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So as not to pile on Micro-Mark, I'll keep this factual and let everyone draw their own conclusions.  A couple of years ago I purchased the Micro-Mark "Chop-It", unaware, as with many other things, that there were alternatives for the same function.


The base of the "Chop-It" appears to be fiberboard.  The way the cutting arm is attached results in a slight, inherent wobble.  The consequence of these two factors is that after brief use, the fiberboard is deeply scored.  This results in bending the piece before it is cut.  The way the blades fit, they appear to be specially made.


It was only about a week ago in following an MSW thread that I learned that NorthWest Short Line (as the name implies, supplying railroad modelers) sells "The Chopper" and "Chopper II".  The MM "Chop-It" appears remarkably similar to the NWSL "Chopper".  It further appears that the NWSL folks believe that MM unfairly copied their "Chopper"and are selling an inferior knock-off (see hornet 3/26/15 post).


Because I find the MM "Chop-It" unsatisfactory, today I ordered the NWSL "Chopper II"  Product review to follow after it arrives.


P.S.  If I could realistically look forward to another 20 years or more of modelling, I'd almost certainly purchase the full line of Jim Byrnes power tools and really get into it.   Alas, ....  So, it seems the thing to do is get the right hand tools (plus the Dremel rotary) to build the best possible models from kits. 

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I've used the Chopper for some time now and it is handy for it's intended purpose. A self healing matt is used as the cutting base and it can be rotated or replaced over time. When cutting thicker stock, I usually rotate the piece and cut each side gradually rather than cutting through in one attempt. It is well put together and should last for some time --- mine has.......and my Sand-It gizmo is always nearby to square up any imperfect cuts.......



Built & De-Commissioned: HMS Endeavour (Corel), HMS Unicorn (Corel),

Abandoned: HMS Bounty (AL)

Completed : Wappen Von Hamburg (Corel), Le Renommee (Euromodel)... on hold

Current WIP: Berlin by Corel

On Shelf:  HMS Bounty (Billings),



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To heck with the 20 years - think positive!


My wife saw my stash when my new 26 x 42 shop was completed and all my kits and stuff was consolidated into one area - previously stashed in various closets, basement & garage.  She saw it all in one place and said "You have to live to be 350 to build all of those kits/projects". 


So I decided that she had given me a goal.  Everyday now when I wake up I look around, get up and say "Well, the plan is working - only 283 years to go - so far so good!"


That's my plan.



Kurt Van Dahm






Nautical Research & Model Ship Society of Chicago

Midwest Model Shipwrights

North Shore Deadeyes

The Society of Model Shipwrights

Butch O'Hare - IPMS

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An excellent plan, Kurt.  Hold fast and stay the course.  

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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To Kurt's philosophy I would also add the following:


He who dies with the most toys WINS!!!!!!! :)


My Chopper II works well on anything less than about 2mm in thickness. After that I find that the blade tends to flex and a square cut is difficult to achieve. This is when my little Proxxon KS 230 circular saw takes over. I have found the chopper to be most useful for repetitive jobs like cutting deck planking.

Edited by hornet



Current Build: - OcCre Shackleton’s Endurance. 


Completed Ship Builds:

                                     Caldercraft - HM Bark Endeavour. (in Gallery)

                                    Caldercraft  - HMAV Bounty (in Gallery)

                                     Caldercraft - HM Brig Supply (In Gallery)

                                     Aeropiccola - Golden Hind

                                                        - Constitution

                                     Clipper Seawitch (maker unknown - too long ago to remember!)

                                     Corel - Victory

                                     Modeller's Shipyard - A Schooner of Port Jackson - In Gallery

                                                                      - Brig `Perseverance' - In Gallery

                                                                      - Cutter `Mermaid'- In Gallery

                                                                      - Sirius Longboat (bashed) - In Gallery

                                                                      - Sloop Norfolk - In Gallery

                                      Completed Cannon:   - French 18th Century Naval Cannon

                                                                      - Napoleonic 12 pound field piece

                                                                      - English 18th Century Carronade

                                       Non Ship Builds - Sopwith Camel - Artesania Latina

                                                                   - Fokker DR1 - Artesania Latina


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I have also found the Chopper is useful for making stop cuts for tenons. Since the razor blade leaves a slightly angled cut I set the stop so the cut is a hair short of the mark, score, turn, repeat. The last little bit is fine tuned with a small chisel. It beats trying to mark out cut lines with a miniature square. 

