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The Perfect Pliers

The perfect pliers are right at the end of each of your arms…your fingers. Well, maybe they’re not the most perfect pliers…let me explain why.

As strong as your fingers are, they don’t have the strength and rigidity necessary to do many of the tasks you want to do. You might have fingers that are too short, too fat or they might lack the dexterity necessary to perform delicate tasks. My fingers don’t have the dexterity they did in my youth so I reach for a tool suited for the job.

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Models, Modelers and Scale Modeling Tools

Scale Models cover different subjects, eras, scales and of varying quality. You’ll find that modelers come from different backgrounds, various ages, physical size and scale modeling ability. Mix the two and you have a diverse group.

Scale modeling tools also have various sources, applications, sizes and quality. As a modeler I have quite a large assortment of tools that I have accumulated over the years. Some have one specific purpose or task, while others multi-task. It seems that those which multi-task are of lesser quality and definitely well worn because many of the tasks they are being used for, they were not designed to do…but hey, we’re a frugal bunch, so less spent on tools meant more left to buy models.

That was very true when I was getting started in this hobby, but as time passed the price of those kits surpassed the price of the higher quality tools that I avoided buying. Something that I noticed, too, was those cheaper tools weren’t doing the job I wanted and in too many instances they caused more expense in time, and in some cases, money, when they didn’t do the job properly.

Modelers have sought after kits with greater and more accurate detail and they got what they asked for. This added to the cost of the kit, but it’s something they were willing to accept. With this advancement came greater challenges in working with the parts so as not to damage them during the assembly process.

Those old cheaper tools I had used for years just weren’t up to the task. They were dull, fat, short and awkward to use. Given what I was spending on these kits, decals, and aftermarket, I needed to take another look at the tools I used to assemble because it was costly when the tools I was using did more damage than good in the build process.

One of the things I learned was that when I started using higher quality scale modeling tools, I didn’t need as many tools to get the job done. Some multi-tasked, but even those that were specialized did the job better and the need for another tool to complete the task was eliminated.

For example, the Xuron® 2175ET Pro Sprue Cutter removed parts from the sprue so cleanly that I didn’t need to use as many other tools to sand and polish smooth to remove the blemish from the sprue tag. I also wasn’t breaking as many delicate parts when separating them from the densely packed sprue.

I probably have dozens of pliers, micro, standard and even extra large. Most were made in Taiwan, Pakistan, China or India. They were cheap enough, but they weren’t necessarily good at what they were purchased to do. Most mechanics and electricians tools are being used to build models, but they have a tendency to do more damage to the parts they are used to hold.

Here again if you have a few high quality tools you can eliminate several lesser quality tools from your workbench. Put them back where they belong…in the toolbox in the garage, or pass them on to the kids.

A prime example of quality scale modeling tools, the Xuron® 450BN Bent Nose pliers.

Using the Xuron® 450BN Bent Nose pliers to hold a piece of photo-etch to a sanding disc on a rotary tool

Those who have watched me use a pair of Xuron® 450BN Bent Nose pliers to hold a piece of photo-etch that I then trimmed using a sanding disc on a rotary tool were amazed that the pliers never let the part slip or the delicate piece of PE get damaged or flung away, never to be seen again.

Of course, now with the 9180ET Pro PE Scissors I can trim those PE parts precisely without the need for the sanding disc and rotary tool to fit PE parts that set into a recessed area in the styrene part.

So take a look at what you’re doing and what tools you’re doing it with. Are they as good as they should be? If not, take a look at those precision hand tools offered by Xuron!

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Photo Etch Tools for Modelers

One of the first kits requiring the use of photo etch tools.If you’ve been around the scale modeling world for awhile, you may remember when photo-etch first made its appearance in the hobby world. One of the first lines of model kits to feature photo-etch parts was the HiTech series from Monogram.

In those days, the Xuron® 440 PET Shear was all you needed to remove and trim PE parts. I used my 440 PET for years and during that time both the detail level in model kits and that of the photo-etch evolved. The 440 PET was a good tool, but there was also a need for something to keep pace with the advanced products photo-etch manufacturers were producing.

