login   |    register

Tool Review

by: Kurt Isbrecht [ USMCTANKER ]

Originally published on:
KitMaker Network

"The Sensi-Press is a sensitive arbor punch press that is small enough to give you the delicate touch needed for working with fine model, instrument and clock parts, yet sturdy enough to apply 250 lbs. of force". That description is from the Micro-Mark (WWW.micromark.com) website. That website and the pictures describe it much better than I can. The goal of my review is to try and answer the question "is it worth the money"?

I like to scratch build. All those between the world wars designs when armor was coming of age fascinate me. Most of the armor designs shared a common feature. Rivets. Lots of rivets. I had tried most of the methods to reproduce realistic rivets in my models. The beading tool, dots of white glue, heated sprue, etc. None produced the result I was looking for. The rivets from accessory makers are fine but rather fiddley to work with. At least for an old retired Marine like me. I lost nearly as many as I actually used in the model. Enter the "Sensi-Press" and "The Riveter". When I first saw this group of tools I knew I wanted them. However, at $130 plus for the press, the riveter and a rivet embossing set my first reaction was to pass. After a few more looks at the Micro-Mark website I decided to spring for the whole set.

I will begin by stating that this is a well made, quality tool. Constructed of milled aluminum and tool steel by the folks at NorthWest Short Line in Seattle, WA. Mine came with a hand signed sticker stating "Made with pride in the USA, assembled by Norm". The base is 7 inches x 3 inches x 1/2 inch thick. Throat depth is 4-1/4 inches. The riveter measures 3 inches x 7 inches x 1/4 inch thick. Tension of the ram is adjustable. The riveter is an advancing table that attaches to the base of the Sensi-Press via machine screws. It has a knob that moves the table left and right. The knob is calibrated in .001 inch increments and makes for very accurate spacing. A full turn of the knob results in a .050 inch advancement. The riveter rides on two steel guide rods and is very precise. No play in the movement. The riveter table is tapped for four machine screws. These can be used to mount hold down screws for your work piece or for a guide fence. The guide fence is not included. I built my own version from heavy sheet styrene. However, I found it best to clamp your work piece to the riveter table during rivet making. This insures precise spacing of your rivets. The actual rivet making parts are the "Rivet Embossing Set". The set includes cone tip plus .010 inch, .020 inch, .030 inch, .040 inch and .050 inch rivet diameter punches and dies. All made of tool steel. Capable of making very nice rivets in light brass, aluminum and styrene sheet stock. $30 for the set.

My method for rivet making is to take a set of plans in the scale desired (1/35 in my case) and lay them on a section of sheet styrene. Make sure your plans include the proper rivet detail. George Bradford's "AFV News" is a very good resource for scale plans. Transfer the rivet pattern to your work piece with carbon paper. A basic outline of the part being "riveted" made on the sheet styrene with carbon paper will help keep you oriented. Another method is to lay the paper plans directly over the work piece and secure with masking tape. Then simply press the rivet design of the plans directly on the work piece. If you are placing rivets on a larger plate of armor with most or all the rivets having the same spacing it is a much simpler task. Just measure the distance between rivets on your plans and then use the micrometer marks on the riveter adjustment knob to advance the table for proper spacing. A rather tedious, time consuming job becomes comparable to something approaching fun. Well, perhaps not fun but much less stressful than the methods mentioned above. The rivets are realistic, identical in appearance and evenly spaced. My models now look better and I have more time for things like weathering and looking for a subject for that next project. Now when someone accuses you of being a rivet counter you can stand up and proudly proclaim 'Yes I am'! I do 1/35 scale scratch builds but the smaller punch die sizes may be suitable for the 1/72 scale as well.

So, was this investment worth $130? For me the answer is an unqualified yes. I have been using my riveter now for about eight months. I am very happy with my purchase. If you are a scratch builder looking for a quality made tool that will last a lifetime then you may want to check the Micro-Mark website. The Sensi-Press has several other attachments available. Punch dies, tooling sets and a tap/drill set to name a few. A versatile tool it is. Now, if they would only make a hex-head and a conical head set of punch dies.

Advantages ----An easy to use tool that accomplishes it's intended job very well
Quality materials and construction
Availability of several accessory attachment's

Disadvantages -The price? Your call.

Sensi-Press ------------ Item Number:60627 $69.95
The Riveter -------------- Item Number:60643 $42.95
Rivet embossing set - Item Number:60644 $29.95

Please note: The above are in US$ and are the sale price. The total non sale price would be $22 more.

Click here for additional images for this review.

An easy to use tool that accomplishes it's intended job very well.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 60627
  Suggested Retail: USD$74.95
  Related Link: The Riveter
  PUBLISHED: Sep 25, 2004

About Kurt Isbrecht (USMCtanker)

Retired. USMC tank crewman.

Copyright 2021 text by Kurt Isbrecht [ USMCTANKER ]. 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.


What's Your Opinion?