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Etch Mate


Mission Models



S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number and Description: Mission Models Etch Mate Photo Etch bending fixture
Contents and Media: One 6.5" x 3.5" tool; one safety razor blade (as folding aid)
Price: USD$65.00 plus local tax and shipping from Mission Models
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Solid construction; excellent operation; multiple size folding heads; permits sharp and precise folds; holds while it folds - parts won't fly to the awaiting Carpet Monster.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for frequent photo-etch users


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In common with many modellers, I have coped throughout the years without a photo-etch folding tool. I have used tweezers, pliers and hobby knives to fold parts. The results have not always been satisfactory, and an unhappily large number of small parts have sprung away from my workspace to be consumed by the voracious Carpet Monster.

I therefore awaited the arrival of the Etch Mate with interest. Before the tool arrived I wondered whether, at just 6.5" x 3.5", the Etch Mate would be big enough for all tasks, and whether it would make a difference to the way that I work with photo-etched parts.

The Etch Mate arrived packed in a sturdy box. The tool is fully assembled except for four rubber feet for the bottom of the baseplate. These prevents slippage when the tool is being used.

The base is a plate of anodized, grey-green, satin finished steel. A shallow triangular folding guide is etched into the steel in line with the folding head. The folding head is a slightly brighter green, held in place by a release knob and four additional guide pins. The folding head features six "fingers" of different widths to suit most folding jobs. For especially long runs of photo-etch such as railings, the head can be reversed to use a full-length folding edge. Having used the tool now, I can see that 6.5" will be quite long enough for the vast majority of folding tasks. Indeed, most photo-etched frets are less than 6.5" in total length themselves.

The Etch Mate feels very sturdy and looks well designed. Turning the plastic knob raises the folding head smoothly and evenly. This is a very professional piece of work.



Using the Etch Mate


I have been holding off completion of a photo etch-intensive project until the Etch Mate arrived. I wanted to fold some small, narrow pieces that would be difficult to bend evenly using a knife or pliers. The model was a 1/400 scale Mirage Type IXA U-Boat, and the parts to be folded were very small and delicate:


1. Preparing Etch Mate for Use


The knob was slackened off to lift the folding head from the surface of the baseplate.


2. Clamping the Photo-Etched Part


I selected the closest sized folding "finger" and placed the part underneath. I was careful to precisely centre the fold line of the part under the finger before twisting the knob back down to secure the photo-etch. Correct placement of the fold line is probably the most important element of the job.


3. Folding the Part


A razor blade is supplied to use to actually bend the clamped part. The blade is slid under the part, all the way to the folding head. The blade is lifted evenly and firmly, folding the part as it goes. If the blade is positioned correctly, it should be pivoting on the triangular folding guide in the base.


4. Releasing the Part


The knob is again turned to release the folded part.


5. What Are You Waiting For?


It is time to glue the part to your model!





In contradiction of the old saying, the Etch Mate is one new trick that this old dog will be very pleased to learn.

This is the first time that I have used a dedicated photo-etched folding tool. In the short time that I have used the Etch Mate, it has proven its value as a simple, precise and reliable way to fold photo-etched parts. It is far more effective than any of the methods that I used before. In addition to its value when folding parts, it also minimises the risk of losing parts as the photo-etched piece is securely clamped while it is being folded.  I am sure that I will find the tool even more useful as I find different applications for it over time.



Whether you build ships, aircraft or vehicles, if you regularly work with photo-etched parts the Etch Mate will become a regular and helpful companion.

Highly Recommended for frequent photo-etch users


Thanks to Jon Tamkin from Mission Models  the preview image and information

Etch Mate is available from Mission Models Website

Rreview Text and all Images Copyright 2003 by Brett Green
This Page Created on 27 January, 2003
Last updated 24 August, 2003

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