by: Darren Baker [ ]
It does not seem to be that long ago that I was contacted by RP Toolz and asked if I would like to take a look at their line of photo etch bending tools. RP Toolz is a Hungarian company and from those early days of photo etch benders has grown their range of tools considerably over the last four years. The latest offering from RP Toolz is four scale leaf cutters, so letís see whatís what.
Each of the four cutters is supplied on a card hanger with a vac formed plastic bubble securing the tool. The name of each leaf cutter is clearly displayed on the packaging and a stamped image of the cutting blades is present on the tool itself. The four options provided are:
RP-BIR - Birch leaf maker
RP-LIM - Lime leaf maker
RP-MAP - Maple leaf maker
RP-OAK - Oak leaf maker
The packaging for this product line is easily up to the task and allows the consumers to clearly see what they are getting for their money. The design of the product presents us with a tool that is easily used with one hand, and the yellow colour makes it easy to find if like me your workspace is a little untidy. I like that there is an image of the leaves on the tool plunger, this means if you have more than one on your desk or in your tool box you can see which one you want.
When you first pick one of these up you may like me be surprised at the weight of the tools as they are heavy for the size of them, I believe this is due to a considerable cutting head inside the tool; these tools have shaped cutting heads rather than blades. The slot where you insert the material to be cut is quite thin, coming in at 2mm; so the material you choose to use needs to be reasonable flat. It is suggested that dry leaves are used for this product, but I have used leaves straight from the tree on a similar product and I am very happy with the results. The dry leaves that I have used with these cutters have also resulted in a pleasing result, cutting cleanly from the leaf and deposited below the tool.
A few words of warning when using one of these products; the blade is a bevelled cutter and the cutting edge is very sharp, a friend of mine used one of these in his hand and pushed down the plunger with his the thumb, the result was a lovely set leaf shapes cut into his index finger; use the tool on a flat surface or prepare for some pain. I have of course included images of some leaves I cut out with these tools, the leaves I have punched here are ones that accumulated at my front door, I think these look very good and being cut from leaves means they look realistic as well.
I have punched a sheet of paper to help you clearly see the four leaf sizes cut with the product. As a general rule of thumb a leaf is the size of your hand or smaller and these leaves are described as 1/16th, 1/35th, 1/48th and 1/72nd scale. My gut says that I would use the two smallest sizes for 1/35th and the two largest for 1/16th scale, that is a personal judgement based on the oak and birch cutter, the maple and lime leaves tend to be larger and so the three smallest sizes could be used realistically in 1/35th scale offerings. The maple leaf could also pass for a sycamore leaf which is more common in Europe than maple I believe.
These leaf cutters are very good in that they do what they are designed to do quickly and easily. I would make some changes if I was able in that I would split off the two largest from the two smallest and get two more of each leaf design with a slightly different shape. So with that suggestion made I am still more than happy with the products that RP Toolz has provided here. The cuts are clean, the action is smooth and the result speaks for itself.