One thing that is often overlooked by new spaghetti builders is the length of their spaghetti. Being so eager to start building, they tend to just grab the spaghetti from the box and start connecting. That is a great way to become familiar with the way PasTEX connects to spaghetti. You'll start to get a feel for the "click" when the connector is firmly attached. But before you know it you might find yourself looking at the Leaning Tower of Pisa - Beautiful? Yes! Crooked??? Uh, yeah :( Unlike the Tower of Pisa, It's pretty likely that you are building on a sturdy flat surface so there shouldn't be any reason that your tower can't stand perfectly straight.
There is really simple trick to keeping your models straight (If straight is what you're going for).
Uniformity is just a fancy word for the same, or consistent. By making your pieces of spaghetti uniform, you will ensure that your model looks just the way you expected it to.
So how do your make your spaghetti lengths uniform?
By Using Tools
There are several tools that we have found to be the most helpful when building with spaghetti.
This is what building with spaghetti is all about. Spaghetti is the ideal building material because you can simply snap it using your fingers. The trick is to pinch the spaghetti very tightly between your pointer fingers and thumbs on each side of your desired break line. Just use a little pressure to bend and snap the spaghetti. Using this method give pretty good results. You should be able to keep break your spaghetti within 1/8" of your desired dimensions. Once you have one piece of proper length, you can use it as a template. Align a new piece with your template. Then gently bend and press the new piece against the end of the template. The new piece will tend to break to the same length. This is a great method to use when free building (just making it up as you go) since it's the simplest and fastest method.
You can get pretty precise lengths using your fingers. But sometimes you really want your spaghetti to be an exact dimension. In this case, you will needs some sort of cutting tool. We love to use a pair of inexpensive nail clippers like the pair shown below. You can find a pair this this at your local dollar store (maybe grab some cheap spaghetti too while you're there). Clippers are great because they cut spaghetti to an exact dimensions. This is great when you need several pieces to be the same length. You can clip a bunch of pieces quickly by using the first piece as a template. You'll want to be careful of any flying spaghetti while using clippers. These clippers are also ideal for cutting off the unused sides of your connectors to give your model a finished look.
Yep! Scissors can cut through spaghetti surprisingly well. The best thing about scissors is that you can hold a bunch of spaghetti together and cut it all at once. Keep in mind that the same warning we mentioned about clippers applies here too - spaghetti can go flying! You will quickly learn ways to angle the spaghetti while you're cutting so the extra pieces land on the table instead of the floor. Cutting over a towel is a great way to catch the extra spaghetti.
Huh? Did you say tape? Yes we did. There will come times when you will need a lot of the same lengths of spaghetti. Take a simple soccer ball for instance - it takes 90, that's right, 90 equal length pieces of spaghetti. Using scissors you could probably cut about 5 or 6 pieces at a time and it wouldn't take too long. But a really neat way to cut a lot of spaghetti quickly is to lay a bunch of unbroken spaghetti on a table and flatten it out so all the pieces are laying side by side. Then put a piece of tape across all the piece centered over the line you want to cut. Now you can cut all the spaghetti at once like cutting a sheet of paper. The tape will keep the spaghetti from flying away. Take our word for it, it's a really useful trick.
You might have seen one of these tools in your garage or at the hardware store. This might be our favorite tool for spaghetti building. The cool thing about a combination square is that you can measure AND cut spaghetti at the same time. So if you know you need a lot of 3 inch pieces of spaghetti, just set the scale (by loosening the locking screw) and sliding the flat edge of the guide (anvil) to 3" mark. Now you can place a piece of spaghetti against the guide and snap the spaghetti at the edge of the ruler (0"). The slot running down the center of the ruler is a perfect place to lay the spaghetti while your holding it. Using this combination square, you can very quickly create a lot of uniform pieces. You can also quickly adjust the guide to match an existing piece of spaghetti to create an exact match.
You're probably starting to get the idea that there is a lot to consider when building with spaghetti. Using marshmallows to build is great - it's how we learned to build with spaghetti. But we think that spaghetti building has so much more potential than what can be done using marshmallows. Building with spaghetti can be such a relaxing and rewarding activity if you keep at it. We really want to pass along all of the tips and trick we have learned over the years to help you improve your spaghetti building skills and be able to fully appreciate this amazing activity.
The PasTEX Team