"This MSW Tool Review takes a closer look at The Small Shops revolutionary photo-etch workstation, "The 5 Speed Hold-n-Fold."
Box and Pan Brake-"The box and pan brake is often called the "finger brake" because it does not have a solid upper jaw as does the cornice brake. Instead, it is equipped with a series of steel fingers of varying widths. The finger brake can be used to do everything that the cornice brake can do and several things that the cornice brake cannot do. The finger brake is used to form boxes, pans, and other similarly shaped objects."
Why are we talking about a Box and Pan Brake, you may ask?....well, mates, because the 5 Speed Hold-n-Fold is the modelers version of it's full sized counterpart (with many more additions), and essentially, both tools are used to perform the exact operation, which is bending and forming metal of various thicknesses, into whatever the operator wishes to form...personally, I used the full size version for many years when I worked in the sheet metal trade, bending and forming various metal parts used in air duct systems...and now, I happily can say that this tool from The Small Shop will perform in the exact manner as the full grown machine (with much less effort!), in the bending and forming of photo-etch pieces, and also for stock forming for scratch building.
I've had the pleasure of late to examine and test many products from The Small Shop, and each one has performed exactly as the manufacturer has stated, and this tool follows suit of the previous ones in question.
The first thing noticeable with the 5 speed is quality....the tool is a heavy chunk of hard, anodized, precision machined aircraft grade aluminum, built to last. The base itself is purposely colored black to make working with brass and stainless PE parts easier on the eyes, machined very smooth, with rubber feet mounted to the bottom so the tool won't slide on your bench.
The clear, self colored, anodized aluminum head has been machined with 12 different sizes of "bending fingers", in various widths and depths, to handle various sized folding jobs...the longer fingers are a plus for deeper bends, such as multiple folded platforms. These "fingers" have been designed and machined to give precise, sharp bends in multiple gages of metals, and experience will tell the modeler exactly which finger will do the best job with the specific part that he is working on.
On the opposite side of the head, we find a long, continuous bending edge, to facilitate any longer PE bend or scratch build stock form bend that the modeler may need to perform...the edge is machined fine and smooth, and also can be used for strong holding and clamping. The head can be rotated on the base, and re-attached and ready to go in a matter of seconds...Also on the head, are various machined shapes and surfaces to aid the modeler in bending and forming channels, tie downs, and radius bends in a more easy and uniform manner.
The head itself is mounted on the base with two heavy plastic knobs, which thread onto two threaded guide pins, in which two heavy springs are placed upon before the head is attached (see photo) to make the head itself "spring loaded", so when you loosen the knobs, the head will raise automatically so you can slide your stock under the head in an easy fashion.
Included with the tool are two sizes of "Folding Blades", one a standard flat razor blade (dulled) for small bends, and the other, a special machined 5" long blade for longer bends. You also receive a two sided instruction sheet with basic use, tips and tricks of using the tool, with step-by-step drawings explaining such.
Making a fold with the tool is a very simple, basic process, (depending upon the complexity of the part that you need to make), and I have illustrated a simple four corner bend of a pilot house in the images to the right.
Step 1.) Set the tool in a comfortable area on your bench, and loosen the tool knobs slightly.
Step 2.) Depending on the size of your part, determine which finger you will need to use to make the fold...always choose a finger the same size or slightly wider than your part, so the fold is complete and sharp along the folded edge.
Step(s) 3.) and 4.) Slide your part underneath the finger, and align the fold edge perfectly straight with the end of the bending finger...this spot will differ with various parts that you will be folding, and only experience will tell you which fold that you need to make first.
Step 5.) Tighten both of the tool knobs finger tight.
Step 6.) If your part is small, as this one is, take your small folding tool and gently slide it underneath the part, until the edge is flush with the bending finger base.
Step 7.) Slowly draw the folding tool in an upwards motion, until you reach the desired angle of your bend.
Step 8.) I always slightly "over bend" my folds, to compensate for the "spring" of the metal being folded.
Step 9.) Loosen both tool knobs, and remove your part.
Step 10.) At this point in the process, I chose to swivel the head around, and try out the solid edge on the next series of bends...
To finish off the fold, simply continue the process of aligning the fold at the proper edge mark, make your bend as directed in the previous steps, and voila! You may have to adjust the final fold a bit either more or less, to make the complete box square, but quite honestly, the folds were clean, sharp, and on the mark!
Keep in mind that I chose a very simple and basic fold for this reviews purposes, as there are many more complicated folds that you will encounter in all genre's of the hobby, but using these basic set of instructions, and thinking about what you are trying to accomplish before you make that first bend, success will be yours!
If you use a lot of aftermarket photo-etch details in your builds, you need this tool...
Highs: Top notch tool quality and engineering, built to last a lifetime under normal use, ease of operation as well.Lows: Absolutely none!Verdict: Quite basically, this tool will give the modeler who uses aftermarket photo-etch on a regular basis clean, sharp folds, with a minimal amount of effort. Highly recommended from this modelers point of view!
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.
About Mark R. Smith (Gunny) FROM: PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES
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...