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Photo etch tools for upgrade kits

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  • Member since
    February 2021
Photo etch tools for upgrade kits
Posted by MJY65 on Sunday, June 13, 2021 6:03 AM

I'm contemplating buying some photoetch upgrade sets (Eduard) for a couple of 1:48 jet kits I'm planning.  In general, how much tweaking and bending is needed on this type of upgrade?  I know there are all sorts of tools and bending brakes out there, but not sure if that's geared more toward the scratch builders vs what I have in mind.  I'll buy what I need to make it turn out right, but don't want to overdo it.




  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Sunday, June 13, 2021 7:00 AM

Mike, I've used PE sets for decades without having any special tools. A good-gripping pair of flat-end tweezers will take care of most needs. For larger/longer parts, I'll press the part to my work mat with a 6" metal rule, and use a single-edge razor blade to fold the required bend up along that edge.

Curved parts are a little trickier, but 'rolling' parts against a flat rubber eraser with a nail or small screwdriver will effectively take care of most such shaping.

For really tiny parts and small tabs -- as well as general handling of parts -- one or more, pairs of needle-nosed cross-lock tweezers are indispensible. (They're my most-frequently used modeling tool anyway, so they don't really count as 'special' tools. Big Smile)



George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."
  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by Eaglecash867 on Sunday, June 13, 2021 7:05 AM

I bought a photo etch bending brake, but I really haven't used it much at all.  For most of what I have done, I have found my Tamiya tweezers to work just fine for bending photo etch.  Eduard already has score marks on the places they want you to make sharp, straight bends, so all you need is something to persuade it to bend along the score marks.  But, if you ever decide you want to try a bending brake, this is a good one.

Don't waste your time or money on the one that MicroMark makes.  It has this inexplicable groove cut in the base, right along the edge of where the edge of the brake comes down.  Not sure what its purpose is, but it seems to be really good at swallowing tiny parts that you're trying to get into position to bend.

Something I started using recently that I now consider an absolute necessity for photo etch is a good set of smooth-jaw hemostats.  With those, you can clamp even the tiniest parts in it so you can file off the little nib that's left after cutting the part from the fret.  It holds them tightly so they don't go shooting across the room, and the smooth jaws are even friendly to the colored photo etch kits.  This guy on Etsy sells a good set, which is the one I have.  Looks like he's taking some time off though, so you may have to get on the notification list.  Here's the link for that:

Then there is the cutting surface.  You want to have a backing that is hard and smooth, so I use a Cutterpillar.  Its a large piece of tempered glass with rubber feet on the underside and measuring grids etched into the underside of the glass.  Any smooth tempered glass sheet will work.  It just has to be something strong that has absolutely no give to it so you don't end up distorting the photo etch while you cut it.

You will also want some double-sided Scotch tape.  This can be put onto your tempered glass cutting surface as something for the tiny parts to hang onto when you cut them from the fret.  That way they don't go shooting across the room.

Some #12 Xacto blades for removing the parts from the fret.  Small, rigid, and curved so they don't put a lot of stress on the parts as you cut them.

Sanding blocks for removing oxidation and roughing up the surface.

Gunze Mr. Metal Primer is the best I have found so far for preparing photo etch parts for painting.

For attaching the parts, I use Future for the ones with significant surface area, and Gorilla Super Glue with the light blue cap for pretty much anything else.  I also have some Sprue Brothers super-thin CA for attaching one photo etch part to another (just have a tightly rolled chunk of paper towel ready so you can wick up the excess, and hold that glue-soaked wick away from anything flammable while the glue does tend to get hot enough to start a fire).

WHEW!  Well...I think I covered the basics.  Propeller

"You can have my illegal fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers...which are...over there somewhere."

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Sunday, June 13, 2021 7:15 AM

I also have a PE bending tool that i hardly ever use. A pair of long flat nosed pliers works for most of it. I do have a set of PE cutters which i find very useful. Only othe rthing is a steady hand.

I am a Norfolk man and i glory in being so


On the bench: Airfix 1/72nd Harrier GR.3/Fujimi 1/72nd Ju 87D-3

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • From: Albany, NY
Posted by jeffpez on Sunday, June 13, 2021 8:34 AM

I also have a bending tool and love it. I totally agree with the other answers that good tweezers or pliers work great but for me the advantage is my physical condition. I sometimes have hand tremors and also find I'm increasingly clumsy. The ability of the tool to scurely hold the piece being bent can't be emphisized enough. I think I paid less than $15 for it (the Hold and Fold from the Small Shop) and it was money well spent. It's like having an extra hand.

  • Member since
    August 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Sunday, June 13, 2021 10:03 AM

I have a set of jewelry pliers that I got from HL, was a set for beading, about $12-14.  I only use a couple of them, the flat nose, one has nylon jaws.  Other than that it's a #11 knife and a couple razor blades.

Instead of glass, I have a square of ceramic tile, about 5".  Fits in my tackle box portable tool kit for working at club meeting or when traveling.

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Sunday, June 13, 2021 12:53 PM


    Have you EVER use P.E. Before? If not,BEFORE you get into that ezpensive set of Aftermarket P.E. do this. Get a "Model Art/ "Metal Earth" Kit. Get a simple one that comes close to what you will be doing.

     After doing this you'll have a better idea of what you need. I personally still use the old nethod.Cuticle Scissors to cut the parts off the sprue and Two, Box cutter blades ad folders. I use a foam padfrom a craft store( They are a 1/16" and 1/8" in thickness) These allow you  roll parts to shape. I have a few Polished nails and some tubing pieces( Aluminum) to roll shapes with.

    For curved surfaces that have domes I take an eraser pen that I shaped round and starting in the middle rotate it till I get the shape I need. BUt Be careful here. You press to hard and you can destroy the part.

     I have all the tools that any hobbyist could want for this. I have the folding tool and all that. BUT the simple old Two blade fold style and small spoon for starting domes works better and costs less. For the spoon go to the biggest tourist trap gas station you have.They sell souvenier Mini Spoons. There's your tool. Another tool? For a simple domed shape? A 1/4" round head Bolt! Sand the surface smooth and " Bob's Yer Uncle"! Gently push it into the brass rotating it in a cone shaped circle,( like rotating a game Joystick) to make sure the edges go along with it. When you have your depth, Stop, trim if you have to and you're finished.

 Tweezers,Yes! Two types, One smooth jawed set with real pointy ends. One set Samo-Samo with teeth in the jaws. A pair pf pliars that have true jaws. Make sure of their alingment with a file. One pair of Jewelry Pliars with the Blunt end. And Last but least Lots of patience!


  • Member since
    February 2021
Posted by MJY65 on Sunday, June 13, 2021 1:32 PM

Have you EVER use P.E. Before? If not,BEFORE you get into that ezpensive set of Aftermarket P.E. do this. Get a "Model Art/ "Metal Earth" Kit. Get a simple one that comes close to what you will be doing.


Just a few small add ons.  Nothing major.  

As an orthodontist for the past 30 years, I have quite a few different shaped pliers and at least passable skills in using them on detailed work.  Geeked

The mini-brake seems to be the thing I may (or may not) need.

  • Member since
    January 2010
Posted by rob44 on Sunday, June 13, 2021 3:22 PM

I have been soldering a lot of my bigger PE parts so they have very solid joins. I have just recently beening using ultraviolet set resin (like bondic) to attach parts with great success. The advantage is you place a little on (I use a toothpick) hold the part in position and use a UV light to set it in a few seconds.


I believe the bond is superior then CA cement in strength and much easier to apply without waiting for it to set up. I bought the resin in a larger container and a 395 nm ultraviolet flashlight each for under $10 on Amazon.

For attaching PE railing to a ship I still like using Arleens tacky glue.


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