Creative Play: Scale Modeling

Note: This is an ongoing project. Check back for new stuff.

Scale modeling comes in a variety of flavors: architecture and furniture (known as miniatures); shipbuilding, railroading, other vehicles, etc. All of the scale modeling areas use similar approaches and most have kits available to help the new modeler get started. Of the three main branches of scale modeling, model railroading is far more kit driven than either miniatures or ship modeling. That said, there are still a tremendous number of resources online and available from other companies to help you budding modeler get started.

Like paper modeling, scale modeling tends to be a hobby that carries is a lifelong pursuit. While you can have some of the fancier tools (table saws, micro lathes, scroll saws, drill presses, and the such), beginning modeling can be done with some basic hand tools and doesn’t require a huge initial investment. You will need the following to get started:

  • A good hobby knife (#11)
  • A miter saw and miter box
  • Sand Paper (minimum 150 grit…the higher the better)
  • A scale rule (also known as an Architect’s Rule–check out Mish Mish)
  • A metal straight edge for clean cuts
  • White/Clear Glue (although I tend to use carpenter’s glue for structures), toothpicks, and wax paper
  • A supply of basswood (available from Mish and from Michaels). The wood thickness will vary depending on the model you are building. Basswood is a softer wood and much easier for new modelers to work with. Do not start with hardwoods…while the hardwoods create terrific models, they present challenges and lead to frustration for beginners.
  • Finishes are going to vary based on your actual model.
  • A magnetic gluing jig is a nice addition, but you can also make one yourself.
  • A couple of clamps (you can use the old “spring” clothes pins or document clips).

Dorsett Publications (The Scale Cabinetmaker). Publishers of how-to books and cd-roms on architecture and miniatures, tools, and scale modeling techniques.

Scale Model Net: International List of Scale Model Related Websites. The emphasis is, primarily, on commercial sites, but many include excellent informaiton of scale modeling techniques.

To be continued….

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