By Randy Fratzke
Basic tool needs:
2. Sandpaper. Various grits in the ranges of 80, 100, 120, 180, 200, and 250.
3. Wet sandpaper. Various grits in the ranges of 100, 220 and 400.
4. Paint brushes and painting devices. I use a variety, ranging from fine hair artist brushes, to the coarser nylon bristle disposable brushes. In addition I have a set of small dowels, nails, sponges and craft items I use for detailing spots, swirls and eyes.
5. Hooks. A selection of popper hooks in various sizes (I'll get into these again later), regular fly tying hooks in 2x, 3x and 4x in various sizes; and yes, small treble hooks in various sizes. I've switched over to barbless hooks for the most part, but I haven't been able to find any popper hooks that are barbless, so I usually pinch them down and file them smooth. Using a little clear fingernail polish on the point helps to keep them from rusting and doesn't seem to interfere with hookups. I also use larger hooks, up to 0/4, in either chrome or nickel plate for salt water use. If your worried about the nickel or chrome hooks breaking off and not dissolving in a salt water fish then by all means use what ever type or brand you want. I haven't found that to be a big issue, providing you bring the fish in and release it properly.
6. Epoxy, wood fillers, head cement, and adhesives. A variety of glues and adhesives are usually necessary. The number and types will vary, depending on what styles of poppers are being built.
7. Paints and finishes. For most I use acrylic paints. They clean up with water, come in every color known, can be mixed together to create custom colors, and are very inexpensive. I also use spray paints for special applications that I will describe later.
8. Miscellaneous. A small drill and drill bits, a small saw (such as a coping or jig saw), a wide variety of what I refer to as junk, tooth picks, craft sticks, cotton swabs, cotton balls, small C-clamps, clothes pins, needles, and masking tape . The more poppers you build the more this list will grow. It's been said many times, need is the mother of invention, and you'll come up with a lot of ideas of how to do things using common house hold items. A bunch of plastic mesh bags, such as those that garlic, onions and potatoes are purchased in, come in handy also, as I'll explain in another section. A variety of rubber strands to use for legs, feelers and attractor skirts.
Things that make life easier and the job go quicker. These items are not really necessary, some cost a lot of money, and are completely optional.
2. A good set of wood carving tools. I have a set of palm tools and a set of chip carving tools. These are precision tools made of extremely hard metal which hold a sharp edge. The job of detailing, carving and shaping is really made easy with these. Quality and price vary widely, especially the quality. If your going to spend the money, like most things in life, make sure you don't buy a cheap set, you'll spend more time sharpening, honing and cussing than you do carving.
3. Air-brush system. These come in a variety of styles and price ranges, from the inexpensive types that run off of a can of compressed air to the professional double action models that operate from air compressors. The nice part about airbrushes is they normally have interchangeable tips or variable spray patterns. You can also vary the amount of paint that is sprayed, from a very fine mist to a heavy coating.
4. Miscellaneous. There is an art material called frisket which comes with either a peel off backing or in liquid form that can be used to mask off areas during the painting and finishing process you'll find works a lot better than masking tape. Power tools, such as scroll saws, jig saws, and sanders all are useful, but as I said, not absolutely necessary.
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