Xuron makes a tool for removing PE parts from the parts tree, Testors
also has one and there are at least to more out there that I know of.
Check with your local hobby shop or any craft store for what they
have. The price should be around USD $15.00 to $20.00.
Check also Radio Shack, component cutters that cut flush with surface of pc
board, look like Xuron but half the price.
Also, from the IPMS NATS in ATL this summer:
http://www.hobbytools.com (link verified) picked up a set of calipers for
I have had great luck at the flea market. Stainless steel hemostats,
forceps, reverse action tweezers, great for decals. Obviously the deals at
the flea market here is of no value to the general audience, but it seems
that the flea markets nearly always have a discount tool area.
I use an X-Acto Knife with a curved blade. Don't pull the blade across
the part, as that can snag and bend the brass. Instead, I roll the
blade onto the fret so the cutting edge is always cutting straight
down, and all the force is directed at one small point at a time. I use
an old formica shelf as a cutting board. Been doing it for years, works
great. If the part is tiny and you fear it may launch itself into the
carpet when it is cut free, place the whole fret inside a clear plastic
bag and cut through the plastic and brass at the same time.
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