Now if I had a mill........ Looks at "SantaWife"


Current Build Constructo Enterprise

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My Chopper suffered the same issues as the cutting surface degraded 

SO I carved out the offending area and filled with a 2 part epoxy filled with micro balloons and sanded flat after drying. A little tweaking on the blade holder and now years later still better than new. A box of new blades sitting next to it and cutting thick and very hard wood needs to be done by rotating the stock so a cut is made on all 4 sides 


Current Build

HM Granado CC

Past builds

 HMS Chatham CC, HM Convulsion CC,  Duke William German Kit, Fair American LSS, The Wright Flyer MS

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I tightened the holder and made sure that there was no side play so the cut was always 90' 

BUT the most important thing is NOT to try and cut to thick or hard wood as that bends the blade and the cut is no longer true 

They are great for deck planks cutting repetitive lengths using a stop But remember to hold the timber at the STOP side of the blade rather than the other side This allows the stock to move as the blade passes through because unlike a saw that create chips the blade just PARTS the timber 


Current Build

HM Granado CC

Past builds

 HMS Chatham CC, HM Convulsion CC,  Duke William German Kit, Fair American LSS, The Wright Flyer MS

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I tightened the holder and made sure that there was no side play so the cut was always 90' 


 remember to hold the timber at the STOP side of the blade rather than the other side This allows the stock to move as the blade passes through because unlike a saw that create chips the blade just PARTS the timber 


Thanks, two great tips.


Current Build Constructo Enterprise

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Andy,   If yours is the Micro-Mark, I'm not sure how you could have tightened the handle.  No matter how much I tried, I couldn't tighten  it enough to eliminate the wobble that left I deep v in the base.  My new NWSL "Chopper II" should arrive any day.

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Just got the NWSL "Chopper II"  It is obviously much sturdier than the Micro-Mark "Chop-It" and the cutting arm exhibits no sway (result of not long use of "Chop-It" shown below).  As others have noted ,since the surface is a movable and replaceable cutting mat (as opposed to fiberboard), grooving of the surface should not be a problem.  Since the "Chopper II" differs from the NWSL original "Chopper", direct comparison with the alleged MM "Chop-It" knock-off is not possible.  However, just on the face of it, "Chopper II" is a far superior tool.post-15659-0-81389900-1429717017_thumb.jpg

Edited by FredSC
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The Chopper II is one of my most used hand tools. The MicroMark product looks clumsy. But to be fair, I don't own one.


For bigger jobs (over 2mm and wider than 4mm) I do use a miniature table saw. This would be a perfect opportunity to remark that one needs to "use the right tool for the right job." I've recently gifted a colleague of a Chopper II for his Birthday; building a large-scale English capital warship means he's got a lot of planking ahead of him!


The tool is well made and perfect for cutting THIN sections ( like 1-2 mm thick strip wood). It can cut slightly thicker stock and many of the tips mentioned here (e.g. cut halfway, flip the stock over, or - make four cuts on square stock and/or - hold from the stopped side to prevent blade flexing) are all techniques I use.


The company is very responsive and their online ordering is fast; I have ordered new cutting mats (they are inexpensive) and a supply of blades is nearby as I frequently change them. I'll add two more tips: the blade's primary cutting surface is within the last 1/4" or so, near the tool's reference "fence." When the blade dulls, turn it around! Bingo - new blade. The simple set screw makes this an easy and quick task. Other tip: flip the cutting mat over when slight grooves in the silkscreened top surface make the blade "wander" and thus, less accurate. Just remember to tighten the screw down securely each time and WATCH YOUR FINGERS. :o


Most will be aware of this fact: if one is in the slightest hurry or, not paying FULL ATTENTION, this tool can be wickedly dangerous because of the exposed blade and the tendency to reach under it when picking out small pieces that have been "chopped." I've gotten a couple nasty "slices" that have reminded me to treat this handy (and I believe essential) little tool with Mucho Respecto!


Quality power tools like Byrnes, Proxxon, even Dremel (et al) are wonderful...however, approximately 95% of my building is with specialized hand tools like the Chopper II.




PS I just thought of one other "issue" with the Chopper II.


After several years of usage, the pivot for the Chopper's arm loosens and the blade will succumb to gravity- usually when one is positioning wood under it's edge! There is no easy way to fix this; the pivot pin can't be easily replaced. However- my fix has been to slide a thin piece of card stock into the space between the cutting handle arm and the arm's cast yoke, just adjacent to the pin (only on one side). This cheat creates just enough friction to keep the arm raised and in-place and won't interfere with the normal downward cutting leverage. And that's how much I use my Chopper II - the pivot arm is worn loose!!!


Director, Nautical Research Guild

Secretary/Newsletter Editor, Philadelphia Ship Model Society

Former Member/Secretary for the Connecticut Marine Model Society


Current Build: Grecian (Royal Navy Schooner)

Completed Builds: HMS Sphinx (as HMS CamillaOngakuka Maru (Higaki Kaisen, It Takes A Village), Le Tigre Privateer, HMS Swan, HMS Godspeed,

HMS Ardent, HMS Diana, Russian brig Mercury, Elizabethan Warship Revenge, Xebec Syf'Allah, USF Confederacy, HMS Granado, USS Brig Syren


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