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2 Cheap Tools: X-Acto Super Blades & PE/Small Part Pencil Picker

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  • Member since
    February, 2010
  • From: Berkeley CA/St. Paul MN
2 Cheap Tools: X-Acto Super Blades & PE/Small Part Pencil Picker
Posted by EBergerud on Thursday, August 17, 2017 6:46 PM

Wanted to mention a couple of tools I've found useful in my past two builds - you may know about them, but I miss stuff all the time.

First, Xacto is now making a new #11 blade that they call Z-Series. The claim is that the blade is coated Zirconium Nitride (whatever that be) and is three times sharper and more durable than the standard #11. Price is a little higher, but not much. I can testify that the blad is sharp probably sharper than a standard blade - but a new standard #11 blade is sharp also. It definitely keeps its edge and point much longer. I used one blade on two kits and replaced it out of principle - the tip was still very sharp. It's sold at Blick Arts and is displayed in a gold-tiped knife and blade. The knife is identical to any light Xacto, so just getting a 5-pack of blades will do the job. Definitely worth it.

Second is what RB Productions (a very neat company for tools and PE) calls a "pick-up pencil." You're more likely to find them if you search "Rhinestone pick-up pencil" or "wax pencil" or "nail art." RB sells one for 2 Euros. The pencil is filled with a white wax which you don't want sharp at the point, but a little blunt. The wax tip is tacky enough to grasp small parts or PE: it is not so tacky that it won't drop the part easily. You can see one in action in a YouTube video from Harry Houdini Models (the guy's an Aussie and makes nice kits) "How I do PE with a Wax Pencil" . There are suggestions for home made duplicates - one person suggests melting candel wax and coat lightly anything that's pencil shaped and let it cool. I'm not sure about how long that would last. I tried a sharpened wooden medical Q-tip (infinitely better than standard types) and tried it with hard beeswax and that would work. I also tried it with soft beeswax, which I use to lube my airbrush, and it picked up bits just fine, but wasn't so good at letting them go. I used a pick-up pencil on the PE on my last ship where it was really useful, and it's helping out now fixing road wheel caps and other very small parts that even this relatively simple kit has in large numbers.

The knife and pencil sit on top a kit in our World of War GB- some boards require kit photos to somehow prove that you made the model and not your wife or kid. (Never figured out how that would work.)

 Kit-tool by Eric Bergerud, on Flickr

Eric

 

A model boat is much cheaper than a real one and won't sink with you in it.

  • Member since
    September, 2013
Posted by Marcus McBean on Thursday, August 17, 2017 7:30 PM

Save your money and don't by the Z blades.  I have some and they don't last any longer than the regular blades.  As soon as I use up my stock I will be using the cheapest ones I can purchase.

I have the pencil and it works just fine.  Half the time I can't find the thing and end up using a little blue tac on end of tooth pick.

  • Member since
    February, 2010
  • From: Berkeley CA/St. Paul MN
Posted by EBergerud on Friday, August 18, 2017 4:27 AM

We have to disagree here. I buy Xacto and American made replacement blades by the bulk - it's worth it to have a sharp blade. You can see the difference on the Z blades (a 5-pack of Z blades at blick is $3.33: regular #11 $2.79 - that's blowing the wad.) After heavy use - and that doesn't take long - you can see the irregular surface on a regular blade and pretty quickly a blunt point. It might not appear to be much, but it is. My guess is that you just use the blade until it drops - or maybe use your wetstone to sharpen it. If so, you don't care about sharp blades.

Maybe you're one of the lucky people who has no problem with very small parts. If so, you can safely leave your pick-up pencil unaccounted for. If little "fiddly" bits are not your favorite this is a very useful tool. RB Productions is a class act and they sell one, so I'm not the only one in the universe that likes being able to pick up - and not lose - small parts. Sure you can figure out a home remedy, but considering that the RB pencil - the most expensive of the lot, weighs in at a budget busting $5. If you wait for a Chinese delivery, figure about $1.50 for ten.

