Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Scratchbuilding - The Pros and Cons .

0 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    August 2008
Scratchbuilding - The Pros and Cons .
Posted by tankerbuilder on Monday, December 31, 2012 8:37 AM

Hello , fellow modelers :

      Now , here,s a subject that I live for . I have scratch - built for so long ,it amazes me when I build a kit ! You might say why ? well , I look at the kit parts and say to myself "self , you should,ve bought this instead of making all those parts "  The first thing about scratch-building is subject matter .

         I always say " If you know your subject matter well , then build it "  If you don't ,then get ALL the info BEFORE you start your project . Lack of information ,maybe , can mean the difference between a class or category win , or the inevitable downward spiral into obscurity.

   As you,ve gathered from my older and previous posts ( even the hard to read ones ! ) ,I don't compete much .When I do though , the subject is displayed with plans ,photos and any other info that is germain to the model .

 This of course is the bane of many modelers. "where do I get the info I need " ? is the often asked question.Use F.S.M. , your local LIBRARY and everyone on line or book form item you can find . My next statement says it all ."How serious and detailed do you want to go in the build ?" .I know many modelers who do kits , superdetail the daylights out of them and no one sees it but them .

      Why do that ? Well , the answer is actually quite simple , "because I know it's there !" Many years ago , I did a ship and detailed the daylights out of the pilot house (bridge ) on it .This became my company trademark ,because I enjoyed folks looking at my 1/400 four-piper and saying "Wow,did you see the inside of the pilot house , everything,s there "

   Now , for your model. do you have ALL the info you think you need ? Are you up to , in skills ,to the task ? Many modelers get started and think about halfway through " Why did I start this , what a waste of materials ". and pull it apart , never to go there again . I want you to avoid this pitfall .

 So , if the FSM folks and you modelers will bear with me we'll get started. This can be a long piece ..Choose your subject .What era , what scale , and how much detail ? This, you have to ask yourself . Don't ask anyone else . You are the master-builder on this project .Let your mind relax and then start in .Okay , got the info and scale set in mind ? Now what are you going to build it out of ?

      There is so much out there ,you can and will get confused .I, for instance ,  find it faster to build in sheet styrene a 1/96 scale 5" 38 gunmount for a FLETCHER destroyer . Why ? well I am actually faster doing that than trying to make the after-market resin pieces match the rest of my work .

     Yes , skill-set does play a factor here and all the way through .I build in .010 , .020 . .030 . all the way up to .080 and 1/4" and 1/8" Lexan or PLEXIGLASS .  I do this where I need strength .Keels and frames are a good example . None of the vessels I have built have hogged and some are now hitting the thirty year mark age-wise . Bye the way . When a vessel hogs , she sags at the ends , not the middle .

      Okay now glues . Do you like working with the cyanoacrylate glues (super glue ) ?  I do for certain things . Now , on that ,I do have a prefference for the gel types available at my local HOBBY TOWN or my fave LHS . I do NOT use ZIP-KICKER (accelerator) if I don't have to .I found out this does actually WEAKEN the joint . Sort of a molecular crystalization effect .ie. Brittle joints .

   Don;t get me wrong , it is very useful in places where the glue used ,  is thin to almost non-existant at the join . Now to patterns . Do you make patterns , and if so , out of what ? I use thin poster-board type material. Bright white on one side .This way I can actually number and make notes on the pattern ,WITHOUT weakening it . You can spray both side with craft clear satin spray (this will make them last for years ).

 The styrene I use comes from my long time favorite folks ,that's ,EVERGREEN . They have every shape I use , and they never have presented me with a quality or scaling problem . Their product takes paint well too . Especially if you scuff it with 200 grit first .This gives the paint "bite " This works with my favorite K&S brass ,  special shapes too.

    I use many paints to do the job. from my least liked (TAMIYA ACRYLICS ) to VALLEJO ,TESTORS and TESTORS MODELMASTER , then there's POLLY-S and FLOQUIL . I mention FLOQUIL last because it is strong chemically so as to impart almost an iron hard finish to H.O. train rolling stock . I especially like brushability of the product .Remember there was years ago , a paint that GUARANTEED ," NO BRUSH MARKS ". That spoiled me . I remember now it was "PACTRA "

   Sanding and finishing are important as well as the initial work , cutting shaping , etc .  Here is the way I start this . First and most important , Tha old adage in model work proves true ."You will get cut more with a dull or damaged X-ACTO blade ".Use fresh ones.You can get the fifteen -pack of either X-CEL brand (HOBBY LOBBY ) and of course X-ACTO  just about anywhere .

    For sanding supplies  , I use for heavy removal ,strictly 3-M "wet or dry" Automotive bodywork paper starting with 240 . I cut off a quarter sheet and sand till nothing gets removed .This , under running water with a fine screen in the drain(in case you drop the smaller parts) . The same source can be used for 2000 , 3000 , and 4000, 5000 grits too.

   How about filler ? Well , there's a split school of thought here .I like 3-M glazing putty OVER ,SQUADRON white .Then the RUSTOLEUM spray primer on top , followed with a wet exam and a light exam .if the model passes this ,its finish coat time for the parts , if not add more glazing material .What era , what theater , all come back to hit you now .

      Did the vehicle , plane , ship etc. serve in a particular place and what year ? Where in history do you want your model ? These go back to research . Base colors first . Then we can get exotic . Are you up to trying shading , weathering and such with washes and dot filters ? if you've read FSM faithfully , you have the training manual right in your hot little hands .

   I laughingly tried dot filters ,not to long ago on a 1/200 ARIZONA model for a client . My friends , who don't know about dot filtering thought I had gone over the edge . Here's this almost $200.00 (P.E. Included) model and I've painted little grey , white , purple and rust colored dots all over the thing . Now , when the model was photographed in the local paper , no one was laughing then .

    With the right camera angle , it looked like you were approaching the side of the real ship prior to DEC. 7 1941 . That's what you want to happen to your model too. If you have any questions , please feel free to e-mail me through the thread . I will try to give you a timely and accurate answer . Thank You for reading and I hope this helped .For a final word , I don't build ARMOR much , but these FRUILMODEL tracks are a challenge ,even for me . I have had to set them aside more than once .   Happy scratch-building        Tankerbuilder       P.S. Will I see your finished piece at the upcoming ALAMO SQUADRON / I.P.M.S. Show and contest in SAN ANTONIO ? Hope so , I do .


Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.