It's no secret that I'm a tool junkie. I know that some people can make wonderful models with just a craft knife and a straightedge, but I'm not as talented as them, so finding ways to get things done more quickly and easily is fine with me.
RP Toolz Punch & Die Sets
Some time ago I found these sets that are made in Hungary and decided that they looked interesting. I ordered mine directly from the manufacturer.
The first set has round punches from 0.5mm to 2mm in increments of 0.1mm. To use it, one traps a suitable piece of material between the clear upper layer and the metal die plate. There are clamp screws to hold everything firmly, although I find that finger pressure is enough, and the appropriately sized punch is inserted and tapped with a hammer. Rinse and repeat.
Hexagon punches are supplied in the other set. They are 0.7mm, 0.85mm, 1mm, 1.25mm, 1.5mm and 2mm across flats. The three smallest sizes have a round guide pin to align the hex with the die block.
The punches are all mounted in 10mm aluminium bodies, which makes them easy to handle. One must be careful to pull them straight up from the hole after use, though.
I also got the optional trays to sit the sets in whilst in use. These then catch the wads as they are punched out. Since the trays are black polythene, cutting a sheet of white card makes life a lot easier when working with black materials. They trays also pick up a lot of static charge and the wads stick to them like crazy. This is good for keeping them in one place, but a bit of a pain when trying to pick them up.
The static also causes the wads to stick to the die block. The individually sized holes are quite shallow and all are drilled out to 2mm on the rear. Getting the charged wads out of these holes is a pain, so it pays to punch out more than needed to ensure that enough end up being easily accessible on the tray.
Each set is also supplied with a dinky little hammer.
To be honest, these are not very well proportioned and lack balance. The smooth handles are not pleasant to use either. I prefer my jewellers hammer for tapping the punches.
In short, these do what they say on the tin and I would recommend them. The results are consistent and easy to work with. For 4mm scale, though, I'm not sure how much use they will really get, especially the hex set. For my 10mm stuff, they are a boon.
I've recently discovered that there is a UK stockist of these sets (and more!). Usual disclaimer.
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I've looked at these a couple of times, but more for 1/35 AFV modelling than 4mm railways (where I find my 'gravity drop spike', bought long ago I think from Eileens, serves most rivet purposes). There are also cheaper, less sophisticated die sets on the market (one such here), but for the moment it is a tool that remains on my 'would like' rather than 'must have' list.
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