login   |    register

Tool Review
Photo-Etch Cut-Off Set
PE Part Removal and Organization System

by: Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights


This MSW tool review is of The Small Shop's extremely useful, simple and innovative photo-etch tool, "Photo-etch cut-off kit".


Aftermarket photo-etch items for the modeler can greatly enhance both the looks, and accuracy of your finished subject...but, if you're like me and born with ten opposable thumbs instead of fingers, some PE production steps can also greatly enhance your blood pressure, as well...enter The Small Shop, with this simple, yet extremely useful and effective tool, that will make the process of safely and easily removing even the smallest photo-etch enhancement from its respective fret not only easy, this tool will quickly become essential in your photo-etch building/organizing program.

This tool was designed for modelers, by modelers, as the folks at The Small Shop have experienced the same things that you and I have encountered in our builds, the same problems, headaches, and downfalls...so they set about making tools that will make certain processes not only much easier to accomplish, will actually improve your own personal experience and overall performance and talents.

Now, just ask yourself, "How many times have I buggered up a piece of brass PE beyond usability?"....OR, "How many times have I successfully removed a Lilliputian sized piece of PE, only to have it fly across the room, consumed by the carpet monster, or just plain lost the piece?". I know that I can think of a few (dozen?) occurrences of these types of experiences at my bench. NO MORE! (Thanks to this system!)

the system...

This tool system from The Small Shop is very simple in design, but big on performance. Let's start with just exactly what is included in the kit. You get three, 4 X 4 X 1/8" thick pieces of black Plexiglas tiles, and a two piece clear acrylic "press", that consists of a clear dowel handle, and another piece of clear acrylic flat stock, measuring 1-1/2 X 1 X 1/8", with a fine beveled edge on one long side of the piece. These two separate, clear parts are designed to be glued together, to make the "PE Press" part of the system (just a drop of cyanoacrylic is all you need to "make" this tool).

The three black tiles are designed to be used in a three part system at your bench, along with your PE bending tool(s), and although not necessary to be your own practice, using the system in unison can greatly increase your production, and lessen your headaches!

Using the system is as follows:

1.) Place the three tiles, along with your bending tool(s) in front of you at your bench.

2.) Take one tile, and place your PE fret on the tile, centering the section that you wish to remove as much as possible.

3.) Now, place your clear, "PE press" on top of the part in question, aligning the beveled edge of the press, with the area of the PE part that you will be cutting. The clear acrylic makes it easy to see the PE below.

4.) Using a hobby knife, cut along the beveled edge of the press, freeing the PE part from the fret. For longer cuts, simply reposition the press and cut again. Immediately, you will recognize just why the tiles are black in color, as this greatly enhances the contrast between the PE and the area it is laying upon, which hence-forth, not only reduces the strain on your eyes, but also greatly reduces the chance damaging or cutting the wrong part(s)...

5.) Lift the press, and PE fret off of the tile, leaving the trimmed away PE part on the tile. You will see that the press not only prevents damage or deformation of the PE part in question, it also keeps the part from launching itself from your work-surface, only to be consumed by the insatiable gremlins who inhabit your workshop floors...

6.) Slide the trimmed part(s) to the second tile, to be used as a "staging area" before bending and folding, which now leaves the first tile ready to trim another part.

7.) After bending and folding, move the part(s) to the third and final tile, ready to be used on your model, but still easily seen and available, because of the dark coloring of the tile surface. The hard acrylic finish of the tiles also will not let your blade skip or break.

Using this three tile system will greatly increase your production, mates, as well as keeping all of your PE parts safe, and organized at your bench, on the way to being attached to your model subject.

A well written set of instructions are also included with the set, all sealed up in a clear, heavy weight plastic bag with the acrylic parts of the kit. (Note-Plexiglas tiles are shipped with the manufacturer’s paper backing in place to prevent damage to their surface(s) in shipping.)

Highs: Very user friendly, this tool will greatly increase your overall success and enjoyment when using photo-etch accessories.
Lows: None...This product does exactly what it's designed and touted to do!
Verdict: If you use photo-etch in your builds, you need this simple, yet very effective tool...very highly recommended, from this modelers point of view!
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Suggested Retail: $9.50 USD
  Related Link: Official Company Website
  PUBLISHED: Apr 20, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to The Small Shop!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

View This Item  |  View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

About Mark R. Smith (Gunny)

I have been building models of all sorts all of my life, concentrating mainly on the coolest one's when I was younger, but now I focus directly on all military subjects, from armor to warships. After years of counting rivets, I put away the calipers, dial indicators, and micrometers and now just ha...

Copyright ©2020 text by Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]. All rights reserved.


I've been look at one of these since I have been using PE more. Thanks for the info!
APR 20, 2008 - 03:39 AM
Sounds useful. May have to make something like that.
APR 20, 2008 - 04:22 AM
The whole range the company offers looks very good. I'll be stopping by their site and warming up the PayPal!
APR 22, 2008 - 12:29 AM
I bought their 5-speed "hold and fold" for my future PE projects (have not tried it yet). If I understand correctly, this will help eliminate the "flying PE" problems and help make straight cuts thru the fret to free the pieces, right? If so, Im getting one for sure.... probably pays for itself in a year!
APR 22, 2008 - 12:27 PM
Roger-roger, on all points, mate...
APR 22, 2008 - 12:41 PM
Thanks for the reply Gunny.... at 10$USD, this tool will pay for itself indeed in saved PE parts. Getting one for sure! I will also make sure I include that I learned about the tool in this web site Cheers
APR 22, 2008 - 12:53 PM
I agree, James...this tool's science is quite simple, albeit extremely useful, especially for us that are "dexterity impaired" (count myself included ), and like you said, at 10 bucks U.S., if it saves just ONE piece of buggered up PE, it will pay for itself in aggravation AND replacement costs...anyone who uses alot of etch in their builds should find this system a well worth investment, IMHO..........in the coming weeks there will be more Small Shop items examined here at MSW, so stay tuned!
APR 22, 2008 - 09:52 PM

What's Your Opinion?

Click image to enlarge
  • misc2_008
  • misc2_016
  • misc2_011
  • misc2_020
  • misc2_018
  • misc2_010