There are many benefits to hobbies like model car building — it helps you develop a skill, helps relieve stress and lets your artistry shine. However, you'll need the right tools and supplies to achieve the best-looking model possible. If you're interested in what you need to build a model car, this guide will teach you about all the best model car supplies. We describe the must-haves for scale modeling, such as tools, beginner essentials, advanced supplies and what you'll likely have at home.
Tools 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. Specific tools serve similar functions, such as craft knives and sprue clippers, so you can invest in one and then purchase the other at a later stage. Essential model kit tools include:
- Hobby or craft knives: A hobby knife serves various purposes, such as removing model parts from their sprues and trimming away excess plastic. Always remember craft knife safety, especially when a child handles one.
- Paintbrushes: When it comes to scale modeling, a standard set of paintbrushes is the most important tool after a craft knife. Try to acquire a wide range of brush shapes and paintbrush thicknesses and sizes, both fine tip and broad stroke, to effectively paint your model's surfaces.
- Sprue cutters: A quality pair of sprue cutters offers more freedom when cutting parts from their sprue and have firmer, stronger blades than most craft knives.
- Pointed tweezers: Tweezers help to hold small parts securely and easily while lining them up and attaching them to the vehicle.
- Steel ruler: In addition to measuring, a steel ruler is also convenient when used with a hobby knife for scoring wood or sheet plastic for scratch-building projects.
Model Kit Supplies Beginners Can Start With
In addition to basic model kit tools, you will need additional essential model kit supplies to start your project. The model building supplies you will need are:
- Model kit glue: Glue is essential to scale modeling. However, there are many kinds of glue — including polyvinyl acetate, aliphatic glue, canopy glue, cyanoacrylate and epoxy resin — and your model kit will generally provide information on the best type to use.
- Cement for plastic: When you work on plastic model kits, a great bonding solution is plastic cement, which dissolves both plastic faces and once dried, you are left with a strong joint between the parts.
- Paint: If you plan to paint your model, you'll have to choose between either acrylic or enamel paint, each of which has pros and cons. For instance, water or alcohol-based acrylic dries faster and is easier to thin, whereas enamel paints hold the color better and don't require a primer coat.
- Modeling putty: A kit 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, Testors contour putty is a go-to for this type of job if the parts are mismatched or don't quite meet.
- Sandpaper and sanding sticks: These will come in handy when removing excess glue, smoothing plastic and creating a fine finish before painting. Having a wide range of grits from roughly 400 to 1,000 is a good idea.
Advanced Model Kit Supplies
If you've already tried your hand at assembling beginner levels models, it's time to take on a more advanced project. In this case, you may benefit from higher-level tools and supplies, which can streamline and simplify the process. Some of the most useful advanced model car tools include:
- Large cutting mat: It is wise to invest in a designated surface that protects your desk or table from damage by sharp cutting tools. Having a dedicated work surface can also help you stay organized.
- Surface primer: A white or gray surface primer prepares the plastic and helps the paint stick to the surface effectively.
- Lacquer thinner: You can use Tamiya lacquer thinner for various purposes, such as removing paint from brushes and diluting surface primers and lacquer-based paints.
- Hot glue: Hot glue has various benefits, including its ability to dry fast and stick to surfaces immediately. It's used to secure small components on a material so you can easily brush-paint them.
- Superglue and superglue debonder: In certain instances, you will need to use an adhesive like Testors super glue. If you need to take glued pieces apart, use a superglue debonder to break down the adhesive bonds without damaging any parts.
- Decal setting solution: On projects with vehicle decals, use a decal setting solution for easy application and a clean finish.
- Power drill: Power drills are helpful 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 used with a compressor as the air source, you can control the pressure and amount of paint to make fine paint lines and various other effects.
- Spray paint: Spray paint is an excellent alternative to a brush or airbrush, especially for painting single-color pieces.
- Paint and decal remover: If you work on a project where you need to remove paint from a plastic model, then a paint and decal remover is something you will need.
- Clamps to hold supplies in place: Now and then, parts need to be held together while the glue sets. A collection of spring or screw-tight clamps can help with this.
- Turntable and stand: This rotating table allows you to paint all sides of your model conveniently.
