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Beginner's Model Building Construction BASICS An old question a lot of entry level modelers ask here is, “what should I get if I want to get into model building?” Here is a listing and breakout for the very BASICS ONLY needed for construction and how to use them. This thread is open to EVERYONE’S input and I’m only starting it. Please include your suggestions and ideas, but keep it simple and not confusing. Remember, there will be “newbies” reading this. This thread is not meant to cover painting or finishing which is another story and can vary with the type of model, to what a person favors for paint (oils, acrylics, enamels, airbrush, brushes etc…) Somebody who REALLY knows what they’re doing with paint please start that one SAFETY FIRST You are about to use some chemicals that can cause serious health conditions if used incorrectly. ALWAYS use a well ventilated room with fresh air. Organic cements (such as pictured) are safer, but still give the same bond strength. Other chemicals like super glues or putties can cause cancer or long term mental/neural damage. A respirator mask that handles organic solvents will help when you can’t get another form of ventilation or air evacuation. A simple fan in front of you blowing out the window will help some – just make sure it’s not flowing back into the house. Do I even have to mention safety with sharp objects ***WARNINGS ABOUT RESIN COMPOUNDS***. Resin model dust from sanding can cause alergic reactions in some people and is toxic, more so to some people. It is advisable to wet sand resin kits (see below) and wear some sort of respirator or mask to filter out the particulates. Those who use resin the most are more susceptible than others since the sensitivity actually builds up, versus getting better like normal alergies. Raw resins that are uncured can cause skin and respitory issues as well. Read all warnings that come with your resin. Like expoxies, resins can make the skin and the respitory tract sensistive. Be sure to wear gloves and respitory protection when using raw resin compounds. Parts Preparation on the Sprues (Parts Trees) The very first thing you should do is take a pan/large container with warm soap and water and wash the mold release compound from the parts trees (sprues). Both resin and styrene parts will have mold release on them. Feel the parts before and after and you’ll feel the difference. These waxy or oily substances keep glue and paint from sticking to the parts. Use a SOFT brush to CAREFULLY remove the compounds off the front AND back of parts. Now rinse the parts off in another container of warm water then thoroughly but gently pat dry with a towel. A hairdryer could warp the parts – so fogettabout it! Why a container and not the sink? If a part falls off in the container, you can easily retrieve it. If it goes down the sink, hold a funeral for it because it’s probably gone! Don’t let parts dry in direct sunlight. It will warp them too and cause whites to yellow faster and clear parts to yellow as well. The BASIC Shopping List This is the “budget” version of the list and should cost around $25 (USD) on average. 1)Flush Cutters – These are not diagonal wire cutters, but have a completely flat side on one end of the blades to cut the sprue flat - “flush” with the side of the part. You can get these at hobby shops or electronics suppliers. Don’t cut metal with them after purchase. It will put a gap in the blades affecting your clean cut. 2)Hobby Knife – This has a ton of uses, but for now, will be used to clean spare sprue off of the part you just cut off or remove molding flash. Don’t cut too close, use the sanding stick to go to the face of the part. 3)Multi-grit Sanding Stick – This will clean up and smooth over whatever is left on the part. It will also be used to clean up the seam of your assemblies. NOTE: small “Swiss” files can be used too, but will leave undesired gouges if you’re not used to using them on styrene. 4)Thin “Welding” Cement – This cement literally melts or welds the soft styrene together! Some have filler agents, but generally, the melting action is what makes the parts stick. This is the strongest bond for styrene next to molding a whole piece - when done right. This can be used two ways. The first is to clamp, tape or rubber band your parts together. Then use a brush/applicator to flow the cement into the seams. Capillary action draws the cement in. The second way is to wet both halves of the parts in coats, let it set a few seconds and repeat as needed to cement together. Use this for rough seams. The excess glue will mix with the styrene and form a putty of sorts and fill the seam – allow a couple of days for this to dry. Bad seams will need putty or super glue and baking soda. When taping or using rubber bands remember the cement will get in under these and mar the plastic finish. Use cardboard or other materials to space these clamping devices away from the styrene and watch where the glue flows – it’s thinner than water! Your fingers can become applicators too and get glue where you don’t want it – watch where you put those fingers! 5)Super Glue – Super glue sets faster, can fill seams when cured and is also the main glue of choice for gluing resin kits together. Cured super glue is stronger and tougher than the styrene, remember this when sanding or filling gaps as listed below. Think how you will attack your problem before making it worse. 6)Baking Soda – Not mandatory, but will accelerate super glue’s curing time and can be “piled on” to fill-in nasty seams or bad goof ups in assembly with super glue coats in between layers. 7)Filler Putty – This is the other way to fill bad seams in or cover up goofs you gouged into your kit. Let it dry thoroughly and ensure the area is clean of oils that will inhibit adhesion. 8)Sanding Block – When your parts are together, the sanding stick has sanded the seam over, use this to bring a near glossy finish back to the plastic. Rubbing an old clean and SOFT rag can buff it to gloss. Making It “Seam Easy” The most frustrating part of model assembly is when you glue two pieces together and you can see the seam. The seam of the parts can simply need mild sanding and it’s gone. In other cases though, the parts will have a bad gap. Here’s some pointers to help out. 1)Test fit the parts together; yeah, the instructions say it for a reason. Parts that don’t fit right may only need a little rough sanding and they’re good to go. A lot of earlier models have machine marks in the mold making the seam potted and not smooth. Sometime the fit pins don’t line up and have to be removed. A sanded seam also has better adhesion. 2)If there’s a small gap, the method above under “Welding Cement” will help. A few applied/semi-dried layers of weld cement will fill it in as the cement becomes like putty. Allow at least two days for seams like this to dry though. Maybe more if there’s a lot of it on the kit. 3)If your scale model has a mini Grand Canyon in it, super glue, super glue and filler (like baking soda) or filler putty can fill it in. If strength is an issue, super glue on its own is the way to go and will give the best strength. It also dries clear after sanding. Smooth Moves “Are there marks on my model that will only show up after painting?” Heck yeah! That’s the part that sucks worse than sanding seams! A magnifying glass with a bright light or sunlight will show shadows as you move parts around. If you’re going to paint, a coat of primer will show the “error of your ways” and even fill in minor scratches from sanding. Pull out your sanding block and clean them up as needed. Getting It Wet You can always dry sand your parts, but the paper/blocks/stick clogs up quickly and the effect can be uneven across your work area. Make sure your sander is certified "wet or dry" ti use with water. Most blocks are. Experiment if you're not sure. If the sanding substrate comes off the block easily when wet, then your sander is best suited for dry use. Try getting a small dish of water and dipping the sander into it. Sand as normal, but occasionally dampen and clear out the sander "pores." The water also cools if you're aggressive and can even help smooth off the finish better with fine grits. Putty is more notorious than styrene for clogging up the sanding substrate. It can also absorb the water becoming like mud on the model (once again, brands and types vary). Try some experiments first before destroying your rare or expensive kits. A damp cloth is great for wiping up sanding "goop" leftovers. Where Can I Get This Stuff? Many of us (like me) don’t have a hobby shop around us. In the U.S., Radio Shack carries many of the same tools or craft stores such as Hobby Lobby, Michaels or Joann Fabrics for the majority of it. Beauty supply stores are good for sponge blocks, sanding sticks, and even super glue. They also have filler for the super glues if you don’t like baking soda. The putty is best gotten online if you can’t find it locally. There are many brands on the market. Depending on who you ask, Tamiya and Squadron (pictured) sell well. There are also various grades of putties too such as fine or medium. Check out your local hardware stores too. They will have many of these items too, only maybe larger for DIY projects. If you have other information, ideas or techniques, PLEASE contribute and share it with the community! - MT