Monday 5 August 2013

Hobby: Choosing (and Using) Side Cutters

Recently I purchased a new set of side cutters (or hobby clippers) and spent quite a bit more than I usually would on hobby supplies. The reason? I had trashed my last 'good' pair and had been making do with a cheap set from a dollar store, which resulted in broken arms and weapons as I move into the finer Necron models and away from my usual Blood Angel and Ork models. I was also spending an unreasonable amount if time filing the excess plastic off to boot!

The offending 'cheap' clippers doing their usual poor job. Note the offset points!
Broken spring, bent jaws and loose pivot. Not much left of the old pair!

In the blurry background of the picture above you can just make out the red handled latest purchase. With an internal pivot, the bladed edge ground flush to the edge, improved spring design and extra thin jaws these are perfect for the smaller delicate sprues, and lessen the clean up work (filing) required on the larger pieces. Designed for electrical work, I had to promise not to abuse them or the warranty would not hold. Little did the seller know I would only be using these guys on fine plastics!

I probably would have 'twisted' these out in the past and broken the plastic.

So how do I avoid wrecking this pair? For starters I will never use them on metal models, or on brass or metal pins. Doing so can blunt the edge of the blade or even bend the jaws. I also had a bad habit of using them to remove large sections of models, for example removing a torso or turret, rather than using a saw or sharp knife. It's easy to be lazy when inspiration strikes and you don't care about the part you are discarding, but 'future me' hates finding the mangled mess left behind which would be perfect for the latest project. This was the way in which I broke the spring on the last pair.

Dollar Store clippers doing what they do best.
Bad, Better, Best.

So there you have it. For the price of another box of miniatures (which will probably stay in the cupboard unpainted anyway) I can actually prepare my current models without tearing, breaking, bending or having to file half the sprue off before assembly, and 'future me' will be happy when it comes time to paint properly prepared models. 

Never be tempted to 'twist' off the sprue!

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