old Citadel one has been one of the better ones I've used and the new one is probably the least impressive of the new tools. It's definitely not an improvement in anything except looks.
This isn't a pin vise, but it should be able to replace one in many instances. I also already had this tool in mind when I started this post. I really want to get one of these so in my hypothetical shopping spree I will. This drill is actually a kit that you assemble before you get to use it.
Of course, this drill is a few dollars more than the $18.50 that I have budgeted for this tool. That's okay though because I have at least $10 left over from buying the cutter(s).
So, let's say that I actually want a pin vise and not a drill. Well, I could get one of these. Starrett is a maker of finely crafted machine tools so I don't doubt that this would be a tool that would last me a lifetime. On the upside it's a couple of dollars cheaper than the Citadel version. On the downside, its chuck is a fixed size so if you need to be able to get larger bits into it then you have to buy the next size up as well. That would probably put me over budget. Still, it's a nice tool and worth considering.
I like the new Citadel knife. I'm not sure why they swtched from the #11 X-Acto-style blade to the #3 scalpel blade, but I can see one benefit in that the blade can accidentally slip free of the handle when you're doing a deep cut. I'll be honest, though. I don't see a problem with my good old-fashioned X-Acto knife. I also have about six of them so that makes me less inclined to want to buy a new one in the next decade. But for the sake of our fiction, let's take a look at what's out there.
Finding a way to spend $25 on a hobby knife is pretty tough unless you buy a year's supply of blades up front. This set is probably the best way to spend that money. You'll probably never use half of the stuff in the set, but any time you have a new task you can marvel over all of your blades and decide just which one you should use. And you still have your handy #11 for your routine tasks.
If you just want something similar to the Citadel knife, you can find retractable scalpels. This one runs for about $19. That's not too far off our budget. I'm not fond of the pastel coloring though.
GW gives you two very fine diamond files in their box. I don't think that I've ever worked with files with as fine a grit as those before. I learned a lot about files looking for something to fit this $18 hole. There are a bunch of sizes, styles and grits that you can buy. So I decided to narrow it down to a set that at least included fine grit tools.
When sanding something my preference is usually to grab an emery board. I'll even cut them up if I need to get into a tight space. Well, this is essentially a set of specialized emery boards designed to get into tight spaces. You get a bunch of them in different grits for about $15. Files will last longer, but these are probably more versatile.
I've never had one of these. When I need to scrape a seam I pull out the hobby knife. That said, I think I was really surprised by how nice the new GW tool felt in my hand and I feel like I wouldn't mind giving one a try in the future. But since this shopping trip has to include non-GW tools, let's take a look at what else is out there.
This one looks pretty nice. Looks like it will fit in your hand like your Xacto knife and the blade appears fine enough to do small pieces. It's also adjustable. Not only that it's a couple of bucks cheaper.
Another thing that people have said that they use for this purpose is a deburring tool. This is a tool normally used for cleaning up the edges of machined metal parts. I have my doubts as to how effective these kinds of tools could be for our hobby, but if I were going to experiment I would probably get one of these sets with the various heads so that I had the best chance at being able to make it work
This was probably the hardest category to shop for. There's an infinite number of shapes and sizes of sculpting tools out there. Many of them are just repurposed dental tools and so they all tend to look essentially the same. Expensive as they may be, I do like the set GW offers because they all seem pretty useful.
Well, if we're going to spend $25 we might as well just buy every frakin' dental tool style in one swell poop. The nice thing about sculpting tools is that if you're actually sculpting with them then they don't exactly need to be bullet-proof. One set is as good as another, I guess.
This is a pretty standard set. I think that Privateer Press sells almost exactly the same set. This one goes for $14. I'm not exactly excited about it but it saves us $10. I guess with the extra money we could also get this spatula set since the sculpting set does have one.
So that about covers it. At this point I've spent most of my budget and have a nice batch of tools. be sure to let me know if I've missed a tool that I should have put on my list here.