Re: The Chopper

Andy Harman

On Fri, 6 May 2011 00:49:37 +1000, North Model Railroad Supplies wrote
I find if you hold the work firmly against a stop when you lower the lever,
the blade will cut straight.

This assumes the cut is between your finger and the stop, so the work can't
creep one way or the other when the blade slices into it.
I'll concede that with enough effort it's possible to make a clean cut with the
fiber-board base chopper, but some better design would make it much more reliable. I'm
really surprised nobody has come out with a better tool. The fiberboard also has a
tendency to get chewed up after only a few cuts, which greatly impacts the accuracy and
cleanliness of future cuts. On my Chopper III, the blade didn't even come down square
on the board - and I'm not sure if this was just due to misalignment or warping of the

I bought a Chopper II some years later, aluminum base but the cutting surface is a
plastic cutting mat. It also can get chewed up from usage and needs to be replaced
periodically but even the II has some lateral wobble in the blade arm. If I bought a
power miter saw with that much play in it, I'd return it. My Chopper II also came with
crummy plastic thumbnuts to hold the clamps down, which strip easily and are too squishy
to really get a firm hold.

Styrene is my favorite material to work with, but it is soft and often pliable, and when
trying to make square cuts it frequently has a mind of its own. IMO the thinner it is,
the harder it is to make a really clean, straight linear cut. .020 or .030 or thicker
you can score a line, break, and then dress the edge. Can't do that with .010 or .005,
you have to make the cut in one pass and it has to be perfect.

At any rate on the subject, has anybody tried the Micro Mark chopper? If it's a virtual
copy of NWSL's then it at least has the virtue of being cheaper (i.e. priced closer to
what it's really worth), but if it's an improvement in the design or material, it might
be worth looking into. My other option is to just take my Chopper II and make some new
parts for it, like all metal thumbnuts and holddown clamps, and something to reinforce
the blade arm. But the reality is I don't use it all that much anyway, the other
methods I use for cutting styrene are more reliable and less frustrating.


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