"The Chopper" vs "The Chopper II"

hetek Dec 21, 2011

  1. hetek

    hetek TrainBoard Member

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    I'm preparing to embark on a rather ambitious scratch-building project that requires MANY similarly-sized styrene bits and the ol' Exacto knife and ruler just won't cut it (no pun intended). So... I'm looking into "The Chopper's", but which one?

    The way I see it:

    The original "Chopper" has a nice size hardboard/masonite base with an aluminum guide fence and razor blade "chopper". "The Chopper II" is more money but is made of cast aluminum with a rubber mat cutting surface, but the work surface looks smaller than the original's.

    Let's take cost out of the equation. I don't mind spending a little more money on a quality tool, as long it is the right tool for the job. Also, I work in N scale so the difference in work surface size shouldn't matter... or does it?

    Any opinions? Anyone prefer one over the other? Is "the latest and greatest" better?
     
  2. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    I have the Chopper II, and have few complaints.
    For N scale projects it's been great, as you rarely have to mass-cut lengths longer than the 2 1/2"ish max that the stop goes.
    It's got a nice weight and smooth action.
    Here's my 9-year-old daughter cutting replacement ties:

    [​IMG]

    [We're very safe so, no, her nickname isn't "Stumpy" now ;) ]

    Both Chopper I & II take the same replacement blades & are easy to swap out.
    My only issue so far is cutting the mat underneath: after awhile (months / year) the gap becomes too big so finer wood gets "crushed" in.
    So you take the mat out, rotate it 90 deg, and keep going.
    [You can see the old gap at the far right of the Chopper II under my daughter's fingers]
    At some point I'll have to replace it, but I've had it for 2 years so far & on my second side of the mat (still have two to go).

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. hetek

    hetek TrainBoard Member

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    Good call, MC!

    You actually answered the question I didn't ask - but meant to.

    The mat would get marred over time, as you mentioned, and I was suspect of the cutting quality deteriorating over time. Now "square" cuts could become more of "angled" cuts. Rotating the pad would prevent that mostly, but does the rubber have too much give to it that the cuts aren't as true as say a hard surface "Chopper" would give?

    I suppose I could always put a hardboard insert in, in place of the rubber one for such critical cuts. Am I overthinking this?

    I was hoping the secondary benefit of "The Chopper" would be truly square cuts.
     
  4. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    The mat is very firm, and is supposed to be "self-healing", and is, but over time...
    Very square cuts, especially if you keep the blade sharp (easy to swap out).
     
  5. Rasputen

    Rasputen TrainBoard Member

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    I have a Chopper I. After the razor blade dug a groove in the hardboard, I routed out the cutting area and epoxied in
    a glass microscope slide. It now has a nice hard cutting surface that has not shown any signs of wear. I also had to
    add pop rivets to the guide fence to keep it tight against the hardboard. I still have to check and adjust the squareness of the cutting arm but that is pretty straight forward. You still have to be careful with thicker stock as the razor blade can deflect sideways.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    What is the cost of a replacement mat?
     
  7. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    I'll tell you in 2-4 years when I need to replace it ;)

    Actually, maybe not, as Micro Mark sez the item has been discontinued & MTS sez "out of stock". Hmm...

    But you could probably cut a square out of a self-healing cutting mat and stick it in.
     
  8. hetek

    hetek TrainBoard Member

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  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's what I was thinking. Seems as though it could be cheaper to get a mat from the craft store (or?) and cut it up.
     
  10. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    The Chopper II mat is a bit thicker than most quilting / fabric cutting mats I've come across, and that gets back to having that firm surface underneath for the square cuts.
    $4 for an "offical" replacement mat is a deal.
    That's near 50 cents a year with rotations.
     
  11. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    MC - thanks for the comments - I've been looking at one of these, and keep wondering if I should get one. The photo of your daughter using it may just have made up my mind for me.
     
  12. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Very useful little thing to have around the workshop!
    And so is the Chopper II ;)
     
  13. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    want to trade (2 for 1 deal!)? That age was great - of course so is having one in undergrad (UCSD) and one in grad (SFSU). Older one also getting married July 1 -- so, with the trade comes the bills! LOL
     
  14. hetek

    hetek TrainBoard Member

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    Well, I placed an order for a "Chopper II" last night through my favorite e-tailer (my LHS isn't so "L" - it's 1-1/2 hours away).

    The lower price of the Chopper I looks tempting, but I know sooner or later I would be dealing with the scarred hardboard surface below the blade. The mat on the "Chopper II" version looks like a good solution.

    Thanks for the input guys!
     
  15. Logtrain

    Logtrain TrainBoard Member

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    I have both! I prefer the chopper 2 for smaller items as MC said. However, when you get those longer pieces I use the chopper. So with that being said, I would go for the shopper 2 for now until you have a need for the chopper.

    Now all I need is a "duplicutter."
     
  16. CraigN

    CraigN TrainBoard Supporter

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    MC, You say you turn the mat and use 4 sides before it is worn out.

    What about flipping it over- can you do that to get 4 more sides to cut against?

    Craig
     
  17. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Hmm... hadn't thought of that.
    Just a sec...

    Well, you can, but I see the cut marks already coming through the bottom, so it probably wouldn't last very long.
    But might gain you a couple months :)
     
  18. grouch

    grouch TrainBoard Member

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    I had a short conversation with NWSL. They don't sell to Micro Mark because MM copied their design and had it made in China.
     

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