If you are a fan of scale modeling, you would definitely have heard of Metal Earth. Their steel sheet models are quite a challenge but are also very satisfying once completed. The Metal Earth parts can be small, and you cannot work on them with your bare hands - tools would be needed. What are the best tools for Metal Earth?
The best tools include a flush clipper to cut the steel pieces out, flat nose pliers to bend and shape the pieces, and needle nose pliers to pick up, move or fold tabs. This is available as a set from Metal Earth. Additionally, you may consider rounding tools, tweezers, lighting, third-hand tools, micro screwdriver, direct lighting source, and visual aids such as magnification.
This article lists the best tools for your next Metal Earth project build. This list of tools is broken down into two major parts, basic and optional. The basic tools are what you need to start out the modeling work. The list of optional tools is not necessary, but they make your building process much more enjoyable.
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What Is Metal Earth?
Metal Earth is a brand of 3D modeling kit. To build a Metal Earth model, you often cut out parts from one or more steel sheets and assemble them together. Assembly does not require gluing or soldering, but parts are usually connected via tabs. You can assemble a wide range of models from Metal Earth.
Metal Earth is a brand of modeling kit based on steel sheets. You build a Metal Earth modeling kit by assembling flat steel parts together, forming a 3D model.
When you open up a pack of Metal Earth modeling kits, you will see one or more steel sheets with parts of the model cut into them. You will also see instructions. At times the steel sheets may be replaced with colored steel sheets, or at times brass sheets as well.
You then cut out the individual parts from the main steel sheet and shape them before assembling them together to form the final model. During assembly, you may need to bend, curve or fold these individual parts.
When assembling a Metal Earth model, you do not need to use any glue, nor do you need to solder anything. Parts are often connected through tabs that may interconnect and lock in by folding them.
Metal Earth models come in various themes and styles. Choose from monuments and aviation to dinosaurs and vehicles. Licensed theme models are also available, such as those from Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Marvel, Transformers, and many more.
What Are the Basic Tools for Metal Earth?
The list of basic tools here is what we think is essential to get you started with the work. You definitely cannot build a Metal Earth model with your bare hands; some basic tools are needed.
Flush clippers are used to cut out the individual parts from the main steel sheet. You want the cutters to cut flush at its end so you can get a clean cut and avoid having to use the ‘fold-unfold-fold’ strategy to pull the parts out from the main sheet.
Some builders use a nail clipper to do the job. Still, nail clippers usually do not make a straight cut but a bent one since they are designed primarily to cut fingernails. It may work on smaller cuts, but a flush clipper ensures better results overall.
Flat Nose Pliers
Flat nose pliers are for you to pick up and hold parts securely, especially if they are too large for a tweezer to hold well. You may also use a flat nose plier to pull, fold or twist tabs when connecting individual parts together. A smaller 5-inch length flat nose plier should be good enough to start.
Needle Nose Pliers
Needle nose pliers are primarily used in jewelry making but are also handy for Metal Earth model building. It has smooth, non-serrated jaws that can be very useful when you need to bend and twist tabs to connect and lock in individual sheet steel parts.
Longer needle nose pliers also allow you to reach into parts that your regular nose plier or your tweezer could not reach. Like the flat nose plier, a 5-inch length model should be enough.
If you prefer to spare yourself a headache, we carry the Metal Earth 3-Piece Tool Kit for Metal Earth model building.
Other Optional Tools for Metal Earth
The list of tools here is optional and may not be necessary to complete your model build. However, they help the process and give you a more comfortable building experience. These tools also help you to achieve a higher degree of precision when building your models.
Your next important tool is to have a tweezer. A tweezer helps you to pick up the small individual parts your fingers may struggle to work with and also help with the folding process of these parts.
Start with a small tweezer about 3 inches in length, and the jaws are pointed and angular. This allows you to use it for picking up parts and folding, and other more precise work is necessary.
At times, you may need to round or shape the steel parts. You may also need to form flat steel parts into domes. This means you will need some form of rounding objects.
As a start, identify rounded things around you that may help you roll these steel sheets to form curves. These can be pens, drill bits, or AA or AAA batteries. You may need different diameters to form different sizes of curves, which means you need to have a collection of these rounding objects.
Metal Earth models are not exactly the size of a LEGO Technic. They can be small and taxing on the eye. This may mean you could make use of some magnification support. Consider investing in a watchmaker’s eye loupe to allow you to see better. Straining your eyes less may help you enjoy your model building better.
Aside from magnification, consider investing in better, more direct lighting. Some sort of desk lighting that you can manipulate will be a good choice, as, during assembly, parts of the model may not be getting much light. If you can adjust the direction of the light, you can illuminate the area and make your assembly work easier.
Sometimes, during assembly, you may have to hold onto the parts at multiple angles, and you eventually run out of hands to do things such as folding or twisting tabs.
A third-hand tool solves the issue by functioning as an additional hand. It usually comes in a little rack with jaw-like clips that you can clip your parts with. You can then free up your hands to perform other tasks. Some third-hand tools even come with a magnifying glass to make your job easier.
If you want a more organized and proper rounding tool, a set of transfer punches may do a good job. These are originally for metalworking, but since it comes in a tubular shape and in multiple diameters, they work well for Metal Earth model buildings. Use it to make curves and rounds, and remove the pens, batteries, and drill bits you previously used.
When assembling Metal Earth parts, you may accidentally break the parts. This is when super glue can come in and save your day. You prepare one with you, but you always hope never to use one yourself.
Consider getting a quick-drying, transparent super glue with a higher viscosity to avoid issues such as glue spilling out from the intended area and ruining the appearance of your model.
Dull Hobby Knife
A dull hobby knife helps you exert precise pressure on a point you desire during assembly. Sometimes you have areas to which you intend to apply pressure but are too small for a tweezer or a plier. For example, to push in some areas of the folds to ensure a tighter joint. You can also rely on a dull hobby knife to help with more precise folding.
Steel Needle File Set
In the event, your cuts are not clean, and you detect some burr on your cuts, a steel needle file set should be able to help you smoothen the edges.
Flathead Micro Screwdriver
A flathead micro screwdriver also helps you to apply pressure on the desired point at a flat, vertical, or horizontal edge. This may help when the pressure point is too large for a hobby knife yet too small for a tweezer or plier.