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The scale modeller’s tool kit

Naturally, if you want to make quality scale models, you need some tools. Some are generic and some are pretty specific. Like anything else, there’s a time to save money and there’s a time to spend money. It’s fine to start out with some cheaper tools, because there’s a pretty steep curve when it comes to getting started. But as you go along, invest in quality tools, look after them, and they will serve you for a very long time.

Fine point nippers, used for safely and easily removing parts from the tree. You can use an Exacto Knife, but these are more efficient. Another tool to invest in, since you’ll use it a lot.

This is your main tool. The Exacto knife. You can pick these up at any good hobby store or on ebay – even Aldi sell a version of this knife once or twice a year.

There’s a threaded section just behind the tip that loosens so you can slip blades in and out.

And here’s your new best friend. Known as the #11, this is a straight, angled blade that’s your all-rounder. This blade will do anything and everything from removing parts from the tree, to removing flash and mold lines, to slicing open your finger without you even knowing it.

These babies are sharp. Razor sharp. In fact, if there’s something sharper than razor sharp, they’re that. These things are essentially a scalpel that isn’t surgery-hygienic. Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

The cool thing is that the Exacto knife can take a variety of blades. Straight, curved or angled, they’re all awesome and play their part in the hobby.

You’ll also need a good quality cutting mat – sometimes called a self-healing mat. These are worth their weight in gold, because it saves your workbench from being dissected by your Exacto knife (did I mention they are sharp?).

They also protect your bench from paint spills, glue drops, thinner spills and everything else you can imagine.

Glues. You’ll need a variety of glues for different jobs. Check out the article Glue: What you didn’t know you didn’t know to learn what different glues do and why you need more than one type

Pegs. Wait, pegs? Actually, you need anything and everything that can hold things together while glue dries. You need clamps that are gentle and some that are tight. Different sized wooden pegs work a treat because they can provide just the right amount of pressure to hold pieces while they dry. You can also reshape the tip if you need to (like angling them backwards to get into tight spots). You can also use rubber bands of different sizes to hold parts while they dry.

Toothpicks are another, awesome all-round tool. They can hold pieces (with a little blu tack), remove paint, help you get glue in just the right spot, help you clean things, paint small things (like buttons) or move things into position.

This is one thing where you can buy cheap. Your local party store will sell a thousand of these for a few dollars. They’re often a single-use tool, so don’t buy the gold plated ones.

Blu Tack. Don’t save money on this one. Buy the original. I’ve tried all the alternatives from craft and hardware stores, and I’ve never found anything as good as the original.

This stuff will hold pieces while you paint or glue and is another item that’s worth every cent. 

This thing. I think it’s called a Spoolie Brush. I don’t even know where I got mine, but it’s a make-up thing. Oh, you need to get comfortable buying make-up things to be a scale modeller.

The spoolie brush is a marvel. It will clean out small areas of debris, and clean away dust you’re shaping or carving things. Just get a small one.

You’ll need sandpaper of varying grits. 400 is about as course as you’ll need unless you’re doing some serious reshaping. Keep a variety of grits on hand (800, 1200 & 1500) for general sanding and smoothing of everything from mold lines to putty.

Micro mesh, used for polishing. Check out the crazy numbers on that colour chart! Once you go over 3000 grit, you want to be wet-sanding with this stuff. It will bring your paintwork up to a near-mirror finish. In Australia, Scale Kustoms recommends The Sandpaper Man, located in Brisbane. They sell micro mesh in small sheets (like normal sandpaper).

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