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Perma-Grit Tools
Perma-Grit Ltd.

For purchase and enquiries, visit www.permagrit.com

 

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We all know the old adage when it comes to making purchases, ‘Buy well, or buy twice’. That is especially true with regard to buying tools. We’ve all bought things for our hobby which looked great at the time or looked like a bargain. I know that in my case, very few of those purchases were actually money well spent. One area, working with wood, that we all need to buy for, is the sometimes-onerous task of sanding our models. Over the years, I’ve learned that buying good quality aluminium oxide paper is probably a better deal than cheap silicon carbide paper. However, when it comes to specific tools to do the job, one of the best names on the market, and one of the most respected, is English firm, Perma-Grit. This company has built its reputation up over a period of almost 30yrs now, manufacturing Tungsten Carbide grit tools of different grades, by bonding it to steel under extremely high heat, in a furnace. Perma-Grit have sent us a sample of their tools which a modeller could find very useful on the workbench, and I have taken the opportunity to use a small number on my current Zulu fishing boat. 

 

Needle Files (different size shafts)
In my sample pack were these four needle files. These are the 18cm/5mm shaft, and 14cm/3mm shaft. All Perma-Grit tools are packaged against a card backing and shrink sealed in clear plastic. The rear of the packet also has information relating to the specific product range.

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The tools you can see here are:

  • 18cm Large Needle File (Round, fine), # LNF-ROUNDF
  • 18cm Large Needle File (Half round, fine), # LNF-HROUND
  • 14cm Needle 3 Square, (medium), # NF-3SQUARE
  • 14cm Needle File, Hand (medium), #NF-HAND

 

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Firstly, a little about the grade of grit with these needle files. Files with ‘fine’ grit are classed as an equivalent of UK 320 grit sandpaper. Those with ‘medium’ grit as classed as UK 220 grit sandpaper. The surface of these files is densely packed with grit, and I can’t see any of this coming away readily. Whilst Perma-Grit don’t supply a lifetime’s guarantee, if you feel that any tool from them hasn’t met your expectations, then you are always welcome to let them know of this. Cleaning the surface of these has also been thought of. These files are pretty impervious to most chemicals, so you can use acetone to remove any CA, and Nitromors/paint stripper to remove general debris.

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Whilst these tools can be used ‘as is’, some modellers will feel more comfortable using a handle, and I’m also one who would feel that I can exercise more control with a handle fitted. To cater to shaft size, Perma-Grit offer these two handles:

 

  • Handle 3mm collet, # NFH
  • Handle 5mm collet, # LNFH

 

These are simple to use. You just twist the knurled ring to loosen the collet and then slot the file in before retightening. Of note here is that the red handle is hollow and can accommodate quite a lot of the file shaft so you can adjust the file to what suits you best.

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Sanding blocks, angles, and flat files
Sanders come in all shapes and sizes, and so they do from Perma-Grit too. We have three types here, all very different and with a wide range of roles in our hobby. For your info, tools classed as ‘coarse’ have an equivalent UK sandpaper grit of 180.

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  • Angle 75 Degrees (coarse), # R-201C
  • Flat File (fine), # F-101
  • Wedge Block (coarse, fine), # WB140

 

The Angle sander is an unusual thing. It’s very easy to hold and manipulate, with two sanding faces. This one has a coarse grit, but can also be bought with a fine grade, which, given the shape and possible modelling uses, would perhaps be a safer bet. The Flat File is simple in approach. This is long length of steel with a fine abrasive coating on one side. This could be used for getting the squareness of a freshly planked hull, removing a lot of that waste until you switch to a sanding block or just manual sanding paper.

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With the Wedge Block, you get something more akin to a traditional sanding block, except in metal of course. Where this differs is that one side of this is fine grit for some nice finishing work, and the other side is coarse. As I’d already done the rough work on my model hull, I took the opportunity to do some fine sanding. The grit on these sure takes off material superbly, and I went very gentle with this.

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6.5m Round File (fine), # R-204F
If traditional style files feature in your workshop, then this one is very similar to that, being a regular looking round file with an integrally moulded handle. The whole shaft on this is coated in Tungsten Carbide and the handle is very comfortable in the hand as well as being nicely weighted. 

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Rotary tool bits
Perma-Grit sent me a small number of their most commonly used rotary tools. All of these have 3.1mm shafts and are compatible with Dremel rotary tool products.

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The ones I have here are:

 

  • Rotary Drum (fine, 11mm diameter), # RF3F
  • Rotary Rod (coarse, 4mm diameter), # RF6C
  • Cutting Disc (32mm diameter), # RD2

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The Drum tool is as you would expect and very similar in appearance to Dremel except that this doesn’t need to be assembled, nor will it wear out as quickly. Being fine grade, this will be perfect for the hobby, when bevelling bulkheads etc. The Rod tool is exactly that. Tungsten Carbide has been fused to the shaft, enlarging its diameter to 4mm. The one I have here is coarse but can also be purchased in a finer grade. Of course, the Cutting Disc does need a little assembly. All that’s involved is slipping the disc underneath the nut and spring washer, tightening with a small spanner. It MUST be noted the rotary tools running speeds are anywhere from 5000rpm to 20,000rpm, and they are NOT recommended for metal

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Whilst these tools have been supplied as separates, they can also be bought as sets. If you already have several of these tools, then the sleeves (tool rolls) can be purchased separately. I have two such sleeves here. One is designed for the larger tools, and the other for smaller tools. These are made from red canvas so are rugged, and they are secured with a Velcro fastener. 

