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My Favorite Things - innovative uses for ordinary things

From Charles at LGM: Short Extension Cord

Adapter to turn an old computer power cord into a short extension cord, perfect for sanders, vacs, etc.

Product identifier: power adaptor NEMA 5-15R to C14, black
Quantities sold in: individual units, approx. $4.39 each


From Garmin: Nichiban tape, curved files, "gloves-in-a-bottle", mitre-cutting vise/jig and more!

Nichiban tape
 Vendor:;  phone:212.533.4631
Product identifier: for paint masking, masking for raster cutting on laser engraver.
Quantities sold in: sleeves of multiple rolls, or by the case; price varies by size
Used for:
Perfect level of tack; leaves no residue, won’t damage surface finishes. Thin enough to conform to complex curved surfaces, cuts cleanly and easily with X-acto knife. We often use this on back decorated screen mock-ups to create multi-step paint masks; cover a piece of acrylic with Nichiban, lightly vector cut mask lines (barely cut through tape, kiss the surface of the acrylic), then cut out the masked screen from the acrylic sheet with a heavier vector pass.
Suggested by: Garmin International
Click here for all eleven items suggested by our model shop members at Garmin!


A cool new use for an existing item
At the 2010 Conference, Craig Leese, longtime APMM Member from the Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Lab, and five other experienced model makers (see photos below) presented a workshop featuring dozens of their favorite materials, tools and equipment. The emphasis was on innovative re-purposing of ordinary items but they also presented obscure products that meet a particular need and products that are just the best available brand.

This page will introduce all sorts of "Favorite Things" over time so keep checking back to see if one of them will give you an "A-HA!" moment - because if there's one thing model making is about, it's transforming the ordinary into the innovative.

And if there's one thing that the APMM is about, it's sharing that kind of hard-won knowlege!  To share your own Favorite Thing or A-HA! moment, email a photo and description along with source information to: [email protected]. You could see your name and idea posted here!



DAP Kwik Seal Plus

Vendor: Home Depot and other stores
Product identifier: Siliconized latex caulk
Cost: $6-7/tube
Used for: Mix with paint to produce color matched gap filler
Suggested by: Fentress Architects Model Shop


Automatic Solvent Dispenser
Vendor: Lab Safety Supply  800-356-0783
Product identifier: BBO-9900
Cost: about $22
Used for: Evaporation-free solvent dispensing
Suggested by: Meadors Model Shop

Down Draft Table

Vendor: Denray Dealers  800-766-8263

Product identifier: 3444B
about $3,000
Used for: Table dust extractor
Suggested by: Meadors Model Shop


FEP Release Film

Vendor: Northern Fiberglass Sales  603-926-1910, ext 12

Product identifier: A5000
Cost: $1,000/500 ft
Used for: Many wonderful things

Suggested by: JHU/APL


Touch-Up HVLP Gun

Vendor: Finish Systems  800-657-0703

Product identifier: CAT TJR
Cost: about $170
Used for: Painting/finishing

Suggested by: Coleman & Associates


APMM Members can download (55 MB) the original presentation in its entirety... click here.