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Want to get into models what is the estimated cost for tools,painting options etc to get started

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#1 kilrb53


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Posted 31 July 2013 - 05:47 PM

Just want to see what it might cost for the beginner to get started as far as tools and such . Is there a recommended list of tools you must have? Like I said I haven't built a model in 40 or more years till I built a fire engine for my bro I laws memorial and after going on this site I can see I am so far out of my league as far as what most of you do but I am a perfectionist and I can do some amazing stuff when I want to. Just trying to save time and frustration so any body want to take a newbie under their wing? I will post a pic of what I did please don't laugh.

#2 Ace-Garageguy


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Posted 31 July 2013 - 06:08 PM

It depends on how quickly you want to get up to speed, but I'd say the most essential basics include a good box-set of  3 X-acto knives, spare blades for them, a small set of files, and maybe a selection of emery boards and sandpaper. A fine-tooth (32tpi) razor saw and some clamps, including clothespins, should get you going.

#3 clovis


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Posted 31 July 2013 - 06:25 PM

Don't feel bad about not having a workbench full of supplies.


I currently own one X-acto knife, no extra blades, a few hand-me-down emery boards from my wife, and about 12 bottles of paint. Oh, and I have some regular sand paper in various grits that I got out of my toolbox.


Of course, I am not an award winning builder. I'm just coming back to the hobby after a 25 year hiatus, so I am in the same boat that you are in.


Money isn't growing on trees here, so I am using what I have on hand, and buying a little here and there as I need it.


I don't own a Dremel, but I do own an airbrush (which I haven't used yet). I would like to have an X-acto saw and a mini drill set.


Please just enjoy the build, and don't get carried away with what you don't have in supplies. This hobby is supposed to be about having fun building a model!!!

Edited by clovis, 31 July 2013 - 06:27 PM.

#4 Ridge Rider

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 07:05 PM



I know I've seen an other one on basic tools to get started but can't seem to find it.  These can give you an idea of whats used and what you actually need to get started. As for the cost, it can be as expensive as you want to make it.  When I got back into modeling I put an add on craigslist- looking for model cars, parts, and supply's and got most of my tools and supply's at very reasonable prices.  

#5 kalbert


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Posted 01 August 2013 - 12:12 AM

A kitchen table, old news paper, $20 for a kit and $30 for a knife, sand paper, glue, and a starter set of paint is really all you need to get started, and from there the sky's the limit!

#6 chevyfever2009


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Posted 01 August 2013 - 02:09 AM

You can always buy off ebay alot of members on here dont like ebay but i have got alot of my tools and kits off ebay for a fraction of the price at stores or what the kit cost new or even the older kits for dirt cheap. It all depends on what kind of cars your into

#7 ERIK88


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Posted 02 August 2013 - 04:32 PM

it might not seem like you need a lot of money to get started, but u buy one thing then another for that piece then you find out this other tool is helpful and it builds on from there. If you want to build somewhat decent models it gets quite costly. I came back from a 8 yr break and bought some tools I absolutely cannot go without which are a spraypainting booth, dehydrator, blow drier, hobby knives, glue, solva set, bare metal foil, aluminum tubing, glue, flocking, polishing compounds, different grit sandpaper, etc. Once you buy all the necessary tools it doesn't get that expensive, unless you are super detailing a model , that can get you into the hundreds of dollars spent on one model. But it is what you make of it, It, if you want the  experience to be more smooth, it requires more toys or accessories. But in all honesty you can build a model with the minimal array of tools +supplies listed above. :rolleyes:  there is no definite answer to your question :D

Edited by ERIK88, 02 August 2013 - 04:38 PM.

#8 southpier


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Posted 03 August 2013 - 12:51 AM

fingernail clippers & emery board. everything else is optional.



need a hole? heat a pin over the burner on the kitchen stove.


don't let lack of money keep you out of the hobby. build to your budget and improve your skills. you can always go back to the original models and improve them. look at some of the great work done by the guys on the forum who practically specialize in buying "glue bombs" from ebay. they crank out some fantastic models.


the hobby isn't about how much you spend, but how you utilize it.

#9 Tom Geiger

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 03:54 AM

 If you want to build somewhat decent models it gets quite costly. I came back from a 8 yr break and bought some tools I absolutely cannot go without which are a spraypainting booth, dehydrator, blow drier, hobby knives, glue, solva set, bare metal foil, aluminum tubing, glue, flocking, polishing compounds, different grit sandpaper, etc.


Okay I think you just scared off Bruce!   As Joe said, you can build a model with a fingernail clipper and an emery board swiped from your mommy or wife.  Heck, I remember brushing painting models with a Q-Tip when I was a kid.


Honestly, I've been at this over 25 years as an adult.  I'm pretty much a hand tool guy.  I use spray cans, I don't need an air brush. I don't use a Dremel.  I have a few different eXacto knives. I like the one with the cushioned handle. I have Flexi-files, about a $10 investment.  A small file set from Home Depot may set you back another $10.  I have a wire clipper from my garage tool box. I bought about 6 different grits of 3M sand paper from the auto parts store and cut them into small 2x2 squares for sanding.  That $20 investment has lasted for years.  I do have a spray booth. I built it from a plastic recycle bin and a used kitchen fan. It's worked for 20 years.  I bought a small drill set for less than $15 and you can get a pin vise drill for less than $10.  Here's the sand paper:




Typical packs you can buy at any store.  About $5 last time I looked.