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My sincere thanks to Perma-Grit for sending these tools out for me to take a look at for Model Ship World. To buy these and check out the rest of their extensive range, visit www.permagrit.com

 

 

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Read a lot of good things about them and took the opportunity to look at them at a stand during the model engineering exhibition in London in January. However, I found them far too coarse, at least for my purposes. For instance, the needle files could not be used on really small parts.

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Yes, I totally agree with wefalck. I bought a pack of what were said to be the finest files a few years ago at the London Model Engineering Exhibition. I found they could only be used for the very coarsest of jobs with small pieces, and since then I have hardly ever used them. In fact I can't remember the last time I used them.

 

Tony

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I certainly appreciate the in-depth review, thanks for taking the time.   Im also encouraged to see that my initial reaction to these tools is supported by actual use by wefalck and Tony.  When I first saw these on the Micro-Mark website I was curious but from the pictures could tell they would likely be much too coarse for anything Ive ever done in ship modeling.   

 

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I have used these tools for years and they are great for what I use them for - rough quick flattening or shaping of wood - and fiberglass.  I have a flat 1.5 inch wide by 8 inches long piece that I keep real handy for making sure bases of parts are flat.  Touch up with a sanding stick to smooth the parts I use the perma-grit tools on.

I am not sure if the tools I have are by this company but the tools I have come in several different "grits" for coarse or finer work.

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Thanks for the review; I need some sort of tool sleeve like that for some files that I picked up awhile ago. I’m not certain if the smaller sleeve is still a little big for only files though. 

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I have a selection of the larger tools. The course ones take stuff off pretty quickly and enthusiasm must be curbed. The fine ones wear-out quicker than I hoped . Also the corners, such as gunports , are round and require knife or regular file. They save time but sometimes this is undone by repairs for excessive removal

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I agree with the comments above - I have many of these tools and the finest side is still quite course for our needs.  If they could make them with a less course abrasive that would be great for our kind of modelling.  Unfortunately mine sit in the drawer more than they are used.

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Hi Perma-Grit Tool’s here.   Thank you for reviewing some of our range, that we thought may be appropriate for your craftsmen.  Reading the comments it seems that our files are a little to coarse for some.  
This tip may help, when using our files only a light pressure should be applied, the Grit does not degrade, unlike sandpaper the minute you start using it.  When you sand with a light touch, a fine layer of dust will build up on the tool, and give you a finer finish.  When you have finished, tap the tool and all the dust will be removed.  The only time they will clog is if you sand a little to early, when a resin or glue has not cured.  The finest tools we supply are between a 320 & 400 grit.  Enjoy your building and keep well.  Thank you Tracey - Perma-Grit Tool.

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I have one of the Perma Grit tools - a sanding block with coarse on one side and fine on the other, though I now rarely use the coarse side. I bought this about 25 years ago and it has been well and truly used, initially on RC model aircraft and now on model ships. Neither side has worn out, and I was actually using it this morning (the fine side, along with normal sandpaper). Like all tools, this sanding block has its uses, but it won't do everything 😀.

 

Cheers

Richard

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Thank you Richard,

Horses for courses (or coarses ;).  They are very versitile tools and will cut, sand and shape a wide range of materials with ease.

Perma-Grit Tools has a competition running at the moment.  If you go to their facebook page @permagrit the very simple rules are shown.  They could do with some ship builders.  £150 of prizes for each of the 4 Classes.  £100 of Perma-Grit tools & £50 of Deluxe Materials glues and resins.

They are hoping to encourage youngblood to the hobby of model making. The engineers of the future possibly, and if not it will stand them in good stead.  If you know anyone that might be interested it would be really great to have some boat / ship builders join in.  Thank you T

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Hi Tracey its good to see Perma- Grit on here and thanks for letting us know about the competition.  Going back to my comment - is it possible for Perma-Grit to make a two sided block that has 400 grit on one side and maybe 240 - 320 grit on the other?   I would definitely buy the block sanders with this combination as my current ones are just to course on the course side.  I do use them by not often enough - I really like the flatness of them and would like to use them more.

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MicroMark has a large selection of Perma-Grit tools in their latest catalog. A bit pricey, but certainly a savings over ordinary abrasives. One important thing to note is that the grit numbers of this British (I think) product are different from the grit numbers used in the US. According to the MicroMark catalog, they are offered in two grits, coarse and fine. For American minds, the coarse grit is equivalent to our 80 grit and the fine is equivalent to 120 grit. As said, they have their uses, but in modeling work, I expect most would be looking for our 220 grit as the coarsest they'd be wanting and 300 or 400 for "fine."

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