Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Building Plastic Model Kits - Hobby For Many Interest

Model building is one of the most popular hobbies, and it's easy to see why. A lot of satisfaction is derived from building and displaying plastic models. Most hobbyists specialize and form collections of the types of models that interest them. If you love automobiles, you will find a model for just about any kind of car you enjoy. Aviation enthusiasts can own the plane, or planes, of their dreams. Military buffs can choose from a large selection of military figures, boats, and armor.

Automobile models are by far the most popular model to build. Many people enjoy building a model of their first car. If you have a favorite car, and can't afford the real thing - why not build a plastic model of it? Some hobbyists enjoy building certain classes of the cars that interest them . Sports cars, classic cars, antique cars, race cars, trucks, muscle cars - the list of cars available as models is endless. The model kits are highly detailed, and many can be built two or three different ways.

Military veterans and aficionados may enjoy building and collecting military aircraft. These hobbyists will find virtually every type and class of military airplane ever made. All major conflicts in which aircraft played a role are represented - World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Desert Storm. Plastic Models of commercial and small aircraft may also be built.

Ships of the high seas can also be modeled. Most model boat kits are military ships, exceptions being made for the Titanic and some other odds and ends. Modern aircraft carriers, World War II battleships and carriers are the most prevalent model kits offered. Maritime classics like the USS Constitution and the Bounty are also fun to build.

Superhero and classic movie models are now becoming popular, with figures like the Hulk, Spiderman, and Storm. Polar Lights is bringing back some of the classic kits from the 60's by Aurora. These plastic model kits feature scenes from old television shows and movies like Addams Family Living Room, The Bride Of Frankenstein, and The Wolfman. These kits are neat, and collectable.

It's easy and fun to get started building plastic models. Kits can be found in varying levels to match the proficiency of the model builder. Snap kits, or skill level one, are ideal starter kits for kids or adults. Little or no glue is needed and there are not a lot of parts to deal with. These models don't need to be painted, but they can be, if desired. Cars and airplanes can both be found as snap kits. Most of the car kits have rolling wheels, which means the car can be played with when completed.

Skill Level Two and Three kits have increasingly more details and parts. These kits necessarily require more gluing and painting. With patience, and acquired skill, anyone can build museum quality models for display.

Revell/Monogram and AMT Ertl in recent years have begun to offer Deluxe Kits. These kits are wonderful birthday and Christmas gifts, because they contain all the paint and glue needed for assembly. A paint brush is also included in the kit.

There are many more kinds of plastic models that can be covered in this column. Model building as a hobby is useful and educational, as many models can add a sense of realism to history lessons. Space and science fiction models may spur an interest in astronomy and space science.

Steps In Building A Plastic Model Kit Model Paints For Hobby and Craft Uses Back to Hobby List

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Balsa - Basswood And Other Hobby and Craft Woods

Many hobbies involve building, carving, or woodburning, And require speciality woods. Hobby woods are available for just about any purpose. Hobbyists may choose from balsa, basswood, plywood, walnut, cherry, and maple for their project needs. Sheets or strips of these fine woods are available in thicknesses from 1/32 " to one inch, and in widths from 1/16 through six inches. You may purchase either sheets or strips.

Balsa is the most versatile of the hobby woods. Native to South America these sixty foot trees are grown on large plantations. The wood is lightweight and strong. South Americans have been using balsa for boat and raft building since antiquity. Anyone who can recall Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki adventures will know of his successful attempt to reach the Polynesian Islands from South America on a balsa raft.

Balsa's fine grain combined with its strength and light weight have made it valuable for a great number of uses. Its heat retention ability has made it useful for insulating refrigerator and ship holds. It is used in aircraft to reduce vibration. Surfboards and life preservers have also been manufactured from balsa wood.

Crafters and hobbyists find balsa very easy to cut and carve, making it ideal for a multitude of projects. It can also be painted or stained any color the hobbyist desires. Its greatest value for hobbyists is undoubtedly in the construction of model airplanes. Free flight , control line, and radio control aircraft are all made primarily from balsa wood. Other uses for this versatile wood include model boat building and dollhouse construction, as well as many other craft projects. Model railroaders can use balsa for scratch-building houses and other structures, bridges, and structural support for scenery.

Basswood, or linden, is another wood crafters and hobbyists find very useful. This North American wood is grown primarily in northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Heavier than balsa, it shares many of it's characteristics - close-grained, strong, and lightweight. Basswood's hobby uses mirror those of balsa, but its heavier weight limits its use in building model airplanes. Because it carves easily, it is the premier choice for both beginning and advanced woodcarvers. Novice woodburners will also find basswood friendly, as it burns well. Like balsa, it is available in strips and sheets. Additionally, specialty shapes for dollhouse building include molding, siding, and roof shingles.

