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Your six essential modeling tools

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I'm posting this question a number of forums so my apologies in advance if you have seen it elsewhere. I want to get a broad overview of what our community thinks and whilst there is an overlap in membership in many forums, there are also many modellers who stick to one modelling forum.


If you had to reduce your modelling toolbox to just six 'essential' construction (not painting) tools, what would they be?


My pick would be:
-craft knife (my weapon of choice is a Swann Morton No.3 handle with a 10A blade)
-needle nose tweezers
-Metal ruler
-sprue nippers
-pin vice with a selection of drill bits
-sanding stick (I started using glass/crystal sanding files recently)


Your responses much appreciated.


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Interesting topic!  I'd have to say my six "must haves" would be (in no particular order):


  • Flex-i-File (I know I said "no particular order", but this one would be definitely #1 on my list)
  • Xacto knife
  • polishing cloths
  • sprue cutters
  • Emory boards (the kind made with foam and found in the ladies' cosmetics aisle)
  • Clamps of various sizes
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The scribers and point punches made from a worn out navigation divider of Dad's he gave me in the 1970s

Xacto #11 blades

Xacto #17 small chisel blade

Sprue cutter - would probably take my model train rail cutter instead since it also cuts metal

Pin vise with #56 to #80 drill bits


--> and then we have a warp 5 head-on collision with the 6 tool limit because the kind of modeling I do can not be done without an assortment of files from mill file to watchmaker file sizes; plus multiple grades of sandpaper. 


--> Plus the large Xacto chisel blade which fits the big red #5 handle


--> Plus a steel ruler/straight edge


--> plus drafting triangles and circle templates


All of the above, including 4 different files, were employed just a few minutes ago.

Edited by southwestforests
forgot a couple tools I'd just used
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Hobby Knife

sanding sticks

super glue applicator

liguid cement applicator

sprue nippers


I need more than 6 things 🙄

(maginifying goggles, pliers for opening paint bottles, paper towels, files, clamps, rubber bands, plastic strip, drills and pin vice, don't need photo etch it all goes into the carpet (see below)


Things I don't have but I need:

Anti-gravity device to put all the things that fall in the carpet back on the workbench.

Football stadium lighting


Happy Modeling


Geoff M

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The glue drawer

The clamp drawer

The sandpaper drawer

The knife blade drawer

The tape drawer

The fancy schmancy tool drawer


you know what, screw it. I need the whole double 4 drawer cabinets that hold up the ends of bench. 

Rick L. 

Edited by Spruemeister
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Tough call. I’ve always been a “tool guy” for anything I’m doing.  Automotive work, yard work, household projects, woodworking and models.  Modeling is my least expensive tool kit. 
going to skip my awesome bench and organization setup.  But it’s a necessity for my success!


1).  Optivisor. I might as well be Ray Charles without it.  Some guys put on an apron as soon as they walk in their shop. Me? Optivisor.

2). Lights. I need lots of light. Very bright light, all LED. 

3).  Exacto hobby knife

4). Sprue cutters.

5).  Assorted jewelers files and sanding sticks. 
6). Cotton swabs with the 6” wood handle. Spray Zip kicker on then apply to CA glue while holding a part, burnishing down Bare Metal Foil, cleaning the tip on my airbrush when disassembled, applying and smoothing putty after dipping in lacquer thinner.  And when done, I snip off the tip and save the dowel stick.  I really put those to use a lot. Mixing sticks for epoxy or paint, carve the tips for burnishing tool when applying tape, combined with Ticky-tack to hold parts for painting, carve the tip down to hold wheels for painting.  I place a small clamp on the other end to hold the stick upright with the part I’m painting standing upright.  

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in order of how often I used them, it would be:


knife handle with #11 blade

knife handle with square #17 blade

knife handle with round #13 blade

knife handle with dull #11 blade

electrician tweezers

sprue cutters


I have like 7 knife handles. My modeling became more enjoyable when I decided to get a bunch and not keep switching blade types.

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