Detailed cosplay work requires precision tools. Over the years, we’ve learned a few things like that you can never have too many tools or that some tools will have completely new uses when making character props. In this article, we’re going to focus on the small precision tools you can use on many materials used in cosplay that will get you started on building your cosplayer’s toolkit.
A good cutting mat is an unsung hero of the epic that is cosplay. It multitasks in the workshop or the workspace area. First, it protects the surface of your tabletop. This is especially important to consider if you’re working on a surface that is your desk or dining table. You certainly don’t want to damage that. Secondly, it helps to keep your blades sharp. When cutting on a surface of a cutting mat, the blade slices through and the softer material absorbs the pressure instead of the more solid surface of a tabletop, which can dull the edge faster.
They have a built-in grid, which is helpful when cutting material to size. The half-inch grid and rulers help measuring and aligning for straight cuts.
Cutting mats are available in many sizes — from a mini 3.5”x3.5” to a large 24”x36” that covers a large work space area. A good “daily” mat we love is the 12”x18”. It’s a great size that fits on a busy desk and large enough for the detail work.
Heavy-duty knives like the K850 Snap Blade Knife or the K9 Retractable Utility Knife are helpful when cutting EVA foam or other materials for your costume parts. These knives have larger blades that easily cut through materials like foam, plastic, cardboard, cork or leather. Cosplay materials often come in rolls or large sheets. Use these utility knives to cut the material down to size.
Craft knives are a must-have for creating detailed work and cutting small parts for your costume. These hobby knives are a great addition to the cosplay tool box because of their maneuverability and versatility — with a large assortment of blades to choose from. Read our previous post about hobby knife blade types to learn more.
Scissors don’t need an introduction. You need to have a few good pairs in your tool arsenal for different materials like paper, leather, fabric and thermoplastics and label them as such so you don’t mix them up. Sharp stainless steel scissors with a comfortable grip like the Soft Grip Scissors are a good option. Their main feature is a soft handle, which is comfortable on the hands.
Pliers also fall into the “must-have in your cosplay tool box” category because of their versatile general purpose uses. Needle Nose Pliers have long and narrow jaws and can help reach into tight spaces. Bent Nose Pliers have a curved “bent” nose. This feature is useful when picking up and positioning small objects. Wire Cutter Pliers are made specifically for cutting metal wires, plastic and leather cording. Click on the link to read more about the different types of pliers and their uses.
Many of the tools used in woodworking also work great in the cosplay workshop like razor saws, sanding sticks or carving routers. Tools like plastic adjustable clamps work great when gluing layers of foam together. Because they’re lightweight, they won’t leave visible markings. If you’re 3D-printing parts and details for your costume, sprue cutters and sanding sticks will help to get those pieces cleaned up and ready for painting.
This little tool is handy for transferring pattern pieces onto foam. The spiked wheel rotates and marks all the necessary lines by making tiny impressions on the surface. These precision tools can also be used to add texture or distressed markings.
Cosplay is part sculpting, part craftsmanship, part fashion. It’s only natural that sewing tools like rotary cutters also make their way into the arsenal of tools. Rotary cutters are widely used by quilters to cut smooth straight pieces of cotton and by sewers to cut fabric for garments. These cutters can also cut through thin EVA foam, leather, cork, vinyl and other lightweight materials. Trace your costume pattern onto the surface of the selected material with a pounce wheel and then cut out with a rotary cutter, a utility knife or a craft knife. Select the best tool every time.
EVA foam and other plastics are widely used in cosplay. These materials lend themselves to recreating the look of metal, wood, leather and distressed surfaces of armor or weaponry. Having the right tools and perfecting the tried and true techniques is key. We hope this article was helpful. Drop us a comment below. We love to hear from you.