Essential Tools for Scale Modeling

Whether it’s building cars, planes, ships, bikes, trucks, or even robots, scale modeling is a fun and rewarding hobby that entices many people across the world. No surprise, as apart from the excitement, it also provides lots of benefits that make it a truly unique experience compared to most other hobbies and pastimes.

Yet, all that can be frustrating, without the right essentials when starting a project. Regardless if you’re a complete beginner or currently working on your hundredth model, you need an array of equipment to help you save time and energy and avoid any disheartenment. With that, we’ve prepared this toolset guide to ensure that you’re on the right path and enjoy the pleasures of scale modeling.

Hobby Knife

Also called a craft knife, the hobby knife is perhaps the most widely used tool in scale modeling. Boasting incredible versatility, you can use this tool in various tasks, such as removing parts from the runners, cleaning and reshaping them, cutting out decals, scribing lines, or applying and smoothing fillers. With such functionality, it’s a must that you get a good set of blades and some extras to replace them whenever they go dull. Just be mindful that they can be pretty sharp and dangerous. Devote extra caution, especially if you’re enjoying the hobby with your kids.

Cutting Mat

Scale modeling entails lots of cutting and slicing parts, decals, and other materials. That is why a cutting mat is essential and works both ways around. It protects the desk or table you’re working on while prolonging the life of your hobby knife while keeping it much safer to use. If you get one, always opt for self-healing mats. These mats are made of pressed materials that “absorb” the cut from the blade, preventing the cut from ruining the mat.


Finishing is a crucial task in scale modeling. You need to ensure that the surface of the parts is smooth, free from marks, scratches, or blemishes, to make it ready for gluing, painting, or varnishing. Abrasives are your best ally in reshaping the parts and keeping rough edges away. You can use sanding sticks for smoothening flat surfaces, and sanding pads for curved edges. Though you can purchase these abrasives at a hardware store, it’s best to get them from a hobby store to ensure you get the suitable grade or coarseness suitable for your model kit.

Sprue Cutters

While you can use your hobby knife to get the plastic pieces from the runners, sprue cutters provide better accuracy and cutting results, mainly because they’re specifically designed for the task. Sprue cutters will make your life easier, as they help you get perfect, precise snips. Thus, eliminating the need for extra clean-up and saving you time for other tasks needed for the project.


Scale models being extremely smaller representations of their original counterparts means having to deal with tiny parts, decals, and materials. Tweezers can be very useful in handling, picking, and applying such small items. These tools come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and endings. Some may be flat-ended, while others can be pointed. There are also self-closing or spring-loaded tweezers, which can be handy depending on the parts or materials you’re working on.

Modeling Putty

Modeling putty is not required for all of the models, but it can be pretty useful in filling up marks, dents, or blemishes that resulted from improper scribing or cutting. It is also used to fill gaps between the parts, especially if they are mismatched or won’t meet despite the sanding process. By using a modeling putty, you ensure that your scale model will have the best finish and make it closer to the actual object.

Measuring Devices

Measuring precisely and accurately is a prized skill in scale modeling, given that the hobby entails properly scaling down the prototype’s dimensions to use them on a model. Rulers are one of the basic measuring devices you need. It’s useful to achieve correct placement of decals, scribing lines, or when cutting tape for simpler projects. On the other hand, calipers and micrometers are needed by expert hobbyists dealing with more complicated models.

Paint Brushes

Most model kits today are ready-paints, which means little to no effort is needed as they already come aesthetically pleasing. Yet, one of the amazing perks of scale modeling is that it allows you to unleash your creativity. A good range of paint brushes will help you to make your own modifications for your model kits or color them the way you prefer should you decide to build your model from scratch.


One of the best parts of the hobby is finally assembling the parts and building the model. To do that, you need to get adhesives that will bond or join the parts of your model. There are different types of adhesives available in the market, which varies on the drying speed and to which materials they work best. Always consider the type of adhesive you’ll be needing before starting any project.


Scale modeling is incredibly fun if you have the right tools. This rundown only covers some of the essentials you need to start in the hobby. As you develop your skill and progress, you may decide to take on bigger and more challenging projects, which require more advanced tools and equipment, and more rewarding and unique experiences.