Favorite Tools for Finishing

Favorite Tools - files, pliers, and putty knife

Favorite Tools – files, pliers, and putty knife

While at the local hardware store over the weekend I picked up a cheap set of files on impulse.  These have quickly been incorporated into my 3D printing toolbox.

  • For years I’ve been using sandpaper and a precision screwdriver set to sand and “file” away plastic.  However, I found the above set consisting of a flat metal file, triangular file, and circular file for less than $7.  Since this particular set was originally designed for sharpening metal saw blades, they make quick and easy work of plastic.  If you haven’t picked up a set like this yet, I’d highly recommend it.
  • The needle nose pliers are useful for cutting filament, handling hot plastic, clamping/fitting/or forcing small parts, and sometimes for scraping excess plastic.
  • The putty knife is useful for scraping excess small pieces of plastic off a printed object, but mainly for separating printed objects from the print bed.
  • Not pictured, I also use a variety of sandpaper.  While the metal files have been proving more versatile and durable than the sandpaper, the finer grades of sandpaper are indispensable for that really polished look.

What do you use to help a printed object look its best?

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , 5 comments

5 Comments so far

  • Gian Pablo
    January 3, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I find a hot air gun to be invaluable, going over a piece with it for a few seconds removes any white “bruising” left when tearing off support material.

    Dremel tool is also handy – I have a number of bits, much like your files, but the Dremel is a lot faster than doing it by hand…

  • Perry (aka cerberus333)
    January 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I have found a wood chisel a great help for removing
    prints from kapton. the blade i hold against the object
    and the angled part of the blade becomes a fulcrum
    to lever up the piece.
    Kapton lasts for many many prints without
    needing to be replaced. Care needs to be taken to put the
    blade into the workpiece and not the kapton.
    Placing the fulcrum down first and then
    lowering the blade till it is flat I find works to
    ensure not damaging the kapton.

  • MakerBlock
    January 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Awesome tips guys!

  • Mortinus
    January 7, 2013 at 1:03 am

    I’ve been very wary about selecting a traditional “putty knife” as pictured. I never know what sort of hard metal they might toss in there, and a gouge to my print bed would be a catastrophe!
    I honestly hadn’t thought about wood so designed one that could be printed and used. A sort of hammer with a solidhead and a chisel-tip that you hold to your pieces, and give it a good whack. It seems to work great when held upside down with the chisel parallel to the bed, it seems to get underneath even the strongest adhered pieces, and as the material is (usually) plastic there’s zero change of a gouge. If anyone is interested in printing one I uploaded it to thingiverse here:

    I would like to note that some pieces I printed adhered so well that the force required to break the piece free force me to re-level…!

  • Pete Prodoehl
    January 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I just did a post about all those “extra” thing you might need for 3D printing a few weeks ago: :)


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