Intermission – Tips on photoetched parts

I have never worked with PE parts before except once. This will be the second time around.

It might be a fretting experience.

I will work with this model kit I bought a few years back.

1997 to be exact.

I still had the receipt!

February 1, 1997

Earlier this year I tried my hand on these throttles.

Three PE parts just disappeared in the process!

So I took these tips on the Internet and decided to let everything sink in. I have added the bold characters.

No. 1

Paint your PE while it is still on the fret.

Spray while painting the ship.

Resist the urge to do the entire side of the ship in one piece of railing just because you have a piece that long. Work in manageble 1 to 2 inch lenghts. Measure your railing run using a pair of draftsmans dividers. Look for logical end points: previous ends, gun tubs, bulkheads, ladder breaks, etc.

Cut the PE with a #10 blade on a piece of glass or tile. A piece of wood, cardboard, or scrap paper will be too soft and will allow the cut ends to curl under. Clean cut nubbins with a fine fingernail file/emory board.

Make your bends off the model. A pair of razor blades facing one another is an excellent bending tool. One is on top of the part at the bend line, the other goes under the part and is raised in a hinge motion to raise the bend. Circular bends can be made with a set of drill bit shanks.

Use a white PVA glue to tack the pieces in place. A dot of glue at each end and one every 1/2 inch or so will hold the piece yet allow time to reposition. Cleans up with water.

After the white glue is dry apply some CA for a permenant attachment. A shot of clear flat will kill any shine

Hope these suggestions help

No. 2

There is a learning curve to this and I would practice on an old model if you have the material to do so.

Using too much glue which gets in between fine rails seems to be the biggest beginner problem.

#10 scalpel blade on a small pane of glass is my method as well.

I do not paint on the fret as I find that raw brass will glue stronger to raw styrene with less CA. Just my way of working.

No. 3
Now that you have had some VERY GOOD input, I am going to say something that works for me and I get compliments all the time. I don’t build for contests or any of that. I build for ME!

The tip you are gonna get from me is simple. I use BOYDS CLEAR GLOSS by TESTORS to mount my PE. You might ask why? Simple, it’s paint! When it dries it holds better than ELMERS and you can then paint over it with no problem. I still get asked when I display something, “HOW did you mount your PE, there’s no glue marks!!” This is how I do that. Get yourself some X-ACTO chisel type blades.They are perfect for working those bends and they are smaller! The blades can have a little block of wood or plastic mounted on the handle end to make them easier to work with! I hope this helps you too!

No. 4

A few other suggestions –

Don’t try to do everything at once. It’s like eating an elephant, handle a little bit at a time. Also don’t try to do longgggggggggg “runs” of railing when you’re first starting out. Look for natural breaks in railings, like at a corner, where a piece of superstructure intrudes, etc., so you can do it in short sections. That’ll help perserve your sanity. Don’t load up on caffeine beforehand. Seriously. A steady hand and (in my case) magnification are necessities. And be glad you chose to work in the gigantic 1/350 scale! I labor away in 1/700. Reward yourself at the end. Tequila shots are optional.

No. 5

An excellent set of tips to which I can only add one or two: Use single edged razor blades. But you knew that!!!

Corners are your friend.

I find it much harder to get railings to stand upright when they are a straight run. When you are doing a bridge or upper superstructure deck etc. never have a joint at a corner. It’s much easier to fake it along in the middle. If you look at enough pictures, you’ll see that the stanchions are anything but uniform in spacing. Maybe in the German Navy…

If you are building a warship, look at pictures carefully. The lifelines along the main deck are often not pipe railings at all. They are collapsible stanchions that are rigged with line when erected, but during action get dropped so that they don’t get destroyed by muzzle/missile blasts outbound. My take FWIW on those it to paint them a line color, like Dove Gray, and paint the stanchions deck color. It’s actually not hard if you use a #11 knife like a quill pen, and are patient (watching a game).

To be continued…


3 thoughts on “Intermission – Tips on photoetched parts

  1. Jeff Groves May 23, 2019 / 8:16 am

    I have a love / hate relationship with PE. They can add a lot to a model, but some of the little cockpit levers are just too small to work with and cannot be seen when installed. I find beer helps …


    • Pierre Lagacé May 23, 2019 / 12:26 pm

      My problem was with how to spell correctly photoetched… was it photo-etched or photoetch… PE is what people are using to solve this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jeff Groves May 23, 2019 / 1:57 pm

        Unfortunately I can give you no spelling advice, as you well know.


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