The Basics : Gathering up a Toolkit for Modelling.
When starting out in the hobby it's very easy to get distracted by buying all the glitzy toys and forget to invest in a decent selection of tools.
Shop smart and this doesn't have to be too expensive and won't eat into your budget for minis as much as you fear. ( I don't care what colour the chaps T-shirt is he is trying to sell you an overpriced tool that you can get better quality one for less somewhere else every time, just buy his paint and minis.)
Over time you will probably find yourself adding tools for specific jobs to the box but for the purposes of this article we will stick to the basics you'll need and what they are good for.
There is a reason I have listed this one first as it is not so much 'what do you do with it?'
as 'what don't you use it for?'
I consider the scalpel the single most important tool I own. There was a time when I used mine for everything as it was the only tool I had.
Why scalpel and not craft knife/safety knife? In a word versatility
no other knife allows such an amount of abuse and use.
There are a few sizes of handle and blade types available, the most used size is a Number 3 handle and Blade types are 11 (precision point) or 10A (a bit more robust than the 11)
Cypher871 kindly added a bit more information on scalpels later in this thread. I'll quote it here to keep it all handily in one place.
If you do opt for a scalpel there are two basic types disposable and re-useable. Disposable scalpels are one shot deals with the blade fixed to a moulded plastic handle...use and bin once it is blunt.
Re-useable scalpels are purchased as a handle and blades seperately
Blades come in packs of 100, 10 foil packets containing 10 blades each. There are two sizes of handle and 10 types of blade. The smaller handle can take blade numbers 10, 11, 12, 15 and 15T. The larger handle can accommodate blade numbers 20 through 24.
Personally I always use a number 11 blade.
Oh, and a little safety tip. If you are not paying attention when you change blades you can easily cut yourself. The blades are just a push fit and lock in place when pushed onto the retainer. I always use a small pair of snipe nose pliers to remove and install blades...no danger of cutting yourself...and yes, the first time you snap a scalpel blade you will crap yourself!
Again one of the stock tools you should carry in your kit, primarily used for clipping minis out of the sprues, excess flash/tab removal and cutting wire for drilling and pinning. Also can be used for trimming off Miniature parts during conversions if you don't want to keep both halves of what you are cutting. The pair pictured below are side clippers ( my personal preference ), straight clippers are more usually the type owned by gamers.
Pin Vice Drill ( 1mm Bit).
This item is more of an intermediate tool, whilst you can live with out one I strongly advise getting one and a 1 mm drill bit or 10.
Primarily used for drilling during the drill and pin process ( a must when gluing parts made from different materials) and drilling out the barrel muzzles on guns. For Heavy weapons such as Heavy Bolters a 2mm drill bit will be handy to have.
Svartmetall has a very good beginners guide to Pinning and Drilling that can be found HERE.
Useful to have around, but with the gradual demise of Metal use in GW products and the improved quality of plastics over recent years I seem to be using them less often.
Primary uses are removal of heavy mold seams and cleaning off flash on metal Minis.
Once again more of an intermediate tool than a basic perhaps but well worth a mention for the newer modeler anyway.
Primary uses, well cutting anything too beefy to get a knife through, removal of large resin molding tabs and all metal mini cutting.
Not so much a tool as a consumable resource, Emery (Also know wet and dry) paper is just a special sort of sand paper really, something metal workers use a lot.
Useful for a final 'filing' of mold seam lines and cleaning out other mold imperfections in areas that you cannot get a file or knife into. Also used lightly can 'sand' Green Stuff. For the Miniature hobbyist Fine Emery paper of a grade about 800 is the best.