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Articles about how to weld thermo-plastics, using electrically-heated tools

Discussion in 'Post Your Own Articles & SBS' started by Wardenstein, Nov 3, 2021.

  1. Wardenstein New Member

    Hi folks. I’m a newbie here, who is hoping that folks here won’t mind sharing info, regarding the topic of modifying plastic parts, using electrically heated tools.

    I want to see whatever info you fine folks are willing to share, but I can also “trade” some info on that topic, as well. I have done some pretty extensive conversion work (of a sort) on things like vehicular models; and I wrote a few published articles, that discuss that topic, in some fairly good depth. (If I do say so, myself.) I’m an American, but thanks to the power of the Internet, I used to be a writer for a publication called “Sci-Fi & Fantasy Modeller”. They were based in England. They’re no longer in business, but back issues are still available on places such as eBay.

    I should add that I’m not strictly a “Sci-Fi Guy”: I have long had an interest in reading about historical modeling, as well. I consider myself a “cool shapes and colors” modeler, and to me, there’s plenty of that in both worlds: historical modeling plus the fantasy end of the spectrum.

    I am hoping to “get the ball rolling,” as far as knowing what articles (even brief ones!?!) once came out. I will list the articles I wrote that touched on that topic (that is, of “welding plastic using electrically-heated tools) but I am hoping that folks here will feel free to chime in, and post whatever info they might know, on that topic: any links to where lists of articles (or videos?) can be found; anything like that. Just because I wrote about that topic, more than once, does not mean that I feel I “know it all” or that I feel I have even scratched the surface of how much coolness could result, by applying heat to thermo-plastics, to modify them in some way. I’m sure much more is possible! So if books mention this, or magazine articles, or anything like that ... I’d love to know when/where/etc.

    My contributions to that “small library” of info started with an article in SF&FM (“Sci-Fi & Fantasy Modeller”) in 2010, but I’m aware that Bob Santos did an article in the March / April 1986 back issue of “Fine Scale Modeler” or FSM. (I even mentioned that other fellow’s article, in my article, in hopes that others, back then, might “tell me about more articles like that, in various magazines”.) In the May / June 1986 back issue of FSM, Ray Anderson had briefly touched on using a soldering iron, with a rheostat, to modify figures -- but it wasn’t the main focus of that article. (I’m all for “brief mentions” of the technique.)

    I’ll quote a brief passage from the Mar/Apr 1986 article by Bob Santos, where he talks about a Pyrogravure device -- in part to say that I’m old enough to remember reading brief mentions of this device, “back in the day”. Usually it was in conjunction with talk, in books or articles, about that device being used to modify or do surgery on plastic model kit parts made by a famous company called Historex. (Which I’m sure many folks here know a lot more about, than I am ever likely to: I’m just saying “I’m vaguely aware of that tool being used -- but I’ve never seen one, in person”.)

    The quotes by Mr. Santos said this: “Many veteran figure modelers will recall the French-made ‘pyrogravure,’ an earlier temperature-regulated wood-burning tool. Older versions could be modified to work with American receptacles, but after the tool was redesigned it became difficult to modify and disappeared from the American market. You’ll still find references to the pyrogravure in books, and the techniques discussed here are identical to those used with the earlier tool.” I mention those quotes by that 1980’s article by another author to say that (as far as I know, at this point, anyway) nothing that I said or did in my articles, below, probably deviated all that far from whatever articles came out, long before mine did. By which I mean that I can’t easily see thermo-plastics and heat being applied to them, changing, all that much, over the handful of decades since my 2010 article, and prior ones by other authors.) I presume, but don’t know for a fact, that what I wrote is merely a continuation of what earlier writers wrote, on the topic of using such tools.

    The one area where I might be “wrong” is this: I modified a “blank tip” to become a very handy tool for re-sculpting kit parts. At that time, I didn’t know that some sculptors sometimes used a tool called a “burnisher” (originally made for print-making, and leather work; but not in a heated form) for sculpting things like polymer clays, so when I wrote my 2010 article, I didn’t know that I’d sort of “re-invented the wheel” in that way. I’d love to find out I’m not the first modeler who created a tip shape like that?!

