I used to own an LGS, and would weather the stares from moms and dads as they came into the shop, looking to set their kid up with a starter to Warhammer or any other hobby game. Much to their dismay, there are a lot of tools that the new gamer needs to be able to get started sticking their little plastic army men together.
I'll cover the absolute basic tools and their uses, just so the new hobby gamer can understand what they may need, and cover some advanced tools that I also use, to do other fine modelling work.
Shown here are the very most basic of tools, and their uses:
- Super glue - Yes, good old super glue. Used for attaching various modelling materials together like resin plastic (Forge World, Privateer Press, Blood and Skulls Industries), pewter, and other odds bits that a modeller may want to attach to their models (or bases). I have used various brands, but prefer Zap a Gap and Gorilla Glue. I've tried the GW superglue, and in it's previous incarnation, was awesome. Not so much with the latest little squeeze packets.
- Plastic Glue - This us used to glue together strictly polystyrene plastics. It has a long cure time, but holds parts in place so that they can be moved for best fits (especially multi piece limbs that take some effort to match up). There are several brands out there designed to be used on polystyrene plastic models. This stuff actually melts the plastics together, forming a permanent bond. I prefer Testors or the GW Plastic Glue. The GW plastic glue has an amazing metal applicator tip, and it damned accurate.
- Fine Needle Files - These are used to remove mold lines, clean up the cut points after a piece has been removed from a sprue, or to de-burr pewter models. I have about 10 different needle files I use to do clean up duties on my models. I don't really have a brand preference, but have this set currently, and I like them. I have a set of the GF9 ones, and they are pretty nice. The handles make them even nicer.
- Surgical fine point tweezers - I use these to handle small parts and when I assemble decals. I used to work in medical supplies, and got these when the sealed surgical packaging was torn open. I like the bent point, but these are good as well.
- Emory board - I use this for removing mold line on long flat areas. These are cheap ones I picked up and keep in my tool box for working to clean small electrical connections. It works great on resin and are easy on the hands.
- Fine tip angle cutters - These are used to cut the parts from the sprue. I have a set of Plato 170 1mm shears, and have used them for year. Have to be careful, as the points are easy enough to bend.
- Hobby knife - This has various uses. I use mine to shave off mold lines, clean up cut off points, start pilot holes for drilling out gun barrels, and are just a great tool to have around. Avoid the ones with the snap off blades. I have a black X-Acto handle I have used for roughly 15 years, and I change the blade every month.
- Painting pallet - This is your painting area. It is used to thin and mix paint, is where a hobby gamer like me spends 85% of their hobbying time. I use a plain old lime green textured cutting board. This way, it can double as a modelling surface. The texture allows the paint to adhere without fully sealing to the board, meaning I can scrape it clean every month.
This is the very minimum that any person building models should have at their disposal. However, it is not everything.
There are times when we need a specialized tool for a particular task, and the one listed above will not cut it.
Okay, so here are some of the tools that, as a hobby gamer starts to do more and more modelling, they will want to add to the tool box.
- Fine craft wire and paperclips - This has a variety of uses, but I use if for fine pinning of models. This is were I use wire to reinforce the bod of two small pieces of a model. I cut these with my Large Angle cutters so the metal does not pit the blades of my fine angle cutters.
- Pin vice - This is a small hand powered drill. It's used for drilling holes in models. This is good for gun barrels, exhausts, etc, but is also used to drill the holes for pinning. I have 2 that I will load up with the two most common sizes of bits I need for a job. A bit to match each size of the wire. I have 2 of the old GW ones. GF9s are good, as are the ones from Testors.
- Larger Angle Cutters - These are used to cut through larger pieces of plastic, metal, and resin. They have thicker tangs, and are less likely to break under greater pressure. I have a pair of Plato1755 and love them.
Again, even with the two sets of above tools, there may be jobs that require a bit more of a specialized tool to get the job done. The hobby knife and angel cutters are only going to get you so far. In the event that I need to do some precise cutting through thicker materials, I have the below:
- The Razor Saw - This is for precision straight cutting of materials, up to and including metal. I use this for fine cutting of plastic parts during conversions. I use this for straight cuts. It is an Excel Pull Saw Blade, which has a breadth of cut if less than 1mm. When I say fine, I mean fine. I used an old X-acto knife handle to set it up.
- Jeweler's Coping Saw - This is the bad boy that I use to do larger cuts in even thicker material. I have used in to cut the massive Forge World ejection port nubs off closer to the model. It has a twisted blade that cuts in all directions. Mine is the old GW handle that is not made anymore, but these can be picked up just about anywhere there are craft supplies. The breadth of the cut will depend on the blades installed. I am currently using these in a 1.05mm.
This pretty much covers all the basic tools I use to build models. There are others that are used for airbrushing, terrain making, etc, but I will leave that for another article. So, there is the equipment list - go get equipped and get to modelling!
Stay tuned for the next article - Plastic Model Assembly basics.