Craft

Microspatula

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Multipurpose craft tool

My microspatula is one of the tools I reach for most often in my house. As an archivist, microspatulas are standard issue tools in my profession. They are useful for a variety of careful, fine-motor tasks that come up when handling manuscripts, photographs, or rare books. At this point in my career I rarely have an opportunity to do to the detailed, careful work that requires a microspatula, but at home I’ve used one several times a week for over a decade. It’s a perfect tool for situations that require something strong enough to apply a little force but gentle enough not to break stuff. A microspatula has two blades, one more tapered, the other snub-nosed. Both are useful for scraping, prying, turning, and adjusting things that require delicate persuasion. Whichever blade you use, the other becomes a convenient handle. The more tapered blade is perfect for loosening small, Phillips head screws, and the narrow shaft makes it easy to turn the microspatula quickly in one hand. I use mine frequently to open battery compartments on toys and electronics.

It’s also an ideal letter opener and crease maker. These days my favorite use for my microspatula is prying apart small Lego pieces — a not infrequent task in my house with three young boys. The narrow blades can get between two pieces without either marking the plastic or slipping and jamming into my palm.

The combination of strength, delicacy, and versatility provided by a microspatula has made me reach for screwdrivers, scrapers, and knives less often, knowing they are often too large for a particular task. It took me by surprise when I looked for microspatulas online and saw that their advertised use is for measuring and transferring powders in a laboratory context. I’m certain they can do that ably, but that’s not something I’ve ever used one for. I can’t say exactly which model microspatula I have – mine was a required purchase back in a grad school book repair class. But an apparently identical version on Amazon looks the same and has the same measurements. For just a few dollars I’d replace mine without hesitation were I to lose it.

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-- Mike Rush 01/17/18