Starting a collection
How to - What you will need for setting
We get asked so often "how to set insects", that we thought it was about time we gave you all some pointers. We must stress that this is one of our ways of setting. Most Collectors will definitely have developed their very own way of setting, but after many thousands of specimens we have found this way to be one of the quickest and easiest ways for starters. We must stress throughout that PATIENCE & CARE are the main attributes you will need. You can get by with the barest of essentials if you need to, but, "The best tools do not a setter make". We are also interested in hearing from anyone who has tips on how to set, repair and collect material, for inclusion in our "How To" sections.

Work Bench

Firstly you will need to set yourself up a cosy little work place, that you feel comfortable in, with a nice chair that you will want to spend hours in, adjusted to the right height. A good light is very important, we use a "magilamp" which is an adjustable fluorescent light. We have found that ordinary lights just get to hot to work under for long periods. Also a magilamp has a circular tube, with a magnifying lens in the middle, which you can use for very small specimens if required. A good selection of setting boards is a "must". Different widths will be needed for small, medium and large specimens.
Any plastic container with a tight fitting lid can be used for this purpose.

We use almost all No 3. Stainless steel pins with a solid head. Really small specimens may require No2 pins, but we find these very thin and are subject to bending easily. And No5 pins may be used for really large specimens like Ornithoptera and large moths.

This is really handy to stick pins in, especially the large needles required for holding things. It saves you having to pick them up off the work top all the time.

If you are like us, you will maybe need some close-up glasses. You will fumble if you can't see things clearly

May be required for cutting into bodies especially hard to set specimens like Prepona's and Agrias.

We use an adjustable dentist grip, which you can mount very small micro pins in the end of. You can also use "Spade-ended" tweezers for holding the wing with, if you prefer.

7/. TWEEZERS.    As you can see we use quite a selection. Blunt tweezers (used for stamp collecting) for picking up specimens, Sharp pointed tweezers for manipulating small wings like Lycaenidae, and good strong tweezers for manipulating wings of medium to large specimens.

8/. SYRINGES.   
Large and Small, for injecting very hot water into thoraxes.

For brushing off occasional mould patches, or unwanted items from specimens.

10/ GLUE.  
A good quality wood workers water based glue. This is most invaluable for fixing wings, and minor repairs. Must be one that dries clear.

11/. SCISSORS.   
Obviously used for cutting things with.

12/. BOTTLE CAP.  
We squeeze some glue into this.

13/. COFFEE.  
Possibly the most important of all. An endless supply of COFFEE. 
( Tea if you prefer. Alcohol not recommended)

You can get one of these from just about any department store or garden centre. Used for spraying a fine mist into your relaxing box.

15/. MUG.  
for Boiling water. A thermo insulated mug is the best. Keeps your boiling water hot enough for 10-15 minutes.

16/. PINS.   Heaps and heaps of pins for holding paper over wings. We just use ordinary dressmaking pins about 20mm

17/. PINS. 
These are longer, 35mm pins (usually entomology pins) These are used for adjusting antennae, bodies etc. Once you have surrounded a specimen with the other pins, it can sometimes be quite hard to get any more small pins in, and the extra length is very handy.

We use ordinary Tracing paper, obtained from any newsagency or art shop. This enables you to see what you are doing through the paper.

Used for lining your relaxing box, and dabbing up any excess moisture. 

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