In those early days you might get a dozen or so parts on a fret of photo-etch. Today it could be a hundred or more. I wanted a tool that could handle the challenge of removing these ever-so-delicate PE parts from the fret, as well as the capacity to trim PE parts when necessary without inflicting any damage. So I teamed up with Xuron Corp. to come up with the 9180ET Professional Photo-Etch Scissor.

Its long, sharp jaw allows you to remove small, delicate parts cleanly, without bending or twisting them. The precision design allows cutting along the full length of the scissors jaw. You can literally trim a hair’s width off a piece of PE without damaging the part you are trimming. This is something that continues to amaze everyone who sees our demonstration at modeling events across the country.

This level of performance is what I, as a modeler, demanded and the 9180ET delivers. Combine a great tool with solid techniques and you’ll be able to master the removal and trimming of photo-etch parts, the first step of using PE in your scale modeling project.

Speaking of technique, we see so many who remove PE parts with difficulty, trying to cut the PE parts from the fret in the same manner as you would cut plastic parts off the sprue. This will bend your photo-etch. Don’t cut from the top down, but keep the cutting surface closer to parallel with the photo-etch, as if you were cutting a piece of paper or a decal from a decal sheet with a scissor.

Quality photo etch tools are important, and so is technique.

Technique is important when working with photo-etch. Note the cutting angle.

To make working with PE easy, Xuron has released the TK3600 Professional Photo-Etch Tool Kit. It includes the #9180ET Pro PE Scissor, #450 Tweezernose™ Plier and our latest addition, the #575 Micro Bending Plier, which will give you a perfect 90° bend in your small photo-etch parts. Ask for it today at your favorite hobby retailer.

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Summer Projects & Prototypes

 

IMG_0486It’s officially summer and for some of us that means creative projects get put on the back burner and beach trips are the focus. At least this is true for me! I am currently in the process of moving and clearing out my old home office/ studio.  It is simultaneously the best and worst feeling. Organizing and sorting my bead hoard is exciting; I am finding so many awesome components and supplies that I completely forgot about. However it is also one of the most daunting, unending tasks I’ve ever tackled. Too many tiny messy things! As I am slogging through the debris at home, here at Xuron lots of progress is being made. We have been brainstorming and testing new prototypes; definitely one of my favorite parts of the job!

Button collection

The process of designing new tools-

Xuron® tools are made differently than the majority of pliers/ wire cutters on the market. Most often tools are created by forging, Xuron’s steel is stamped out similar to a cookie cutter.

We have different styles of stamped blanks. All of the Xuron® tools are made by modifying these styles. Once the blades of the tools are formed and grinded the springs and grips are added.

FullSizeRender (3)After we dream up a new tool the next step is making a physical prototype. Having different blanks to work with can make this process a little easier. An appropriate blank is chosen and modified to the new specifications. If our new tool idea strays too far from what we currently offer we may not be able to produce it.

Next it’s time to test. I am lucky enough to get to play with all the new goodies! We also bring new prototypes to shows and contact individuals that specialize in whatever the tool has been designed for.

Prototypes 2015

The Xuron Corp. headquarters in Saco Maine include both the factory and our offices. We all work closely together and love introducing new and improved tools to our awesome loyal customers!

Photo by Cheryl Rau Photography

 

 

Most recently I brought a selection of prototypes to the Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee. We had a hugely positive response and are working to incorporate these new models into our product line. Keep your eyes peeled!

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Happy 4th of July!

-Ashley

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Proper Xuron® Tools Care

A commenter on a public modeling forum complained that the tools he was using were rusting and they had lost their keen edge as well as smooth action. Further discussion revealed that he lived in an the area that was very humid year round and that his workshop wasn’t well ventilated or air conditioned. This probably is the reason for corrosion on his tools, but it could have been easily avoided.

All tools, including Xuron® tools, require some preventative care to keep them in proper operating condition, regardless of environment.

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