Monday, March 9

Used & Reviewed: Riveting Wheels and Handle from Galaxy Models

The task of riveting of the scale model is an important and sometimes tedious but necessary step of the model making process for Gary Wickham. So when a new tool comes along he is always up for having a look at how it performs. He has done just that with Galaxy Models new riveting wheels and handle tool. See what he thought after his testing in his review...

Used & Reviewed: Riveting Wheels and Handle
Manufacturer: Galaxy Tools
Scale: N/A
Price: US$15.99
Product Link On The Galaxy Models Website
Galaxy Model has recently begun to expand their product range out beyond the excellent die-cut masking sets they have had in the market for several years now. A new series of hand tools are being marketed under the Galaxy Tools label and include a wide array of high quality modelling tools. In this hands-on review, I will be taking a closer look at their new range of riveting tools, designed specifically to add recessed rivet detail to a models surface...

Rivet wheels have been around for many years and are designed to neatly apply rows of rivets to a models surface. You fit the wheel to a handle and then lightly roll it over the surface to make the rivet indents. Most often used by aircraft modellers to reproduce flush rivet detail along panel lines and around the skin of the aircraft. I find the best way to review tools is to actually use them and here you see the results of the Galaxy Tools rivet wheels (mainly the 0.65mm and 0.75mm sizes) when used on my build of the KittyHawk 1:48 FJ-2 Fury.
The wheels these days are typically made from photo-etch metal and come in assorted sizes with the "spikes" (which create the tiny hole in the plastic) spaced at different intervals. This allows you to reliably produce rivet lines of different spacing which is useful as the rivets will be spaced differently for each scale (1/72, 1/48, 1/32 etc) and often rivets spacing also varies even on the same aircraft (say between the wings and fuselage). Suffice to say that if you are serious about riveting "one size wheel does NOT fit all".

Galaxy produces wheels in six different teeth spacings. They range from the smallest spacing of 0.55mm thru to the largest of 1.50mm in 0.25mm increments. Rather than force you to buy all six in one set to get perhaps a couple that you really want, Galaxy has sensibly separated the six sizes into two sets. In addition, each set (of three wheels each) is available in two-wheel diameters (Standard and Mini)
To give you a sense of the difference in diameter of the two sizes (Standard and Mini) here is a side by side comparison. In terms of applying rivets to the model, they both do exactly the same job. I used both and personally found the larger wheel best for keeping straight along long runs on say a flat surface like the wings. The smaller wheel seemed to work best for me on the more awkward runs where the model surface is curved (such as the fuselage). The third tool shown here (let's call it the corner wheel) is meant to be used when you need to place rivets somewhere that the wheel won't go (think the corner where the wing meets the fuselage)
Of course, the wheel is not much use without a handle to hold it. Galaxy produces handles that are purpose-designed for use with their range of rivet wheels and scribers. These come in four colour options in anodised metal and are very comfortable to hold with the chuck jaws being tight and easy to adjust.
From the moment you open the box these tools scream quality. As with any precision tool, it's essential to have a proper storage system. In this respect, Galaxy leaves the competition behind. Each set (of three wheels) comes packed in purpose cut high-density foam. This protects the fine points on each wheel and ensures you don't lose or mix up the sizes. Each set also comes with the tools required, a spanner and Allen key, to allow adjustment of wheel tension.
As explained above, if you wish to have a wheel to cover each of the six rivet spacings available (0.55, 0.65, 0.75, 1.00, 1.25 & 1.50mm) you will need to obtain at least two sets, in the diameter wheel you prefer. The handle is available separately and you could use one you have already if it had extra-wide jaws. Note that the Galaxy wheel holders will not fit normal hobby knife Xacto/Excel-style handles as the wheel "holder" is designed to be considerably thicker than a normal knife blade (to provide stronger support for the wheel when under pressure).
The holder for each wheel has the spacing size conveniently etched onto the holder. This allows for easy identification of each wheel when either in use or in the storage case. This photo highlights the considerable difference in spacing between each wheel and until you become used to how these look on your model I suggest you do some test runs on scrap parts or sheet.
I thought it may be interesting to show a quick comparison between some of the other premium riveting tools available. I have both the excellent RB Productions wheels and Rosie The Riveter tools. Each of these differs in small ways to the Galaxy tools as can be seen in the photos. The RB wheels are designed to be used with a standard hobby knife and so the holder is quite thin (but still very strong). Galaxy provides a thicker holder, screw and nylock nut with each wheel while RB provides one holder, nut and screw per set (you can buy extra holders). Rosie solves the holder and handles by including a full wooden handle and very thick holder with each tool.
Of course, its no use just looking at a tool, you have to use it. I've done quite a bit of riveting work now with the new Galaxy wheels and I believe they are every bit as accurate and sturdy as both the RB and Rosie offerings. The work very well when used against a hard edge, a soft edge or purely freehand when applying your rivet lines.
Of course, models are not always co-operative when it comes to running a wheel over their surface. Cutouts and annoying corners and curves are often sent to frustrate us. Galaxy has thought about this problem and given us the "Corner Rivet Tool". As you can see its not like a wheel, it does not rotate but then again it's not meant to.
To use the corner tool you place one edge into the corner and gently rock it from side to side. This rocking action is enough to create the start of a rivet line from which you can then switch to the appropriate riveting wheel to continue the run. In my example, I used the corner tool to create very short rivet lines across the leading edge slats on the FJ-2 Fury.
Maintenance (not that much is needed) is simple with the Galaxy Tools as all the tools you need are provided (in each set). The small spanner is used to hold the nylock (self-locking) nut whilst the Allen key can be turned to adjust the tension on the wheel. I have found that you do not want the wheel to turn too freely as it can get away from you (making a mess). You are better off ensuring the wheel offers some small amount of resistance as you push it so that when you stop it stops too. The other thing to mention here is that Galaxy has sized the screw perfectly to ensure no play or slop is present that might make the wheel jump when pressure is applied.
CONCLUSION - Galaxy Tools Rivet Tools Review
Put simply, I consider these riveting tools from Galaxy Models to be amongst the best in the market (at least compared to the ones I personally own and have tried). The build quality is second-to-none as are the materials used in the tools and packaging alike. I appreciate that Galaxy has packaged the tools into smaller sets so that customers can purchase only the sizes that interest them.

 Gary Wickham

The Galaxy rivet tool sets can be readily purchased on eBay for around the US$15.99 mark. All foreign (non-Chinese) customers can also buy Galaxy products directly using PayPal. For more details contact Galaxy via email at
If you like Gary's work then please do go to his website for a whole lot more of that...