If you are planning to start with Plastic Modeling and build some kits then you will need a minimum and essential tools to do the work. Scissors, pliers, hobby knifes, sandpapers, adhesives, paints, brushes and mask tapes are just the beginning of the list of tools and accessories that you gonna need.
In this article I will be doing an overview on the usage of them. I’m planning to post additional articles with details about each one of these tools, as well as more tips and examples of materials available in the market.
Here we talk about scissors, pliers and hobby knifes used basically to cutoff the pieces from the sprue before you assemble your models. Each one of them can have a variety of different types and purposes. You can find the vast majority of them in hardware stores. But I recommend that you invest in brands dedicated to hobby, such as Tamiya, Revell and others, if you want to get better results.
There are several different pliers in the market, but the cutting plier is the most important one here. You will use it to cutoff parts from the plastic sprue. Also, you can use other pliers to bend wires or to mold plastic parts. Tip: Never bend the plastic parts “back and forward” to remove them. This movement can damage or deform the small plastic pieces. Always use the cutting plier for a precise cut.
This is another item that dedicated brands to the hobby can make all the difference.
The size and shape of the stylus body and blades are very important and again several options are available.
The pictures below show 2 different hobby knifes. We can see the differences in body and blade shapes or format. Body: one has a rounded shape but with a hexagonal metal part at the end while the other contains a hexagonal shape in the entire body. This prevents the stylus to roll through the table and fall on you. Blades: the blades also have differences in size and format. The small blades, for example, are made for a cleaner and more accurate cutting.
Abrasives are used for finishing the parts of your model. You can use, for example, sandpapers to each piece individually or even after gluing them. Once again there is a wide variety of types and uses.
I basically use two types that can be used in this hobby: metal sticks or sandpapers.
The metal is obviously rigid and are used to wear out material from big plastic parts, but with coarse finish. They are dangerous… another pass wearing out the piece and it can be damaged forever.
Sandpapers are thinner and can give the right finish. The finer sandpaper, less wear and better finish. Also, some sandpaper work much better when they are wet.
Glues and Putty
Once again, here’s my recommendation to use only glues intended for hobby and specific for plastic bonding. Do not use conventional glues, except white glue to fill empty spaces. They can damage the model parts, have a very long drying time or simply won’t work as expected.
Also, pay attention to the different types of applicators of these products as well. This can facilitate a lot the glue application during the assembly process of your kit.
Some glues can warp or melt plastic, so pay attention during its application and not leave any residue on your fingers. If this residue glue still in your fingers, you have a chance to apply it accidentally on the surface of your model.
Another important information is that these adhesives can be toxic. They can contain some kind of solvent, so very careful when using them and keep them out of reach of children. Always see the safety guidelines and its chemical components.
The “putty” is a kind of clay used to fill small “empty spaces” or to shape a surface. Usually, the result of a not very perfect fit between the model parts can cause these “empty spaces”. They can also help in the repair of small failures and accidents. Various types exist, including those Epoxy clay found at hardware stores or even white glue. Each one has its way of application and gives you different results, so start with a common one, such as Tamiya Putty Basic Type, and go alternating as other needs are appearing.
Paint, Brushes and Mask Tapes
There are basically two types of paints: acrylic paint, which is water-based, and oil paints. The difference is simple: you can diluted acrylic paint with water and oil paints must be diluted with another solvent or thinner. The main difference is that oil paints have longer drying to produce an improved finish, as well as toughness.
My recommendation for beginners is to start with acrylic paints because they are safer and have simpler dilution. Another simple difference between the inks is that they can be flat or gloss which ends up being very important in painting your model. For example, perhaps a WWII tank is not too good with a bright paint.
Each paint manufacturer has its color scheme and code. So if you buy a Tamiya kit, for example, paint codes only make sense for Tamiya’s paints.
Also, remember that you will need a surface or container to mix the paint. I particularly use a glass base for it.
You will need some brushes to apply the paint right? So again you will find a lot of different types and sizes. But, basically, you will need a small one for the details or to fix small gaps or problems, and a bigger one for bigger surfaces.
You will get used to handle them and I’m sure that you will see opportunities to buy different brushes for different applications.
If you want to protect a particular area of your kit when painting it then you can use mask tapes. They are very useful to protect areas already painted, for creating camouflage and other paint effects.
Other important tools
- Swabs: to remove the excess water when placing the decals;
- Toothpicks: to do small details during painting;
- Tweezers: to assist in the placement of parts and decals;
- Plastic caps: the plastic bottles caps can be very useful for mixing paint;
- Elastic or clothing staples: to keep the pieces together during drying of the adhesive or glue.
You can find various materials and tools in general hardware stores without spending so much money.
But like everything else, if you are looking for quality then always look for brands dedicated to the hobby. These companies will actually deliver the best tools, providing the best results. Of course, the investment will be higher but the results are worth.
I hope these tips are good for you!
I started building my kits when I was just a kid. Now, I’m focused on small scale airplanes and dioramas. I also an IT guy so I’m trying to put together my passion for building new things and the tecnology for sharing my achievements through this web site.