    Okay ... so ... moving closer to posting the links to the place that is kindly hosting the articles I once wrote. I will only add this info: those uploads were done by the original author (me), who had the written permission of the publisher (Mike Reccia, of “Sci-Fi & Fantasy Modeller” out of England) so in terms of rights, it should be problem free. For those folks not already familiar with SF&FM, know that it was pretty “high end” for it’s market niche: each issue was arguably closer to a soft-cover “coffee table book” than a “magazine”. They were full color throughout; they almost never had any adverts; and the regular issues were all 96 pages of nice, thick, glossy paper (plus four more pages, to count the covers). Some of the (themed) “special issues” had more pages than that (if being a bit smaller in physical size, per page). All of which is to say that any article in that publication was sort of “deluxe” in that it wasn’t in black-and-white; and it wasn’t forced to fit in to a few pages – “articles” for SF&FM were LONG ones: ten-plus pages instead of two, three or four.

    It is a fragmented hobby, in some ways, with a lot of folks “in their own little world” – but I’m hoping that’s a thing that can be fixed; at least enough to share information? I know that, in some (but not all) cases, historical modelers sort of roll their eyes (or try hard to resist that urge) when someone from the fantasy end of the hobby is talking ... so please keep an open mind about the depth of the articles below. It might surprise some of the more hardcore “historical” folks out there, to see how nerdy some of we “sci-fi guys” get, in terms of the techniques we share with our readers. And as I mentioned, briefly, in my first article: I heard, but only in vague ways, that “model car guys” used heated tools to do something unspecified, that ended up in print, back in the day. No one seems to be able to tell me “where,” though: so I am assuming the best way to “prime the pump” is to show my articles to others, who may not have seen them: in hope that folks will then try to do some research in digging up issue names / numbers, etc., related to other articles that might be out there.

    = = = = = = = =

    Where are the articles written by Ward Shrake; and what is in them?

    Scans of every page of the articles I wrote on this topic, plus some of the original photos (which are much easier to see, than the size they got printed in, at times: which is probably going to often be the case with any articles that anyone writes?) are stored in individual “albums” that are a part of the group on Facebook, called "Sci Fi/Fantasy Scratchbuild and kitbash modeler". (But please note that, even though the original publication's name and that web group's name sounds similar, it's not the same thing. It's two entirely different groups of individuals.) That group on Facebook has a section for "albums," where members there can upload things. If the links below stop working, over time, know that it’s currently found under the "media" topic, towards the top of the front page for that group. I uploaded my scans and photos there: but not all in one album. I put one article or topic, into one album: so it isn’t a big mess, figuring out “what goes with what”.

    I’ll list the actual album’s separate links, below, but I’m also (out of paranoia, and knowing that the I’net changes over time) going to list the main “albums” area, here:


    Just in case I’m not being paranoid enough, and that link, above, to the album section somehow breaks, here's a link that is “higher up” to that group's main or “home” page:


    Okay ... so ... with all that said, here’s the direct links to each of my articles, which are all (at least in part) on the topic of welding thermo-plastic pieces together; and/or sort of "re-sculpting" those polystyrene and/or ABS kit's plastic parts, using an electrically-heated tool. For extra paranoia / reference, I’ll also list the (slightly re-written for added clarity) names of each article’s album:

    = = = = = = =

    Album name = "Article Images -- 2010 -- Remodelling Max"


    Description: This was the first article I'd written, that was only on that one topic (of using heat to weld and/or re-sculpt plastic). This article was all about what I did, to restore and upgrade an injected plastic evil robot (Max, from the Black Hole film) kit that a dog had chewed on. This article covers pretty much all of the basics of using that tool I used; including my notes on how and why I custom-ground that tip; and what the various "zones" on that very useful tip were supposed to accomplish: cutting, joining, smoothing, and so on.

    = = = = = = =

    Album name = "Article Images -- 2013 -- Hoppertunity Scratchbuild"


    Description: This was, as I saw it, part two on that theme of using heat to weld plastic parts together. This article has lots of info about a lot of different ways to scratch-build various sub-assemblies for a vehicular subject, but the project could not have been done (at least not as well, I don't think) without that technique of using a special, custom-ground tip, on a "Hot Tools" brand wood-burner, to basically re-sculpt plastic.

    = = = = = = =

    Album name = "Article Images -- 2013 -- Steampunk Hornethopeter diorama"


    Description: There isn't much in this article, on that topic (of welding plastic, using electrically-heated devices) but there is some. Mainly, with a deadline looming, I had showed that some "delicate surgery" could be done: that is was possible to convert and/or re-pose plastic "army men" figures, from various kits, using that tool and that technique. Previous to this article I had mainly used the technique to modify larger objects, which had a lot more surface area; and thus, the bigger parts naturally "rejected heat" (to a point: care still needs to be taken, to avoid badly warping things) so adding a figure to a small diorama, to an article that was mostly about a really nice multi-media kit, was a bonus.

    = = = = = = =

    Album name = "Trash Bashing -- 2011 Contest -- Deodorant Container Gaming Vehicles"

    Description: This one is not really on-topic for these forums: it's showing deodorant containers, turned into home-brewed vehicles that could have been used for tabletop games. This one was never released as an article in that English magazine or book (a "mook," as the publisher had sometimes referred to it) since it was sort of a "between articles" project I did, when Brian Roe ran a cool contest for enthusiasts of trash-bashing. (But it is pictured in "Ravage" magazine, page 65, April-May 2013 edition.) Even though I wasn't doing the build as an official "article," per se, I had taken photos as if I were -- (more or less just out of habit) -- so turning it into an article, a decade later, became a thing that was possible. The folks over at that group on Facebook seemed to like seeing those other article scans I had uploaded, so I searched for those older photos, on my older computers. I uploaded those images, and commented on each photo, to turn it into a pseudo-article.

    = = = = = = =

    Okay ... final thoughts, for today’s (lengthy) posting:

    My intent with uploading this info, above, is two-fold. I want the folks that are here (on “Planet Figure”) who may not otherwise have any idea that such articles existed, to know that the articles above, do indeed exist. And due to the original author sharing them, and the publisher being okay with me doing it, they’re available easily and for free. I’ll note, however, that it is NOT my intent for any of those articles to fall into the “public domain”. I am all for my fellow hobbyists using the info, and sharing it with one another, if they find the ideas / info to be of any value, but I do want to retain the rights to what I wrote, etc. It took a lot of hard mental work, and a lot of experimentation and “nerding out,” to figuring out what I needed to know, back then. I did it without a whole lot of other people’s prior articles or books to act as a “jumping off” place – which brings me to the second reason I am posting this info, here on Planet Figure ... pretty please, folks, if you know of any books or articles or whatever (to include any how-to videos, or online articles) that touch even a little on the subject of using a “pyrogravure” or a wood-burning tool, or a rheostat-and-soldering-iron, I’d appreciate if you would post what you can recall, or look up, about where that info can be located. I’m always open to seeing what other folks have done, within the hobby! I am sure there is a “half-hidden history” of this tool’s use, that I’m not yet fully aware of. (Not just within the figure world: some “model car” folks also used heated tools to modify plastic kit parts; as I had mentioned hearing of, in that first article I wrote, from 2010. But even there, no one ever chimed in, to say “this back issue of XYZ car modeling magazine or book talked about that subject.) I’d like to know more, if possible! And I’m glad to be able to share what knowledge I have figured out, on that topic.
  2. theBaron A Fixture

    Welcome to the Planet! Just a tip, but you might want to try one of the other fonts.

    As far as welding plastic goes, I think I'd stick (no pun intended, but I'll take it) with purpose-made adhesives, particularly in the case of styrene. As far as using heat tools with plastic goes, back in the day, it was common to use a pyrogravure tool-basically the same thing as a wood burner, or a low-watt soldering iron, to sculpt styrene. You can find old articles from the magazines like Military Modeler, or in books that modelers wrote for the hobby, showing how to use a pyrogravure tool to sculpt the texture of an Airfix or Historex figure, for example. For me, it's like soldering with white metal figures. I know it can be done, but I don't have the skill to do it without high risk of damaging the piece.

    I look forward to seeing your work!

    housecarl and Wardenstein like this.
  3. Wardenstein New Member

    Thanks for the welcome, "theBaron"!

    What you're describing is the kind of thing I'm hoping to find ... but without more clarity as to what years, issues, and so on, I'm no closer (at the moment) than before, on finding those cool old articles. I should say that I have a fairly extensive collection of various older magazines, and books, about the scale modeling hobby -- but can't recall, at least not off-hand, any specific articles other than the ones I wrote myself, and the ones I mentioned (from "Fine Scale Modeler" in the 1980s) that talked about using the "Hot Tool" device, or the "pyrogravure" that some modelers used, back in the day. Thanks to these forums, I did finally see what the latter looked like! That was a bit of a treat for me! And once I had done a search on these forums (for "pyrogravure" and/or "soldering iron") I had gone on eBay. It seems one of the former is listed, at present; so I got to see some more photos of that almost-legendary device. Having seen a lot of really cool-looking mounted Historex figures, in things like contests or shows, in the early 1980s, put the "bug" into my mind, to see what this whole "modifying plastic parts, using heat" thing was all about. I guess that, even if I have one or more devices that are more modern, and easier to obtain, it's still quite fun to see older articles or books, that talked about the basic technique. But I'm patient. I'm sure that more article's issue numbers, or book titles, etc., will likely show up in time. And I'll sure that I'll enjoy seeing the "now historical in age" articles, that talked about how many figures got altered, in one way or the other, with pyrogravures / heated tools.

    Switching subjects, just a tad ...


    I should have mentioned, earlier / above, that the tool I used is still readily available, commercially. Clicking on the links above would show what I did with that tool, and what the custom-ground tip I made for it, was shaped like; but the tool itself can be found at the link immediately below. (The link above is to that company's home page.)


    A person who was interested in doing that sort of work (as seen in the links I had supplied in my first post) but who lacked the tools to do it with, would (presumably?) only have to buy the wood-burner that company sells; the "Dial-Temp" device to regulate and control the amount of heat; and also buy a blank tip, to custom-grind or shape into the "burnisher" style of tool head that I came up with. But their standard and needle tips work pretty well, too. That's all that Bob Santos was using, in his 1980s article, was those two non-custom, factory-supplied tips.
  4. Nap A Fixture

    Hi there

    Interesting to read , do introduce yourself in the Welcome Aboard forum

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  5. Wardenstein New Member

    Thanks much! I do plan to do that ...

    EDIT -- Okay, I've done it. I wiped out my wrists (I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both of them; sometimes worse than others) writing up a long "about me" post ... but it's done. If I'm doing the link-copying process correctly, that "introduction" (about 2,100 words worth) is over here:

  6. Wardenstein New Member

    I just wanted to point out, to anyone reading this "over our shoulders," that the suggestion, above, got me looking through my somewhat (well, very) disorganized collection of a few issues here and there, of old magazines. Surprise, surprise: I did actually have a few issues of "Military Modelling" ... and one of them had adverts for a full-on book, by the editor of that publication, one Ken Jones. It turned out that the global library search place, "WorldCat" (a worldwide catalog of what various libraries have) didn't say very much about it. I couldn't even find the number of pages. Amazon dot com didn't have many details, either. They did have some sellers who said they had used copies for sale, though. So, relying on the advert's blurb, from page 48 of my March 1994 back issue of M.M., I put one of those books, called "The Military Modeller's Compendium," on order. It appears to have been made on or about 1992.

    I figured that even if I fail in my quest to find more info about the pyrogravure's that Historex fans apparently loved, or at least put to occasional uses, in that book, I love books in general; and I figure that there's bound to be other cool info in there. Other's mileage may vary, but I don't mind buying books, especially if they're relatively cheap, that could have useful info in them. Here's what the advert's blurb said, from that magazine back issue:

    "The Military Modeller's Compendium -- A fully comprehensive guide to military modelling from the editor of this magazine. The book is a large-format hardback, illustrated throughout with colour and black and white photographs and drawings. The book covers figures and vehicle scales, research, tools and materials, making and painting figures, vehicles and dioramas. An essential addition to your collection!".

    On another research-related tangent, of a sort:

    Somewhere in my scattered-but-carefully-stored collection of books and magazines are a few books that might (or might not?) have some semi-detailed info about how some folks used to use the pyrogravure device. One that I felt was "for sure" going to include oodles of such info, isn't yet panning out ... but more on that, when I've gotten it read, more fully. (Bill Ottinger's book, "Napoleonic Plastic Figure Modelling" with a subtitle of it being a "Historex Masterclass".)

    I could have missed some info, thus far? I'm seeing limited references, here or there, to doing things like filing one of the available tips until it was needle-sharp; or of using liquid cement, with bits of sprue put into it, over time, in a glass bottle, intending to make a slurry of glue-plus-sprue. And then, painting it on, in thin layer. And then, once that newly-added material had plenty of time to cure, to work / texture it with that sharp point: simulating hair or fur, usually. But I'm (thus far, anyway) not seeing many (any?) references to doing the kinds of "bigger" modifications, like welding horse's body halves together, etc. And I'm not seeing images of the devices, themselves. The working tips, especially, tend to be a crucial part of the whole process ... hence my frustration, in seeing "some things" but not "very much".

    (NOTE: I edited some of the above, after initially posting it; for clarity's sake, mostly.)

    Stupid question, from the "Peanut Gallery" (that is, from me) ... has anyone scanned in things like the manuals that once came with the pyrogravure tool so many Historex folks once used?

    And also ... has anyone put something like the tool's handpiece onto something like the bed of a flatbed scanner, and put a ruler or some coins "in the shot," and then thrown an old cloth (or piece of paper) over it, so a person who has used devices similar in spirit to what Historex fans once used, can better "picture" what tips were available; how big the hand-piece was; etc.? I'm particularly interested in finding out (amongst other things) how long the distance was, from the very tip of the working end of such a pyrogravure; to where the user's fingers had to rest.

    Further EDITs: I also (finally!) found my copy of a book from 1981, called "The Modelmaker's Handbook" by Albert Jackson and David Day. The index lists only one page reference to the term, "pyrogravure" -- but I've found many other (very brief) references to that device, on other pages. But I'm still not seeing what I hoped to see, which was the stuff in the paragraph above.
  7. Wardenstein New Member

    I'm going to try to post an image -- hoping that showing something visual, might help others to see what I'm "on about" with this whole idea of using an electrically-heated tool, to modify things like plastic kit parts. If this goes well, and uploads correctly, there will be a photo with numbers on it; and the explanation is below.

    Image area (1.)
    Example of unmodified figure kit legs. These were a reissue of Aurora's "Victim" (or "Dr. Deadly's Daughter") figure kit, from the once-somewhat-infamous 1970's "Monster Scenes" series of kits, in roughly 1:12th scale.

    Image area (2.)
    Example of those same type of legs, except that this pair is glued together. Note that those kits came with two leg pairs per kit, for pose choice options. The dark brown stripe effect is something I was experimenting with, for building injected plastic kits: I had added a few drops of what I call "Sharpie Juice" to Tenax 7-R liquid model kit glue. Why did I "dye" that transparent type of liquid glue? More or less to create a "guide coat" for sanding purposes, later on in the process: any "low spots" would immediately be evident, before any primer. (I try to add as few layers of primer as possible -- but I always use it. I just don't like "caking it on".)

    Image area (3.)
    A further experiment: I wanted to know if I could get away with filling the hollow legs with Magic Sculpt (an epoxy putty, if you're not already familiar with it) to make the parts be completely solid; and then cut-and-paste individual leg components, however I chose, to alter the overall pose. Part of the initial reason for my wanting "solid parts" was to eliminate the molded-in 1970s-era clothing, so that I could add whatever other clothing items I wanted to, of whatever time period, as I worked further on the various alterations. I did get reasonable enough results: but the process of having to fill the legs with another material, seemed rather inefficient. I'm not a fan of trying to resculpt things that are made out of substrates of different hardnesses, so I did some other (not shown) experiments with other parts of the two kits I was "Frankenstein'ing" to fill them, completely solid, using bits and pieces of melted sprue. It worked -- very slowly! -- hence trying the Magic Sculpt, as a filler material, after that other experiment. So I learned a lot through deliberate practice.

    Image area (4.)
    Another experiment -- a start on seeing if I could get away with doing a re-pose on this kit's legs, after much cutting and pasting. (Which is not all shown, or even completed, at this point in the process -- I'm not 100% what angles I want the leg's bones to be at, and etc.; I'd have to have a permanent base to "interact with".) The overall idea here being to enable me to get the pose exactly as I wanted it, by changing it, and changing it again, and again, if need be -- but hopefully without the need for completely filling the hollow kit leg parts with anything, first. The rough areas along the "seams" are melted sprue, for reshaping the legs. The idea of this "welding plastic, using electrically heated tools" concept is to take advantage of the idea that plastic was made to change form, with enough applied heat ... so multiple changes should not be a problem.

    These were just experiments: not necessarily a project that I intended to finish. And I did them, years ago, as part of my learning process. I had stopped on this project, then, to do other things -- (probably a deadline for an article, for some unrelated project?) -- and pretty much forgot I even had these parts, until very recently. I get that way, sometimes: "Nerding Out" to see if a concept would work; and when it seems like "yes" is the answer, I may or may not complete the project. Who knows ... one day, I might (?) get back to this project. Experiment-by-Ward-Shrake_Re-posing-Plastic-Parts-Using-Heated-Tools_01.jpg
  8. Wardenstein New Member

    Now that I seem to have the hang of uploading images, here's one more. This one's from an article I did (links are above, to where this article is stored, but I'll repeat this one link, below, for other's convenience) ...


    ... in the third Volume of the "Steampunk Modeller" series, for "Sci-Fi & Fantasy Modeller". (A publication out of England, that, sadly closed its doors, a few years back: sad for both the writers, like me; and the many local readers!)

    Anyway ... the image shows one figure being whipped together, for a vignette or diorama, of a sort, that was meant to show off the article's main feature, which was a steampunk "Hornethopter" flying machine. (I know the scene is crude: I am aware that I have quite a long way to go, on things like figures and terrain!) I'm mainly showing this page due to the figure's size: I don't want anyone thinking that only figures as large as 1:12 scale can have their poses changed. The figure seen on this sample page, wasn't "center stage" ... he was sort of "set dressing," really ... but he's in 1:35 scale or thereabouts. He's a figure conversion, of a sort, from some (as shown, in the images) random model kit "army men". Article-page-39-from-Steampunk-Modeller-Vol-3_By-Ward-Shrake.jpg
    theBaron likes this.
  9. theBaron A Fixture

    Hi, Wardenstein, as far as books go, I've got some old ones from the 60s or 70s, that I can look through, though I have no way to scan the contents, unfortunately.

    One book is "Model Soldier Manual" (1976), edited by Chris Ellis, with material contributed by Roy Dilley and Bryan Fosten. The book includes pages that I think were in Military Modeling as full-page illustrations of various tips and techniques. Those ranged from topics such as modifying figure poses in both metal and plastic figures; making equipment; modifying horses; making flags, blankets, capes, etc, from metal foil; making groundwork for diorama and vignette bases; and other areas of figure modeling.

    On page 37, there is a black-and-white photo of a pyrogravure tool sold by Historex; a text description follows on page 38. This is the illustration that always made me think of a wand-style soldering iron, when thinking of the pyrogravure tool. Though looking now, I can see that the tip is much thinner than any tips on my Weller soldering iron. It's more like a brad or other small nail. The book has a whole chapter (Chapter 8) on working with plastic figures, both soft plastic and hard plastics like styrene.

    Another title I have is Roy Dilley's own book, published through Almark, "Scale Model Soldiers" (1972). Paging through it now, I don't see references yet to the pyrogravure; I'd have to sit down to a dedicated reading session to see for certain.

    And a third that has specific references to the tool is Philip O. Stearns' book, "How to Make Model Soldiers" (1972, Arco Publishing). He has a picture of a pyrogravure tool with a rheostat or transformer to control temperature.

    There are probably more books from that time, with similar content, but if you're interested in collecting more books from the hobby, those books, and those authors, are all worthy of picking up and adding to your collection.

    Wardenstein likes this.
  10. Wardenstein New Member

    Thanks much for that detailed and helpful-sounding info, good sir! (Brad / "theBaron"). I've made notes on what you said, and I will be for checking those books out -- they sound "right up my alley!"
  11. Wardenstein New Member

    One reason I'm obsessing over "what did modelers do, decades ago, with that specific tool and/or similar ones," is that I have picked up a rather unintentional habit of collecting used, pre-owned, and just plain "bad condition" tools that either jewelers or dentists use. They're generally called "waxers" -- or I should say, some people call it that. Lots of other people call it/them pretty much anything under the sun. Add in the number of companies that once made them, and that situation ends up being one of those "target rich environment" kinds of things. Anyway, I have experience with electronics, and fixing things up, so I can aquire them (if I'm really patient) at far less than suggested retail. I'm not even sure why I was buying so many of them, other than it's sort of like playing with a "Model T" or similar era automobile: some people just like seeing how things were done, "back in the day". And I guess I'm "wired" like that.

    Speaking of being wired: I was reading (some time back) one of the Osprey books, about tank models, and one of the articles spoke of using a modern-day soldering iron, on (ridiculously tiny, but nicely in-scale) photo-etched brass items. And the portable, small-tipped, battery-powered soldering iron this person was using, had (as I recall it now, anyway) darn near the same basic voltage levels and current flow levels, as a Giles brand "Precision Waxer". Making me really wonder about the possibility of wiring one of those (after taking the battery out, of course) to the waxer's control box, as it were. It's likely not practical, for most people: brand new, those Giles units go for around $200 -- so I imagine that if anyone was looking to use one of those specific soldering irons, they'd just use it with the batteries that came with it. But it intrigued me: I hadn't seen a soldering iron with a tip that small. (Maybe I just need to get out more?) Anyway, the book's title info (if anyone reading this is interested in that?) was:

    Osprey Modelling series, by Osprey Publishing
    "Modelling the T-34/76" by Jorge Alvear, Mig Jimenez, Mike Kirchoff & Adam Wilder

    The soldering iron that caught my attention was the cordless "Iso Tip" by Wahl Clipper brand; see pages 12-15.

    Another "maybe someone could use it, to replace the old pyrogravure device" option might be (I'd have to look the name up, again) something like the Max-Wax brand of simple, cheap, wax-working, battery-powered devices. I had written them off (after seeing them sold, pretty cheaply, on eBay; fairly regularly) as "probably useless" due to the low cost, but a wax sculptor whose work blew me away, said she uses one, on occasion, to do really fine detail work.

    Meanwhile -- the wood burner (the "Hot Tool" and that company's matching temperature control, plus their official bent-wire stand for the unit) that I use, and wrote about, in those various articles, from years ago, does fine for all of the tasks I've thrown at it, so far. But I've not tried doing any actual "sculpting" with it -- like faces, or the like. I'm sort of doing crude tasks, with much larger parts. But I'm wondering (a recent brainstorm) if "tool head size" is the problem, there -- both with my chosen tool, and the pyrogravure. It seems the latter is "probably too small" to do the kinds of things I was doing; and my tool's custom-sculpted "blank tips" or heads are, more than likely, far too big -- for the work I'm seeing pyrogravures having (historically) been put to. It only recently (last few days?) occurred to me that, if I wanted to, I could custom-grind and shape the factory "needle tip" so it's a down-sized version of what I already have, custom-tip-wise: taking advantage of where such a tip "shrinks" down, to create a "smaller diameter, but same shape" tip. Which might be something I try, later on?
    theBaron likes this.
  12. Wardenstein New Member

    For anyone reading this, who might (eventually?) be potentially interested in acquiring and using a "Hot Tool" device, here is one of the (slightly rough with age, etc.) tips that the M. M. Newman factory sells. I'm posting an image, with some coins in view, that are all on the same plane (because it's a scan, not a photograph), so folks can best visualize what that particular tip really looks like, and what size it is, and so on.

    It's also a "before" image, meant mainly for my own records, in case I have some success, making it into a "burnisher" or "ultra-tool" tip style: something that's worth sacrificing this tip for, in my opinion, as a "proof of concept" project.


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