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T O P I C    R E V I E W
GNMT76 Posted - 12/03/2018 : 10:21:38 PM
I'm looking for a razor saw to cut an electrical gap (to then be filled in with styrene or another insulating material) in a HO nickel-silver track rail. I'd prefer to buy just one, though I see that X-ACTO makes the saw set in this link:

http://xacto.com/products/cutting-solutions/tools-accessories/detail/X75300

Zona also sells a number of individual saws, but from its website it's not clear which is appropriate - or best - for cutting rail.

I'd appreciate suggestions on Zona models that'll do the job, as well as other makes and models.

Thank you.
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
john holt Posted - 12/08/2018 : 8:14:51 PM
Harbour Freight has a Dremel "knock off" that is less expensive and works just as well. I do NOT work for Harbour Freight or own any stock in the company or receive any compensation from them. Just offering an alternative for purchase. If you can save a couple of bucks put it towards more train stuff.
GNMT76 Posted - 12/08/2018 : 2:04:58 PM
Thanks for all your suggestions!
tharbin Posted - 12/06/2018 : 12:51:07 PM
I would also strongly suggest a Dremel. I've used jewelers saws, Zonas, and various X-Acto and clone razor saws on track. Every one of them has loosened track pieces at one time or another, especially on hand-laid "glued" track aka Fast Tracks. A Dremel with a cut-off disk zips through the track quickly and cleanly and doesn't loosen the track.


One thing I would look at though is which Dremel. If you anticipate using it a lot one of the big (currently 4000 series) units is great. I find though that I rarely use it. It is great but it is big and bulky and without the right angle attachment causes you to cut the track on an angle. I recently bought their smallest corded unit (called the Stylo I believe). I use it constantly. It is about the same size as the handpiece for the Flex shaft with a thin cord. It allows you to get the tool close enough to the track to do straight cuts. On top of that, it is less expensive than most Dremels. MSRP is something like $59.99 and you can find it for about $50.00.


Great tool, small enough to keep handy all of the time and still all of the great uses of a Dremel.
jbvb Posted - 12/05/2018 : 08:42:02 AM
I usually gap both handlaid and commercial track with a conventional motor tool & cutting disk. I find the side-to-side thrust of a razor saw loosens the rail, and the length of the blade risks accidentally notching ties, nearby rails etc.

When I start work on the street track inside GE Riverworks I may try Coaltrain's trick of shortening a razor saw. I have hung onto used cutting disks worn down to half their original diameter to get into tight places in turnouts, and a 1" or less saw might be a useful alternative.

Ever since I first saw Tim Warris' Bronx Terminal, I have wondered how he was going to make the gaps necessary for operation, even with frog juicers. An approach I just thought of (but probably isn't new) would be drilling two holes, one for the blade of a jeweler's saw, the other off to the side for the handle.
Frank Palmer Posted - 12/05/2018 : 08:32:19 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17

Gotta go with Frank on this one. My Dremel is an indispensable tool.

I use mine with the cut-off wheel for gapping rails all the time. It also works for smoothing nicked or burred rails, especially on the bottom, as it can get underneath things easily. Drilling holes for track nails, holes in buildings, cars, motive power, brass detail parts and so on is one use. Cutting brass, cutting resin, smoothing out soldered joints, and such are others. This is a very useful tool, with all sorts of interesting applications. Yes, you need proper eye (and sometimes nose) protection, but that's true of a lot of tools.

This is, as has been noted, a YMMV sort of issue, and there are partisans on both sides. I own several, with and without cords, and have for over forty years.

Yours might be a good "Dear Santa" sort of thing....

Pete
in Michigan



David, Pete said it for me. I use a fiber cut-off wheel in the right angle drive all the time. I use it primarily for cutting and grinding down burrs and joints on soldered pieces. I use a lot of brass in my work especially for railings. The straight one I use for drilling holes and I have a battery powered one also. I'm a total scratch builder and I'd lost without my Dremels.