Special project needs may require the use of hobby plywoods. These extremely high quality plywoods range in thickness from paper thin 1/32 of an inch to 1/4 inch. The plywood consists of birch, so it can take any stain desired. It is very durable and suitable for many uses.

Other woods are available for specialized hobby projects, including walnut, maple, cherry, and mahogany. Twenty four inch lengths include both strips and sheets. The maximum width for sheets is four inches.

Basswood and balsa are the most commonly available hobby/craft woods. Other types may be special ordered from your local hobby shop. Check out the selection today for all your project needs. Back to Wood Crafts © 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Relief Wood Carving - Craft For Beginner

Woodworking as a hobby could be enjoyable to many more people if it were not for the space and expense required to set up a fully equipped wood shop. One way to enjoy wood crafts without taking up a lot of valuable household space, and busting your budget is to take up relief woodcarving. Woodcarving can be a bit messy, so a designated work area is advisable But this area need not be large. Indeed, a small worktable in a garage, basement, or utility area is about all that's needed.

A minimum of tools are required for this hobby. Two or three Xacto knife handles, an assortment of blades, some sandpaper, wood sealer, graphite or white transfer paper, and a pattern are all that's needed to get started. Other materials required are common household items, such as scissors, cellophane tape, and ball point pen. Later on you can add paints, brushes, and other items needed for more advanced carving projects.

Relief wood carving is easy to learn. The Xacto tools mentioned are ideal for the beginner because they do not need to be sharpened. Merely discard the blade when it gets dull and replace with a new one. The two or three different types of handles will hold all the cutting and carving blades you will need . Xacto manufactures dozens of different blades for a myriad of uses, including chisels, knives, gouges, and routers.

There are six different basic cuts in relief wood carving. Using these cuts the hobbyist methodically carves out the design. Basswood is the wood of choice for the beginner, as it carves very easily. Later on, as techniques are improved, harder woods can be worked. Walnut Hollow Farm has an excellent beginner's book - Creative Woodcarving - which covers tools, techniques, and patterns in greater detail. Xacto's Woodcarving Video is also a good source of carving information.

Prepare the wood by sanding to a smooth finish with a fine grade of sandpaper. after sanding, the pattern is transferred to the wood with graphite or white transfer paper. Use graphite paper for light woods, and white transfer paper for dark woods. Tape the pattern and transfer paper to the wood with masking tape. Trace the pattern on the wood with a fine point pen.

The working surface for carving should be sturdy and at a comfortable height for the carver. It is important that the tools be sharp for all phases of the carving project . If tools are dull, it will cause the carver to try to force the tool through the wood. Injury is possible if the tool slips. Dull tools also tear the wood, instead of cutting it. By using Xacto tools, the hobbyist can maintain sharp tools by merely changing the blade.

The hobbyist can create some really beautiful projects by combining woodcarving and wood burning. The pattern is first carved and sanded. Replace the pattern and transfer paper on the carving, and trace in the details to be burned into the carving. Highlight key features with the wood burning pen, and apply a coat of wood sealer to protect the design. The hobbyist may also use paint or stain to add a flair to the carving.

Relief wood carving is a wonderful hobby. And you don't need a large expensive workshop to create some fantastic works of art with a little practice. This is a great craft for the beginner!

Back to Wood Crafts

© 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tips For The Wood Burning Art and Craft

Tip # 1 Use an asbestos pad or ceramic tile to set your pen on while it is in use.

Tip # 2 Test the burning speed on the back of the wood you are using to perfect your technique before starting.

Tip # 3 Clean the woodburning tip frequently with an extra-fine sandpaper to prevent residue buildup.

Tip # 4 Finish sand the wood with an extra-fine sandpaper before tracing the wood burning pattern. Wipe off the sawdust before tracing the design.

Tip # 5 Trace the design to the wood using either graphite or white transfer paper. Use graphite paper on lighter woods, white transfer paper on dark woods.

Tip # 6 Outline the design with the universal point.

Tip # 7 Shade and create other special effects using other specialized points.

Tip # 8 If desired, you can color the design with colored pencils designed for wood.

Tip # 9 Coat the finished design with a good sealer - Acrylic is the easiest to use.

Tip # 10 Lightly sand the design.

Tip # 11 If desired, apply gloss, matte, or satin acrylic varnish.

