As I began work on my PECO white metal tram kit I realized I’ve need to do some flash removal on the body halves. Since this is a white metal kit, I was hesitant to use a regular hobby flat file, or jeweler’s file, as these can take off too much metal with one errant swipe. I thought about using an emery board but there are a couple of spots, like the windows in the cab of the tram, which are very small and hard to get at and produce clean, straight lines. I could cut an emery board down but I wanted to have more control over the thickness of the tool as well as of the abrasive itself.
In the past, I’ve used very fine grit sandpaper glued to a craft stick for certain little sanding jobs, so I decided to go with this idea using a different stick, a wooden coffee stirrer. I ordered up a box of 7.5” stirrers from a restaurant supply house for around $4.00. This box had 500 stirrers so safe to say I have enough coffee stirrers to last me a long time.
These coffee stirrers and about the same width as the flat metal file I have, about .2” wide, far too wide to fit in the cab window of my tram kit. Using a metal ruler for a clean edge I cut a stirrer in half lengthwise using an X-Acto knife. After a quick scrape with the knife edge to remove any loose bits, I ended up with a stirrer that was .09” wide, less than half the width of the metal file and a great fit for the window in tram cab.
With an even coat of yellow wood glue brushed on one side of the stirrer, it’s then pressed down on the back of a sheet of 600-grit sandpaper. I chose 600-grit as this is abrasive enough to remove the flash but not abrasive enough to accidentally remove any detail on my kit in case of that errant swipe I mentioned earlier. The wood glue dries in a few minutes, just make sure you keep some sort of weight on the stick to insure a good, tight bond to the paper.
Once the glue is dry, I use the X-Acto knife again to cut the stirrer away from the sandpaper sheet and there we have it, a brand new custom tool perfect for flash removal. A real benefit to using a long coffee stirrer it that it has lots of give. When you swipe it against the metal, it bends nicely to follow the contours of the model but it has enough firmness to take off the flash. Use good quality sandpaper and these custom files with last a long time. Of course, with 500 stirrers and a sheet of sandpaper, you can make a large supply of these in no time, and you can stir your coffee with the unused ones.
Category: Useful Tools