Investing in Tools


Despite not having yet finished my scratch built flat car (which is due to waiting for better weather for airbrushing) I’ve been itching to take another stab at it. To take some of my learnings from round one and improve on it both in better detail and better operations potential (i.e. jamming more weight into it). I’m also at the moment looking at the possibility of scratch building most of the structures on my shelf layout so some good tools will be helpful.

One of my problems was that I didn’t have precision measuring devices that would go to 50ft let alone beyond that. My first scratch built car was 55ft 6in, the next one I’m working on is going to be 53ft 6in because I have a specific prototype in mind but still much to long for my model railroading scale ruler. (side note why oh why did they not start it at the end, it has caught me out too many times)


Shinwa 300mm steel ruler, beam for 53’6″ flat car, and model railroading scale ruler

My digital caliper and all my modeling rulers so far have been too short so I end up with measuring part, marking and measuring from the mark. I decided I wanted to do better and got a Shinwa 300mm steel ruler from Amazon.My American readers may be wondering what’s wrong with me but I’ve found millimeters are easier to work with when converting down. One thing I didn’t expect was pleasantly surprised about is the heft of the thing, it doesn’t look like much but has a substantial feel too it which is probably in part because it’s wider and at least twice as thick as the picture scale ruler.


I’ll be honest, the idea of me getting excited about the heft of a ruler does make me feel a little old…

Another area I tended to have trouble with was cutting the beams in large part because they are so thick but also because I had a hard time keeping a rule lined up for the angled part. To that end I ordered a scriber (which unfortunately is backordered at the moment) and this nifty General Tools 17 Square Head Protractor also available on Amazon.


My hope here is that I’ll be able to use this to reliably reproduce the correct angle as I’m doing my initial scribe to cut the beams. If not I should still be able to make good use of it on larger wood working projects.

I’ve also got a nibbler on it’s way that should be interesting if for no other reason than it’s name… and Trevor Marshall’s post on using one last year has had it on my tool radar for a while.

4 thoughts on “Investing in Tools

    1. As luck would have it I did get a Micro Mark catalog earlier this week. There are some things I’m eyeing but it can be hard to beat Amazon Prime shipping 😀

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