But I'd also be lost without my Proxxon table saw and chop saw.
railmus Posted - 12/04/2018 : 11:13:43 PM
I use a Dremel with a diamond blade to cut gaps. No need for the right angle drive if you take your time and are careful. The slight angle of the cut is not an issue. I fill the gaps with styrene closure clips from loaves of bread or the milk bags we have in Canada. As others have mentioned, I use AC to glue in the styrene. Snip with a fine pair of cutting pliers then file smooth. Gets lost once you weather the rail. Ask me how many times I have tried to find the gap afterwards!
Michael Hohn Posted - 12/04/2018 : 8:06:23 PM
I use mine for cutting gaps and drilling holes for wires. I probably use it as much around the house for drilling small holes (picture hanging etc). Useful for pilot holes.

Mike
Orionvp17 Posted - 12/04/2018 : 7:07:03 PM
Gotta go with Frank on this one. My Dremel is an indispensable tool.

I use mine with the cut-off wheel for gapping rails all the time. It also works for smoothing nicked or burred rails, especially on the bottom, as it can get underneath things easily. Drilling holes for track nails, holes in buildings, cars, motive power, brass detail parts and so on is one use. Cutting brass, cutting resin, smoothing out soldered joints, and such are others. This is a very useful tool, with all sorts of interesting applications. Yes, you need proper eye (and sometimes nose) protection, but that's true of a lot of tools.

This is, as has been noted, a YMMV sort of issue, and there are partisans on both sides. I own several, with and without cords, and have for over forty years.

Yours might be a good "Dear Santa" sort of thing....

Pete
in Michigan
GNMT76 Posted - 12/04/2018 : 6:54:11 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Frank Palmer

Thanks, Karl. I don't need the expense of a Dremel though.

If you're going to be a model railroader, sooner or later you'll need a Dremel tool. It will be the best investment you'll make. I have 3 and I can't live without them. One has a permanently attached right angle drive, most useful especially for cutting gaps in rail.



Frank,

Fill me in please on some model railroad uses for the Dremel.
deemery Posted - 12/04/2018 : 12:40:50 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Frank Palmer

Thanks, Karl. I don't need the expense of a Dremel though.

If you're going to be a model railroader, sooner or later you'll need a Dremel tool. It will be the best investment you'll make. I have 3 and I can't live without them. One has a permanently attached right angle drive, most useful especially for cutting gaps in rail.



Your mileage may vary. I very rarely use my Dremel. The #1 power tool I use for modeling is my variable speed small (MicroMark/Proxxon) drill press. The Dremel is too clumsy for precise work. I do admit to using the Dremel with a wire brush attachment to clean the paint off of track before soldering, but in part that's because I keep on wearing out the steel brush "scratch sticks" that I can't find cheaply except at train shows.

For cutting track gaps, I'll use either the Atlas 'razor' track saw or the Jewelers Saw from FastTracks.

dave
deemery Posted - 12/04/2018 : 12:37:33 PM
Atlas Track Saw is the classic tool for this use. It's cheap, pretty easy to find, and makes an appropriate size gap. https://www.hobbylinc.com/atlas-super-track-saw-model-train-track-accessory-400

dave
David J Buchholz Posted - 12/04/2018 : 11:57:43 AM
Funny, I was lokking at right angles drives for that purpose. Those rail insulators are getting expensive. Maybe rechargeable as well, to keep the cord from breaking stuff when it gets dragged across stuff.
Frank Palmer Posted - 12/04/2018 : 11:17:38 AM
Thanks, Karl. I don't need the expense of a Dremel though.

If you're going to be a model railroader, sooner or later you'll need a Dremel tool. It will be the best investment you'll make. I have 3 and I can't live without them. One has a permanently attached right angle drive, most useful especially for cutting gaps in rail.
tloc Posted - 12/04/2018 : 11:13:17 AM
Ditto...to what Karl and Louis give you above.

Tom
desertdrover Posted - 12/04/2018 : 10:20:19 AM
The link you show is a good choice, use the fine tooth saw blade for track cutting. Zona has a 4 in 1 saw that has a 52 tpi razor saw blade for cutting metal, sold by Micro-Mark for about $10.00, a good buy for the saw and blade set. I think Zona makes the best saws, so if you go that direction just make sure you get the fine blade for metal cutting. And be sure to cut completely through the rail to make a good electrical gap.
I use a dremel tool now like Karl suggested, however, at first I just used the atlas type that was available for model railroaders like Coaltrain talks about and it worked just fine for track cutting. Also his suggesting of black styrene into the gap for a filler, or even just the white, with ACC and a good filing after works best.



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