Model Building Hobby Knife
Building plastic models is a fascinating hobby in which you will find just about any model classification to suit your interests. There are many types of models from which to choose - cars, boats, airplanes, to mention just a few.
Whatever model you choose to build, the basic steps to successfully construct it are the same. Master the steps, and anyone can build really nice models.
The first step is - and get ready for this - Read The Instructions! Make sure you understand what's involved before you start building. Assemble the tools and supplies you will need to complete the model. Some items needed for successful assembly - paint, model glue, hobby knife, tweezers, toothpicks, sprue or fingernail clippers, building board, wax paper, paper towels, paintbrush, and paint thinner. Choose a work area out of the way of other activities. The model will require a little time to build, and you don't want it in the way of other activities. Alternatively, assemble on a building board which can be moved under a bed or other storage area between building sessions.
Open the parts bags, and carefully spread them out on a flat surface near your work area - do not cut any parts from sprues at this time! The sprue many times has identifying numbers on it to help you identify the part. Using the parts list included in the instructions, find and identify each part. If any are missing, call the manufacturer. Information you will need is the model number and part number. The model number can be found on the side of the box, and the part number is found on the plans. Most model manufacturers have 800 numbers listed in the plans to call for missing parts. The part will be shipped to you free, but may take a couple of weeks.
Now, carefully wash the model in warm water in which a small amount of dish soap has been dissolved. This is to remove the mold release manufacturers use to pop the model parts from the mold during the manufacturing process. If it's not removed, paint and glue may not adhere properly to the model. Rinse and allow the parts to air dry or dry with a hair dryer set on LOW if you want to begin work immediately.
If you are going to paint the model, now is the time to decide which parts to paint before assembly, and which parts should be assembled first, and then painted. Study the instructions to help with this step. A good rule of thumb is - small parts are usually best painted on the sprue, and larger parts and body parts are best painted after assembly. Most models are easier to build if they are built and painted in steps. Motors and other small assemblies should be assembled and painted, then installed in the model frame. The model body is assembled, painted and the smaller parts added. Think of the completed model as a series of small models which must be painted and assembled first. These smaller models are then used to construct the larger, finished model.
Once the plastic model is completed, the decals are applied. Cut them singly from the sheet and apply where the instructions depict. A drop of water placed on the model before the decal is placed will make it easier to move the decal into final position.
It's important to use the proper materials when painting and gluing the model. Model paints are formulated for plastic models. The pigments in these paints are also ground extremely fine, to give them scale thickness. Other paints will cause the model to be out of scale, or worse, possibly 'melt' the plastic because the solvents in it are not compatible with the plastic.
Model cements are best to use, because they will melt the plastic together, creating a stronger bond. Model cements are available in an odor free, non-toxic formula for younger children.
Tools are just as important in model building as they are in any other endeavor. Use a hobby knife, fingernail clipper, or sprue cutter to cut parts from sprue - don't just tear them off. A neat cut will be achieved with one of these tools. Test all parts before assembly - trim flash and shave parts carefully as needed to ensure a perfect fit. Spread glue on parts with a paintbrush, or toothpick for an even coat. Use glue sparingly to cut down on sanding after assembly and before painting.
Now it's time to display the completed model! Car models may be displayed in clear acrylic model cases. These protect the model from dust and inquisitive fingers. The cases stack for easy storage. Airplane models may be hung from the ceiling in realistic dives, or placed on the display stands which come with many of them. Boat models frequently are too big for display cases, but usually come with their own display stands. All plastic models may be displayed in a diorama. This is a scene constructed specifically for the model, to place it in a realistic setting.
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