Granite block proves the perfect base for chassis building

Getting your etched chassis frames square is an essential facet of locomotive kit building. Get this bit wrong and you may as well give up, as the loco will never run properly. Having always made do with an off-cut of glass for my loco frame assembly, I recently came across this handy - and heavy - aid in the Axminster Tools catalogue.

I've long been a happy customer of Axminster, mostly as a result of my other hobbies of wood carving, turning, furniture making and guitar building. However, there is much more to be found in Axminster's catalogue, not least with a host of modelling tools on offer, as a few recent reviews in Model Rail magazine attest.

This block is made of solid granite, with the upper face ground to a flatness of +-0.0052mm, which is flat enough for me! Indeed, the block comes with a printed sheet pointing out where the fractional high and low points are, should this info interest you. In my case, it pointed to the central area as being the 'flatest', so I've been concentrating my chassis building there, just to be on the safe side!

Naturally heat resistant, the block is perfect for aligning parts prior to soldering and, after a couple of successful assemblies, I'm tempted to knock up some form of clamping jig to allow me to keep both hands free while the solder joints are made. Mind you, I won't have to worry about the block moving around on the workbench as it's fairly hefty and the stone will always remain flat regardless of changes in temperature or humidity. I can also use it to flatten my waterstones (for sharpening my chisels)!

This 'small' granite block measures a respectable 305x230x50mm, which is great for loco frames in any scale up to 'O' gauge. Priced at a reasonable £34.66, it's available from Axminster Tools.

This granite block is already proving to be an unsung hero of the Dent Workshop. How did I ever manage without it?!


  1. Hi George
    We always used granite surface plates in toolmaking I being a cheap skate use a large piece of polished granite from the stone masons flat enough for modelmaking and it cost nothing as it was a worktop sample!


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