Hobby Tip - Using Guide Templates

 Pardon the personal info, I suppose, if you're strictly just following along for hobby-related stuff - you can skip past the block of my rambling here to the next section.

 Just for the sake of noting it; this has been one of those weeks. Our 5-year-old daughter came down with an unrelenting hacking cough/cold/ear infection/103° fever combo which jumped off on Saturday and has continued on its merry way since then, with the exception of the fever breaking, thus allowing her to enjoy the remainder of her second week of school ever starting today. I feel bad for her being sick, but at the same time her personality and behavior took a complete turn-about from her usual pleasant self and roughly about that time dad apparently joined the Infernal Hierarchy so far as she was concerned, and every suggestion, request, or glance from me was met with immense disdain if not full-blown tantrum - and guess who the stay-at-home parent is? Today our 7-month-old son seemed completely off, hardly ate, and alternated between screaming and looking extremely tired/fitfully sleeping all day - he's also generally a pleasant baby and mostly predictable other than teeth, but he's also apparently got a helluva set of lungs. The long and the short of this all being: not a lot of sleep and not much done related to miniature painting or modeling all week. On the positive side: my wife and I saw the movie 9 at the theater and it was an excellent film, I got a call from an agency offering placement in a contingent position (which is nice, since I've been unemployed since February) although I still need to meet with them, and my unemployment benefits were to run out next week - but I apparently qualify for an extension, so while income isn't as good as it could be in our household, at least we'll continue to maintain the status quo as I try to find something manageable. (There are aspects of being an unplanned stay-at-home-parent which are nice, but I gotta confess I'd much rather have regular, stable employment and a bit more predictability - I've been employed more or less continuously since I was 14, and it's been a helluva adjustment, not the least of which being that our son was born the week after I lost my job.)

 I'm essentially still working on the conversion portion of a commissioned Chaos Lord for a Games Workshop 40K Thousand Sons army, and while I've been making progress in fits and starts and keep plugging along, I don't feel I've made enough in any one particular area to post pictures of "finished" sections. I'm essentially building a brand new head with a Thousand Sons-styled "headdress" for him, however, and figured out a useful trick in terms of trimming sheet styrene of a set thickness to a specific even width - the part of the head I'm working on is the outer trim of the headdress containing the ribbed panelling, which means I'm nearing the finish line on one of the trickiest aspects thus far.

 If you happen to find yourself needing lengths of sheet styrene to a specific width (and where it's impractical/unavailable to buy pre-cut sheet styrene), today's tip might come in handy. Hopefully anyone who's worked with sheet styrene (AKA plasticard) is familiar with scoring the stuff with a hobby knife or something similar to get a clean break of the styrene to a desired shape - well, I've been doing that for the most part but I'm finding myself needing to trim down a vaguely even 3mm wide length of 1mm thick styrene into an even 2mm wide strip (or thereabouts). The length of styrene is just a little too narrow to get an outright even break along a deeply scored line, and in trying to separate the excess off with needle-nosed hobby pliers, it more or less tore along the scored line - but with rather rough edges along the sections where the styrene was not pre-scored. Ideally I want it the correct width before I glue it in place on the figure, so I only have to worry about cutting the various lengths I need.

 That's where I hit on the idea of simply drawing out on a piece of paper the correct width and shape length of styrene I need smoothed out and to the correct measurements - a guide template or "cutting guide" of sorts, like I would use if this were a larger piece of wood I were shaping with a router or band saw, only one that I can set the strip of styrene onto on my cutting mat. This is the tricky part, since as I said, it's more or less already the correct width along the length of the strip - well beyond the point of drawing the areas that need to be trimmed off onto the piece itself and then cutting along the outline, since most of the unwanted excess is gone and I'm now just trying to tidy things up to a specific width.

A hopefully self-explanatory picture:
Cutting Styrene Tip

 What simply needs to be done past the point in the picture is to shave or cut the styrene length back to where I can see the pencil lead again, which should be fairly easy since I have a visual reference of my 2mm target width to aim towards. There's a number of advantages to this: it's on a cutting mat where I can get leverage; I don't have to hold the narrow length with needle-nosed pliers or a vise and using some other method to shape the styrene length where the edges won't be as "crisp"; and I don't have to "eyeball" the correct width at all since it's right there in front of me (unlike if I used a Dremel-mounted sanding disc, needle files, or sandpaper outright).

Questions? Comments? I'm thinking this technique ought to be applicable to tidying up custom-cut shapes as well that for one reason or another can't be cut out precisely (such as an outline drawn on the styrene itself) - an awkward-shaped addition of extremely thin sheet styrene to the face place of the Chaos Lord's helmet comes to mind, for example.

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