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Whether they be scrap build or model kits there is a vast array of tools available to make and modify models. Before deciding what tools you need, decide what type of models you are going to build, a few are:

  • Scale model building, plastic model kits, have a magnitude of types, such as:

  • Model military vehicles, figures, and terrain.

  • Model aircraft.

  • Model cars, commercial, and construction vehicles.

  • Model rockets.

  • Naval, ship models.

  • Architectural models, cardboard, or high-density foam buildings.

  • Model figures or busts.

  • Rail transport modelling (probably the most well-known).

  • Gundam models.

  • Scenery to stage models.


So, model building is not exclusively a hobbyist pursuit. The complexity of assembling representations of actual objects has become a career for numerous people. Some build models to commemorate historic events or commissioned to construct models using past events as a basis to predict future events of high commercial interest, while others work for the film industry.

In the 1950-60s, a relative built live steam engine models from scratch, and I can remember watching him work.


The UK has an extremely high fraternity of live steam engine modellers, partly, I think to the vast community of steam engines/traction engines in the UK.

Ancient steam locomotive in night.jpg
Scale model of a fighter aircraft with d
House, design, drawing.jpg

There is a basic list of tools required to build plastic scale model kits, mine is:


  • Sprue cutters – removing items off the sprue.

  • Finer plastic cutters – trimming off excess.

  • Scalpel handles or hobby knife – trimming and removing mold lines, cutting decals. I prefer scalpel handles and have:

    • Numbers 3, 4, 5, 7 and a long scalpel handle that takes N◦.20/22/24 blades. But I use mostly the size 10 blades that have a sharp point. I have medical sharps boxes for the disposal of blades.

  • Dissecting Forceps – plain dissecting forceps, I use a variety suited to handling models and decals, such as:

    • Atraumatic – thumb style used for grasping delicate tissue.

    • Adson – serrated jaws with wide, flat thumb grasp area used for delicate tissue.

  • Artery clip – used to apply and remove scalpel blades from knife handles. I use a variety, but mostly:

    • De Bakey Forceps.

    • Dunhill Artery Forceps.

    • Mosquito Artery Forceps.

  • Various pliers –non-aggressive.

  • Scissors – straight and curved, plus special scissors for decals.

  • Toothbrushes – fine, medium, and hard.

  • Marking pens – various.

  • Alligator clips placed on barbecue skewers for airbrushing.

  • Sanding sticks – various grades.

  • Paint - as mentioned in the paint section, water-based acrylic paint is the most commonly used to spray plastic models.

  • Paintbrushes - sizes of models vary greatly if you are interested in Warhammer 28mm figures or painting busts a good selection of paintbrushes is vital. They range in size, from 000 up.


Specialised Equipment

Among my tools, I have some specialised equipment that makes life a lot easier, such as my:

Vortex Mixer – I have used this to mix my paint for many years and it is fantastic and a godsend (as I have arthritis in most of my joints), I have just ordered a replacement as it eventually failed, not surprising really considering the amount of use it gets.

Food Dehydrator – I have one that heats to 80°C but tend to run it at 70°C, it has 10 shelves and a fantastic piece of equipment, large enough to get a 1:32 tank fully built easily. If you decide to get one make sure it is large enough, the smaller plastic dehydrators will not take anything big. We also use it to dry fruit, meat, and flowers. You must let the sprayed models dry to touch (about 20 minutes) before putting them in the dehydrator. But the dehydrator will cure primer, varnish, and laquear paint in 4 hours that would normally take between 2 to 3 weeks. And when using acrylic, I have completely sprayed a tank and weathered and built it in a day. Mine is ECO friendly and uses minimal electricity, it came with 10 stainless steel and 4 plastic trays.

Additional Air Compressor Tank – my air compressor has a 2.5L tank, which is fine, but I purchased an additional 5L air compressor tank just to keep the noise levels down when videoing in my workshop.

Nova3D Printer – I use this to print replacements for damaged model parts or when designing terrain for my dioramas.

Colour Laser Printer – I rarely use decals from the manufacturers who make the model kits as I find them of poor quality, so, I either airbrush the design directly onto the model or scan it onto my computer, edit it (if required) and then print them.

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