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OK you packrats... time to fess up !

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  • Member since
    January, 2006
  • From: Pineapple Country, Queensland, Australia
OK you packrats... time to fess up !
Posted by Wirraway on Friday, June 30, 2017 3:08 AM

So what do you hoard/procure which assists you in the hobby ?  I can't resist big paper napkins at restaurants.  I grab as many as I can and cut them up into squares for the workbench.  You would also find my pockets full of toothpicks.  I also like the big plastic containers that Subway put their party platters into.  The clear sealable top makes it a great little spray booth.  So what do you grab at any opportunity?  And what do you use it for ?

"Growing old is inevitable; growing up is optional"

" A hobby should pass the time - not fill it"  -Norman Bates


GIF animations generator

  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • From: San Antonio, Texas
Posted by Marcus McBean on Friday, June 30, 2017 6:34 AM

I been re-using pill bottles for storage of finished parts waiting to be attached, loose leftover parts so they won't get away.

  • Member since
    March, 2017
  • From: Mid Michigan
Posted by shamoo on Friday, June 30, 2017 6:42 AM

I save the caps from plastic water bottles to mix and thin paint for brushing. I was keeping the foam trays from fresh meat for WIPs, but I have plenty now. Flat wood coffee stir sticks for stirring paint, spreading filler, etc. Guitar strings and bits of wire for various detail work. Probably more but that's what occurs to me right now 

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Friday, June 30, 2017 6:45 AM

Popsickle sticks. They are great source of good quality wood. Make great tool handles when making your own tools. Cut them up lengthwise and you get paint stirrers. Or you can sharpen those cut up pieces with a pencil sharpener and use those as holders to paint small details.

Then wire - there's thin wire, and thick wire and almost all of them are too good to throw away.

Good luck with your builds and have a nice day


All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • From: Milaca, Minnesota
Posted by falconmod on Friday, June 30, 2017 7:15 AM

The coasters from resturants,  I put my beverage on them so I don't get a wet spot on the bench when I'm working.   Cuz you know any sheet of decals are by the laws of the universe are attracted to those spots!


On the Bench: 1/72 Mirage 2000c, 1/72 Ki-67

Academy 1/144 B-47E, 1/48 Dragon Fw190A-5

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Friday, June 30, 2017 7:46 AM

Good ideas guys! 


I use the plastic squeeze bottles for contact lens solution for airbrush thinners etc. Add the paint to the colour cup, just a squirt from the bottle, and then mix. 

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen


  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Friday, June 30, 2017 7:47 AM


I save the caps from plastic water bottles to mix and thin paint for brushing.


Ditto  To the point that I chcck the recycle bin at work.  I go through a lot of these.  I also transfer paint to the caps when brush painting or dry brushing.  The one time I didn't, and got paint straight from the bottle, I ended up knocking the bottle over.  Aluminum acrylic does NOT come off the cutting mat easily.


Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 


  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:04 AM

Those plastic faux credit cards that come in the mail. They are basically just small squares of styrene. Clear ones can be used as windows.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:05 AM

I get occasional fruit assortments for my Birthday and sometimes Father's day, from my son and daughter-in-law.  These are sort of like flower assortments, but with fresh fruit, cleaned and ready to eat.  The pieces of fruit are stuck on plastic sticks and the other end into a block of styrofoam.  Each assortment contains like about two to three dozen of these sticks, about 10 inches long with one end like 1/8 inch diameter, the other about 3/16.  They make great stirring sticks for mixing paint.  Haven't bought coffee stirring sticks since they began sending me those things.

I also occasionally save Pringles cans for various modeling uses, including storing those stirring sticks.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    January, 2013
Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:12 AM

Well.... I grabbed a few furniture pieces from my work place they were going to toss out. Desk, pull out keyboard drawer tray, hutch (2 - one in my hobby area, the other going in the garage), chair. More are being ready to be tossed so another table, chair, possibly a third hutch, maybe a shelving unit and a small rolling cabinet.


I look at it this way: Go big or go home. ROFL!!!

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Corpus Christi, Tx
Posted by mustang1989 on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:22 AM

You nailed it right out of the gate. My "drug" of choice is toothpicks!!!! 