- Circle cutter: As the name suggests, a circle cutter is designed to cut circles out of plastic. While its use may seem limited, cutting a circle out of plastic is quite tricky without it.
- Weathering kit: As an advanced scale model hobbyist, you might want to use a weathering kit to take your model personalization to the next level by weathering your model car or other types of vehicles.
- Metal foil: Part of the fun involved in scale model cars is using metal foil for model car trim to give it that desired metallic finish.
- Respiratory or paint mask: Even in a well-ventilated area, it is best to use respirators when painting, especially for extended periods. Breathing in paint fumes can cause negative health symptoms like headaches, dizziness and nausea.
- Magnifier lamp and headset: When working on small parts, a magnifier and lamp combination headset is handy as it is more flexible and helps to free up your hands. The magnifier can also help reduce any eye strain from looking at small parts.
Scale Modeling Supplies From Around the House
Model car supplies don't have to be fancy — you can probably find several model car supplies lying around in your drawers and cabinets.
Some everyday household items you can use to build scale-model cars include:
- Painter's tape: While various types can help you with painting, painter's tape is designed to come off cleanly once the job is finished.
- Paper towels or cloths: Use them to wipe paint off an area of your car or clean up a spill. We recommend opting for higher-quality paper towels to avoid fiber shedding.
- Rubber bands or clothes pegs: Rubber bands and pegs are useful for holding parts in place while drying, like clamps.
- Zip-top bags: Plastic zip-top bags are an easy way to keep tiny items together while you're building.
- Cotton balls or swabs: 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.
- Scissors: If you do not have a hobby knife or sprue cutters, you could get away with a sharp pair of scissors.
Creating a Model Kit Workspace and Displays
Your workshop and displays are as unique as your scale model choices — everyone has different tastes, styles and needs. That said, certain aspects should be standard for every scale modeler regardless of their experience, such as:
- A ventilated workspace: When you choose and organize your workspace, there are several important considerations — the most important of which is ventilation. Please select a room with windows — garages, sheds, office rooms and sometimes even attics work well and you can modify them to suit your modeling needs. The windows in the room you choose as your workspace should open, or you should find a way to create airflow another way.
- Flat and even surface: Choose a flat and even workspace to achieve optimum precision. Please ensure the floor is level and work on a flat, sturdy desk or workbench.
- Large surface: Please make sure your surface is large enough for your model, tools and supplies.
- Proper organization: It would be best to arrange your items in a way that makes sense and provides easy access. Shelves, designated toolboxes and storage containers are incredibly useful for organizing tools, supplies and parts.
- Good lighting: Ensure your workspace is thoroughly lit to maximize precision and ensure the colors you see align with your vision. We recommend lighting your workspace with as much natural light as possible. When it's darker, use overhead lights and easy-to-adjust desk lighting.
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 best ways to display model cars, with the help of model car display cases, among other methods, 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, some of which are even interlocking and stackable, to display multiple models together.
- Proper lighting: You'll want the appropriate lighting to appreciate and clearly see the details of your finished model.
Where and How Do I Start?
Model cars are a rewarding hobby that allows you to recreate models of vehicles with incredible detail. Whether you want to start a collection or your child wishes to share your passion, if you know where to start, it helps immensely and makes in-depth tips for beginner modelers just the thing to help get you started on this fantastic hobby.
Once you have looked through the basics of model building and have a fair idea of what you want, you need to think about all elements in greater detail before you decide. First, consider the subject and types of vehicle model kits, ranging from cars to motorcycles to trucks. The difficulty level is essential and depends on the number of pieces. For instance, level one varies from 10-30 pieces. By level five, you'll be constructing models with over 1,000 components.
When you select your scale model kit, view the number of pieces and consider the intricacy of the model components and model building supplies you will need — in addition to the ones mentioned in the product description. Thankfully, when working on your model car, you can use the basic tool set for beginner and experienced modelers that provides the essential tools for getting started.
For further insights on what to look for when picking a scale model kit, view this model kit buying guide to gain extra insights and knowledge to help you pick the right automotive model for your first exciting project.
Purchase Your Model Kit Supplies at Auto World Store Today!
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 scaled model kits, we have a full selection of model car kits in a wide assortment of styles just waiting for you! We also stock high-quality scale model supplies for all your plastic modeling needs, including glues, tools, paintbrushes and more.