To help all those starting out, I’ve put together a list of basic equipment. The tools shown on this page are the ones I use most often.
Each cake decorator ends up with their own methods and set of tools. There is no right or wrong, just what works for you. The more figures you make, the more aware you will be what kind of equipment you need.
If you are sure that you want to stick with cake decorating for longer, consider buying a whole set of modelling tools. It’s much cheaper to buy a whole set than to buy each tool separately. You won’t probably use all of them on daily basis, but they will come in handy from time to time.
Go through on-line reviews before deciding on the brand.
You will also need a non-stick rolling board. I suggest buying a large one instead of a small one (you’ll need the large one to roll out the sugarpaste for cakes anyway). The size of the one I have is 60 x 50 cm. I grease the board with a small amount of white vegetable fat (Trex) before rolling out the paste.
SCALPEL - use it to make precise cuts. Make sure that the blade is dry and clean before cutting (if it's not , it will pull the paste and you won't get a clean cut).
If you need to make longer straight cuts use a SMALL KITCHEN KNIFE or a CHEF'S KNIFE. Choose the ones with thin blades (they are more precise).
DRESDEN TOOL - This is a very useful tool. It's one of my favourites among the ones listed here.
You can use it to emboss lines (straight and curved) or make indentations.
BALL TOOL & BONE TOOL - You can use them to make round indentations. It's good to have different sizes, but you don't need to have a whole set.
If you need to make wider, round indentations and you don't have a proper size ball tool or bone tool: make circular moves with the tool inside the indentation to enlarge it.
WHEEL TOOL - it's very useful when making curved cuts.
Sometimes one of the ends of the tool is a serrated wheel tool (stitching tool). You can use it to make stitches.
SMALL ROLLING PIN - It's easier to roll out the paste very thin with a small rolling pin. So if you have a large one only, consider getting a small one as well. You can also use it to thin out and to frill the edges (f.ex. leaves).
SPACERS - You can buy spacers which you put on the rolling pin or you can use wooden lollipop sticks. To make thicker spacers, simply stick them together with double sided tape ;)
WOODEN SKEWERS (BBQ sticks) & COCKTAIL STICKS - use them to attach heads, arms and legs. Choose the thinner wooden skewers, rather than the very thick, long ones.
FLORIST WIRES - use them to attach smaller elements such as f.ex. ears or thin arms. When making toppers I usually use #20 --> #26 wires, but you sometimes might need thicker or thinner ones (#18 --> #30). The lower the number (#) the thicker the wire.
Remember to apply glue on the sticks and wires (additional support).
PLIERS - to cut/trim sticks and wires.
BRUSHES - you'll need them to dust, paint and apply glue.
It's good to have many brushes various sizes and shapes (round, flat), but in the beginning you can just get a few. I use the 'worst' (hard/most damaged) brushes for glue; the soft ones for dusting and the ones with fine, not damaged tips for precise painting.
METAL CUTTERS - in the beginning buy just basic shapes. I find the round ones and square ones most useful.
PIPING NOZZLES - I use them to cut out small circles (f.ex. pupils and irises).
Most photos above come from my Etsy Shop tutorials. You'll find them all here --> https://www.etsy.com/shop/CrumbAvenue
Some are from my free tutorials: