Sunday, 6 September 2015

Craft micro and precision saw tools

I've been working with styrene rods since I very first started modelling again (seriously this time as opposed to the modelling I did as a kid). At first my use of modelling plastic consisted of patching and some detailing but lately I've started undertaking slightly more ambitious scratch-build projects.

A 1/32 scratch-built gun carriage I'm working on.
Now, while I was working with smaller and thinner strips and rods of styrene my craft knives were perfectly adequate for cutting, trimming and shaping the plastic, but bigger projects means bigger bits of styrene and my craft knives are starting to struggle with these.

I have, actually, already got a small hobby saw - X-Acto extra fine razor saw of the type most commonly available in hobby stores - but although it's great for general sawing and large jobs it's not suited to precision jobs...

It's also not very good at getting into awkward little areas of a model as the blade is so big. What I wanted was something the size of my craft knife blades but which had a saw type of edge.

As is usual in the world of modelling tools, if you come across a 'specialist' need some clever clogs has developed a specialist tool to deal with the problem.

A quick search on the Web came up with a selection of micro saw blades of exactly the form that I had in mind. And the good news - for once - is that none of these specialist tools cost a fortune, so I soon had a couple of examples ordered and on their way to me. (I am already at the end of this month's allowance!)

The saws sets are rather unusual in that they look like bits of etched metal accessories of the type you buy to add detail to models. One set (small) is by RB Productions and simply called 'Nano Saws' and the second (large) set is by Model Craft and labeled 'Precision Saw Set'...

Both sets are provided as blades only, you have to provide your own handles to turn the set's pieces into actual saws. But these sets are designed to be used in combination with standard craft knife handles of the type you will probably have in your hobby tool box already (or which can be got at practically any good hobby store).

Model Craft 'Precision Saw Set'
The larger of the two sets is what I would consider for material preparation (although it is still markedly smaller than my X-Acto saw). These are longer bladed tools with larger saw and more aggressive teeth...

These would be great for cutting thick styrene (or Balsa) blanks into roughly the right sizes prior to the assembly of your model. They are designed to work in combination with a Swan & Morton (or similar) No. 3 medical scalpel handle...

I found that these fine metal tools slotted on to the No. 3 handle OK, but as is usual with scalpel blades sometime there was a little 'wiggle'. I usually cure this by securing the blade at the rear by wrapping some tape around the 'tang'.

While the problem could be solved by having a thicker blade the thicker the blade the wider the cut, and you don't want that. So I will just persevere by using my tape method to hold the blade securely. It's no biggy.

RB Productions 'Nano Saws'
The smaller set of blades are very nicely designed for getting into small or awkward spaces in your model or for doing exceptionally precise work.

In this case these blades are designed to work with standard craft knife handles of the slot and screw type. They are very quick to pop in and - unlike the Model Craft ones - can be very securely fastened and don't wobble about!

The saw teeth in these tiny blades are extra-extra fine and with the metal being exceptionally thin too you can expect a gnat's hair of a precision cut. The shapes of the saw blades in this set are uniquely designed to allow you to get into tight spaces or cut at tight angles.

I can imagine these specialist blades will be invaluable when I start to take on more scratch-builds. But even for modifying and converting plastic kits these tiny blades will be very handy additions to my ever growing modelling took box.

As to actual proficiency of cutting and sharpness I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to use them yet - but they feel sharp enough. I will wait until my next scratch-build to make a proper report.

Likewise, as to how long they will stay sharp will only be determined after use, but to be honest these sets were enough of a reasonable price to make regular replacement fairly inexpensive.

Model Craft Precision Saw Set - £5.82

RB Productions Nano Saw Set - £4.87

I bought mine from the Scale Model Shop (UK) -

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