Light ’em Up!

Imagine drawing on the wall of a cave or trying to paint the ceiling of a 16th Century Chapel using nothing but a couple of candles to illuminate what you’re working on. Today’s hobbyist, craftsmen and artists don’t have to rely on the light emitted by a few candles. We can have ample lighting to see what we are doing with just the flip of a switch. This is accomplished through the use of overhead lights, task lights, and key lights. As an added bonus, in the 21st century we have access to full spectrum lighting and magnification lamps!

One of the last things we need when working on a project is to add undue stress to our eyes. For this reason, lighting is one of the key elements I look to improve upon with each rendition of my scale modeling cave, garage workshop or my wife’s craft room. Proper lighting makes any project easier to accomplish by reducing eye strain.

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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!


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.