Tool Review
5 Speed Hold-n-Fold
Photo-etch Workstation
  • The 5 Speed Hold-n-Fold Workstation

by: Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]

  • All of the Goodies

"This MSW Tool Review takes a closer look at The Small Shops revolutionary photo-etch workstation, "The 5 Speed Hold-n-Fold."

Box and Pan Brake-"The box and pan brake is often called the "finger brake" because it does not have a solid upper jaw as does the cornice brake. Instead, it is equipped with a series of steel fingers of varying widths. The finger brake can be used to do everything that the cornice brake can do and several things that the cornice brake cannot do. The finger brake is used to form boxes, pans, and other similarly shaped objects."


Why are we talking about a Box and Pan Brake, you may ask?....well, mates, because the 5 Speed Hold-n-Fold is the modelers version of it's full sized counterpart (with many more additions), and essentially, both tools are used to perform the exact operation, which is bending and forming metal of various thicknesses, into whatever the operator wishes to form...personally, I used the full size version for many years when I worked in the sheet metal trade, bending and forming various metal parts used in air duct systems...and now, I happily can say that this tool from The Small Shop will perform in the exact manner as the full grown machine (with much less effort!), in the bending and forming of photo-etch pieces, and also for stock forming for scratch building.

the tool...

I've had the pleasure of late to examine and test many products from The Small Shop, and each one has performed exactly as the manufacturer has stated, and this tool follows suit of the previous ones in question.

The first thing noticeable with the 5 speed is quality....the tool is a heavy chunk of hard, anodized, precision machined aircraft grade aluminum, built to last. The base itself is purposely colored black to make working with brass and stainless PE parts easier on the eyes, machined very smooth, with rubber feet mounted to the bottom so the tool won't slide on your bench.

The clear, self colored, anodized aluminum head has been machined with 12 different sizes of "bending fingers", in various widths and depths, to handle various sized folding jobs...the longer fingers are a plus for deeper bends, such as multiple folded platforms. These "fingers" have been designed and machined to give precise, sharp bends in multiple gages of metals, and experience will tell the modeler exactly which finger will do the best job with the specific part that he is working on.

On the opposite side of the head, we find a long, continuous bending edge, to facilitate any longer PE bend or scratch build stock form bend that the modeler may need to perform...the edge is machined fine and smooth, and also can be used for strong holding and clamping. The head can be rotated on the base, and re-attached and ready to go in a matter of seconds...Also on the head, are various machined shapes and surfaces to aid the modeler in bending and forming channels, tie downs, and radius bends in a more easy and uniform manner.

The head itself is mounted on the base with two heavy plastic knobs, which thread onto two threaded guide pins, in which two heavy springs are placed upon before the head is attached (see photo) to make the head itself "spring loaded", so when you loosen the knobs, the head will raise automatically so you can slide your stock under the head in an easy fashion.

Included with the tool are two sizes of "Folding Blades", one a standard flat razor blade (dulled) for small bends, and the other, a special machined 5" long blade for longer bends. You also receive a two sided instruction sheet with basic use, tips and tricks of using the tool, with step-by-step drawings explaining such.

the "bends"....

Making a fold with the tool is a very simple, basic process, (depending upon the complexity of the part that you need to make), and I have illustrated a simple four corner bend of a pilot house in the images to the right.

Step 1.) Set the tool in a comfortable area on your bench, and loosen the tool knobs slightly.

Step 2.) Depending on the size of your part, determine which finger you will need to use to make the fold...always choose a finger the same size or slightly wider than your part, so the fold is complete and sharp along the folded edge.

Step(s) 3.) and 4.) Slide your part underneath the finger, and align the fold edge perfectly straight with the end of the bending finger...this spot will differ with various parts that you will be folding, and only experience will tell you which fold that you need to make first.

Step 5.) Tighten both of the tool knobs finger tight.

Step 6.) If your part is small, as this one is, take your small folding tool and gently slide it underneath the part, until the edge is flush with the bending finger base.

Step 7.) Slowly draw the folding tool in an upwards motion, until you reach the desired angle of your bend.

Step 8.) I always slightly "over bend" my folds, to compensate for the "spring" of the metal being folded.

Step 9.) Loosen both tool knobs, and remove your part.

Step 10.) At this point in the process, I chose to swivel the head around, and try out the solid edge on the next series of bends...

To finish off the fold, simply continue the process of aligning the fold at the proper edge mark, make your bend as directed in the previous steps, and voila! You may have to adjust the final fold a bit either more or less, to make the complete box square, but quite honestly, the folds were clean, sharp, and on the mark!

Keep in mind that I chose a very simple and basic fold for this reviews purposes, as there are many more complicated folds that you will encounter in all genre's of the hobby, but using these basic set of instructions, and thinking about what you are trying to accomplish before you make that first bend, success will be yours!

If you use a lot of aftermarket photo-etch details in your builds, you need this tool...

