Building Tools


Set out below is a list of basic modeling tools you will need to construct your model. As much as possibel I have tried to list them in order of priority, some go hand in hand and are of equal importance.

I confess, I’m a tool junky, I like tools, there is a certain satisfaction from having and using the correct tool for a given job, and having decent quaility tools also makes a big difference. Non of the items listed are expencive, and if of decent quality will last a long long time.

Building Board. A practical minimum size building board would be 300x900mm. A piece of MDF (Medium Dencity Fiber board) 18 or 25mm thick is ideal. Make sure it’s not twisted, flat is good, but a slight bow is not the end of the world. A twist however will mean everything you build on this board will be twisted, not good. Cover one side of the board in cork tiles they are availabel in 300mm square and in two thicknesses, use the thick (6mm) ones contact glue to the board. Having more than one board can be handy, consider making two while your at it.

Knife. Some great models have been built with nothing more that a Gillett razor blade, But for us mortals a couple of good quality knives is important. You need a number 1 handle and some number 11 blades. A number 5 heavy duty handle is also very usefull.

Straight Edge. A 300mm steel rule will get you started, and having a 150mm & a long 900mm plus rule as well would be very handy. Glue fine (400) grade Garnet paper on the back to stop the rule from sliding. Yuo will be using the rules mainly for cutting straight lines and this makes a big difference.

Pins. An assortment of various sizes and types will never go astray. The “T” pins shown are great for model building and come in three sizes 1″, 1.25″ and 1.5″. Having somoe glass head and dressmaking pins as well will also come in handy.

Razor Saws. Cutting thin balsa is best done with a knife, but then you are dealing with spruce, ply and thicker balsa you need a saw. Razor saws come in various heights from 1/2″ to 2″ and with tooth spacing from 16 to 54 TPI (Teeth Per Inch)

Sand Paper. Totally useless, what you need to use is either Garnett paper (Orange in colour) or Aluminium Oxide (White in colour). Both do a good jod and you will need an assortomennt of grades, at least 120 and 320. However you would be better of with some 60, 80, 120 220, 320 and 400 grade. The higher the number the finer the paper. You never use sand paper loose, it should always be attached to a sanding block.

Double Sided Tape. A favorite of mine, its great for attaching sand paper to blocks, and for other jobs. You can make up very effective sanding blocks from scraps of pine, sizes like 50×19 and 75x19mm about 200 mm long are very handy. You will also find that smaller, and longer blocks will also be used at times. Attaching sand paper to both sizes of your blocks saves time.

Cutting Board. You don’t want to be cutting onto your buuilding boad, or the dinning room table.

One of the self healing cutting mats is very handy. a small one for general use for now, and a larger one later on will be very usefull.

A “Bench Hook” is another very usefull aid when cutting thicker materials.

Set Squares. A small plastic set square about 75 x100mm is ideal for checking former and bulkhead alignment, as well as checkingh general squareness. A large plastic set square with the corner cut away to clear the fuslage is ideal for checking fin to tail plane alignment.

Engineers Square. An esential tool to use as a guide when cutting and sanding arcoss the grain. A 100 to 150mm size is ideal. Check that it is infact square before purchasing it.

French Curves. Not essential, but very handy for drawing out wing ribs and fuslage sides. They come in a set of 3 and are available from news agents and drafting supplies.

Carbon Paper. Used for transfering shapes from your plan to the wood. You will also find that tracing paper, grease proof lunch wrap are very handy as well. You can use the grease proof over your building board to stop thing sticking to tohe board, and thus damaging the surface.

Miter Box . Not essential, but very handy for cutting smaller, and thicker sections of balsa and spruce square. Even though you will get a “Square” cut, you will most likely still net to true it up with a careful swipe or two of sand paper. Slide the wood to the end of the miter box, and use this as a guide to run your sand paper against to true up the cut.

Balsa Stripper . Again, not essential, but nothing beats a good stripper. Balsa strippers are great for creating your own cap strips from offcuts, and are best used in balsa under 3mm thick. You can also use this one to trim off around a pre made rib for wing sheeting. Ie. If you have bade a set of ribs, and some have to be smaller to allow for sheeting, simply set the stripper to the sheeting thickness and then run it around the rib were your sheeting is to go. ( you can set the blade higher when cutting thicker sheet and make one pass from each side.) also if you need to notch out a section to allow you to recess a a sheet into another.