4 Tools, 2 Bs

February 25th, 2005 · 7 Comments · Tools and Tech


There are two power-tools and two computer programs every artist should own:

1) A drill. Easily the most used power-tool. You’ll wonder why you waited. Favorite brands include Milwaukee, Panasonic, Fein and Festool. I like a 12 volt for a nice power/weight balance.

2) Macromedia Director. Powerful, Artist-friendly web and CD-ROMs program. No code needed. Drag and drop animation and interactivity. Handles like an art program, unlike Dreamweaver or Flash. This is the program I use to make our portfolio site. Downsides: expensive, users required to download Shockwave (which is easy and free, but an extra step, unlike Flash).

3) A rotary tool (Dremel). A problem eraser. An undo button for real things. So many things can’t be done without one/can be done better with one. I primarily use them for cutting and sanding, they also excel at polishing and carving. I dare you to cut aluminum aircraft wire fine enough to slip a collar on without one.

4) Adobe Photoshop. The best program for quickly altering images at the very least. The trick many people don’t realize is that older versions are just fine: although purists disagree, there isn’t a lot of difference between version 2 and version 8.

Category: Tools and Tech

7 Comments so far ↓

  • Feets

    Yeah… Another Murray tool post!
    I don’t venture much into the art world, but I love reading about your tools and the technical challenges of the stuff you guys are working on.
    Tools rule!

  • Murray

    What are some of your favorite tools and brands?

  • Feets

    Hi Murray,
    Its funny, I love tools and I love reading about them in magazines, catalogs, and on the internet… but nothing really comes to mind as a “favorite”. As far as woodworking tools go, I’m not really brand loyal or anything, but I do seem to usually stick with Delta, JET, Porter Cable, and DeWalt. I usually go with the best deal I can find.
    I agree with you on the cordless drill, it’s one of the most frequently used tools that I own. I hardly ever use it for drilling holes though… mostly as a screw driver. I seem to use my drill press more for woodworking types of things. I have a cheap “Skill” brand cordless drill that I picked up for about $30 on sale at the BORG. It works great. No complaints.
    We sold our old house last year and I spent a lot of time fixing it up. I replaced all of the baseboard molding throughout the house. I started out with a good old hammer and nail setter. I soon realized that a nail gun would save a lot of work. So I bought a cheap Porter Cable gun/compressor combo from amazon.com. Dude, it made the job so much easier/quicker. I love having that thing around even now, especially when my car tires need air. (I remember a post you made about a nail gun a while back.)
    When we moved into the new house, we had a lot of pictures to hang, wall paper in the kitchen, shelves, etc. I picked up one of those thingamajigs that will project laser lines on the wall. Again, a very useful tool. It’s great for hanging a couple of picture frames at the same level on a wall, hanging a shelf that needs several nails to be horizontally aligned, etc. I bought a cheap Craftsman laser thingy for about $39. I’m sure there are better ones, but this suited my needs just fine…
    In the wood shop, it seems like most jobs have a logical choice for the tool required. In that sense, I don’t really have a tool that jumps out as a favorite. (Seems like the table saw is the most used, though.) Most of my woodworking dollars have been spent on the staple tools (jointer, planer, band saw, drill press, etc.) I haven’t really invested much in the handy gadgets and such, but I love looking through the Lee Valley & Veritas catalog.
    I’m about to upgrade my table saw. I mentioned before that I would probably get that 2 hp Grizzly cabinet saw, but it turns out that after a recent price increase, tax, and shipping, that it’ll be more than I want to pay. So, I’ll probably go with a Delta contractor and the Biesemeyer fence. (They have a good deal on amazon.com right now. $775 after discount. No tax, free shipping. Includes table board and legs. Free mobile base, dado blade set, or tenoning jig.) I’m also considering the new Delta and Craftsman hybrids, both can be had with the Biesemeyer fence and the Craftsman even has cabinet mounted trunions. Decisions… Decisions…
    I do web application development at work. Tool of choice: Visual Studio.NET (VB.NET and ASP.NET) In the old days, I used to also be the “multimedia/graphics guy” So I’ve had my share of fun playing with Flash and Director. Both are cool tools, but back then Director was the only tool that could handle video. We made some pretty cool video presentations in that were eventually put on CD Rom.
    It does seem like Photoshop is the standard for graphics. For whatever reason, I got started with the Corel suite (Corel Draw and Photo Paint). They are great tools, but I finally gave in to peer pressure and recently got a copy of Photoshop CS…
    (Gosh… that was a lot of typing.)

  • Murray

    Sounds like you have a great shop!

  • Feets

    Thanks Murray. I’ve sort of got the woodworking bug right now. We moved into a new house last August and most of my tools have been huddled in the corner of the garage ever since. I’m finally ready to start a couple of projects, so I’m currently getting the workspace in order and reassembling the larger tools. This is a fun project in itself. I drew out the shop in Visio and found some power tool stencils. Its fun arranging the pieces to trying to come up with different layouts…
    First job is to create some picture frame moulding and then make some frames for a couple of large posters that we recently purchased.
    Second job is to finish the walnut bedside tables that I began making about a year ago…

  • Ms. Jen

    I love your photocollage/digital images that you have been putting in your posts!
    smiles, jen ;o)

  • Murray


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