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Mission Models' Etchmate First-Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of First Look May 2006 Manufacturer Mission Models
Subject Etchmate Item Number EM001
Pros The best photo-etched bending tool I've seen to date! Cons
MSRP (USD) Out of Production


Mission Models has an interesting tool line that turns out specialized items for the modeler. The Etchmate is definitely one of them!

This tool is 6.5 inches wide and has six different widths of finger vices to allow for the easy bending or folding of photo-etched parts into their intended shapes. For those long parts like tank fenders, you can reverse the upper portion of the vice to get one long edge.

The Etchmate is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and is anodized to create a rugged working surface. The knob on the Etchmate loosens or tightens the upper vice, which is spring-loaded to make insertion and removal of your parts painless. One detail on this tool that I haven't seen before is a thin raised line running the width of the tool and against the edges of the vice fingers. Like a metal brake, when you tighten the part into the vice, the ridge will start the bend ever so slightly, making the job of getting a blade under the part to complete the fold much easier. A razor blade is included with this set.


The Etchmate sits on four rubber feet to keep the tool from sliding around on your work surface and generally making it easier to handle.

I've seen a number of these photo-etched tools at hobby shows and contests, but this is my favorite. That machined raised line is a perfect innovation to make the job of aligning and getting that initial bend in your parts far easier.

If you've never used a photo-etched folding tool before, you've either been doing it the hard way or haven't had the knowledge about how to accomplish photo-etched origami. The tool provides those perfectly sharp bends that you'd find on a scale box, seat, or other detail that you'd have trouble achieving using tweezers or other improvised folding methods.

This photo-etch tool has retired the previous tool on my bench and you'll want one for yourself as well.

My sincere thanks to Mission Models for this review sample!