There are various ways to scribe panel lines. One of the traditional methods is to use a sewing pin screwed into a pin vise. This is the combo I have used since I restarted the hobby in 1999. There are better methods and tools obviously, but the sewing needle has worked for my limited usage.
The BMC chisel is the so-called ‘Ferrari’ of scribers in the market right now. It’s available in various widths and each goes for a tidy sum of money. I have read that because of how fine a point they get, they are also quite fragile. Along comes the TMP chisel, which is produced by a local manufacturer. These are offered at a fraction of the price of the equivalent BMC chisel and are available in a lot of sizes (0.05mm, 0.1mm, 0.15mm, 0.2mm, 0.3mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm, 0.6mm, 0.7mm, 0.8mm, 0.9mm, 1.0mm, 1.2mm, 1.5mm, 1.7mm, 2.0mm, 2.5mm, 3.0mm). I decided to try one to see if it can replace my sewing needle (which incidentally is even cheaper).
I ordered a 0.2mm chisel figuring it’s a nice middle of the pack size. The chisel came unbagged with a clear plastic cover for the tip. It’s made of steel (?), is unpolished and has a nice heft to it. TMP is inscribed onto the shaft with a 0.2mm label stickered onto the end.
The chisel gently tapers to a bladed tip which is somewhat polished. All in all, it looks remarkably similar to the BMC chisel.
A size comparison to my Tamiya pin vise is below. Size is similar though the TMP is a lot more solid due to being made out of a solid hunk of steel.
So the way chisels like these work is you have to keep them flat and push or pull them against you. This is unlike the sewing needle which you keep perpendicular to scribe the line you need. You know it’s working right when you get a string of plastic scraped off the surface.
Now the main difference is the effect of the scribed line that you get between the two scribers. The TMP makes a notch that’s squared off at the bottom off while you get a V-shaped canal with the sewing needle. The ridges of the scraped line is also noticeably rougher with the needle.
The results also look more consistent with the TMP as you get a more solid looking line. With its weight, it’s also easy to push it across the surface and the tip is sharp enough to start working without much pressure.
However, The TMP chisel only works if used as intended. A problem arises when you try to scribe a circle with it. Because it has a bladed tip, you can’t use it like the needle which ends to a sharp point. Below you see the results of scribing circles. The TMP is on the left, and the circle is ragged because I couldn’t keep the tip perpendicular to the surface. The needle is easier to work with in this case and the result is neater. I think more practice is needed to do it properly.
One thing that needs to be said is I’m not sure how long the sharpness of the tip will last. For the price though, I don’t think it’s going to be a big issue.
It looks like the TMP won’t be replacing my sewing needle. For most scribing, the TMP chisel is hard to beat but I think the needle is easier for scribing circles so I plan to continue using both. I also think I’ll be looking into getting a finer chisel, perhaps the 0.15mm one.
~ Review courtesy to my wallet