To re-post myself...:
I've been cutting and bending etched parts for years, and I find my most
useful tools for working with etched parts to be needle files, two
single edged razor blades, a #17 X-Acto blade, an X-Acto hobby hammer,
and a scrap of 1/4" plexiglass sheet.
The plexiglass sheet is a good, flat, hard surface for bending and
striking against. The "striking" I refer to is where the hammer and the
#17 blade come in - a metalsmithing technique. You can squarely align
the chisel shaped blade at the very edge of the metal "sprue" and give
it a tap or two with the hammer - you can make very precise cuts this
way to seperate parts from the fret, and also trim parts after they are
free. The plexi is just hard enough to back the strike, but flexible
enough not to shatter under it.
As for bending, I use the "two razor blade method" for even the smallest
of parts. Once the part is free and trimmed, on that same flat plexi
surface - hold the part down along the desired fold line with one razor
blade. Then slip a second razor blade under the part to raise it to the
desired angle. Done...cheap. Another way is to look around your bench
until you find an object which will make a good form for the bend - as
an example, the cap from the bottle of CA I use is the perfect radius
for forming the backs of 1/48 Eduard etched WWII cockpit seats.
For adhesives, I use both thick CA glue and watch crystal cement. I
find that watch crystal cement works well for small parts there a
thicker glue with a bit more working time is required. It also works
well on larger flat joins. The black thick CA "tire cement" also works
well with etched parts - I presume because it has a flexing agent in
it...but I won't swear to that.
I paint my etched parts just like any plastic part - I use enamels
exclusively. One thing to note is that you will need to attach the
etched parts directly to the bare plastic for best result...if you
attach them over a painted surface they will merely peel off with the
paint. So you need to plan them into your assembly and then paint the
assembly in accordance. Some people also wash and/or prime thier etched
parts - I do niether and that works fine for me with enamels.
Hope all that helps ya...
Rufus covered the subject very well. I only add the following:
I use double sided tape to place on top of my cutting surface, a piece of
glazed ceramic tile. I then stick the PE fret onto the tape. This does two
things: (1) prevents the dreaded "part launcher effect" that often occurs
when cutting on a hard surface endangering your eyes (wear eye protection
anyway). (2) gives a bit of cushion for the cutting edge of whatever
instrument you use thus prolonging the useful life of it.
Yes - that's a handy trick...though I find I end up bending the part
more often than not trying to get it off the tape. Probably because I
should try a different brand of tape with lower tack...
What I end up doing is to hold the #17 blade (blade only, no handle)
between my thumb and forefinger - which allows me to rest my thumb on
the part. I'll add that I always place the non-ground side of the blade
toward the part, and the ground side of the edge toward the
fret...thus my thumb on the part keeps it from launching, and the fret
side is usually large enough that if it does travel, it doesn't move
Bending can be a problem. I use an X-acto blade and slide it under the
part. The tack problem can be mostly overcome by using loops of 1" Tamiya
I forgot to add that I use sandpaper to remove rough edges or barbs after
the cut, which I seldom attempt to make flush with the part.. *Gentle*
sanding with little pressure will quickly remove the barbs/rough edges.
I continue the tap-cutting process once the part is free - as I've
mentioned, you can get very close to the partline if you hold the blade
as I describe. I find I can "nibble" away the edges with the blade
fairly quickly. Then I resort to the needle file if I feel it's required.
Occasionally it may also be easier (and/or produce a better fit) if the
etched part is glued in place to the plastic part first, and then filed
I use piece of 1/16" aluminum for my cutting surface. It is hard
enough to support all PE materials (even stainless steel) but is is
soft enough not to destroy the edge of the X-acto knife blade.
To prevent launching I hold the parts with my finger. I don't hit the
blade to separate the part - I just put pressure on the knife and rock
the blade from side to side until it goes all the way through the
For me, it depends on the material. If using regular brass photo-etch, I
use a round blade scalpel (#10) on a teflon pad. I cut as close as I can
to the part itself with a forward-back rocking motion. For smaller
parts, it's smart to tape it down so that it doesn't ping off into
never-never land. With tougher material, such as DML/Dragon's nickel
plated brass or whatever it is they used in their early stuff, I cut
with Xuron micro-shears, leaving a good nub that has to be filed off.
Don't cut too close with the shears; you can screw up the part badly.
Also, with that tool, you don't have much of an opportunity to tape the
part down, so try working inside a plastic bag. Then when it pings off,
it doesn't go far.
And yes, the waste is called a "fret". One more word about PE... don't
think you have to use all of it, just because it's furnished. Frequently
it includes a) parts that are never seen b) bits that are no better than
the kit part and c) parts that are better fabricated with round stock.
I use a piece of 1/2" thick acrylic scrap as a cutting surface and a #17
X-acto blade like a guillotine to cut the pieces free. I find it best to
leave as much tab as possible on the part and go back later a chop it
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