Being really stupid IS "the new smart"!!

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Meridian, ID
Posted by modelcrazy on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:43 AM

There are some really good ideas here from the bottle caps to taking napkins.

I mainly do the wire and pill bottle idea.



Too many projects to list. 

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Central Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:46 AM

I had to stop collecting water bottle caps cuz I have too many now. I use them for mixing small amounts of paints for brushing, hold a dab of CA or any type of thick glue like Aleene's etc, and toss them when done.

I also grab the soft lead foil on some wine bottles. They are great for making safety belts, straps and even panels for aircraft or even armor having a scale thickness. Again, i have a ton of these things!

I also have a ton of Gerber clear infant meal containers and their lids. They are great for storing small parts for my spares stock. I also use the lids as paint pallets to mix different colors.




Too many models to build, not enough time in a lifetime!!

  • Member since
    December, 2012
Posted by RX7850 on Friday, June 30, 2017 10:19 AM

Automatic transmission filters and green tea bags. Some transmission filters have very fine micro mesh screens and the tea bags I use are made of a very fine nylon resembling micro mesh. Both are great for 1/72 armor projects.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: AandF in the Badger State
Posted by checkmateking02 on Friday, June 30, 2017 11:19 AM

The plastic boxes that some lunch meats come in.

They have a lid that snaps tight.  You can separate the build steps and put the pieces in their own box while you work on them and paint them.  Then, when the step is finished, you can store the completed assembly in its own box until you need it.

And since the lid does snap tight, if you drop them on the floor, the pieces won't fly all over.  

And cats can't open them. . .so far.

Nulla Rosa Sine Spina




  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Friday, June 30, 2017 11:26 AM

Long straight pieces of sprue also make good stirring sticks. 

And I use pieces of plastic blister packaging as a pallete for mixing paint for figures. When it gets covered in paint, don't clean it- just toss it. 

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen


  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: From the Mit, but live in Mason, O high ho
Posted by hogfanfs on Friday, June 30, 2017 12:13 PM

I save the contact lens containers when we buy contact solution. I use the containers for different pastel chalks that I have purchased and then file down into powder. 

I also have wood screwers that can be used for many different tasks, such as for stiring paint, or for elevating road wheels to be painted. The pointy ends are most useful for chasing my wife away from my stash when she starts to ask too many questions. 




  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Friday, June 30, 2017 12:37 PM

Where to begin?

When I get Chinese takeout, I salvage the containers.  The old-style cardboard ones, which can be unfolded into a serving dish, by the way, yield a piece of good wire for use in pinning parts.  The newer-style plastic dishes, oblong, with a clear lid, make good storage boxes on the bench.  The soup containers, well, I use them to freeze soup, though I do use one as a dust-free chamber when I dip a canopy in Future and need to let it sit and cure.

I save the red plastic coffee stirrers from Dunkin' Donuts.  They are cruciform in cross-section (there's a pun) and they are good stock for scratchbuilding.  I save the stirring straws, too, also for scratchbuilding.

And I collected a bunch of wooden coffee stirrers at work.  They make great planks in 1/72, 1/48 or 1/35.  They are just about the right size for US carrier deck planking in 1/48.  And when I mentioned to the guy who brings our coffee (affectionately known as "Mister Coffee") that I use them for modeling, he gave me two boxes.

Also from coffee--we switched to a service that serves one-serving packets.  The packets are packaged on plastic rails, for loading into a coffee machine.  We detach the packets for single-shot use.  I collect those rails.  They resemble guard rails and work in 1/24 or 1/20.  I'm using a bunch of them to depict pre-fabricated shelter material in a 1/20 Maschinen Krieger build.  And the packets have a plastic neck that has a weird, cool shape.  I save those, too.

I save the small styrofoam trays my grocery store uses to package fruit.  They make convenient temporary trays for holding bits of things for whatever project I'm working on.

I save the cardboard pallets that bottles or cans of juice, or some brands of beer, use to package a case.  They also make great trays for keeping everything from one project together.

