Modding 101

Tools Of The Trade

One of the most commonly asked questions by aspiring modder’s and noobs alike.

“what are the basic tools / equipment do I need to get or buy, if I want to start into case modding as a hobby?”

Well look no further. Here’s a short list of  the most common tools used for modding.  Together with a simple description of  their applications and uses.


  • Rotary tool

Probably one of the most famous and most commonly used tool in case modding. The rotary tool or more commonly known as the DREMEL, is one of the most important tool to have in your workshop. Paired with the right bits and attachments. The rotary tool can cut, sand, drill, route, engrave, etch, polish, etc.

  • Power Drill

Useful in drilling screw holes and removing rivets, The power drill is an invaluable tool in any workshop.

  • Jigsaw

One of my favorite tools in the shop. The jigsaw can be used to cut a wide variety of materials including thick acrylic sheets, aluminum and steel. With proper practice and the right type of blade. The jigsaw can cut effortlessly in any type of material with speed and precision.

  • Nibbler

The nibbler is useful when cutting small holes on the case. It can also be used in cutting small window panels.

  • Pop Rivet Gun and Blind Rivets

When painting or modding any case. It’s usually much easier to dis-assemble or remove parts of the case for easier access. This is where the pop rivet gun and pop rivets come handy.

  • Straight and Round Files

Used in cleaning up and straightening rough cuts in any material.

  • Combination Square and Ruler

Useful when marking or making layout designs on the side panel.

  • Heatgun

Can be used in removing stickers or any type of adhesives. The heatgun can also be used in bending acrylic sheets.

  • Holesaw

Hole saw’s are commonly used in making blowholes and fan cutouts. Smaller diameter ones can also be used as pilot holes for making wire management and cable routing holes.

As a General rule. “always practice safety first” Take precaution when handling any kind of power tool.  Modding is no fun when you lose a limb, finger or worst an eye in the process :D It’s a good idea to invest in the proper safety equipment before you start purchasing your tools and other equipment.

  • Respirator Mask / Dust Mask

Since you’ll be doing a lot of cutting and painting. A respirator or dust mask will come in handy specially when you are painting, sanding, cutting acrylic plastic or metal sheets.

  • Protective Eye wear:

These help protect your eyes from splinters or small pieces of metal that tend to fly off when cutting metal and other materials.

  • Earmuffs

Earmuffs are useful when you are frequently using power tools. Power tools tend to emit a high decibel sound which could impair hearing and could result to hearing  loss.

  • Utility Gloves or Cotton Gloves

When handling power tools utility gloves or cotton gloves are useful since they lessen the strain in your hands while operating power tool. They also reduce the risk of injuries in case of an accident.

  • Cobra Energy Drink

Gives “extra energy” for enhanced mental and physical performance.

Meet The Dremel

Here’s a primer on one of the most popular tool used in case modding. Meet the DREMEL.

rotary tool is a hand held power tool with a variety of rotating accessory bits and attachments that can be used for cutting, carving, sanding, polishing and many other applications.

The smaller rotary tools use high RPMs to maintain the correct cutting conditions for the tool bits. They have low torque which makes them safer for freehand use than the larger higher powered models or similar power tools. A wide variety of accessories are available for applications such as cutting, carving,sanding, polishing, and grinding. The carving (or cutting) bits are referred to as burrs and are similar to those used by dentists.

Rotary tools are sometimes called a “Dremel” because of the market strength of Dremel, a particular brand. But the Dremel name is still protected and is far from legally genericized.

source: wikipedia

As with other hand held power tools. Always consult your user’s manual for the proper use and operation of your power tool. Try to familiarize yourself with all the controls and features of the power tool your using. Always wear proper safety gear when using your power tool.

In this quick tutorial I’ll be using my Dremel 300 rotary tool, 1″ standard emery cut-off discs, Dremel 1/2″ sanding drum attachment and a straight and round file later for cleanup work.

Step 1: Marking and masking. Start by making guide lines on the material your cutting. You can use a pencil in making the guide lines. After marking the line, I recommend covering up the outside of your cutting line with masking tape. This protects your material or panel from unwanted scratches while cutting.

I’m also using my circle template to add corners on my window design. I prefer to use the circle template because it is more accurate and you can choose different diameter sizes.

Step 2: Cutting straight lines. I prefer to use the 1″ ordinary cut-off disc, simply because they are cheaper, cuts faster and more accurate than the reinforced cut-off discs. When cutting straight lines simply guide the tool on the inside of your cutting line. Do not force the cutting disc to make the cut. You’ll end up wasting your cutting discs or worse break it in the process.

Do not throw away your worn out cutting discs, you’ll be needing them later on when cutting the curved corners.

Step 3: Cutting the corners. This is where the smaller cutting discs come in. You’ll notice that the rounded corners have smaller diameters. Using the smaller cutting discs tilt your Dremel or rotary tool to a 45 degree angle and slowly guide the cutting discs to cut the corners. This is a bit tricky and requires a bit of practice. But with a lot of patience and practice you’ll be doing perfect cut corners in no time at all.

After a few minutes of cutting here’s the result.

Step 4: Filing and Sanding. The Dremel or rotary tool leaves minor machining marks and requires very little cleanup work. All you need is a straight file to clean the edges and round file for the rounded corners. Alternatively you can use 1/2″ sanding drum attachment included with your rotary tool kit.

Cleaning up the corners using a round file.

Cleaning up the corners using the 1/2″ sanding drum attachment.

Remember to leave the masking tape on until you’re finished cleaning up the edges and corners. Hopefully you’ll end up with something like this or even better :D

I hope you enjoyed reading this quick guide and tutorial. Always remember practice and patience is key. Happy Modding!

Source: Rig Noobies Modding 101 Part 1 and 2

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Arsenio Reyes
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 11:49:11

    Very very nice article Sir, very useful and practical and useful information. How about car body repair and simple maintenance such as making the car shiny and maintaining the body? Hehehe.

    It could help a lot of people to save on repair costs. Of course, it would be most helpful to know where to buy the best tools at the most efficient cost.

    More power.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: