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"Removing delicate parts from sprues, problems and issues" Topic

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536 hits since 22 Jul 2017
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Baranovich22 Jul 2017 1:06 p.m. PST

In recently building several plastic fantasy armies from primarily GW kits, I was obviously confronted with removing masses of plastic components from the typical sprue.

I'm always pretty careful when removing components from sprues, even when doing it in assembly line way where I'm building many soldiers at the same time.

For the most part components are sturdy enough to be completely intact after removal.

However, there were several instances where the components were attached to the sprues at points where was a very, very thing and delicate component, such as a chain, a rope, the tip of a horn or spear point, etc. etc.

Games Workshop seems to engineer and arrange its kit components pretty logically most of the time. But in some cases they chose to use really delicate areas of a component to be attached to the sprue. The reasons for this could be numerous, and not relevant to this discussion.

I consider myself a pretty experienced modeler. But I still find myself not always being able to remove the most delicate components without breaking them. It seemed like no matter how careful or gentle I was (and was using plastic sprue clippers which cut more gently than the metal clippers). Particularly things like chains and ropes. There was no angle or technique I could find that could prevent the chain or rope from snapping when the force of the clipper was applied.

Luckily, with plastic components they are easily repaired if broken. It's more the hassle of having to repair them in the first place is why I bring this up.

Have you found ways to get around this to prevent breakage? Do you use something instead of clippers? How do you remove them?

Great War Ace Inactive Member22 Jul 2017 1:21 p.m. PST

Only the original tool, an "Exacto" knife, the standard blade with the needle sharp point. Nothing else will work on extremely delicate joins to sprue. You insert the acute point and press it in between the detail and the sprue, thus creating a "stipple" or break point. Then you start to bend it, and if the detail begins to bend and not the breakpoint, you insert the knife point again a little deeper, as required. It should be clarified that when there is more than one attach point, the most delicate detail attach point is the very last separation of the part. This in itself is a very delicate operation. You reinforce the final, most fragile attach point by gripping the detail and sprue together so that the attach point is not stressed as you separate the other attach point(s).

Glengarry522 Jul 2017 1:30 p.m. PST

I use a #11 X-acto knife as well. Breakages aren't always easy to repair. For example, how would you reattach broken bayonets on plastic figures, a common weak point?

Personal logo Zeelow Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2017 5:42 p.m. PST

The Xacto knife is very good, I use it at times. However, over the past years I have been using: link

No breakages. I got mine at a MMR store:

Capt. Zeelow

Personal logo sillypoint Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2017 7:16 p.m. PST

Side snips/clippers – top shelf one about £60.00 GBP 😬
Mine was £6.75 GBP.

ced110623 Jul 2017 1:09 a.m. PST

Found some more sprue tips : link

JARROVIAN Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2017 2:48 a.m. PST

I always use Swann Morton scalpels, either a no 3 or 4 handle. no 11 blades for the No 3, and No 26 blades for the No 4.
If you want luxury, go for the acrylic handles which give more control. They are No's 5a and 6a which correspond to No's 3 and 4 above.

Baranovich23 Jul 2017 2:51 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the advice, this is immensely helpful!

As whacko as it sounds, even as a long-time modeler with a fair amount of experience, I got fixated on the idea that a set of plastic sprue clippers were the tool to use even on delicate parts. I thought that I just wasn't using the clippers right.

I have Army Painter plastic sprue cutters which are actually very good and work fine for 90-95% of the parts on plastic sprues for fantasy kits. But it's easy to see when you get to those really delicate components that still do turn up, and even more so with military modeling components – that you MUST have alternate methods.

Your advice made me realize and remember the basic principles of physics. You have to keep the energy of the cut from transferring into the component itself. I wasn't doing this with the GW kits, I was just trying to cut gently and carefully but was still allowing energy to transfer. When you're dealing with like a plastic hook component that's about 1/32 of an inch thick, it doesn't matter how delicately you try to cut, it only takes a small amount of transferred energy to snap it.

Really great common sense stuff like cutting the smaller sprue area out of the larger sprue for better control, holding the component tightly so that the Xacto blade is only cutting and moving the sprue and not the component.

I guess what happened was that because I was building several armies at once I got into an assembly line mindset and just believed that the ordinary clippers could be the only tool needed.

All your advice is especially timely as I am starting on two 28mm AWI plastic armies, Wargames Factory/Warlord Games minis. which have sprues where tiny, delicate bayonet, musket, and sword components are attached to the sprues at points vulnerable to breakage.

This info. really gives me new insight in how to approach these kinds of components now!

Thanks again!

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