Eric

 

A model boat is much cheaper than a real one and won't sink with you in it.

  • Member since
    September, 2013
Posted by Marcus McBean on Friday, August 18, 2017 6:57 AM

You sound like a seller.

  • Member since
    January, 2013
Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Friday, August 18, 2017 1:52 PM

I, too have the Z blades as well. Definitely sharp! Ask me how I know. Ouch! I find them to last just as long as regular Xacto blades. Of course, I usually change them when I feel the need to be done.

Sometimes I won't chnage them for 6 months.

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Friday, August 18, 2017 6:39 PM

I have gone over to the Z's as well.  Theyseem to last longer for me.  I'm with 214 on finding out how long they stay sharp, red is not a good color on me, especially when it is my red.

  • Member since
    February, 2010
  • From: Berkeley CA/St. Paul MN
Posted by EBergerud on Friday, August 18, 2017 7:08 PM

I like Zs also - wish Xacto would do that to some of the sizes more useful for cutting PE off sprues like 16s or 17s.

Should add that if there's something where I want a delicate cut, you can't beat proper surgical blades - I use both 10s and 25s. The 10 will fit into a standard Xacto style knife - the 25 requires a surgical handle but they're dirt cheap. Asian blades that are certainly sharp enough for modelers are availble in bulk cheap on eBay - sterile even. But if there's need to trim plastic or widen holes etc, the 11 is still a very good blade.

Eric

 

A model boat is much cheaper than a real one and won't sink with you in it.

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Far Northern CA
Posted by mrmike on Saturday, August 19, 2017 1:21 AM

Good to know Eric; thanks for the info!

Mike

  • Member since
    February, 2003
Posted by Jim Barton on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 3:36 PM

goldhammer

I have gone over to the Z's as well.  Theyseem to last longer for me.  I'm with 214 on finding out how long they stay sharp, red is not a good color on me, especially when it is my red.

 

RED: The only color commonly applied to the model by cutting your finger with the hobby knife.

"Whaddya mean 'Who's flying the plane?!' Nobody's flying the plane!"

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Friday, September 08, 2017 6:56 PM

Jim Barton
 
goldhammer

I have gone over to the Z's as well.  Theyseem to last longer for me.  I'm with 214 on finding out how long they stay sharp, red is not a good color on me, especially when it is my red.

 

 

 

RED: The only color commonly applied to the model by cutting your finger with the hobby knife.

 

Too bad it won'tstay that color when it dries, but can be used as Hull Red in a pinch.Sad

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Sunday, September 10, 2017 1:51 PM

Whoa Here ! !

 There must not be a sacrifice of body fluids to paint a model . We can buy the paints and not cut oneself ! Hmmm; You're right though , it does dry to a nice hull red  .

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Sunday, September 10, 2017 5:00 PM

Hello!

I like the sound of the idea of the wax pencil - I'll have to try it sometime soon.

As for the blades - I don't know how much do them X-Acto cost, but I think they might be a little pricey compared to the alternative. There's a company called Swann-Morton, they sell surgical blades. Basically same shape the X-Actos are. Now for a pack containing 100 pcs. they charge you about 6$ - at least here in Europe. Now 100 of them babies should keep you supplied for some time. Plus, if you want to cut yourself, they are sterilized. Now, here's where the real deal starts - if you can find a medical supplies dealer, it just might happen they have some blades that just ran out of the best before date (sterilized items have that). Those could be bought even cheaper than that - that's how I started using No. 15T blades - now they are my favourite blades. Funny thing is Swann -Morton started selling to model builders recently - |I have seen their ad in some modelling newspaper. But I suspect blades selling to modellers will be a little more expensive than their medical 6 cent/blade ware, so maybe it still would be a good idea to find a medical supplies dealer. Hope it helps, good luck with your modelling projects and have a nice day

PaweĊ‚

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

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