There are many reasons to build model cars — it helps you develop a skill, helps relieve stress and lets your artistry shine. However, to achieve the best looking model possible, you'll need to use the right tools. If you're interested in how to build a model car, this guide will teach you about all the best supplies to use for scale modeling, from the essentials to more advanced items.
What Do You Need to Build Model Cars?
You can assemble most scale model vehicles with a basic assortment of supplies, many of which you might already have around your house.
One common household item that is useful for scale modeling is a hobby or craft knife. This serves various purposes, such as removing model parts from their sprues and trimming away excess plastic. Other essential model car building supplies include:
- Paintbrushes: When it comes to scale modeling, paintbrushes are the most important tool after a craft knife. Try to acquire a wide range of brush shapes and sizes, both fine tip and wide stroke, so you can effectively paint all the surfaces of your model.
- Sandpaper: Sandpaper will also come in handy in various ways, including removing excess glue, smoothing plastic and creating a fine finish before painting. It's a good idea to have a wide range of grits from roughly 400 to 1,000.
- Pointed tweezers: Tweezers help to hold small parts securely and easily.
- Glue: Glue is absolutely essential to scale modeling, with Testors Glue being a great choice for plastic models. However, there are many kinds of glue, and your model kit will generally provide information on the best glue to use. Some may even provide a glue sample.
- Paint: If you're planning to paint your model, you'll have to choose between either acrylic or enamel paint, each of which has its pros and cons. For instance, acrylic dries faster and is easier to thin, whereas enamel paints hold the color better and don't require a primer coat.
- Steel ruler: In addition to measuring, a steel ruler is also very handy when used together with a hobby knife for scoring wood or sheet plastic for scratch-building projects.
- Modeling putty: A kit obviously consists of many individual parts, but the goal is to make it look like one solid object. This is best achieved by eliminating the gaps between each piece. While sanding will fix minor issues, if the parts are mismatched or don't quite meet, putties are the go-to for this type of job.
Scale Modeling Supplies From Around the House
Model car supplies don't have to be fancy — you can probably find a number of model car supplies lying around in your drawers and cabinets.
Some common household items you can use to build scale model cars include:
- Painter's tape: While there are various types of tape that can help you with painting, painter's tape is the most recommended, as it is designed to come off cleanly once the job is finished.
- Paper towels: Paper towels can be used for a variety of purposes, from wiping paint off an area of your car to cleaning up a spill. We recommend opting for higher-quality paper towels to avoid fiber shedding.
- Rubber bands: Rubber bands are useful for holding parts in place while they're drying.
- Zip-top bags: Plastic zip-top bags are an easy way to keep tiny items together while you're building.
- Cotton balls: These are useful for mopping up smaller amounts of liquid in otherwise hard to reach areas.
- Toothpicks: You can use toothpicks to stir the paint, apply smaller amounts of glue and hold tiny objects when airbrushing.
Next-Level Tools for Your Scale Modeling
If you're taking on a more advanced project, you may benefit from higher-level tools, which can streamline and simplify the process. Some of the most useful advanced model car tools include:
- Hot glue: Hot glue has a variety of benefits, including its ability to dry fast and stick to surfaces immediately. It's used to position small components on a material so that they can be easily brush-painted.
- Power drill: Power drills are useful when you need to make defined and precise holes in your model.
- Airbrush or paint booth: An airbrush can be extremely useful when painting small-scale car models. If it's used together with a compressor as the source of air, you can control the pressure and amount of paint to make fine paint lines and a variety of other effects.
- Clamps to hold supplies in place: Every now and then, parts need to be held together while the glue sets. As we mentioned above, rubber bands can work for this purpose, but it's also a good idea to have a collection of spring or screw tight clamps on hand.
- Turntable: This rotating table, which is most commonly used to bake cakes, allows you to conveniently paint all sides of your model.
- Circle cutter: A circle cutter, as the name suggests, is designed to cut circles out of plastic. While its use may seem a bit limited, cutting a circle of out plastic is actually quite difficult without it.
Creating Your Scale Model Workspace
When choosing and organizing your workspace, there are several important considerations to keep in mind, the most important of which is ventilation. Make sure you choose a room with windows you can open or where you can otherwise create airflow in and out of your workspace.
Other considerations include:
- A flat and even surface: To achieve optimum precision, you should choose a workspace that is flat and even. Garages, sheds, office rooms and sometimes even attics work well and can be modified easier to suit your modeling needs.
- A large surface: You should also make sure your surface is large enough for your model and all your supplies.
- Proper organization of tools: Arrange your tools in a way that makes sense and provides easy access.
- Good lighting: We recommend that you light your project with easy-to-adjust desk lighting. Ensuring your workspace is thoroughly lit will maximize precision and ensure the colors you see are in line with your vision.
Displaying Your Scale Models
Once you've finished your model and are ready to showcase your hard work, you'll want to present it using the right display products and techniques, which include:
- Clear glass display case: Keeping your model in a clear glass display case will protect it from dust and damage.
Tall stands: You can find a variety of stands to display your model as well, some of which are even interlocking and stackable.
Proper lighting: You'll want the proper lighting to appreciate and clearly see the details of your finished model.
Buy a Model Building Kit From Auto World Store
A model building kit is a great way to get quick access to necessary supplies, and at Auto World Store, you're sure to find a kit you'll love. With everything from vintage kits to niche pop culture and movie- or TV-themed model kit replicas, we have a full selection of model car kits in a wide assortment of styles.