A Really Big Box Arrived!

It’s a big wooden box, but what’s inside?!

So I know I went quiet again for a week or so and there has been good reason, a really big wooden crate arrived with the newest addition to the studio, along with a new desk to sit it on. A jewellers workbench has also arrived and found its way into the studio for my partners hobby.

Anyway back to my big box! I have been trying to talk myself into this purchase for over a year now, so it was a bit of a releif to have finally got it done have it arrive. So what’s in the box?! I hear you cry!

Well it’s a 40watt Laser Engraving machine. I know many call them cutters but I suppose at this power level they are really more at the engraving end of the spectrum rather than the cutting end, although I have already done a couple of test cuts and it does cut too, although I am yet to test up to what thickness.

The latest addition to the studio, my laser engraving machine!

So why is I suppose the next question and to be honest I have been wanting one for around 2 years since doing a laser cutting course at my local contemporary arts centre.

I have so many ideas for things I want to do with it but for the time being I have been mostly just playing around, getting to know the machine and the software, hence I haven’t been around much for building and posting since it arrived.

I have also been trying to design a range of parts I want to make using the laser for making life in the studio easier so I have been hitting the CAD package to iron out my designs.

Finally I have an idea for display bases for some of my builds so keep your eyes open for them making sneaky appearances on the blog although it won’t be for a wee while yet as I am still working on the artwork.

So I will leave you for now with a photo of the prototype of the best in class awards I am making for this years show the model club I am a member of is putting on. Let me know what you think!

Prototype design for Best In Class Awards for this years show.

Product Review: Meng DSPIAE Precison Pointed Tweezers

Meng DSPIAE Precision Pointed Tweezers

Ok so a pair of tweezers is a pair of tweezers right? Well not always, as modellers we often find the need to use them during our projects such as for manoeuvring small parts like PE about or placing/removing paint masks and often we accumulate several pairs often each with a different purpose in mind, for example I prefer reverse grip for PE work and soldering or small flat tips for decal work for example.

So it was a couple of weeks ago now but I recently added a new set to my armoury. It was during a visit to a new bricks and mortar model shop called Rif-Raf Models in Dundee, which is where I live. In fact this new shop has been set up by a member of the club I am also member of (IPMS Dundee) and if that’s not good enough well it’s about 500 mtrs from my home!

So I had popped in as I was on the hunt for some RAF Hemp coloured paint for a build I have coming up soon and I spied these sitting in one of the cabinets. Well I looked at the little red box and thought, I don’t really have any really pointed tweezers so they got bought too.

Now I know the packaging isn’t what’s important but it I do have to give a shout out to the quality of the packing materials, the outer card is of good thickness and quality, is well printed and the foam insert inside is suitably dense and holds the super shiny tweezers very snug.

Even the packaging has a quality look and feel.

Now as you can see the packaging above warns that these tweezers are very sharp, how sharp you ask, well certainly sharp enough to draw blood if your not paying attention as I have already found out in the few small bench sessions I have had since their purchase.

There’s a small silicone tip cover which is to help protect the tweezers from accidental damage when not in use I assume, but I would probably recommend keeping the box and storing them in it after all these are not a cheap set of tweezers and it would be a crying shame to damage the tips in storage. The tip protector does do a great job of preventing you from stabbing yourself on the extremely pointy end of these tweezers.

The tweezers also have a small silicone tip protector and etched branding

The tips themselves are super sharp, precision ground and line up perfectly with one another, of course this is to be expected however it never ceases to amaze me how poorly this can be done on cheaper sets of tweezers.

You don’t need a great deal of force to operate the tweezers either, the action is satisfyingly soft in the hand yet I have always felt confident in the grip strength on the actual parts your holding themselves. The tips are also nicely tapered so you shouldn’t have any difficulty using them in confined spaces like model aircraft cockpits for example.

These are some seriously sharp and pointy tips!

My only criticism of these tweezers would probably be the almost mirror finish to the steel, whilst this is definitely aesthetically pleasing and not posing an issue if you’re wearing Latex or Nitrile gloves whilst you build as I normally do, I did find it quite slippery in my fingers without gloves, especially if I had recently taken my gloves off and my hands were a bit sweaty.

In conclusion I think the Meng DSPIAE Precision Pointed Tweezers are a high quality piece of kit that I am very happy to have added to my bench. Whilst some may think they’re a bit on the pricey side, they are still probably cheaper than Tweezerman sets for example which are probably more at home plucking eyebrows than poking about model kits, so you really shouldn’t be put off by the price, especially as if you look after those tips I can see them continuing to serve for years to come.

Hasegawa Tritool, File Set Professional Type

Hasegawa Tritool File Set Professional Type
Selection of Files included in the Hasegawa Tritool File set, Professional Type

I decided to treat myself to some new files for modelling as my old ones are looking a little worse for wear so I had a nose about online and I found this Hasegawa set on one of my favourite Japanese vendors on Amazon for a great price so promptly placed the order.

The files arrived in good time as always with this vendor and here they are. I am not sure what makes these the professional type, the vendor did also have the standard type but as there was only around a pound saving I ordered these ones. Nothing to get excited about really is it but still I couldn’t wait to give them ago.

As you can see there’s a good selection of file profiles included in the packet and they are all fantastically sharp, so much so I have found it extremely easy to remove more material than you intended!