Highs: Top notch tool quality and engineering, built to last a lifetime under normal use, ease of operation as well.
Lows: Absolutely none!
Verdict: Quite basically, this tool will give the modeler who uses aftermarket photo-etch on a regular basis clean, sharp folds, with a minimal amount of effort. Highly recommended from this modelers point of view!
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: HF5SPD
  Suggested Retail: $70.00 USD
  Related Link: Official Company Website
  PUBLISHED: Jun 16, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to The Small Shop!
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 Mark R. Smith (Gunny)

I have been building models of all sorts all of my life, concentrating mainly on the coolest one's when I was younger, but now I focus directly on all military subjects, from armor to warships. After years of counting rivets, I put away the calipers, dial indicators, and micrometers and now just ha...

Copyright 2021 text by Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.


Very cool tool. Thanks for sharing Gunny. Gator
JUN 16, 2008 - 01:08 PM
I do agree a very nice looking tool in deed.
JUN 16, 2008 - 01:47 PM
I bought that one couple months ago, have not test drive it yet, waiting for the Charles Adams small PE fret as my first PE ever... will post something once I use it, see how it works in the hands of a clueless newbie like me
JUN 17, 2008 - 03:25 PM
Hi Gunny, i have to agree, the Hold and Fold is a great little accessory tool. I have the Etch Mate from Mission Models and while not as sturdy as the metal fingered one you have reviewed, they are hard to beat when it comes to wadding up your PE. The only problem I have is getting the PE parts lined up perfectly to make the bends in the 1/700 scale stuff I usually deal with. The old Mark I eyeballs aren't what they used to be. Fortunately brass is very forgiving in that regard. Jay Massey treadhead1952 Las Vegas, NV
JUN 17, 2008 - 03:26 PM
I can relate totally on that, my friend, my eyes are DEFINITELY not what they used to be as well, and that's one of the problems that the Hold-n-Fold addresses, with the black anodized base of the tool...the contrast between the black base against brass AND stainless etch parts is remarkable, making even the smallest part so much easier to align properly...and right now, the tool's on sale at The Small Shop's home page for practically the same cost as the can get a cherry for the cost of an apple...... Thanks for the comments, mate!
JUN 17, 2008 - 11:43 PM
Hey Gunny, resurrecting an old post here, but just wanted to say thanks for the review! I just picked one of these up and I have to say well worth the money (especially being on sale at GM)! This is definately a nice machine and a pleasure to use. Just wish I picked up one of these first Nice to have a quality tool that makes working with PE pleasurable, thanks again for the informative review.
OCT 07, 2008 - 06:03 PM
Ahoy James! Aye mate, old posts, never die.... I'm sure that there are alot of modelers that feel the same way as you and I mate.. I will agree, some of the finest machining workmanship and design, extreme userability, and built to last... ~Gunny
OCT 07, 2008 - 09:56 PM

Click image to enlarge
  • The 5 Speed Hold-n-Fold Workstation
    The 5 Speed Hold-n-Fold Workstation
  • Box and Pan Brake
    Box and Pan Brake
  • Brake "Finger"
    Brake "Finger"
  • "Dulled" Razor Blade
    "Dulled" Razor Blade
  • 5" Folding Tool
    5" Folding Tool
  • Underneath the Base
    Underneath the Base
  • The 5 Speed, disassembled
    The 5 Speed, disassembled
  • Long Edge In Play
    Long Edge In Play
  • The Tool Head
    The Tool Head
  • Pre-Etch Bending Beams
    Pre-Etch Bending Beams
  • Bending "Fingers"
    Bending "Fingers"
  • "Bending Fingers" Detail
    "Bending Fingers" Detail
  • Step 1. Loosen Tool Knobs
    Step 1. Loosen Tool Knobs
  • Step 2. Find appropriate sized "finger"
    Step 2. Find appropriate sized "finger"
  • Step 3. Slide brass etch under "finger"
    Step 3. Slide brass etch under "finger"
  • Step 4. Allign etch
    Step 4. Allign etch
  • Step 5. Tighten Tool Knobs
    Step 5. Tighten Tool Knobs
  • Step 6. Carefully begin to slide the blade under etch.
    Step 6. Carefully begin to slide the blade under etch.
  • Step 7. Begin the bend
    Step 7. Begin the bend
  • "The Bend"
    "The Bend"
  • Step 8, Overbend slightly
    Step 8, Overbend slightly
  • Loosen Tool Knobs
    Loosen Tool Knobs
  • "First Bend"
    "First Bend"
  • Beginning theSecond Bend
    Beginning the Second Bend
  • The 2nd Bend
    The 2nd Bend
  • 2nd Bend, Complete
    2nd Bend, Complete
  • etchmate_029
  • Fini!
  • etchmate_031
  • Instruction Sheet, 1
    Instruction Sheet, 1
  • Instruction Sheet, 2
    Instruction Sheet, 2