Model Makers Toolbox

Rob Gronovius shares with us his collection of tools, and ideas of what kind of tools might make your project easier. If you have a suggestion for a tool for the Model Makers Toolbox, please let us know at [email protected].

1. Toolbox: One of the basic items needed is a toolbox to put your X-Acto knife, glue, and various other tools in. I don't recommend keeping tools in the model box. The glue may spill and ruin parts or, if you have a lot of kits, you may forget which box your tool is in and "lose" it. Toolboxes can be simple, inexpensive ones available at Wal-Mart or more elaborate, purpose-built "artist's boxes" designed to hold a painter's needs. These are more expensive, around $20+ and available at arts & crafts stores.

2. Glue: The next and only true "must" is glue (unless building snap kits). This photo shows the various types of glue available. The old standard is tube glue. It is included in many of the current kits and comes in various formulas. The red label is the toxic/flammable type that dries quicker; the blue label is non-toxic and does not set as quickly. This type of glue has also been recently marketed in black wedges that has a higher viscosity and easy to control dispenser. More serious modelers use liquid cement that is also available from various manufacturers. (See also Super Glue)

3. Hobby Knife: This type of knife is used to remove burrs from parts of the model. There are several types that include a replaceable and non-replaceable blade. The benefit of replaceable blades is that there is a wide variety of blade shapes and even saw blades that can be used. The benefit of the non-replaceable blade is that it is cheaper and the blade can be sharpened with a stone. It also does not roll off your work surface, saving you from possible injury to your foot. The replaceable blade type has also developed a handle that does not roll, or a simple solution is to wrap a rubber band around the handle to prevent roll.

4. Sprue: The cheapest tool you can use is free. Sprue, or the "tree" that the parts are connected to, have a variety of uses. They can be used to stir paint. Stirring the paint is preferable to shaking the bottle since it mixes the pigment more thoroughly. The ends of the sprue can be shaped by heat, knife or sandpaper to form various tools to apply modeling putty or glue. Sprue can be carefully heated over a candle and stretched to form various lengths and widths and used as antenna on an armor kit or grab rails.

5. Clippers: This tool is necessary to building a good model. Breaking the part off the sprue by twisting can damage the part. This method doesn't work well with smaller parts with multiple connection points. A clipper can be a simple fingernail clipper or a sprue or wire cutter available at a craft or hardware store.

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