RP Toolz | Punch and Die Set 2-4.5mm
Reviewed by Kevin Futter
Hungarian firm RP Toolz specialises in quality model-making tools, and recently extended its range of punch-and-die sets with a unit designed to produce larger holes than the other sets it has available. There are 12 punches in all, ranging in diameter from 2mm to 4.5mm, in 0.2mm graduations up to 4mm, with a final jump of 0.5mm.
The set ships in a sturdy cardboard box, with both the punches and the die base housed in separate resealable bags. Also included is a small hammer for working the punches:
The die base is an extremely well-manufactured unit, and is surprisingly heavy. According to Peter from RP Toolz, the bottom section is made from steel, while the top piece is a beautifully clear piece of acrylic. There's a piece of black galvanised steel sandwiched between them. The black knobs appear to be ABS plastic, and are used to help clamp the chosen material between the top and middle sections. Each has a tension spring under it.
The included information sheet notes that the set can be used with plastic, PVC, aluminium, brass and styrene, but I've confined my testing to the last two materials in that list. For these tests, I used both the included hammer, and a small craft hammer that I normally use with my punch sets:
The included hammer is small and very light, so having one with some extra heft is recommended.
I started with some standard Evergreen 0.015" styrene sheet, and punched out a disc at both the smallest and largest sizes provided for:
Both discs came out without any distortion in shape, though the larger piece has a slight fringing of swarf that is practically imperceptible to the naked eye.
For the smaller disc, I used the provided hammer, but it was difficult to drive the punch firmly and decisively, so for the larger disc I reverted to my larger craft hammer. This provided some much-need power to push the punch through the material with a single firm blow.
Another shortcoming with the included hammer is that small, squared-off head has a tendency to mark the tops of the punches:
Next up, I decided to try a much thicker piece of styrene, at 0.040", and using the largest punch again (4.5mm):
I eschewed the small RP Toolz mallet and went straight for the larger craft hammer. Being able to drive the punch through the material with a single decisive blow is crucial in producing a clean, undistorted disc, and this was certainly the result in this instance.
The punch action through the die is smooth and clean, with no sense of being hung up at any point. The design of the punch, with the shaft embedded into a large barrel, means there is a built-in stop on the punch's travel. This is not the case with sets such as Waldron's, where it's possible to drive the punch straight into the workbench, potentially damaging both, and pulverising the resultant disc. With this set, the punch stops short of the full depth of the base, which prevents this from happening, and produces a more consistent result.
I decided next to test this set using a 0.005" brass sheet:
Again I went straight for the larger hammer, and while the brass offered noticeably more resistance than the styrene, I was still able to punch out a clean disc using a firm blow:
The instructions don't provide any recommendations for the maximum thickness of any of the applicable materials, and I wasn't able to test the unit with any thicker brass sheets, but it certainly handled 0.005" with ease.
This is a top-quality tool, well designed and well manufactured. It's also easy to use, and produces consistently good results. My only criticism is that the supplied mallet is too lightweight to be useful except with the smallest punches and the thinnest materials. I think a heavier unit is mandatory in order to exploit the full utility of this set. I'd also like to see some recommended maximum thicknesses included on the information sheet, just so the modeller can avoid an potential damage to the punches.
Those points aside, I can thoroughly recommend this excellent punch-and-die set!
Thanks to RP Toolz for the review sample.
© Kevin Futter 2015
This review was published on Friday, February 13 2015; Last modified on Saturday, February 14 2015