Cut into small squares. A pack of each grit will last you years.  The small cabinet was $7 at Wallys.


Hope this helps.  You can spend a fortune on tools and equipment if you want but you can also build economically. But also remember any dollar spent on good tools will last you a life time.

#10 Harry P.

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 05:24 AM

A basic "must have" list to get started:


• X-acto knife and #11 blades. But the blades in bulk, they cost a lot less per blade that way.


• Several high quality paint brushes in various sizes, from tiny for small details to fairly large. Don't buy cheap brushes... they don't last and you'll wind up tossing them and buying better brushes anyway... so just buy the good ones in the first place.


• A selection of sandpaper in various grits from ultra-fine to coarse. Get it at the local home center, less expensive than buying it at a hobby shop.


• A set of various small files... round, flat, etc. Again, buy at the home center, cheaper than at a hobby shop.


• Liquid styrene glue, CA glue ("crazy glue"), and clear 2-part epoxy. Liquid glue for general building (much neater to use than "tube glue," CA and epoxy for certain circumstances that will become obvious to you as you gain experience).


• Sprue cutters (can be found at craft stores like Michael's or Hobby Lobby).


• Small plastic spring clamps (I found a set of 20 at the home center for a couple of bucks).


• A roll of masking tape (comes in handy in all sorts of ways).


(Plus whatever paints you need to build the model)


That should get you going, and all together (not including the paints) should cost roughly $50-75 or so.


Soon you'll find that you want a few more tools. First should be a pine vise and a set of bits–you'll find all sorts of instances where you'll need to drill small holes. Eventually you'll want a razor saw and a Dremel tool with various assorted bits... once you have a Dremel you'll wonder how you ever got along without it. A food dehydrator is fairly cheap ($30 or so) and comes in handy for speeding up the paint drying process. And finally, you may eventually want to step up to an airbrush and compressor... but to be honest, many people build models all their lives without ever using an airbrush. An airbrush is one of those "not essential but nice to have" tools that you may or may not feel that you need (or want).

#11 Art Anderson

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 09:01 AM

Rather than rush out to buy each and every tool that exists for model building all at once, I'd do that on an "as needed" basis.  That way, you will avoid the real possibility of becoming simply overwhelmed with tools, many of which you may or may not use at the outset.  In addition, most of us do our model work on a budget that does have some limitations, so this approach does spread the cost out a good bit.


This approach also allows you to scope out all the various sources for model building tools (even tools from other venues which just might spark an idea in your mind as to their usefulness for your purposes), and not at all unimportantly, finding good prices on stuff you will find useful.


A good source for small tools can be flea market or automobile swap meet dealers when and if you find them--I've bought needle files for as little as 25-cents apiece, and I can't tell any difference between those and ones costing several times as much in retail stores.  In addition, I've found rotary cutters that are virtually identical to those sold by Dremel, again at a fraction of their normal cost.  


In addition to tools marketed as modeler's tools, there are some rather unlikely items that I find have real use:  The lowly toothpick is one of the most universal tools at my bench--I use them for applying tiny bits of glue on occasion (plastic cement, epoxy, even CA glue), they can be used to hold or support small subassemblies for painting (I have the Hemi engine for my '56 Chrysler 300B project "impaled" on one right now, with the free end poked into a square patch of corrugated cardboard, ready to be airbrushed, and then put in my food dehydrator to completely dry and cure the Testors #1146 silver paint, prior to final assembly.  I use an artist's pallette knife for spreading putty:  It's the smallest size available, so it gets into some really tight places. On your next appointment at the dentist, ask him or her if they have any old dental picks around that can't be autoclaved (sterilized) properly anymore.  I've found that every dentist I've ever had has had at least some interest in modeling (after all, dentists have to restore the shapes and contours of teeth pretty regularly).


This list could go on, and on, and on--the point being that you can find useful little stuff that works for building models in all manner of unusual places.



#12 Pete J.

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 09:35 AM

From a guy who has at least 5 grand in modeling tools this is going to sound a little weird, but all you need is some glue, paint with a way to apply them.  Some sprue cutters and multi-grit sanding sticks, tooth picks(round) and Q-tips and an Xacto knife.  Everything else is specialist tools.  Now I have drawers full of tools that I use all the time but I didn't buy them all at once.  My tool chest is an accumulation of 30 years of building.  Over time I encountered things beyond the basics that I wanted to do and that is where to tool collection came in.  If you want to do something special with a model, I can guarantee that someone make a tool just to do that, but you don't need that to get started.  


