The great thing about beginning to build scale models is that it only takes a few basic hobby tools to get started. Here is a list of eight tools every beginner fine scale modeler should have on hand.
1. A good hobby knife and blades. The blade most popular with scale modelers is the #11. Make sure that the end of the knife has a hex head fitting to keep it from rolling off the work area. Purchase extra blades because the model material dulls the blade quickly. These may be purchased at most craft or hobby stores. Some major variety stores also stock the knife and various blade sets.
2. A metal straight edge or ruler. These are especially useful when cutting any plastic for the kit build. It can be metric, numeric or just a straight piece of steel. They are easy to find in most general stores, and come in a variety of lengths.
3. Plastic scale modeling glue. This is made by various companies and comes in forms from thick liquid in a tube of cement to liquid plastic cement. These can be purchased at most craft or hobby stores. There are a couple of things to consider when choosing tube glue: (1) don’t first put the glue on the model; instead (2) put a small pool of the glue on a piece of foil or a bottle cap and apply it with a tooth pick. Liquid glue dries faster. After applying it, the two parts can be pressed together for only a minute to become one piece.
4. A cutting mat. These come in handy to protect the work surface. They can be found quite easily at craft, hobby or variety stores, and are offered in a number of sizes.
5. A small set of clamps. This is a very handy tool to have on hand. Clothes pins work great, are easily obtainable and inexpensive. Clamp sets, with various sizes, are also available at hobby stores and major store tool departments – check out the bin specials for the best deals.
6. Rubber bands of various sizes. These work well on curved surfaces, where a clamp can’t be used. Purchase them at any general store.
7. Hobby tweezers. These are used to hold various parts of the model, while preparing to glue them or otherwise attach them to the model as its being built. There are many styles to choose, with various points and curves. Start with a basic one, and build the collection from there.
8. Sand paper and sanding sticks. These are used to sand the parts of the kit before building the model. Start with very fine grit for the sand paper. Sanding sticks come in a variety of styles; the most inexpensive are the ones used for sanding fingernails and can be purchased at any drug or variety store.
These tools will help the beginner modeler with that first kit – and many more beyond that. As the complexity and detail of the model kits increase, there will be a need for more tools. Add them as the need arises – and the pocketbook allows. It’s always a good idea to leave hints to Santa: many hobby tools fit perfectly in Christmas stockings!