Scale Model Tools Guide for beginners

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Staff member
Nov 3, 2018

Brooklyn, New York USA
If you’re a beginner and want to build your first scale model, there’s no denying that the right tools for the job make the process a whole lot easier. Because of the variety of models out there, it can sometimes be difficult to be sure exactly which tools you might need, and even if you have them, exactly how they should be used. Tools can be categorized by material they will use for, and type (manual or power tools). To save you some time, and unnecessary self-inflicted model damage, we’ve prepared this handy tool guide to set you on the right path.

Craft or hobby knife – useful removing parts from sprues\laser-cut parts, scribing panel lines, cutting out decals, applying filler, and pretty much any other time you need to cut or scrape your model pieces. We recommend knives with the most common blade #11. Alternatively, you may use a scalpel with interchangeable blades (also have # 11). Make sure you have a few fresh blades handy for when your current one goes blunt.

Sandpaper/emery sticks – useful for shaping the surface of the parts. Smoothing the surfaces and parts. Available in a range of different grades, with 3000 being very smooth and 80 being coarse. 180, 220, and 400 are great for those starting out.

A straight steel ruler – measuring is a big part of scale modeling, especially if you are making modifications or adding extra details. A straight ruler is essential for getting the correct placement and sizing. It comes in mm or imperial (inch). The best one to have the bread of both on each side.

Tweezers – perfect for positioning tiny model parts. Although one pair is generally sufficient, there are plenty of different kinds out there (pointed or flat ends, spring-loaded or lockable) so it is helpful to have a small collection.

Glue – unless you’re a wizard, there’s no getting around gluing your model parts together. For wood, we recommend PVA based glue. It comes from different brands but has the common characteristics. Most likely, you will need some blends of CA glues (instant glue). This one comes handy when you need rapid glue action (without wait time until set)

Clamps\Rubber bands – great for holding parts in place while you mount\paint, or keeping them together while the glue dries. You can never have enough clamps, they come in a variety of sizes and designs. Rubber bands/clothes pegs – useful for holding parts while drying.

A hand drill\pin viseSome modeling techniques, such as creating gun ports on scale model ships, require the use of a drill to create precise holes or entry points. Having a range of drill bits handy means you can tackle a variety of different challenges. You can start with a Pin Vise Hand Drill with a twist bit - set.

Small File set - usually comes in 4 different shapes: flat, triangle, half-round, and round. You will need those to shape the parts.

So there you have it, a list of the tools required to create your first scale model! Those just basic tools but there is no doubt, that you may use many other tools on a regular basis. Let us know which tools you can’t live without, and any extra tools we’ve missed!
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