I participate in several Facebook groups and various modeling message boards plus receive direct questions about glue, how to remove certain parts, cut different types of building materials and what tools I use. I know how hard it is to even talk yourself into building a model much less know where to get great tools that make life easier when building. Below is a list of six must have tools to turn ordinary models into your treasured memories. The tools are not listed in order of importance. They all have great value when they are needed.
- Small Phillips screwdriver – higher end models such as DCP trucks and trailers use small screws to hold cabs on and a variety of parts together. Thank goodness some models come with screws that make it much easier to disassemble them for customizing. It is likely you have a small Phillips screwdriver around the house. If not, they can be found about anywhere. Cost $0 – $6.
- Small Side cutter – One of the handiest tools I own is a small side cutter. Not just any side cutter either but a one with flat sides. This tool is excellent for removing hood pins on trucks, wheels, cutting plastics, thin wires and a number of other uses. Certainly not intended for heavy cutting but an awesome tool. I bought mine locally in the jewelry section of Hobby Lobby. There is another version in the link for those shoping online. Cost $5 – $8
- Exacto knife – An exacto knife is perfect for cutting all sorts of plastics and light woods with accuracy. Not to mention scraping paint, shaving plastics or woods, applying putty. Cutting is not the only use for this tool, do not be limited by its main function. $2 – $5
- Steel Rule – A steel ruler is a great inexpensive tool for accurate measuring. Better than most wood or plastic rulers as the measurement points do not rub off and are very accurate over time. Steel does not give and the edges stay true after years of service. With metric and standard units this ruler is premium. $3 – $5
- Maxi Cure Ultra Thick – Glue can be a very tricky item to buy. Which is best? My preferred glue is Maxi Cure Ultra thick. This glue is my go to choice as an excellent multipurpose glue. This glue cures in 10 – 15 seconds, does not run, and holds well over time. Far and away better than any glue I have used thus far. Depending on the size purchased, it can be bought for $2 – $10.
- Tweezers – A good set of tweezers is a must have. Especially if you have clumsy hands like I do. The best tweezers I have found have teeth to help hold parts. The smooth kind commonly found in the health and beauty section of a discount store work but tiny parts seem to pop out as they are squeezed. A great set of medical grade tweezers with teeth can cost $17. I happened to receive mine from a veterinarian friend that retired a pair no longer acceptable for surgery. If tweezers with teeth can be found, buy them. $1 – $20
By purchasing these six tools a great number of really cool models can be made. And, these tools can be bought for less than $25 depending on how serious you want to get in creating memories.
Bonus tool – Dremel – A Dremel can be a best friend. With the almost infinite amount of attachments this tool is great for cutting, polishing, grinding, you name it. I now own two, a variable speed and a two speed. Both are great and I keep different accessories in them and use them interchangeably. If the cost is a concern keep an eye open for other brands. Also, around the holidays different hardware type stores sell them at deep discounts to lure in shoppers. I purchased my second Dremel for $25 and a 250 piece accessory kit at an additional $20 on black Friday a couple years ago. That was the only reason I left the house was to buy that tool and the war chest of accessories. This was a huge bargain.
I could go on about the multitude of uses for this tool but one only has to use one a few times to see how great they are. Many great models can be made without a rotary tool but if the budget allows… buy one. Of course there are many great tools to make the whole building process easier but if you are getting started and do not want to spend much, the tools listed would be the bare minimum I would recommend to get started.
If you are a builder and own a tool your would not want to live without, please tell us about it in the comment box.
Good luck building. Eric
BTW– I mentioned to email subscribers that world class end dump grain and silage trucks bring back memories of the good old days and even present days. I know for me to recreate your memory can be out of a price range. To help reach my goal of each person having access to parts to make models your loved ones will fight over when you are gone, we have a very special offer coming up on the MA end dump grain/silage bed. To get in on this offer send me your name and email on the right side of this page. Not only will you get in on an exclusive offer, I will also you send you my free tutorial on how to make a scratch build double combine trailer from brass.