The Tools in Scale Modeling: What To Use and When You Should Use Them


Choosing the right tools and making sure that they’re available every time is crucial for any scale modeling project that you’re working on. It not only makes sure that the final piece will look the best but also helps make the whole assembling process a lot easier. However, with the variety of scale models out there, having the right tools or at least being sure that you have the ones that can do the job is sometimes difficult.

Even if you have all the tools available for every scale modeler, there would be instances that you need to know how they should be used exactly for a particular part or section of a project. To help you save time and avoid damages out of using the wrong tools, we’ve put together this guide that shows what each one is used for and when you can use them.

The Basic Tools

No matter the kind of model kit that you have before that’s needing to be built, these are the basic tools that you need to ensure your work moves smoothly:

  • Hobby or craft knife- A versatile tool that’s needed by every scale modeler, this knife is capable of cutting excess parts, taking them out of sprues and much other cutting, scraping and shaping jobs that you need to do in your project. Just be sure that you have some extra blades on standby in case the current one becomes blunt.
  • Tape- A much useful material that’s needed in marking and covering areas for painting, keeping loose or even the small parts together and as well as steadying parts that have just been glued. You’ll need tapes like electrical, scotch and masking to do certain jobs effectively.
  • Glue- It’s one of the most important things in your arsenal. But, it’s not just any kind of glue, it should be the right kind of glue to make certain materials stick together. Most modeling kits have a sample glue included in it which you can use as your sample for purchasing the right one.
  • Tweezers- It will serve as a tiny extension of your thumb and your index finger which is very useful when you need to hold small parts or even when there are decals needing to be placed in difficult sections of your craft. A pair if it is recommended but having a variety of tweezers is helpful for different situations. Popular types include those that have pointed as well as flat tips and others that have extra features like a lockable grip and spring-loaded ones which you can add to your collection.
  • Emery Boards and Sand Paper- It may sound or even look simple but this material is what you’ll need for smoothening those rough surfaces both on plastic, wood or metal parts. It can also be used to add wear on painted surfaces. There are different grades that start with 3000 being on the extreme side of the smooth grade and 50 for the opposite end which is bumpier and coarse. For beginners, 400 and 800 grades are the recommended abrasive range.
  • Straight Steel Ruler- While building your scale model, you will need to do a lot of measuring and straight cutting. It’s needed all the more if you want to add some modifications or extra details to your craft. These situations often require the use of a straight ruler that’s made of steel. It can aid in the correct placing of certain parts and make sure that the measure is just right.
  • Paint Brushes- Most scale models that you can find in the market right now are ready painted and need little to no painting at all. But if you want to build something by yourself using materials that you decide on then you will need some paint brushes to help give color to your craft. There’s a range of brushes available all having unique uses. From wide ones with soft bristles to small and pointed brush that’s used for putting color on precise parts.
  • Modeling Putty- This isn’t needed for every kind of scale model but it’s essential for those that need some smooth finishing and filling blemishes. It can also aid in concealing marks that have been left after a mistake with scribing or cutting.

Optional Tools

If you’ve already worked on different scale models then there’s a big possibility that you already have some of the optional tools listed below. They’re not that urgent but will definitely help you achieve the best on projects where they’re needed.

  • Clamps- Holds certain parts together ready for painting or after being glued until the glue itself dries.
  • RC Tools- Allen wrenches to pliers and special screwdrivers, you will need these for certain parts when building RC models.
  • Lead Pencils- Helps in marking precise measures, locations or sections that need scribing, painting or cutting.
  • Airbrush- An important tool for other modelers but isn’t for everyone. It is great for quick painting jobs or applying color to larger coats.
  • Old Rags- Paint will spill and glue will leave some mess so be sure that you have an adequate supply of rags to wipe off and mop any unwanted substance that’s been spilled.
  • Power Drill- There are modeling techniques that require drilling such as mounting a gun on a model ship. This requires creating holes in precise locations. Be sure to have a variety of drill bits to be used for different types of materials to make any challenge a lot easier to deal with.
  • Other items and materials at home- Creativity is a much-needed skill for scale modelers and it’s a valuable one that definitely makes any project a lot easier to complete. Tinfoils, rubber bands, zip lock bags, plastic water bottles and their caps and many other household items can be used in different ways to help you in the project.

As you can see, there’s a good amount of tools that you need on your next scale model project. With them, you’ll be able to complete any task until your final masterpiece is complete but of course, you can use some other tools as long as it’s able to do the job smoothly and will help things easier to achieve. Do you use some other tools aside from the one we’ve mentioned above? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.