More Wood Burning Tips Don’t touch the tip of the pen, or the ceramic base when the pen is in use. It is very hot!
The line you are burning gets darker when you go slow, lighter when you go fast.
Move the wood around as you work to make easier to use the pen.
It’s best to burn light, and go back to darken later, if desired.
Erase all transfer lines before sealing the design.
Hold the pen lightly. A heavy grip tires the hand, and causes it to get hot.
Color the wood after you seal. It’s easier to erase paint if you do make a mistake. Back to Wood Crafts

© 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tools Needed For The Craft Of Wood Burning

The tool list for wood burning is not extensive, nor is the space requirements for the hobby great. A small tackle box or similiar storage case will easily hold your tools, the compartments used to keep the various wood burning tips separate and organized. You will enjoy the craft more if you can keep your wood burning implements all together.

Tools and Items Needed For Woodburning

Ball Point Pen
Graphite Or White Transfer Paper - depending on the type of wood you are going to burn - dark wood needs white transfer paper, light wood needs graphite
Woodburning Pen
Fine Sandpaper
Wood Sealer
Wood finish
Wood burning Tips

There are many different tips available to create varying effects in your wood burning craft. The universal tip usually is included with the wood burner. It is fine for beginners, but as your skills advance more specialized tips may be useful to you.

Flow Point Tip
Use to burn curves, details, and in tight spots. The point is rounded, and creates a soft line.

Shading Point Tip
Use to shade portions of the design and for special effects. Adds depth and realism to the finished wood burning project

Universal Point
All purpose tip for creating lines, details, and contrast

Fine Touch Universal
Smaller version of the universal tip for more detailed work.

Mini-Flow Point
Good beginner tip. Easier to use than the Flow Tip.

Cone Point
Use for extra fine lines and detail work.

Calligraphy Point
Used for woodburning calligraphy letter styles.

21 Watt
Good beginner pen. Use for Basswood, pine, and soft woods.
26 Watt
This pens heats up to around 800 degrees. It will burn almost any wood. It may not be suitable for beginners because of higher heat. But this is the pen needed for the serious wood buring craft person.

As you progress in the craft of wood burning your skill will naturally improve and some of the projects can really be considered works of art. This is really a fun and fascinating hobby! Back to Wood Crafts © 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wood Burning Craft - Fun Hobby For Limited Spaces

Perhaps you, like many other people, have recently become interested in woodcrafts. Woodworkers have many activities which they can pursue - furniture and toy making being two examples. Although enjoyable, most woodshops require a lot of room, plus a fairly large investment in tools. One woodcraft hobby which requires little space, and only a modest investment in tools is wood burning. Although it would be helpful to have a designated area to work and store tools, this space need not be large. Indeed a small sturdy table would be sufficient for most projects.

Wood burning as an art is easy to learn! Start up needs are minimal - a wood burning pen with interchangeable points, patterns, graphite paper, sandpaper, and wood sealer. Most of the other materials you need are common household items. Walnut Hollow Farm's wood burning pens are the best choice. Two basic pens are available - twenty one watt and twenty six watt. The twenty six watt is for all types of wood, especially the harder ones. The twenty one watt is the ideal beginner's pen. It's best used on softer woods.

Burning techniques differ depending on the point used. The key is to start with a simple pattern and learn how to use the many different points before progressing on to intermediate and advanced designs. A very good series of books for the beginning wood burner is from Walnut Hollow Farm. Creative Woodburning Book One contains all the easy to learn basics, plus many patterns to get you started. The rest of the series contains more patterns and techniques in many different styles.

The best wood to start on is basswood because it burns easily. Many types of basswood are available, including ovals, rounds, planks, and barrel staves. Neat wooden boxes in many different styles can also make good projects. The wood surface to be burned must be very smooth for best results. Sand the wood to as fine a finish as possible with a very fine grade of sandpaper.

The pattern is transferred to the wood surface using either graphite or white transfer paper. Use graphite paper on light wood and white transfer paper on dark wood. The pattern and transfer paper are taped to the wood with masking tape and a fine point ball-point pen is used to trace the design on to the wood.

As mentioned earlier, there are many different techniques of burning and several woodburning tips to use with the pen to get different effects. In addition, the burnings can be colored with oil colored pencils, and oil paint wash. The combination of wood grain, woodburning technique, and oil paints creates some stunningly beautiful art.

The list of wood burning craft projects which can be burned is limitless. Burn designs on jewelry boxes, ring boxes, cutlery boxes, clocks, and furniture. Burn woodcarvings to lend a unique touch to your woodcraft projects. Wall hangings and picture frames are also good candidates for wood burning. Take your wood art to any level you desire! It is a very enjoyable hobby. Back to Wood Crafts © 2011 THC Toys, Hobbies and Crafts