Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Cutting Edge!

Since the late 1970s I have used a Swann-Morton craft knife for much of my modelling and related bodging activities.  Other knives have come and gone but all - even the pair of madly expensive X-Acto knives I treated myself to some years ago have failed to supplant the trusty orange-handled wonders.
As it happens I now live in - well, near - Swann-Morton's home city. Sheffield, as many will know, is rightly famed for cutlery and high quality steels and Swann Morton's main business is surgical scalpel blades - while writing this I had a quick look at their website which is worth a look.
These days I tend to have two Swann-Morton knives  - as pictured above.  One with a newish blade (top) which gets used for slicing parts off sprue and detailed trimming.  The other has an older blade - covered in paint, glue, filler etc.  Eventually either the sharp blade breaks loses its tip at which point it becomes the scruffy knife an a new blade replaces it's filler-smeared chum.
Once in a while the handle breaks - caused I might add by my clumsiness rather than any fault of the material.  The fact that in 35+ years of use I have only written off three handles says it all!  This recently happened to my 'sharp' knife as above and so a trip to the model shop was called for!
Happily I was OK for blades - having some years ago stocked up with this box of 50 of my favourite curved No.2s.
 Marcway Models in Sheffield rose to the occasion - a new knife with two blades costs around £1.50.  I was planning to buy a few but my attention was drawn to...
 ...this new (to me anyway) brass handle for £3.  While this should be even more robust than the plastic version it will be interesting to see if it as comfortable to use.

12 comments:

Kaptain Kobold said...

I still have one of those somewhere - probably 30 years old or more.

For years I used a dissection scalpel for modelling; comfy handle, lots of blades and no further use to me after I finished mu biology degree and then got a job in IT.

Stephen Thomas said...

It must be a slow week in the Megablitz news room!

That being said, upon reading this post I went to my tool box and was mildly surprised to see the words "Swan Morton" emblazoned on the handle of my stainless steel craft knifes, of which I have two. They have served me with valour and distinction for more than 20 odd years now and I cannot praise them enough to do them the justice they deserve.

I've lost count of the number of times I've almost lost various fingers whilst using the scalpels for tasks that they were not designed to cary out, you can't blame the tool for that. However after applying bandages, all the jobs got done. :-)

Huzzar!!! for Swan Morton.

Pete. said...

Never been a fan of the number 2 blade- I cut myself right through a finger nail as a child; since then I've used the straight blade. That said I tend to use which ever is closest but with a fondness for x acto ones.

Cheers,

Pete.

joppy said...

The brass handle is the original, followed by the plastic. I still have a couple from my old AIRFIX making schooldays going strong. Also like you I have two jam jars full of new blades. Perhaps that's overkill as the stock doesn't seem to decrease.

Stephen Beat said...

I must admit I have grown to prefer something more 'pointy' than the curved No. 2. I tend to go through a lot of blades as I subscribe to the philosophy that the safest blade is the sharp blade.

My favorite is the Swann Morton No. 12 surgical scalpel, which I have used since I was at school studying art. As someone who's style of drawing is slightly more 'technical' I always sharpened my pencils with a craft knife, taking it to a stupidly long and sharp point.

These days however the influx of Pound Stores has meant that I can pick up pretty good craft knife sets for just a quid! WHich is good as I use the same technique as Mr. Gow - a sharp knife for cutting and paring and a dull blade for use with modelling putty, etc.

Finally, we shouldn't forget the good old carpet cutter (Stanley Knife) for cutting thick plastic card. Again, the right knife for the job for safety reasons. I have had a broken craft knife blade ping back in my face because I tried using it to cut thick plastic.

Tim Gow said...

Kaptain Kobold
At least your degree produced a lasting legacy!

Tim Gow said...

Stephen Thomas
We've all had a few modelling injuries over the years - but at least it's good quality surgical steel!

Tim Gow said...

Peter
Interestingly I never got on with the straight blades!

Tim Gow said...

Joppy
Odd that I'd never seen the brass handle before now. I'll let you all know how I get on with it.

Tim Gow said...

Stephen Beat
I too use a selection of other knives for different things - including at least three Stanleys.

Chris Kemp said...

I'm with Mr Beat - a fresh blade for every job. 10s are slimmer and lighter than 2s, 15s are small 10s, and 11s are the pointy ones for finishing off enemies and shaving joint lines. They cost pennies: accuracy and speed increase in direct proportion to the lack of bluntness. What you spend on blades, you save on Elastoplasts :O)

Regards, Chris

Tim Gow said...

Chris Kemp
Wise words sir!