Monday, June 27, 2011

Tools of the Trade: Modeling

The more we dive into is hobby, the more we learn not only what we want to do, but what we need to do it with. We're going to be taking a look at what fills my toolbox when it comes to the modeling side of things.

"But Tim, honestly, how many tools do you really need to slap some plastic together?"

Ah, but this article is going to assume that you want to do more than just clip sprue and slap plastic together... You do, right? Of course you do.

My toolbox consists of about 15 or so different tools for modeling, if you include the glue. Let's start out with the basic needs for your tabletop modeler.

Xacto/Hobby knife

Hobby Files

Your Glue of Choice

Pin Vice

Floral Wire

These first 5 are honestly the essentials to any hobbyist's tool box. The first three are pretty self explanatory, but the reasons for the second two are mainly in relation to more complex kits that may require pinning. If you've never used floral wire before, just head to your local craft store and find the silk flowers. It'll be there. You get slot of wire for hardly any money and it lasts you forever... I think I spent three dollars about 6 years ago, and I still have at least half of it left.

The next batch is going to include more involved modeling and conversions.

Dental Tools and Picks
I prefer to use the dental tools because they give me more variety in tool shapes and uses for different applications, and a little searching will land you a set of twelve for about fifteen bucks.

Green Stuff
Okay, so this is fairly self explanatory. Green, grey and brown stuff can all be used for various sculpting, gap filling and for extra security in joins at times.

Jewelers Saw
Ahhh, this thing I love and hate all at the same time. Extremely thin blades make for great, clean cuts that don't waste much material. It was a love-hate relationship with metal figs because I'd break blades left and right, with fine cast out now, maybe I'll get lucky and not break so many.

Strip, Rod and Sheet Styrene (Plasticard)
This is as much a tool as it is a component for modeling. I'll use flat, large pieces for even pressure at times for green stuff, as well as a perfectly flat, non-textured surface for rolling out green stuff as well. Then the various uses for the various sizes and thicknesses are a post in and of itself. The rod styrene in the super thin size is great for tiny rivets.

Hole Punches
God bless whoever made this type of hole punch. Pressure from the back and out pops the positive disc, at sizes from 1/16 to 1/4 inch. Great for rivets of all sizes.

Guitar String
Couple this with a piece of floral wire, and I've never seen an easier way to get power cables... Well, except for the power cables from

Rare Earth Magnets
Once again, God bless the inventor of these. Talk about adding versatility to your models... These help shave off a bit of cost so that we can turn a Rhino into a Razorback, into a Predator, with complete magnetized options for the turret and side sponsons :)

Burnishing Tools
Mainly used for Green stuff modeling, these make sculpting things like chain mail and purity seals a snap.

Needle Tool
Remember those purity seals? Use this tool to etch in small text into those seals, or any other green stuff-ed surface. Also great for stitching or the like.

Clay Shapers
Wonderful tools for smoothing and pushing around green stuff when filling basic molds, to actually "sculpting" green stuff.

So there you have it. The basics of my hobby toolbox. If anyone has any questions concerning any of these tools, drop me a line! We'll cover my painting essentials in another post.



  1. Awesome article, for both beginners and vets. Cheers.

  2. Thanks!! I'm glad you liked it. :) It's one of the articles I have planned that would have answered all kinds of questions I didn't even know to ask at times the past few years.

  3. Very cool of you to give us a peek into the magicians hand bag.

  4. Where did you get that cool pin vice?

    1. That's actually the GW pin vice. It's the only true GW tool I use just because it's so comfortable in your hand