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3. Tools and manipulative skills

Tools needed for the program include: 1. Electric drill 2. Grinder/polisher 3. Pliers and cutter 4. Blind rivet 5. Vise grip 6. Bench vise 7. Soldering iron 8. Hot glue gun 9. Mini-working platform.

  1. Electric drill: Available types are (i) bench drill (Fig.5), heavy duty and can undergo long term operation. (ii) Cordless drill (Fig.6), use rechargeable battery and is portable. (iii) Concrete-hammer drill , designed to drill concrete or building materials, coupled with plastic stopper for fixing screws (7).
Cordless drill
Concrete-hammer drill
(Fig. 5)
(Fig. 6)
(Fig. 7)

Common drills can drill plates of aluminium, brass, plastic or wood. Not suitable for steel plates.

By changing bits, cordless drill can act as an Electric screw driver.

Not advisable to wear gloves when using high speed tools. They can be drawn into these high-speed machines and cause minor or severe accidents.

  1. Grinder and polisher

(i) Grinder

Normally grinders are portable, available as either cord-type or cordless rechargeable-type. Cord-type (Fig. 8) is more popular because the tool draws a lot of current and makes the machine powerful. Matched with suitable disc (carborundum disc (Fig. 8, 9), thousand-leaf disc (Fig. 10), cutter disc (Fig. 11) etc) can undergo grinding or cutting jobs. This kind of machines can attain very high speed and are classified as High-risk tools. Wear protective mask while operating. Before operation, eye-inspect to ensure all parts are firmly secured, especially the disc is 100% locked, and the force of gripping the tool is sufficientG

(Fig. 8)
(Fig. 9)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)

(ii)  Grinding/buffing machine

Majority of these kind of machines are of bench-type, need to be fixed to the working bench. (Fig. 12, 13). Normally used to trim and buff acrylic plates Buffing acrylic plates.

(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)

Example:  Buffing the rim of an acrylic disc

a.  First sand and smooth the rim of the disc (Fig. 14).

b.  Apply white wax to the cloth wheel (Fig. 15).

c.  Force and apply wax to the rim of the acrylic disc. Repeat the procedure a number of times.

d.  Switch on another machine with a clean cloth wheel. Buff and polish the rim. Repeat the procedure a number of times until a shiny rim appears. (Fig. 16).

e.  Finished product (Fig. 17).

(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
  1. Pliers and cutter: Pliers are broadly available as sharp-tip and flat-tip type. They are mainly used to grip objects (Fig. 18). Available cutters are (i) small ones used to trim end parts of electronic components (Fig. 18), (ii) big ones (Fig. 19) to cut aluminium plates and (iii) huge ones to cut thick wires or release locked lockers (Fig. 20).

Advisable to wear gloves when using big tools that need force.

(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19)
(Fig. 20)
  1. Blind rivet (Fig. 21): A very useful tool for equipment construction. It not only serves as a good alternative for screw/nut combination, but can also permanently fix them. Practically work with all kinds of metal/acrylic sheets or plates. The prerequisite is to drill holes for accommodating various sizes of rivet nails (Fig. 22), insert the nail into the hole that binds the parts, apply force so that the tail part of the nail comes out and the parts are rivetted firmly (Fig. 23, 24). View the video clip for details. For separation, one needs to drill the rivet with a bigger drill bit, the rivet will come off (Fig. 25).

Advisable to wear gloves since application of force is required.

(Fig. 21)
(Fig. 22)
(Fig. 23)
(Fig. 24)
(Fig. 25)
(Fig. 26)
(Fig. 27)
(Fig. 28)
(Fig. 29)
(Fig. 30)
(Fig. 31)
(Fig. 32)
(Fig. 33)
(Fig. 34)
(Fig. 35)
(Fig. 36)
(Fig. 37)
  1. Vise grip (Fig. 26): Another highly recommended tool. Basically, it is a trinity tool of plier, grip level adjustment and a locking system. It can bind firmly and repeatedly any objects together and separate them upon your wish. Very useful in loosening stubborn screws and joint objects. Can be look upon as a portable bench vise.
  2. Bench vise (Fig. 27): Usually available as bench type, a must for any workshops.
  3. Soldering iron: This item costs little. Cord-type (Fig. 28). portable butane gas type (Fig. 29) or battery type. First use sand paper to clean the joints to be soldered, pre-solder the joints with a bit of solder, place the joint one over the other and apply more solder. Keep holding the soldering iron and wait for a while until the molten solder has thoroughly penetrated the joint junction. The procedure is required to safeguard against any “virtual joints”, i.e. joints that appeared to have been soldered but actually are not completely. A bit of force can easily separate the “virtual joints”. This is one of the main causes for soldered circuitry problems. Hot soldering iron has to be kept in a stand (Fig. 30) to avoid unnecessary burning or damaging nearby objects. Normally, soldering iron consumes not much electricity. 40W- 60W consumption models are very suitable for general use. Soldering irons are designed for long term heating, but need to clean the hot tip from time to time with a piece of sponge soaked with water. This can prevent the hot tip from excessive oxidation which may disable it to pick up molten solder. More professional types can adjust the heating temperature (Fig. 31)

    In general, the composition of common resin-cored solder wire (Fig. 32) tin : lead is 60 : 40. Solder wire is flexible, with resin (or rosin, 松香) embedded at the centre to facilitate melting. M.Pt. of solder is around 190oC. Application of flux (Fig. 33) can enhance joining in case of difficulty in thorough melting. Residual flux should be removed upon completion with a bit of alcohol as flux is acidic.

  1. Hot glue gun (Fig. 34): Hot glue, in the form of small flexible plastic rods, has substantial strength of binding all kinds of non-conducting materials, especially plastics. Molten glue forms a non conducting cover, suitable for insulating PCB after completion of soldering the components (Fig. 35). A common tool for workshops.
  2. Small working platform (Fig. 36): Very useful for manipulating small components. A thick iron wire is bent to form a L shape, one end is inserted into a wooden base and the other is fitted with a crocodile clip for maintaining the position of objects, e.g. PCB board (Fig. 37).


Electric drillFor aluminum objects, plastics and wooden materials. Cordless drill can function as screw driver with suitable bits.Not advisable to wear protective gloves.
Gringing /polish/buffing machine

Grinder – carborundum disc

Cutter – carborundum disc, cutting disc

Buffing – cloth wheel + white wax

Fast speed, high-risk tool
Plier and cutterFlat and sharp-tip pliers for general use. Big cutters can cut thick metallic wires.Wear protective gloves when using big cutters.
Blind rivetA very useful tool for joining parts permanently.Advisable to wear protective gloves
Vise gripWork like a portable bench viseAdvisable to wear protective gloves
Bench viseTo fix position of objectsThis tool should be fixed on a bench.
Soldering ironCan permanently join electronic components with silver-coated, brass or copper end parts with molten solder. Cannot join aluminium objects.

When in use:

Place it on a stand. Clean the hot tip from time to time. Avoid scalding.

Hot glue gunA very helpful tool for joining plastics. Coupled with iron nails, it works equally well with wooden parts. Needs time to warm up but works fast and is not conducting.Avoid scalding. Low consumption of electricity, can afford long time operation.