Tool/Accessory Review: The Small Shop "Nutter"Punch Set; Full Basic Set Price =A365.00; extra 6 x 6 inch foil sheets =A33.50 each
Advantages: amazing tool to get rivets and nut-and-bolt assemblies to look "right"; very flexible and useful system
Disadvantages: High price (see text); does not work well with styrene plastic (also see text)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all modelers who do scratchbuilding or super-detailing involving scale rivets or nuts and bolts
One of the biggest pains in modeling fine details is doing either rivet heads or nuts and bolts, as they are tedious to make and difficult to install - the term "herding cats" is a close approximation of what it takes to do it right. Over the years, many modelers I know have used punch-and-die sets, microrod cut "salami style" or pressing in from the back of thin styrene with a sharp object. None of them really is a perfect way to get the domed, rounded shape of a rivet, and while hex nuts are not hard nut-and-bolt combinations were usually limited to two sizes from Grandt Line.
I used to think the term "Nutter" was a British term equivalent to "nut job" or "head case" until Alasdair Johnston of the Small Shop EU sent me word that no, this was going to be their next tool. My review sample arrived yesterday, and always looking for a better and easier way to do detailing, I was quite eager to open it up.
What came in the package - sturdily packed inside a freezer-type sandwich keeper - was a strip of plastic, a sheet of foil, a small tool with screws, seven plastic knobs, seven machine tool heads, a black machine handle, and two tubes for storage and directions.
Preparation of the tool itself was simple. It comes with seven heads of varying sizes and shapes: 0.5mm, 0.75mm and 1mm (scale 3/4", 1" and1 1/4" sizes): domed rivet shapers; 0.5mm, 0.75mm and 1 mm nut and bolt set shapers, and one spare small nut-and-bolt head. This is due to the fact that the "bolt threads" are 0.2mm (scale 3/8") in diameter, and as the shapers are all milled out of brass, soft and fragile.
Each shaper (probe) is to be kept in the white plastic knobs (tip protector), and are inserted after being screwed into the handle. This is for protection when stored, but once the shaper is forced into the knob it is not hard to remove and to reinstall the
The long strip of plastic (a soft vinyl-like material) is referred to as the "dome sheet" and it serves to both permit shaping a domed rivet and also capturing them when they pop free of the foil sheet. The foil sheet is two layers of what appears to be aluminum over lead, so you do not have to ever touch lead foil.
The "tool head" or anvil is a tool similar to the 4" size "Hold and Fold from Small Shop but with a soft rubber floor and an E-shaped tool head to clamp down on the work surface.
To use the tool is quite simple. Pick a suitable shaper and screw it into the handle, then remove the protector. Open the two screws on the tool head and insert first the "dome sheet" and then a strip of foil until they are even with the edge of the rubber surface, then tighten the screws down. Next, holding the tool absolutely vertical, punch out the necessary number of rivets or bolts. Use firm, steady pressure, not a quick jab like a nurse giving a flu shot!
Don't worry about the rivets or bolts, as they will be embedded in the "dome sheet" (which is what it is for.) Once done, unclamp the foil and dome sheet and pull them out. Remove the foil and, being careful on your breathing, flex the "dome sheet" to remove the resulting rivets.
The Small Shop recommends that modelers do NOT use ACC glues to attach the rivets, but rather "Johnsons' Kleer" (US read Future) acryllic floor wax and two paint brushes. One brush puts on the Kleer/Future and the other is used - damp - to pick up the rivet or bolt and place it on the Kleer/Future while wet. When the wax dries, a second coat is used to seal the rivets in place. As a result, as long as an overcoat or another coat of paint is applied, you can add rivets or bolts to models at any time as they do not require a "clean smooth surface" to adhere to.
There are other options given in the directions, such as how to make flat 0.2mm rivets as well as some nuts. More shapers are to follow next year for fully domed (hemispherical) rivets and square bolts, leaves, etc.
As I had mentioned this tool to other modelers, their first question to me was, "well, does it work on plastic?" The answer: not quite. First off, it will not penetrate plastic as it does with the special foil. Second, it will not produce a clean part which can be removed with a razor blade. And third, the nut and bolt shapers will not work at all with plastic, plus you run the risk of breaking the delicate tips off them.
However, IF CAREFUL it can be used to produce strips of rivets using0=2E005" or 0.010" sheet plastic for applique detailing. I tried it with both the rubber portion of the tool head and the "dome sheet" in place and found that you can do this with the "dome sheet" and some care. Note that these will be the embossed variety and will have to be handled gently to avoid pressing them back in!
Overall this appears to be a useful if expensive tool from the Small Shop EU, and one that with care will last a very long while. Due to the size of the rivets produced you can get a LOT out of one sheet of foil, and the shapers if kept with their tip protectors are likely to last a lifetime.
Thanks to Alasdair Johnston of the Small Shop EU for the review sample.
The Small Shop EU, 4 Woodpecker Meadow, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 4GB, England; telephone 01747 825 646 or 07752 258946 (24 hour); http://www/smallshopeu.com.=20 Note - inches are in 1/35 scale