As geeks, we face many a problem with budgets restricting our hobby participation. This, and a wicked streak of " I can make it better" have prompted me to grow into a hardcore converter. In the time I have been a wargamer, I have learned a few tricks that make the hobby more fun, challenging, and fulfilling, even when I can't get a game in.
my first tip is to invest in tools. The obvious reason is that some jobs simply cannot be done without the right tools. Less obvious is safety, if you cut yourself using a hobby knife when you should have been using a razor saw, you are not going to have a good time. The next most important reason is quality, if you use the wrong tools, or neglect techniques because you don't have the tools, your models you just spent a great deal of money on will not turn out well, and you are not going to have a good time.
At a minimum, even if you do minimal conversions, you will need:
A pin vice, or hobby drill.
This is so that smaller parts can be reinforced with a pin, because having the arm of a model you spent the last three weeks painting fall off means you won't have a good time. This tool also allows for adding rivets to models, a technique I will discuss in a later article.
A set of clippers, preferably those that can cut flush to the parts you want to work with.
Clippers are a must have, especially if you are working with multi part plastic models. A hobby knife is less capable at the sort of cutting you will need to do, and can result in breakage and injury, meaning you won't have a good time.
A hobby knife, preferably with replaceable blades.
This is another must have, as it will be a workhorse, trimming details, cutting plasti-card ( sheet styrene) cleaning models, and other jobs.
As for other tools, a razor saw, scissors ( nail scissors and regular), files, clamps, rubber bands, pencils, rulers, protractors, and a compass that allows a hobby knife to be attached are ones I highly recommend.
If you will be doing heavy scratch building, I also recommend a cutting jig that allows you to cut at specific angles and a dremel set.
If you invest in the right tools, you will reduce wastage, improve the look of your models, and have a good time.