I salvage wire from old electronic and digital equipment, that's an old, old scratchbuilder's tip.  Radios, appliances--cut the cord off, if nothing else.  Computer equipment?  Crack the case and pull the little black doo-dads and bits off the boards, and save those for detailing avionics or other electrical equipment bays.  An old mouse looks like a turret on a sci-fi fighting machine.  And from printers and scanners, I get good pieces of plate glass.

Old matchsticks can be used for bits of milled wood in small scales.

Pieces of twine and rope yield fiber for making grass in a diorama.

Small rocks and fine gravel and dust from the gutter in front of my house, winds up in my diorama groundwork, as do bits of dried roots.  I also have a large jar full of old tea leaves, which I fix to a piece of root with white glue, for small shrubs.

Speaking of jars--I eat a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich every day for lunch, have now for 30 years.  I save the plastic peanut butter jars for storing things, on the modeling bench but also out in the garage--nails and screws, wire nuts, the fittings for my compresser.  I use the glass jelly and jam jars for soaking pieces in Super Clean for stripping, or mineral spirits, or isopropyl.

I scrounge the little glass jelly jars like you find in gift boxes, or at restaurants, for small amounts of solvent on my work bench, for cleaning my brushes as I paint.

When I buy a new dress shirt (button-down Oxfords), they are usually packaged with a piece of clear plastic to keep the neck shaped, and a little vee-shaped piece to keep the collar shaped in the package.  I save those for clear stock.  I've made smash-molded windscreens from that plastic, as well as to have cut or punched pieces as needed.

Cable ties (zip ties) can be used to replicate ammo feed chutes.  I have a small stash of those in various sizes.

Get orange juice in a carton?  Does it have a plastic seal that you pull out via a ring?  Nice little piece of round, domed plastic.  Save it.

How about the threaded plastic cap?  Save it.

Old ball-point pens?  You get a nib, which looks like a projectile; a plastic tub; a spring, and the bits that make up the plunger.  Soak the tube in isopropyl to clean it, and get a wash of ink, too.

Do you like Guinness in cans?  Drink the beer, then cut the can open and salvage the plastic widget that held a shot of nitrogen to help make your foamy glass foamy.  Wash it out, and you have a nice little sphere of plastic.  I saw a guy make a targeting pod on a 1/35 helicopter out of one.

Dental floss containers can look like storage boxes or crates for sci-fi subjects.  I saved a bunch of those, too.

There are probably some that I've forgotten.  I'll stumble across them when I least expect to.


The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • From: Lacey, WA.
Posted by M. Brindos on Friday, June 30, 2017 12:47 PM

Wow! I am not alone!! Lol

If I think I can use it, I save it. :D

- Mike Brindos

Figure Painting Moderator -- Genessis-Models

  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Friday, June 30, 2017 1:28 PM

There was( or is) a frozen food product that comes as a two stage bowl, some sort of rice steamer, microwavable, the top is like a sieve and the bottom holds the rice. In my brain I saw a dip tank for Future Floor Polish,( ya know the commercial clear coat), have not tried it yet as it is buried under countless other doo dads I have laying around. But I know EXACTLY where it is.

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Friday, June 30, 2017 1:52 PM

I have kept a couple of the Hormel Completes trays, make for nice tub for decaling, as well as holding parts and sub-assemblies.  No lids though. 

Along with the others, also keep wire and other little doo-dads.

Lot of nice ideas floating around, will keep in mind for future hoarding now that I have a 52 inch tool cabinet as my modeling station. Plenty of drawers.

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Friday, June 30, 2017 2:07 PM

The truth as I see it ;

 Okay you are all Guilty !! What are you  "Guilty " of ? ?  Being commensurate model Building Fanatics  , Myself included. And the true example of " Found Item " modeling ! How many times , in these very pages have I suggested this .You should see the large storage tub of  "Crap" ( that's what my landlady calls it ) I have collected .

 What she doesn't see though , is that " crap " going into a model until she asks , " How did you make that ? " Then I USED to  have to explain , " Well , You remember that " Crap " I have ? She now donates to the  "Crap " bucket . Gee , it's nice when folks understand you have a vision . Well , a limited ( Very limited now ) budget doesn't hurt either.     T.B.

