Tools and MaterialsThe 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.
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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