Shop tools

Question: With all the repair work you do, I guess you have seen about seen it all. I remember Frank Marshall's basement workshop, his tools and supplies, and I wondered what you consider your mainstays, the main things you need around for most of the hard work. I made only one figure, using power drill with coarse sanding disks, a hacksaw, a large screwdriver bent to gouge out inside of head, and my hands. I'll never make another one because too hard on the wrists holding and turning the large block of wood. What are your main tools, Mr. D, to do your work and not hurt yourself doing it? Lee Dean
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Answer: What a question! My major in High School and College was Industrial Arts and Cabinet Making. So I had several years training with woodworking tools in school followed by employment as a carpenter for a time. So I'm well trained in using tools with caution for their unique purpose.

You asked about my "main tools", and my first thought was, "table saw, band saw, drill press, bench grinder, dremel carver, electric drills, sanders, etc.", which I use almost daily. And then there are all the varying types and sizes of constantly used hand tools: "knives, files, pliers, wood rasps, clamps, hammers, screwdrivers, metal cutters, etc." But some of my most useful and valued tools are the 20 plus pieces I crafted myself in one way or another to perform certain speciality tasks on vent figures. "Mini-saws, hooks, cutters, threaders, and whatnot" - most don't even have a name.

I have yet to try carving a figure out of wood. Probably never will since that would involve spending many hours learning and honing a new skill, and I just don't even get excited thinking about that prospect. There are too many ideas for things to do that require only the use of skills I already have....


  1. Anonymous5/01/2011

    Well, that is all fine and dandy but my favorite tool is my, "Checkbook"! I also use a pen to write a check to a figure maker like, Clinton and just like magic, a fine looking puppet appears on my doorstep! No workshop, no tools, no mess, no paint or glue fumes, no cut fingers, no cuss words when something goes wrong and I'm off and running with the only chore, opening the box, and unwrapping the figure! Why struggle? My motto is: No Pain, No Pain! I sometimes think about building a puppet but then I come to my senses. This way I can concentrate on venting! Hello! God Bless our Figure Makers! Regards, Joe "Capt. Joe" Radle </;O)

  2. Anonymous5/01/2011

    That's fine if you have another figure or puppet as back-up, but lets say you have just ONE. & you're doing a show, & the string breaks. & guess what? you have another show that same day or week. I think you'll agree that knowing you pal inside & out so YOU can fix him/her/it, would come in REAL handy then. I just bought a used jerry layne figure, & one of the first things that happened on the used figure, was the string for a winker broke. Did i call mr. layne & say "HEEELLLPPP!!!", noooo. I have never seen inside a figures head except photos, so saw this as an oppertunity to tinker & to get to know my new pal better. By the way, Mr. Layne LOVES hot glue! Had to use a warm knife to get the wig off, as much as needed to access the door into the head. then saw that under the tape on the door, MORE hot glue, ALL THE WAY AROUND! But, i'm a patient kinda fella, & a while later had the head open,got a good look inside at all the workings, fixed the string, & he's rarin' to go again. Just some thoughts to get you thinkin' :)