No knock on hobbys shops, but almost any hobby tool or supply that is available is sourced from a different application.  What that means is that if you are willing to do a little research, you can find just about everything you need direct from the manufacture for much less.  Example, K&S brass sheets.  They do a nice job of cutting and packaging their product in 6"X3" pieces all wrapped in a nice package, but I can go to an industrial metal supply house and get the same material in 3'x3' sheets for just a little more.  Sanding sticks that you get at you local hobby shop for $3 each can be bought from Micro Surface starting at $1.05.  For the frugal modeler, it just takes a little time and effort and you can get everything you need.  Check out the hobby sources to get ideas and then shop around by looking at places that my be the source.  It can be very rewarding and save a few bucks.

#13 High octane

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 10:04 AM

Like Art had said, buy your tools on an as-needed basis. I have a compressor and two air brushes that I haven't used in years. I don't have a spray-booth, blow dryer, or a dehydrator and I get along just fine. And yes I'm happy with the way my models turn out.

#14 gobobbie


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Posted 03 August 2013 - 10:29 AM

Besides all the good advice above.

Think of the dollar store to get a lot of basic supplies; like q-tips, nail polish remover, and all kinds of interesting stuff.




Sally's beauty supply: a discount card costs $5; you get a $5 dollar coupon. Sallys has sanding sticks in all kinds of grits at very good prices. There is a lot of stuff applicable in beauty supply stores if you don't worry about strange looks.


Michaels has a coupon in the paper for 40% off every week. You can build up supplies pretty fast.


If you identify a tool you want, do some research and see who else may have it.


I have bought tools from American Science and Surplus. Excellent prices and good shipping.


Wally world is where I buy my 91% alcohol and I check out the rattle cans of primer. I buy my bondo glazing putty there also. Sheets of sandpaper are good buys also.


Harbor Freight- I just picked up a third hand soldering aid for 2.32 with a 20% coupon, every week in the paper. I have also picked up tweezers, files, motor tool bits and other stuff.


Also don't be afraid to do a salvage work. I have got the two model supply cabinets (five drawer sterilite) from a dumpster. My big waste can a 5 gallon frosting bucket from a local supermarket that was free for the asking. My waste water disposal storage bucket for dirty water from cleaning acrylics is another bucket with a hole drilled in the lid and a funnel inserted, Every couple of nights I carry it to the basement toilet to flush.


Yard sales sometimes yield benefits, and check out your local goodwill. I got two armor kits, Italeri M109, and M7 priest still shrink wrapped; total 4 dollars.


Depending on how you want to go; you can build your own spray booth. Last night at the Tidewater IPMS meeting our demonstration was from a member who is a industrial hygienist. He said you need a squirrel cage motor (which you might be able find in salvage) that does at least 100 cfm.


Keep your eyes open and don't despair.


Bob Gregory

messing up one model at a time.


#15 sjordan2


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Posted 03 August 2013 - 10:59 AM

Personally, I think you need to understand techniques of building before you create a stash of tools. Here's a good place to start. Harry's list gives you the basics and beyond, and you should save it. But as hinted at above, get your tools on an as-needed basis. At the very least, an X-Acto set of blades and a variety of sandpaper grits are the most basic. As for painting, especially when starting out, most modelers will tell you to stick with the same brand of primer and paint in the same type (mostly lacquer OR enamel, but not combining both).


To answer your question directly, you don't need  big outlay of investment up front.



Edited by sjordan2, 04 August 2013 - 06:03 AM.

#16 southpier


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Posted 03 August 2013 - 12:12 PM

....  For the frugal modeler, it just takes a little time and effort .....


planning, too. I mail order stuff to save money rather than jump in the truck and drive 50 miles round trip to the lhs. just have to figure what i'm going to need next week and order it up!

#17 MikeyB08


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Posted 03 August 2013 - 12:43 PM

First and foremost, welcome back to the Hobby. 


Now on to the question at hand. You have gotten a lot of good useful feedback. So I throw mine out there. If anyone is frugal, it's me. I'm the cheap of the cheap when it comes to stuff for my hobbies. It's an enjoyment, not a career. 


My Must Have List-

  • XActo Knife (ves). 

  • Elmer's White All Purpose Glue

  • Super Glue

  • Q-Tips

  • 1000-2000 Grit Sandpaper (optional really- I just use it for mold lines)

  • Sharpies

  • Pin Vise (optional)

  • Quality Brushes

The biggest thing with this hobby for me is making a good quality build that I will appreciate on my shelf for the cheapest price possible. I don't go to Model Contest or place my builds to be judge. If I'm happy, than I did what I wanted.


For wires and such for engine detail, look to your old electronics that are no longer working. Particularly the power cables.

I never look for tools in a hobby store. Main reason for this is because it can then be viewed as a "Specialty Tool", meaning it pertains to the hobby/craft only. But let's face it, a Tamiya Sprue Cutter ($10+) is glorified Fingernail cutters ($2). I also visit the local dollar store for emery boards, crafting wire, For Sale signs to use as extra plastic, etc. 


You're in control of the expense. Don't just think outside the box, tear it up!! Now... Go build something!


P.S- Here's my main tool box that I work out of. The pill bottle holds all of my dull X-Acto blades.