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  1. So what do you get when a carpenter, window installer and cabinet maker walk into a bar? You get a VERY POOR man's PE bending tool! Since returning to modeling this year, I began to learn how much the craft has changed since I last built a model in the late 80's. One big new player is photo etched parts. Today, I would bet that 90% of all aircraft kits come with some amount of PE as part of the kit. This probably rises to nearly 100% for other areas, like ships and armor, so having at least basic skills and tools are required to finish OOB builds. This realization lead me to the tools required for PE work. Actually, I found the "small shop" bending tool on ebay, before I knew what it was. What I did see, was a beautiful looking piece of CNC machined block aluminum with all these weird shapes. So I sort of learned backwards, sort of a life story really. Anyway, I also got excited when I decided to return to modeling and ordered a set of PE seats for my F-18F models, not really knowing what I was getting myself into. Once they arrived, even in 48th scale, my heart sunk, these are very complex, like micro metal origami! Anyway, I am not rich by any means, and saving money these days is hard to do. But, with a little bit of creative thinking (isn't that the point of modeling?) and less than ten dollars, you too can have a bending tool that is admired the world over! OK, admired by you and maybe your cat. I was unable to afford the small shop bender, even the trumpeter bending tool is almost out of reach, but once I figure shipping into the mix, things always end up much more expensive than my budget allows. So what does a poor man do? He finds a way. I found a PE bending tool by Alexen tools, but it is not much more than a thin flexible plate with lots of shapes, but not very useful on its own, to bendy, pun absolutely intended. So starting with that tool, I went out and found the rest of my supplies. One aluminum window frame scrap piece and four drawer handles/pulls with long bolts. I drilled four holes through the tool and the aluminum frame. Then I made the top holes larger to allow the Alexen tool to lay flush with the aluminum frame, making the seal required for proper bending. That is pretty much it. I am planning to add wood to the inside of the aluminum frame for weight and stability, plus adding a rubber bottom for provide a non-slip tool, always a must. So if you are like me, and you prefer to put money into kits over tools, this is something you too can achieve with less than $10, or for my British friends, less than 10£. Do be very careful if you have no proper tools to make this on your own. I don't have a proper cut-off metal saw, so I hand cut the aluminum. I also don't have a drill press, these two tools will make for a perfect tool quickly and safely. If you have to use hand tools, do so with grest care, there are lots of sharp edges created in this endeavor. So now I don't have to fear PE anymore, I have a very functional tool that will come in handy for years to come. One thing I learned very fast as well, I am very surprised at the method people use to bend PE. Most people bind the PE into their tool, then running a razor under the edge and pushing the part upwards, I already have a new, improved method. I take the part to be bent and place it on a piece of clear tape with a long tail. Then I put the part into the bender and lock it down. Then I only have to take the clear tape and pull it upwards, this method has several advantages. First, you don't have to worry about the blade doing damage to the PE, especially those already painted (like instrument panels) and second, you don't have to worry about slicing off a finger. I hope you like my "poor man's PE bender", it is the first of many cheats I am working on. Anthony PS. Another cheat happened by accident yesterday. While buying cat food for all our rescued kitties, I found a scratching post for around $5, or £3. This is another poor man's cheat. The scratching post is EXACTLY the same as many paint products we buy, for holding small parts. Now I have a nice big parts holder for painting via skewer sticks and alligator clips. Here is the new toy.
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