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HOW TO BUILD

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BUILDING:

When building models, there are many tools and paints to choose and use. When you first look at all the different knives, paints, and glues, it seems mind boggling. Hopefully, before you buy any tool, you’ll consider a few items.

Glue:

The most important tool of any model is the glue. Basically there are not many glues out there, but there are some I stay away from. The funny thing is that I would suggest to not use the model glue. The main reason for this is that I have seen people use this and come out with mixed results. Some models work fine with model glue, but others turn out bad.

The problem that many people run into with model glue is that it 1) takes too long to dry and 2) eats the plastic if too much is applied. Overall model glue isn’t too bad to buy since it does its job if used correctly and precisely, but if you choose to use this glue, never use it on landing gear. When I first began modeling, I used this glue on landing gear and it seemed no matter how long I let it dry, it never supported the plane. instead of using model glue for the landing gear, I would suggest to use super glue since when it binds, it doesn’t break away. No matter how heavy the body is, super glue will support it.

I usually use super glue for the entire model. I do this since you only need a little bit on each piece to hold it in place. Super glue also dries pretty quickly, allowing you to put a model together at a decent rate. The other main reason is that it supports the landing gear great. So in my experience, super is the best to use, but don’t use it because I say to, try out the model glue, then the super glue, and decide which one works for you.

 

Paints:

There are almost too many paints on the market. Testors and Model Masters are the two main manufacturers in this realm of modeling. I have used both in the past, and really I can’t tell any difference. The main thing to look out for in paints are the colors. There are so many variations of colors out there, that you won’t use of them.

The biggest misconception in models is that many boxes say what colors you are going to need. This isn’t something to go by since some of the colors are used on only a small part, and then never again. Just go by your own judgment. Gray, black, and white are the main colors for most airplanes, with olive or dark green coming in close behind. Reds, blues, and yellow are used somewhat, but not enough to warrant buying a large bottle or even a spray can.

While I’m on the subject, spray paints are nice to use for any model. It helps since there aren’t brush strokes on the finished product, but these paints can be messy, so make sure you have a work area that is properly ventilated. One note for ventilation is that you can always spray outside, then bring it inside after it dries. I do prefer spray paints anymore, since they give a nice finish, but for the detailed painting, I still rely on a professional brush.

One interesting spray paint to get is titanium and aluminum plate. These are great colors for engines and nozzles. I have used them to paint entire planes such as a P-38 Lightning and an American Airlines Fokker F-100. The finish on these are remarkable.

As for the brush paints, these come in acrylic or water wash-up. I do prefer the acrylic for some reason, but the water wash-up paints are good too. I have used both kinds and believe me, all paints adhere to plastic in the same way. It really depends on if you want to use water or thinner to clean up. If you do use the thinner, one suggestion is to buy a bottle of model thinner one time. After that initial time, buy a can of thinner from a hardware store and occasionally, refresh the bottle. All thinner is the same, and it is cheaper to buy a can than a new small bottle every time you need new thinner.

You will need brushes when using the paint, but instead of buying all the model brushes, just get an assortment of model brush sizes one time. Then main brushes to invest in are professional brushes since brushing mainly concerns detail and the smaller brushes leave less traces of strokes on finished products.

 

Knives:

The final necessary item needed in modeling is an exacto knife. Basically there are many versions of these to choose from, and a wide variety of blades. A standard blade will work fine for everything you do to a model. One suggestion is to buy the blades and knives from a grocery or department store. Model exactos tend to be very high priced, and they are the same at other stores, so this is one way to save money.

I recommend on having two knives so that if one gets too dull, you have another one on hand. Also, I use putty every once in a while, so I only want one knife dirty while the other one remains clean for cutting. There are specialty blades on the market, and feel free to try them, but the normal blades have worked great for me.

 

Other tools:

 

Putty is a tool used for filling cracks or mistakes on a model. It comes from testors in a convenient pack, and can be used sparingly. Just remember to let the putty dry thoroughly before sanding or painting it. Perhaps the best example of putty in my models is the C-5A, where I puttied the wheel wells and then sanded them flush with the rest of the plane. This procedure took a day and a half so I could make sure the putty was dry.

 

Sand paper is a must for any airplane. When the fuselage is glued together, you should sand it before painting it so it will be even and smooth. It is a good idea to buy model sand paper in a small pack, but this paper is fine, so it is a good idea to buy different grades of sandpaper from a hardware store. 3M makes good paper that I have used many times.

 

Metal Rulers are nice to have handy if you need to cut sheets of plastic for adjustments or add-ons. I recently bought a modeling right angle ruler which has worked good for the floor in the A300-600ST sub-floor.

 

Tweezers are needed for small parts that fingers always seem to be too big to handle. I have a pair of needle-nose tweezers that serve to pick up small parts and also grab decals from the water. They cost about $2.00, and it was well spent money.

 

Bowls are the only other thing that you need. You do have to have a bowl for water when working with decals. Read how to place the decals on the plane, but the majority just take water. It doesn’t necessarily need to be hot, any temperature will work fine, I usually use cold water.

There are other accessories on the market, but these are the main ones. If you see something that you think might help you, by all means get it, but make sure you will use it, since it all costs money.

Procedures:

Masking is the technique of placing tape on a model to get a straight line with either spray or brush paint. It is quite simple, but at times it is a headache to place the tape exactly on the model to get the desired effect. Normally, I use Scotch mailing tape since it is clear and binds to the plastic, but is easy to peel off once painted.

To use this procedure, simply clean the surface, place the tape on the desired length of the model, make sure it is binding, and then spray. Be sure to let the paint dry before masking another line and removing the tape. Repeat this until you get the desired effect. Remember, this takes time, patience, and practice, so don't get discouraged.

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