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Friday, June 30, 2017 2:18 PM


 Refer to my post in Reply .

   Now , that said . You remember those applicators for Correction tape ? Very neat sci-fi type armed mounted crawlers . Also the widgets from anything desk related .

   Even the Pegs from ready to assemble furniture can look , when painted various metallic shades , weird containers for a space freighter . Don't forget Zip ties .

   Don't laugh ! They make fine replacement ladders ( stairs ) on models of indeterminate scale , even ships ! Because of the varying sizes they come in !

 You talked about computer mouses . Did you know they make great scale Taxis for a sci - fi city scene , also with a little tweaking , great unknown deep sea creatures ! T.B.

  • Member since
    January, 2007
  • From: Narvon, Pa.
Posted by fox on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:43 PM

We are in the process of getting ready to move to a 55+ community to DOWNSIZE. I've started to go through the workroom and get rid of "stuff" that I don't need. Just today I pulled out a box and found it had all sizes and colors of medicine bottle caps. I use a couple of jumbo size caps from the extra large size plastic bottles of pretzels from BJs (6") as paint palletts. Since I use acrylic paints, they come off the cap extremely easy with a quick scrape of an xacto chisel blade. Figured I don't need the small caps any more and they went in the trash. Also trashed about 1/2 a computer paper box of various sized wire. All the sports trophies that I've won over the years went in the can too. They bent the axle on the trash can. On the bright side, the curio cabinet that they were in is now targeted to be used in my new workroom, which is larger than the one I have now, in the new place. I'm sure I'll find lots more "stuff" that will probably make the same trip to the trash can but there is a lot that will go with us to the new home and lots of more room to increase the amount of "stuff" in my collection.

Jim  Captain 

Photobucket Main WIP: Rebuild of Monogram 1/8 "Big Deuce" with 1/8 Pocher V-12 in rear - 10%

   On the Bench:   Revell 1/48 Ju 52/3m - 50%;  Revell 1/96 USS Kearsarge - 20% 

I keep hitting "escape", but I'm still here.

  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • From: Michigan
Posted by tonka on Friday, June 30, 2017 10:19 PM

I travel a lot both for work and pleasure. I save the plastic key cards, use them for glue and paint palettes.

Drink a lot of crystal light save the little containers to hold parts

Have few friends that burn a lot of CDs and DVDs --I get their 'mistakes' use them for paint and glue palettes also



  • Member since
    January, 2014
Posted by gobobbie on Saturday, July 01, 2017 6:46 AM
Walmart sells their brand of juice mix which comes a tall package that holds six packages. I save the containers and they perfectly hold my long q tips and my pipettes. Also the dollar store has a plastic box that holds q tips and cotton pads. I give the cotton pads to my wife and now I keep toothpicks in one compartment and q tips in others. Bob Gregory Ruining one kit at a time
  • Member since
    April, 2009
  • From: Longmont, Colorado
Posted by Cadet Chuck on Saturday, July 01, 2017 8:14 AM

At Wendy's hamburger joints, they have little clear plastic cups for ketchup, at the condiment table.  These are great for mixing and thinning paints, and the price is right!

Computer, did we bring batteries?.....Computer?

  • Member since
    June, 2017
Posted by Chemteacher on Saturday, July 01, 2017 9:56 AM
Empty prescription bottles are great for saving small parts. The plastic markers/stirrers that Starbucks puts in the drink slot of your coffee cups make great paint stirrers or applicators for glue or putty. Micro-reaction plates from the chem lab are great for mixing paint, etc...

On the bench: Revell P-51D (pending decals)

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, July 01, 2017 10:30 AM

Cadet Chuck

At Wendy's hamburger joints, they have little clear plastic cups for ketchup, at the condiment table.  These are great for mixing and thinning paints, and the price is right!


I drink a powdered lemonade mix, and it used to come in those cups (I have a fair collection), but they have switched and now use an aluminized plastic bag for the powder.  I need to find a new source of them- just don't get to fast food joints enough.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    January, 2013
Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Saturday, July 01, 2017 10:49 AM


Long straight pieces of sprue also make good stirring sticks. 




I still do this.


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