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Scratch-Building stuff in small scales

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  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Scratch-Building stuff in small scales
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 1:23 PM

Hi Everyone;

       Hey, as you all have read, Well, Maybe. I have been building out of PLASTIC, not P.E. ! the Cranes, Helo Platform, Burnoff tower and all the Piping and Gear on a 1/400 Paper Ship. Yeah, I should've just used the thing as patterns and built the whole thing out of Plastic!

       Now, that said and off my chest I have wondered, When YOU do stuff like this for Planes, Cars, and Armor what do you build on? Building in plastic at these scales can be challenging. Why? Well, the little touch of glue on the joint can Bleed down to the building surface.

 So, What does one do? There is an old trick us stick and tissue builders did years ago. We covered the patterns and plans with a good quality Waxed paper. So what to do with Plastics? Well there is a couple of surfaces than can work. You'll still have to break them free GENTLY with a razor blade or X-Acto chisel blade.

 I personally use two different surfaces. One is a piece of tempered Glass from an old " Ron Popiel" Showtime Rotisserie Oven. The other is a piece of Polished Marble from a Tombstone Carving Company. The third, which I will mention ONLY in passing is a Glass Smooth piece of countertop laminate in Black!

 You ask why? Well, the glue will bleed down as usual. But, the pieces will, when left to rest will join well and the one side will always be perfectly flat! This means that your exterior of the piece will always look good. All you have to do is take the finished item and GENTLY rub it with a Extra fine sanding strip ( Beauty Store Type) or a flat piece of 400 grit and the film at the edges will disappear!

 So, why Bother? Well, there is more time involved tis true. But You will have parts that YOU made and not something you had to steal from that expensive set of P.E. you don't know why you bought ,or where you got it from, which is a mystery. Like me, Probably for a Ship, Plane or Armor kit you don't even own!

 I think sometimes I have gotten them given to me at train shows. You know, " Well, I've got this brass for what I don't know, You want it?" So Build in plastic and extend both your skills AND really learn how to use both a Metric rule and a Magnifier that you wear. Good Luck!


  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, March 26, 2021 7:55 AM

Any time I scratch build I am likely to use multiple materials.  I am not a purist, and feel no compulsion to use a single material.  I use a lot of wood for its low cost and good workability.  I like plastic for its easy finishing.  Same for metal and like its availabiliy in thin sheets for parts where edge is visible i.e. gun shields.  I will use resin where I need a number of identical parts.  I have used card stock at times instead of metal.

I use whatever is the best material for each part.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Friday, March 26, 2021 8:52 AM

Hi Don!

    Oh ,You Betchya! I have even used strips of typing paper for gun tubs on a 1/700 ship!

 "If it works, Use it" is my motto ! I have a few full hull paper sail ships.The masts I have included for the build-"B.B.. Skewers of polished rounded Bamboo.

 Inch for inch, stronger than any other wood for this.


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