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Photo Etched Parts Bender DSPIAE Catalogue # AT-PB Available from Breveco Modelling for €69.50 There are some really good photo-etch bending tools on the market, with my personal preference thus far being the 5.5 inch Hold and Fold from The Small Shop. I’ve used numerous different folders over the last year, some being good and some being a little iffy, in my personal opinion. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Chinese tool manufacturer, DSPIAE, released their own into their high-quality tools range, and here is that very tool. DSPIAE tools are packed into robust and attractive boxes of MDF construction, with rather random Aztec-style imagery that really doesn’t bear any relation to the product within. Still, there’s no faulting the presentation, along with the excellent packing that can be used to safely store the tools for many years to come. The box states that the contents within, or at least some of them, are a result of high-pressure forging. The box sides show the parts included within the tool set, plus the ID Code used to identify this as a genuine DSPIAE tool and not a pirated copy, with this latter being something that even the respectable Chinese companies have had to do to separate themselves from their more unscrupulous countryfolk. Taking a look at the back of the box, we see some general product information and rationale for specific product design choices. Got to love the inclusion of the Ghostbusters logo! Lift that heavy lid and you’re already getting a thank you from the company for your tool purchase decision. Another product authenticity check is included in the form of a Q-Code that can be scanned with an appropriate app on a smartphone. This red packaging is actually a sleeve that contains one of the tools working tables, as named by the manufacturer. Yes, this PE bender has a choice of two working tables, and the one in this sleeve is manufactured from a shot-blasted piece of anodized aluminium that has a sort of graphite colour to it. This is also protected by a foam cut-out within the sleeve. On the rear of the sleeve is a little more of the same product information we saw on the rear of the box, alongside line drawings of the product. One thing that can never be criticised with DSPIAE is their packaging. The tool and parts within the box are sat in foam cut-outs with another insert being used to span the area between the bending plate release knobs. A silica gel sachet is included to prevent any moisture damage. With other PE benders, I’ve been used to a metal blade to assist folding any of the longer bent edges. Unusually, with this tool, the folding tool (or bending plate as described by DSPIAE), is constructed from clear acrylic sheet which has been neatly and evenly ground down to a wedge end, and with a black plastic cap strip along the other edge. In fact, they actually supply two folding tools here, with one of them being quite short in relation to the main folder. It remains to be seen how these bear up to continued use as opposed to a metal item but remember that it’s not much effort is generally needed to make these bends, and you aren’t pushing and grinding these parts together. More rationale for product design is also given on a foam insert, and also some information on how the tool is used. Time to get our hands dirty and take a closer look at this. No doubt, this tool must surely win a prize for the most beautifully finished and aesthetically pleasing tool that will end up on your workbench. The main bed of the PE bender is machined from high-grade aluminium which has been finished in black anodising and has a recess into which the switchable working tables will fit. Four hex-key screws hold the default working table in place. Unlike the shot-blasted, anodised aluminium plate that was packed into the sleeve, this plate is constructed of stainless steel and has a high mirror finish that was a little difficult to capture clearly in my photography. The bending face is constructed from more high-grade aluminium, this time anodised in the companies trademark red colour. This has more bending options than my default 5.5inch Hold and Fold, with the various shaped being precisely machines, as with the US-equivalent tool. Two knurled knobs hold down this pate onto the working table, with the plate itself being sprung-loaded. The being plate can also be lifted off and turned around 180 degrees so that the long straight edge is the principle bending face. This unit is also larger (and heavier) than my usually tool. The larger size does account for that generally, but the stainless working table adds to this, unlike my usual tool which is simply a two-part item which is also sprung-loaded. DSPIAE’s tool has a length of 177mm and a width of 91mm. Note here the smaller machined bending locations that can be used in conjunction with dowel or metal rods/drill shanks. A hex key is also supplied for you to tighten the threaded knob screws, should they ever come loose. Here you can see the difference in the working tables. There is some notation about the mirror finish being easier to scratch (obviously) but that won’t impair the quality of the tool and how it works. I think the choice between these two items is more one of personal choice than how the tool actually works. If you ever inadvertently damage one of these, then at least you’ll have a backup. To help maintain that mirror finish and keep things clean, a neat polishing cloth is also included, as are a set of sticky feet made by 3M. In the same wallet are the two hex-keys that we’ve seen in use in this review. Aluminium or mirror-finished working plate, the choice is up to you! Here you can also see the bending face turned around 180 degrees. Conclusion An extremely robust and high-quality tool with unusually high levels of beauty for a functional item. The two choices of working table are a nice touch, and the large overall size of the tool lends itself to some of those longer folds that we something see in our photo-etch parts sets. It’ll be interesting to see how the acrylic folding tools hold up under use, but these can be swapped for something else, should the need arise. The folding tool I got in my 5.5inch Hold and Fold eventually started to rust, so that wasn’t perfect, and I really didn’t want to look at introducing oil to things, especially when I have to paint the folded parts later! Perhaps acrylic is an inspired choice in that respect. Overall, a stunning new release from DSPIAE and one which, cost-wise, is about on par with other contemporary releases from other companies, but with those little extras thrown in for good measure. Very highly recommended. My sincere thanks to Breveco Modelling for the sample seen in this review. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article.
