Please post your in-progress photos showing consistent cuts to styrene strips along with photos of the tool you use to accomplish said cuts. Close-up modelling photos which show the installed parts are also welcome as a means of inspiration to anyone on the fence about spending the money on one of these tools. Lastly, your first-hand reviews and opinions about the tools you have personally used are also welcome.
Are there any other competitively-priced chopper tools besides the following?
I have a love/hate relationship with my chopper. It is great for getting multitudes of smaller pieces consistent, but once you start doing anything bigger then about .030", you cant get a straight cut (atleast in Styrene) as the blade wants to walk sideways. But still, a very handy tool to have.
These days I do just about everything with USA made (it DOES make a difference) razor blades, using essentially a new one everyday.
I used a Chopper I to make several bridge shoes for a pair of highway bridges. The only photo I have handy is this one taken during construction:
If I remember correctly, I used 0.020" styrene strip, so I didn't have any issues with the blade wandering. I did periodically check the position of the guides though since they could walk a bit over time.
For awhile I thought about making 3D files to print Southern Pacific's ACF well car, but I can't seem to get anything very large to print worth a damn from Shapeways. The more I think about it scratchbuilding in styrene would be the way to go. If I end up going that route, I'll surely put the Chopper to work again.
Post by paulcutleriii on Feb 16, 2019 10:43:09 GMT -8
I have a Chopper II, and I like it for what it is. It's accurate and square, but the fact that you can't get a chisel shaped blade is a common problem for all these kinds of Choppers. If we could get chisel blades, one side of the cut would be flat & square. But since all we can get are V-shaped blades, it means that with thicker stock, you end up having to sand (or file) the cut end to square it up...which kind of defeats the purpose of having a precise chopper.
Still, I'm glad I have the Chopper II. I much prefer it over the Chopper I that we have at our club. The Chopper I can get pretty loose at the joint, which can lead to cuts that are not square in two planes. Plus, the self-healing cutting mat on the Chopper II is superior to the Masonite on the Chopper I.
I would tend to avoid the cheaper Micro-Mark version of this tool. In my experience, the MM tools are less expensive for a reason; the knobs aren't as nice, the finish isn't as good, etc. I would spend the extra few bucks and get the NWSL version...they are just more pleasant to use.
Paul A. Cutler III ************** Weather Or No Go New Haven **************
Post by slowfreight on Feb 16, 2019 11:04:25 GMT -8
I've been using the Chopper III for a couple of decades now. I, too, have trouble getting it to cut without the blade veering a bit on thicker material. I find that it matters how long the drop is that I'm cutting off. Longer parts cause the blade to shift less as I chop. Sometimes I can use jigs or fixtures to hold things more rigidly.
Getting straight, square parts is probably the most important step in making nice scratchbuilt stuff, and it can be challenging.
I have a very early chopper I - back when there wasn't a chopper II. Primitive parts compared to the photo above of a current product. The failing then and now is the scrap of fiberboard that is the mounting surface. I replaced mine with a 3/8" piece of high-density particle board thirty? forty? years ago and it has been fine since. (HDF from your hardwood supplier.) That said, usually, I just use a single edge razor blade and freehand small numbers of cuts against a steel ruler. And a miter box and saw for thicker pieces. I'll drag out the chopper if I'm doing lots of identical cuts on stock up to 0.030". Miter box with a stop for thicker pieces.
Last Edit: Feb 17, 2019 3:05:09 GMT -8 by Christian
I recently bought a Chopper 2 to repeat the cuts needed to make waffle side cars out of the Intermountain 5277. It looks and feels far superior to the earlier and later Masonite base versions, you have to wonder why they called a Mulligan on that design.
I have had two Shay Wood Miters, since Lonnie Shay (who was partner with the late Paul Scholes in the Little Depot in Buena Park back in the 70’s) first came out with it. Still use it all the time. The cool thing is the chopping action is parallel to the material not angular like the various Choppers. Pretty easy to set the adjustable stop with the depth rod of a pair if dial/digital calipers.