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A simple plastic card bending jig

by Mel

During the recent build of an IP Engineering Vale Of Rheidol guards van, the time came to bend the roof which is simply a piece of thickish plastic card. In the past I have often found it difficult to bend plastic card in such a way that it bends uniformaly. IP recommend bending it around a rolling pin. I have also heard it recommended that you can gently bend it around the edge of a table or chair leg. I tried both of these methods, but wasn't totally satisfied with the results. The biggest problem I have is getting what will become the edge of the roof to stay straight. IP also make a roof bending jig for £10, but I didn't have one to hand and needed to come up with another solution. Here's the simple answer that I came up with using only items which many will have to hand in the workshop.

It's simply two lengths of track laid on the workbench and held together by two clamps. The partially bent plastic card is slotted between the inside rails and the clamps adjusted so that the bend is slightly more than required (the plastic is bound to try to flatten slightly when released from the jig). Being held along their length by the rails, the edge should (hopefully) stay straight. I dare say a little very gentle heat might help to keep the plastic bent (SWMBO's hair dryer for instance?). It occurs to me that this jig could be used for any plastic card bending application. The tanks of an England loco for instance?

I'll let you know how/if this has worked. I intend to leave the roof in place at least over night.

So, after 15 hours in the jig, here's how the roof turned out. Pretty much spot on, which means that the glue just has to hold the plastic card in place rather that having to hold it in shape too. I'm really pleased with the nice straight edge of the roof, exactly what I was wanting.

I'll do a full review of the IP kit when I've completed all the lettering etc.