At first I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have some kind of handle or comfort grip on them but I have to say having used them a bit I do understand why. The lack of a bulky comfort grip handle means it’s much easier to get the files into difficult to reach positions and helps in keeping the cutting face parallel to the material you are filing. The knurled section on the handles provides more than enough purchase to keep them secure in your grip and avoid slippage.

All in all very pleased with such a simple tool and if and when these do require replaced, which I cant see happening for a very long time, I would definitely want to replace them with like for like.

Ultrasonic Cleaner

So this weekend I got to use my new ultrasonic cleaner. This was a purchase bought on by the failure of the ultrasonic transducer in my old machine so a new unit was ordered and arrived during the week.

My previous cleaner was one of the plastic ones with its own first name that you will see in many places around the internet for about £30 delivered, usually advertised for cleaning jewelery etc and it failed after around 18 months of infrequent use so I was a little disappointed.

With this failure though I decided to have a look at some of the more robust or industrial looking units out their when I came across this GT Sonic 2 ltr Ultrasonic Cleaner with built in heater on offer at an online retailer. It was the inclusion of the heater that first attracted me to the unit as my old unit said that it should only be used with cold water which isn’t condusive to optimal results from an ultra sonic which usually perform at their best above 40 Celcius.

Well the little brown box arrived a week sooner than I had expected and the unit was resonably packaged. In the box you get the cleaner itself, mains powercord and wire basket which is fitted with brackets to hold the basket off the bottom of the tank that fold inside the basket for storage and a lid that just sits on the top

The tank itself is not very large really  measuring 150x140mm and approx 100mm deep but this is plenty big enough for cleaning a stripped down airbrush. If you are looking to clean larger items the units are available in other sizes up to 6ltr capacity I beleive. On the front of the unit you have the seperate controls for setting the desire temperature up to a max temp of 80C and the timer which can be set to a maximum of 99min (although the manual says not to run for more than 60min continuously, theres also on off switches for each. The casing of the unit is metal and it sits on 4 rubber feet.

Using the unit I straight away noticed a difference from my old cleaner in that the ultrasonics seemed much more poweful, I beleive this is probably due to the frequency the ultrasonics is running at, 40khz, I think the larger units are fitted with multiple transducers but I beleive that this one is only fitted with a single transducer, but it is plenty powerful enough and a little louder than my previous cleaner. The temperature quickly rose to the 45C I had set and actually increased a few degrees above this I suspect due to the heat being generated by the transducer.

I’ve cleaned a couple of airbrushes that had been a little neglected and had only had a flush clean at the end of the last few sessions instead of a full strip and brush clean and the unit easily got all the little deposits that were left inside to break free from the brushes and they were soon looking as clean as I had ever seen them.

So first impressions are this is a very well built machine that works very well indeed and due to the fact I was able to secure this unit on offer meant I only paid £5 more than I did for the previous unit it is replacing and it has a much better level of performance. If I do encounter any problems I will let you know.

Tamiya Modeller Sidecutters

As a side from my builds I recently picked up a pair of these Tamiya Modellers Side Cutters or sprue cutters as they are sometimes called on a visit to my local model shop and I am that impressed thought I would post about them.

I was always skeptical about these when I saw them on the shelves of the model stores as they seemed so expensive, especially compared with my cheapo Draper cutters I had been repurposing as sprue cutters but I have to say these are worth every penny.

They feel solid and extremely well made, the handles are nicely moulded and don’t feel like the plastic is going to come off in your hand whilst you’re using them. The cutting edges are extremely sharp and the blades are narrow enough to get fairly close to the model part but easily avoid cutting too close and damaging the part.

I know theres nothing exciting about sprue cutters but if your in the market to get a new pair or are looking to upgrade your existing set then you could do a lot worse than to pick a pair of these up. They really do make the tedious task of removing parts from the sprues a little less tedious!

My Airbrushes

Airbrushes and my new Neo by Iwata

So my new Airbrush arrived this week. As I have mentioned before I hadn’t really done much in the way of airbrushing in the past but over the last few weeks I have done much practising with the generic dual action one that came with my compressor kit. I have to say I thought the generic was an excellent airbrush and certainly probably more than adequate for most modelling requirements, however I decided I was going to treat myself and ordered a Neo by Iwata.

The Neo arrived well packaged, thick card box that put me in mind of iPhone packaging with the brush, nozzle spanner and small cup sitting nestled inside a High density foam insert. On unboxing the brush and comparing the brushes side by side you can see from the image above with the large cup attached to the Neo there is very little in it size wise between the two.

The detachable cup on the Neo is a nice touch and will certainly make cleaning and easier affair. There is quite a difference in weight between the two brushes too, with the Neo being a lot lighter in the hand.

I hooked the brush up to my compressor and straight away noticed the difference, the Neo atomised the paint into a much finer mist that strangely still seemed more dense than that produced by my generic brush, and the coat went down much more even.

Even the action on the brush seemed almost more responsive, it really doesn’t take much movement on the trigger to go from a fine line to a full wide coverage mist and the brush is capable of emptying even the larger of the two cups in what seems like only a couple of seconds.

The one thing that the Generic does have that the Neo doesn’t is the adjuster on the end of the brush that sets a limit to how far back you can pull the trigger and increase the flow. I have to say as a newbie to airbrushing I did find this feature particularly useful on the generic, but with the Neo I will have no where to hide and will simply have to learn better brush control.