Tool Review
13cm Photo Etch Bender
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by: James Bella [ C5FLIES ]


After my good friend Darren Baker reviewed this trio of new photo etch benders from RP Toolz he kindly sent the RP 02 13cm bender over to me to get another opinion on these very affordable work stations. Darren's review can be found here:
RP Toolz PE Benders

I'll preface this review by saying that I am very picky about the tools I use, both at work and for this hobby, and will go out of my way to find faults. Since Darren covered the basic information very well in his review, I'll skip that and get right into using this new bender.

the 13cm bender

The bender comes with a single edge razor blade, so the first thing to do is take that razor edge off a bit. A couple of swipes on a sanding stick will take that extreme edge off to prevent damage to the aluminum base of the bender, and to prevent any cutting into of your PE parts. These blades are easily obtained at most hardware stores, although it's a rare occasion that it will need to be replaced any time soon. For bending long pieces such as fenders you'll need either a longer blade or another single edge razor to use in tandem.

Jumping right in, I threw a piece of PE on the bed, tightened down the finger plate and made a 90⁰ bend. My initial findings:

The bed had a bit of drag to it when positioning the PE part (a personal preference, I like the part to slide easily).
The PE part was held very well without any slipping.
The part was stuck to the finger plate after loosening the threaded rod nuts.

Time to take this puppy apart and see what makes it tick. Removing the nuts completely was a bit of a chore as I believe the studs are longer than they need to be. This just makes it more of a nuisance to switch from the multi-finger to the long single edge side of the top plate and does not affect bending performance in the least.

Getting rid of the "bed drag" was easy, and something that I do with all my PE workstations...gave it a coat of paint sealant/wax that I use on the cars. This is a personal preference of mine as I like the part to glide around effortlessly, some may like the slight drag getting it aligned for the bend.

Inspecting the finger plate I found that it is slightly bowed up at the ends, a nice design as it will really add pressure to the center section when the nuts are tightened down. Flipping it over I saw why the part was stuck to the top, there were slight raised edges around the perimeter where the finger plate was laser cut. These edges "cut" into the PE part causing it to stick to the top. After talking with Darren I believe this was a one-off fault as his were taken care of at the factory...an understandable oversight on mine as these were review samples and probably rushed out. Still, I'd check first. This was another easy fix...I lapped it on a sheet of very fine sandpaper, very gently.

Back together again for another try. The part slid around and positioned easily, a crisp & sharp bend and easy release...very nice! After using this tool for awhile, I did find a couple more areas that could be improved. One is that all the fingers are quite tall, so bending "U" shaped pieces require some freehand shaping to finish. Adding a couple of low profile fingers would help solve this. The other is the aluminum for the base is a bit soft and scratches easily, a harder alloy would keep the base blemish free for a longer period. Only time will tell if this will affect performance and lifespan.


Even with the minor quibbles that I found with this tool, it is a real gem for the money. At a little over 5" long it should handle most of the PE bending that comes your way. The bends were extremely crisp, exactly what these tools should produce. The RP Toolz bender held the parts very secure at all areas. At the price, this comes very highly recommended even for the casual PE user. For 23 bucks this belongs on everyone's bench, your PE will thank you!

Highs: Affordable price for a bender that will handle most needs. Clean and crisp bends. The tool holds even the smallest pieces tightly and securely.
Lows: Finger plate a bit rough around the edges (literally) on my sample, threaded rods on the longish side, no low profile fingers, soft aluminum base.
Verdict: Even with my nitpicks this is a nice tool for the price, especially for the casual PE user.
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: RP-02
  Suggested Retail: $23 US
  PUBLISHED: Dec 09, 2012

Our Thanks to RP Toolz!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About James Bella (c5flies)

My main interest is 1/35 scale WWII armor, Axis and Allied, and will occasionally branch out into other areas. The builds I have done so far have been pretty much OOB, and considering what most newer kits include, that is usually more than enough for me. Even though my projects do not always end up ...

Copyright 2021 text by James Bella [ C5FLIES ]. All rights reserved.


My apologies I did not know the springs were left out, when I look at the pictures and read the article I missed it. Please feal free to remove my post as I have errored and it is not right for the maker of the part . Jim
DEC 10, 2012 - 11:21 AM
That's fine Jim, and most likely a question that others had too. They are actually silicone(?) bumpers bonded to the base plate. They look like they should stand the test of time, and do a good job of separating the upper and lower halves.
DEC 10, 2012 - 11:27 AM
Interesting! I would have never guessed. PM inbound Jim
DEC 10, 2012 - 11:33 AM
$70? I know mine is a few years old, but I didn't pay nearly that much for a new one. Maybe this one isn't too bad at $27. As for the roughness that has now been mentioned twice, I guess it's sort of a ZAMM thing. Any takers?
DEC 10, 2012 - 11:59 AM
I think I paid about $55 3-4 years ago, still consider that a great deal. Love those tools Here's a couple more quick pics to show the quality of the bend with the RP Toolz setup. This is on raw brass, no etch lines, not cooked. The longer piece was held by the tool by the narrower end to check its hold down capability. I found both to be quite impressive:
DEC 10, 2012 - 04:50 PM
Robert I have the MM bending tool that James sent me many moons ago and I have the little and bigger brother of the RP Toolz bender James has reviewed here, The MM tool has not been out of its box in a long time and I actually went back to using two Stanley blades, but I have reached for the two RP Toolz a number of times since I got them and I am very happy with the results I have managed with them. I specifically sent the tool to James as I know he uses the Small shop products which while expensive I know to be excellent and I wanted to see how they compared in so much as what James thought of the RP Toolz bender, his opinion has raised some issues that I had failed to consider however the fact that he still highly recommends this bender says to me it is excellent for those on a budget and for those that don't cover their models in PE. I know that this tool is not going to be for everyone but for those who use what I would call a standard amount of PE; by this I mean standard PE sets rather than the likes of the all singing Voyager mega sets this tool is an excellent consideration. There is nothing on the market that even comes close to matching it for price unless you use two Stanley blades to make bends and these tools performs most of the tasks that the more expensive offerings can manage. James pointed out an observation about finger thickness and very fine U shaped bends and I can see his point, but none of the tasks that I have faced it with were beyond the tool. I will add that it is great to see so many comments on this review be they positive, negative, or questioning as it shows a reviewer that their efforts are appreciated.
DEC 10, 2012 - 05:22 PM
Even though I have the MM bender, the most convenient tool I use for any length or size of PE is a good old steel rule and razor blade. Works every time. And both tools are multi-purpose!
DEC 12, 2012 - 05:21 AM
i order a couple of tools yesterdays. great feedback of peter, delivery today. as read in a before post i already have the BUG so ordered the 13cm bender for a "combo". thank you for the review. sdl
DEC 12, 2012 - 10:02 AM
Thanks for the great review James I had been considering a Tiger Model Etch-Partner, but I think I'll get the RP Toolz 18cm instead
DEC 17, 2012 - 05:57 PM

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