My Z scale tool arsenal is very basic, really about as fancy as I get is my resistance soldering unit. I now have a new favorite tool on my workbench… the “BUG” made by The Small Shop.
Conceptually it’s a remarkably simple little device in that it allows you to make clean, precise bends in photo etched sheets. With the amount of Z scale brass and steel photo etched kits on the market this is one invaluable tool to own.
Working with the BUG is a real joy for a couple of reasons. First is the fact that it’s a tabletop tool with some good weight to it. The weight comes from the head and base being machined from aircraft grade aluminum. I found this weight gave the BUG a very secure feel when in use. The second and maybe more important positive aspect of this tool is that you clamp your brass or steel sheet firmly in place prior to bending. This eliminates the possibility of your hand or a pair of pliers slipping when making bends in your kits. In Z scale, even a slight slip of the hand could result in a less than perfect bend.
Another advantage of working with the BUG is that your piece of metal remains solidly under the BUG’s aluminum “fingers” while bending. Since you’ll likely need to bend beyond your target angle by a bit, as a sheet of metal will spring back to its flat shape, by having the BUG’s clamping action on your metal it’s easy to eyeball your bends to their proper angles and not have to reposition a tool if you need to bend more or less.
When I first saw the BUG I have to admit I was a bit intimidated, 4 sides with all these high-tech looking fingers. Ok, maybe I get intimidated too easily! Really the 4 sides with fingers are just different options for making your bends.
As you can see I’ve gone with our old photo friend, the penny, for reference. Without using the BUG, folding these roof edges in brass would have likely resulted in bent or crooked edges.
The instruction sheet that comes with the BUG is very, very basic. This highlights just how simple and well designed the BUG is and how easy it is to use. If you plan on building any photo etched kits or accessories, I can’t stress enough just how valuable the BUG will be for you. I strongly recommend this tool.