Tailor-made Tools

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Scenics Applicator

How to make a precision applicator for scenic materials from a plastic milk bottle.

Brush Protectors

Making brush protectors from an empty spray bottle.  

Cleaver Guillotine

How to make a guillotine to chop thin strips of wood, plastic etc.

Quilling Tools

How to make quilling tools from sewing needles. 


Milk-bottle Scenics Applicator (Click thumbnails for larger images)

Materials & Tools:

Empty plastic milk bottle

Sharp scissors or craft knife

Marker (optional)

Stage 1

Thoroughly wash and dry the milk bottle, and remove the label if you wish.

Stage 2

(Optional) Draw a line around the section of the bottle going through the hole of the handle. Draw another line at an angle across the handle just before it begins to curve.

Stage 3

Carefully cut along the lines with a sharp craft knife or scissors.

Stage 4

Trim any rough edges or jaggies to leave a nice smooth edge.


Stage 5

Pinch the end of the projecting section of the bottle's handle - this forms the spout of the applicator.

      To use the applicator, place some scenic material (flock, static grass, etc.) into the "hopper". Point it where you want the scenics to go, and gently tilt and tap the applicator until material comes out of the spout.    

Brush Protectors (Click thumbnails for larger images)

Materials & Equipment

Empty shower spray bottle or similar


Craft knife

Paint brushes

Stage 1

Part fill the bottle with clean water and keep pulling the trigger for a minute or so, to thoroughly clean out the tube. Then remove the top, and pull or cut the tube from the trigger mechanism.

Stage 2

Insert a paintbrush into one end, and mark a length of tube about 12mm (1/2") longer than the end of the bristles. Remove the brush and cut the tube with the craft knife.

Stage 3

The tubing varies from brand to brand, but the one I used is a good fit for brushes up to a No. 2 or No. 3 round. It is much stronger material than what usually comes with the brushes, and can be pushed to get a tight fit without splitting.


Cleaver Guillotine (Click thumbnails for larger images)


Wood chopping board

Metal shelf mounting strip

A5 Cutting mat

Dome-headed wood screws x 2

Washers, flat metal x 2, nylon x 1

Nuts & bolts 6mm x 1, 3mm x 1

Stanley knife blade

Small wood strips, PVA



(Power) Drill & drill bits

Pliers / spanner

Tape measure / ruler

Pencil, Set square / CD case

Wood chisel

Stage 1

Measure and mark the middle of the long edge of the chopping board. Use a set square (a CD case works well) to draw a line perpendicular to the edge of the board.

Stage 2

Cut a length of the shelf mounting strip as shown, to around 62mm / 2.5" long. Bend one side down to create an "L" section. Drill two holes in the single thickness to allow it to be screwed to the base. Drill one hole to accept the bolt through the middle of the double thickness.

Stage 3

Align the metal with the centreline you drew and mark the position of the screws. Drill pilot holes, then screw the metal to the chopping board.

Stage 4

The mounting strip comes with pre-drilled holes. Cut one end of the strip next to the end hole and drill the hole wider to accept the 6mm bolt. Cut the strip to a suitable length - I opted for 340mm / 13.5".

Stage 5

Starting from the pivot-point, mark the centre of the third bar along, and drill this to accept the smaller bolt. This will hold the blade in position.

Stage 6

Insert the bolt through the support bracket, add all three washers and the cutting arm. Mark the position of the cutting arm on the chopping board.

Stage 7

Remove some material forming a small channel in the board, using a sharp chisel. This will allow the arm to pivot. Attach the arm again and test - remove more material if required.

Stage 8

Reinsert the bolt, the three washers with the nylon washer between the metal ones, and the arm. Attach a nut to the bolt and tighten the assembly.

Stage 9

Attach the small nut and bolt through the hole you made at Stage 5.

Stage 10

Fit the bolt into one of the slots in a Stanley knife blade. Place the cutting mat onto the chopping board. Lower the arm until the blade sits on the cutting mat and then tighten the nut.

Stage 11

Align the chopping mat so that the blade lies along one of the grid-lines, then glue two small strips of wood into position using PVA. Allow to dry.

Stage 12

The machine is great for thin strips of basswood and coffee stirrers. I can align the wood with the angled lines on the cutting mat to make accurate angles.

Stage 13

For cutting multiple pieces to the same size, I attach a couple of Lego guides with double-sided tape.


On very close inspection, you can see that the cut end of the wood has a slight chamfer, which is simple to sand off.


Quilling Tools (Click thumbnails for larger images)

Materials & Equipment

Sewing needles

Wood dowels

Pin vice & drill bits

Pliers or wire cutters

Fine file or emery cloth

Stage 1

Drill a hole about 12mm (1/2") deep, in the centre of one end of the dowel. The hole should be a fraction smaller than the needle to ensure a tight fit.

Stage 2

Carefully insert the needle. If you made the hole too large and the needle slips, try adding a drop of superglue to the needle prior to inserting it.

Stage 3

Carefully trim off the very end of the needle to leave two prongs as shown.

Stage 4

Use a fine file to remove any burrs left by the cutters.

Stage 5

Here is the finished tool, alongside a second one made with a finer needle.

Example 1

The prongs can be used to grip the edge of a piece of paper or thin card, and roll it up.

Example 2

This results in a tight roll of paper, which is ideal for scrolls.



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