Electric Plank Bender Hobbyzone Catalogue # HX-GDL1 Available from Hobbyzone for £20.63 (as of 10-7-18) There are numerous ways of bending those awkward planks that we regularly see at stern and bow, including soaking in water/macerating fluid that breaks down fibres, and then twisting. You can of course use a plank nipper, such as that from Amati, drum roller such as the Mantua release, or you can use an electric plank bender. The latter isn’t exactly a new way of shaping your planks to the required curve, but this new release from Hobbyzone is certainly a quality and affordable way to achieve it. Hobbyzone’s electric plank bender is packed into a sturdy plywood box which is then heavily wrapped in plastic film onto which the product label is affixed. Once the packing is removed, the lid of the box is lifted via a finger hole in the centre of the lid. Inside, we have the electricplank bending tool itself, lying alongside the curved forming tool. The electric part of this is a 240v unit and comes with a European standard 2-pin plug. For my tests, I converted this with a 3-pin UK travel adapter. I think that the basis for the plank bender is possibly a soldering iron or similar, but instead of a pointed tip, this unit has been fitted with a circular brass head that is the correct size to roll around the smaller of the curves on the forming block. Inside the bottom of the box is a sheet that explains that your planks must first be soaked, and that you may well experience some smoke emanating from the unit for the first 10 minutes after the very first use. Note also that the underside of the lid has a rest for sitting the electric tool whilst not in use. *CAUTION* NEVER LEAVE THE PLANKIG TOOL UNATTENDED WHILST POWERED**….simple safety tip! The forming tool is made from very thick MDF and contains two different sized scoop profiles, plus a gentler curving sweep. You can of course use different sections of these profiles to greater or lesser degrees, and it does seem very similar to the formers in other manufacturer’s products. To test, I first soaked my limewood planks for about 30 to 40 mins in plain cold water, and then with the forming iron fully hot, the plank was laid across the shallow curve and the iron gradually rolled into it. The timber formed itself into the curve very quickly and with minimal physical effort for me to achieve it. The tool was gradually rolled until the wood dried out and the curve remained. For the deeper curves, I first placed only a short length of the timber into the former, and then rolled the iron, pushing the timber into the former a little extra each time until I had achieved the full curve. I did experience a little scorching on the internal area, but nothing too major. I think that longer soaking for more pronounced curved would minimise this even more, but the plank shaped superbly. Resting the iron, whilst hot, onto the stand, caused almost zero scorching from the iron, so I have no qualms about using the stand for just that. Conclusion A superb tool at a very reasonable price. This currently retails for just over £20, minus shipping, and is very easy to use. The whole lots packs neatly into that plywood box too, so no loose tools lying around. I couldn’t see a wattage listed on the unit, and I don’t think this is currently available in anything other than 220/240v, but it could be worthwhile approaching Hobbyzone to clarify that.