Some New Toys … errr, Tools

My first run at Photo Etched (PE) parts did not end well. Since then I’ve stayed away from the little brass frets, but am still amazed at the details they can bring. A couple of new kits I got at Christmas have PE parts, so I set about researching tools to help me make the part work.

The first thing I purchased was a diamond file.

A PE cutting mat from The Small Shop was next up. This is some clear plexiglas parts to make a hold down, and still see the the parts underneath. The kit also came with three black plexiglas plates. The color helps the parts stand out, and provides a cutting surface that is firm enough to not prematurely bend the part. The clear hold down also keeps the little parts from feeding the carpet monster.

And on the recommendation of the manufacturer, I picked up some curved blades for cutting the parts from the fret. I opted for the No. 10 blade over the No. 22, simply due to the shorter length.

Next up is a PE bending tool. This part is also from The Small Shop, they call it “The Bug”. It’s precision milled from Aluminum and has many bending surfaces. And while designed for 1/700 and 1/350 ships as well as 1/72 and 1/48 aircraft, I think it should work for all but the long tank and truck fenders in the armor scale of 1/35.

The nicest thing about this tool, supporting the Homeland!

And the last purchase was the simple grease pencil or Black China Marker. This makes picking up the small fragile brass parts so much easier and doesn’t scratch or impart any warpage to the part!

So to give these tools a little test spin, I grabbed the fret from the MiniArt US Motorcycle kit and tried my hand a one of the parts that required mostly 90-degree bends. Sorry for the fuzzy pictures, it was very hard for the iPhone camera to figure out what to focus on, should have broken out the big 35mm camera!

Cut from the fret, and cleaned up with the file
After some flat bends and a double curve bend started with a toothpick, the final bends would be done to fit the motorcycle – should I get round to actually finishing it!

I’m quite happy with the results, and have already start bending some wire into grab-handles for 1/35 scale figure of a German Machine gunner running with said MG34 and an ammo box. The box doesn’t come with a handle, as it’s supposed to fit under the figures curled up fist. Typical late 70’s early 80’s Tamiya figures, but it looks like the case in magically attached to his closed hand, so I figure a couple bits of bent wire coming from his hand to the box should look better.

Anyway that whole diorama is scheduled for early February completion as I’ve got that little American Jeep to complete!

2 thoughts on “Some New Toys … errr, Tools

  1. Very interesting. I have some brass etch I use from time to time but I always have warpage or “clippage” issues when I cut them from the sprue using any of the means I have at my disposal.
    Do you have links to any of the tools? I’d love to see if I can source any of them myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bought mine from an eBay seller,, and he does ship outside the US. You can find them on Amazon, look for “The Small Shop”, or directly from the manufacturer, I looked at the many Chinese knock-offs for the folding and bending jigs, but they just don’t look sturdy. The cutting tool was very expensive and is nicer than using clear tape – which did help with keeping the part from flying off. The plexiglas cutting surface makes the system work, the color makes it easier to see the parting lines, it doesn’t bend the part and doesn’t dull your blades as quickly as tile. Good luck!


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