Micro Hand drill - DR1126 - £5.06
When I started to get really serious about modelling far too many moons ago, two items vied for the top spot in my list of equipment that would prove I was a "real" modeller – an airbrush and a motor tool. The airbrush was a great investment and just the first of many I've come to depend on over the years. But the much vaunted motor tool? Well, I have to admit that I seldom use it for everyday modelling – while it's great for heavy jobs (such as grinding away large chunks of resin or styrene on a short-run kit), I find it all but useless for drilling because it just doesn't give me the same sense of control for small jobs as a hand tool.
Far better for delicate work is a pin chuck or, as here, Model Craft's miniature Archimedean drill. The tool has been used by jewellers for well over 100 years, but the principle is far older – as the name suggests, it dates back to Ancient Greece and the screw pump attributed to Archimedes in the third century B.C.
While a pin chuck is great, if you're doing heavier work or drilling a large number of holes it doesn't take long to begin to get a sore hard from the friction. This is where the Archimedean drill really comes into its own, because it still allows the same degree of control, but is far kinder on your hands. It also allows you to drill significantly faster – around the speed of a motor drill at its lower settings, which is all you can safely use on styrene without it melting.
As with any drill it's wisest to mark the position of the hole to be drilled with a sharp point before starting, to avoid any chance of the drill bit skidding and scratching the surface. With that done, it's simply a question of sliding the collet down the screw. The return spring takes it back to the top ready to start again. You need to go carefully when using very fine drill bits, because there's a temptation to go too quickly and risk breaking them.
Model Craft's drill is finely engineered with a plated screw and collet, and turned steel chuck. It's a timeless tool that will last for decades and deserves a place in any modelling tool-kit.
HSS Metric Drills - DR4001 - £6.77
I think one of the most noticeable changes in modelling tools since I was a teenager has been the increase in availability of small diameter drill bits, matched by a dramatic drop in price. Back in the dim and distant 1970s, bits less than 1mm in diameter were quite hard to find and surprisingly expensive. I remember buying one or two to detail the engine of Airfix's 1:24 Fw 190A when it was first released, and they were as expensive as the kit itself!
That's all changed, and nowadays it's hard not to imagine having a wide selection of micro drill bits ready to hand. Model Craft's metric twist drills include 20 bits rising from 0.3 to 1.6mm in 0.1mm intervals. They are packed in a handy grey partitioned holder with a clear sliding lid that acts as the dispenser for a single bit at a time. The lid stays on tightly to avoid all the bits spilling out accidentally.
There's really no excuse for not having the correct size drill bit for the job anymore – just remember to put them back in the numbered tray when you've finished (I can't tell you how many frustratingly incomplete sets I've gathered over the years by meaning to put a drill bit back in its place "later" – only for it to go astray!).
The Model Craft Micro Hand Drill and Metric Drills are just part of Shesto Ltd.'s wide selection of modelling tool that range from basic low-cost everyday items to top of the range airbrushes and compressors. Highly recommended.
Model Craft tools are available in North America from Billing Boats USA
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