By Alex Weiss

One of the problems with books is that it they are unforgiving. Make a mistake and it’s there, unless your are lucky enough to have a crack with a second edition. A second edition also allows you to update things that have changed since the original publication.

Alex Weiss has a second chance with his popular book Metal Finishing Techniques which has just gone into a second edition and now includes additional material and illustrations and updates for products that no longer exist with some additional  and updated contacts for suppliers.

Alex was originally a fast jet pilot for the RAF and has a PhD in mechanical engineering. He has had a home workshop for more than 40 years. In this book he manages to describe a whole range of metal finishing techniques in an easily understood way for both the beginner and those of us who
reckon we have forgotten it all (and probably have). And us old know-it-alls will certainly benefit from reading about recently introduced ideas like micro-fibre to achieve a good polish.

Visiting exhibitions it is noticeable that some probably excellent models have been spoiled by their finish, notably painting, lining and applying transfers. Books like this can help, although the answer is always: practice, practice, practice. And if you are going in for competition, remember that judges might not like things to be over finished. A mirror finish on a driving flywheel will definitely not win you any brownie points. And be careful of fashion. We see more locomotives with a beautiful matt finish but originally manufacturers almost always tried to give them a shiny finish.

However, this book is not just about appearance. Indeed it is mostly about finishing with various machining and hand processes from grinding to burnishing and knurling to scraping. Even chasing and repoussé work.

It is an excellent primer for the tyro and a handy reference book to look up those things we tend to forget. It’s strange that while you’ll never forget how to sharpen a drill on the off-hand grinder, most of us will have forgotten how to make a home-made broach - even if we knew in the first place.

Metal Finishing Techniques

Second Edition

by Alex Weiss

Published by Camden Miniature Steam Services£14.95                      121pages