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Tools and Materials

The average plastic model airplane can be constructed with simple hand tools and a few basic materials.  Here are some items commonly used.  We've divided the list into two groups: what we consider essential, followed by the nice-to-have.

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Hobby Knife - Used for removing model parts from the frames ("sprues"), trimming off excess plastic ("flash"), plus a million other uses.  Common brand is X-acto knife, a handle plus removable blades (#11) is the most used).

Safety glasses - Used these whenever you need to cut anything.

Sand paper - For general cleanup of plastic, removing excess glue, and creating a smooth finish before paint.  Get a range of grits (400 - 1000, or even 2000). 

Fine tweezers - For gripping small parts.

Paint brushes - Even if you plan to use spray cans or an airbrush, there are still small parts that will need to be brushed.

Pins - For applying a fine bead of glue.

Toothpicks - Great for stirring or mixing paint.

Glue - Indispensable.  The standard Testors Glue in the tube works well for most things.  White glue is good for attaching canopies. 

Filler - Used to fill gaps between glued parts.  Also available in a tube like the glue.

Tape - Used for test fitting parts, and masking areas during painting.

Paint and Thinner - Also indispensable.  Get the thinner recommended by the paint manufacturer. 



Cutting pliers - Helps remove stubborn parts from the sprues.

Razor saw - Also for parts removal from sprues.

CA - Cyano-acrylate glue.  Useful for filling gaps.  Use only with safety glasses.

Airbrush or Spray Cans - Will generally give a better finish than paintbrushes.  See Painting section of this website.

Air Compressor - Used with the airbrush.  Better performance and more versatility than the cans of propellant.

Paint Booth - Used to catch overspray of paint.  Better designs have exhaust fans and ducting to the building exterior.  Not needed if you only spray outside.

Turntable - An inexpensive rotating table for cake decorating and other crafts.  Allows you to paint all sides of a model without touching wet paint or leaving your chair.

Dremel motor tool - Useful for cutting and grinding plastic.  Comes in handy for advanced modelers when modifying an airplane model to another version ("conversions").

Hot-glue gun - Use the hot glue to position small parts on a piece of scrap material, so that they be conveniently brush-painted.


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