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Tool Review
The Bug
The Bug Rotating Tool Head Hold and Fold Workstation
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by: James Bella [ C5FLIES ]

Originally published on:
KitMaker Network


Sitting down at my workbench the other day, I noticed that I’m not the neatest person around, and space was getting pretty limited. To top it off, when I’m doing PE work, even more tools come out and space gets even tighter. And, I’ll admit, sometimes when I just have one or two bends to do, I may not pull out my full size Hold & Fold and will ‘make do’ with tweezers, pliers, and a razor blade. Of course, then I’m not as happy with the results as I would have been if I used the proper tool.

Choosing the right Photo-etch bender can be a difficult task, but having the right one on hand makes working with this medium much more enjoyable.


The Bug, from The Small Shop, arrives in a sturdy cardboard box, further packed in a plastic bag along with the two sided instruction sheet and a single edge razor blade. The workstation comes fully assembled, so the only thing necessary to begin using it is to slightly dull the ‘razor’ edge off the blade by giving it a few swipes along an emery board or some sandpaper. The instructions contain the company contact information, along with generic tips for using any of the Hold and Fold workstations and some simple line drawings to get you started.

The Bug has a natural finish 2” square tool head that sits on a 2” by 2.5” black base, both parts machined from aircraft grade aluminum and hard anodized. The head is spring loaded and has a single hold down knob. By loosening the knob so the head clears the alignment pins, the tool head can be rotated to whichever of the four sides you want to use. Four soft ‘feet’ are attached to the bottom of the base to prevent marring your work surface and to keep the tool from sliding around.

the bug

Using the Bug is easy, just loosen the knob slightly and slide the PE part under one of the fingers. The head of the Bug has a small amount of ‘play’ built in, which makes it easier to fine tune the alignment of the finger and bend line before tightening it down. I usually find it more accurate to press the head down with one hand and tighten the knob with the other. The machining of the base and head is excellent, so brute force isn’t needed to tighten the knob….just snug it down enough to hold the part firmly in place. The contrast between the black base, photo-etched material and aluminum head makes life very easy on the eyes.

Different strokes for different folks applies to the actual bend procedure. Some have better results using a sideways slicing motion while bending upwards, others slide the blade fully under and apply pressure in and up. This applies to most PE benders on the market, and the 'bend mechanics' are the same for all the Hold & Fold workstations. A little practice will determine what feels most comfortable and produces the best results.

The four work heads consist of:
● ‘Swiss Comb’ where all six fingers are the same width.
● ’Power Wedge’ with four heavy-duty fingers for bending ‘raw’ brass.
● Four finger widths
● One continuous length

The edges of the base, as well as most of the other surfaces, can be used as bend points also. Every area I used provided clean, crisp bends.

Switching from head to head takes a matter of seconds since nothing needs to be taken apart. Also incorporated into the head are what the Small Shop refers to as Micro-bending Beams, for fabricating small grab handles. I tried one of these out quickly to make a tarp loop, with practice they may come in handy.

I found the pint-sized Bug to come in handy for a variety of tasks other than folding PE. Clamp the part on one of the outer edges to sand the nub off that may have been left from cutting it off the fret. I had a few small pieces that needed a ‘twist’, which if I used tweezers to hold them, they most likely would have gone flying. Clamping them in the Bug gave a good secure hold, and further using it as a vise allowed me to glue and/or paint some very small parts with no fear of loss. The small size makes it comfortable to hold in one hand and bring the work to eye level.

The trade off for the small size is bending long parts, in my case the only thing the Bug will not handle is fenders. Otherwise, this little guy has been handling all my PE work and stays right in my work area.


Using the ‘Bug’ for awhile now, I found that it stays right within working range, as its small footprint is very unobtrusive. And I find myself reaching for it more and more often, not only as a PE bender but to hold small parts while gluing, painting, etc. It fits comfortably in the hand, stays within sight, and has fast become one of my most valuable tools. Very highly recommended.

The 5 Speed Hold & Fold has also been reviewed Here on Armorama.
Highs: High quality, well thought out tool. Small size handles most tasks and is easy to work with. Takes up very little valuable work space, so stays within easy reach. Quick and easy to change to different work 'stations'.
Lows: Small size will not handle long bends, of course.
Verdict: Excellent as both an addition to a larger PE workstation and as a solo bender. Clean, crisp bends on both pre-etched and raw material. Very highly recommended.
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: HFBUG
  Suggested Retail: $39.99
  Related Link: Bug webpage
  PUBLISHED: Sep 07, 2009
  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.

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About James Bella (c5flies)

My main interest is 1/35 scale WWII armor, Axis and Allied, and will occasionally branch out into other areas. The builds I have done so far have been pretty much OOB, and considering what most newer kits include, that is usually more than enough for me. Even though my projects do not always end up ...

Copyright ©2021 text by James Bella [ C5FLIES ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Thanks Brent....and don't forget to use your IPMS discount
SEP 07, 2009 - 08:05 AM
Great review, and totally agree, James. I have both the Bug and the Hold & Fold, and find myself reaching for the Bug far more often. And, unlike the Hold & Fold, which is set on a shelf in its box, the Bug sits out on my workspace, ready for action. A great little tool. Cheers, Mike
SEP 07, 2009 - 09:10 AM
How'd I miss this??? I could use this on every model I have.
JUL 17, 2014 - 11:51 AM
It's a great tool! It's my go to PE bender for 90% of my PE work. I don't even use the other two I have (4" and 8"). Rob
JUL 17, 2014 - 01:04 PM
It's very convenient , plain and simple .
JUL 17, 2014 - 01:17 PM
This is a company worth plugging for, very nice and prompt too. I have the next step up... the 4" Mk IV RTH Hold & Fold, SMS003 For someone who avoids LARGE PE parts, this one is perfect! Even for larger scale kits too. Never thought I would need one but it is my "go to" tool now. Jeff
JUL 17, 2014 - 10:50 PM
Thank you for this review, James.. and to all the feedback by the rest of the guys. I've been hesitant about buying one, but now I think I'll go ahead and order one Hisham
JUL 17, 2014 - 11:45 PM
I also do about 90+% of all my PE bending on this tool. Most recently, I've done both of these not so little project using just "The Bug" for all of the bending and folding- Voyager Churchill Mk. III Turret Stowage Box: Aber Initial Tiger I Turret Side Stowage Box: With some practice, familiarity, and thought, you can really do a lot with this small tool, and like several others have mentioned, its convenient size means that it can be kept very handy. It's as easy to grab and use a pair of pliers or other "old school" bending tools, yet, because it's a purpose designed PE bender, getting precise results is much easier. Very highly recommended!
JUL 18, 2014 - 12:53 AM
I had this arrive yesterday and must admit that I can see my Tamyia hand bender being relegated to a secondary role.
NOV 02, 2016 - 09:31 PM

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