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Scratchbuild Seminar 3-Materials

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Resources, and materials are what is needed to build from scratch. Kit bashing is often misunderstood as scratch building. Building from scratch is building from raw materials. Some people can get into terminology and say that the term raw means “unrefined plastic polymer”, not Styrene sheet. Don’t get caught up in the terms. Scratch building is building from basic materials available. Kit bashing is when you use several parts that are pre made or from another kit.

Materials for scratch building come in several different shapes, colors, sizes, and substances. Some materials are metal, others are plastic. To choose your material, you need to decide which material would best suit your application. Some materials have better uses than others.

Styrene is a very common material in modeling. Styrene is plastic. The most common producers of styrene are Evergreen and Plastruct. Each company has their advantages and disadvantages. Don’t stick to just one manufacturer of styrene, use which ever it takes to get the job done. Evergreen offers sheets, strips, tubes, squares, rods, and offer these in larger amounts than Plastruct. Plastruct offers several different shapes that Evergreen does not, such as: triangular rod, trusses, pentagonal rod, hex rod, and sometimes smaller diameter rod than Evergreen.

Styrene has unlimited uses. It is easy to cut, bend, shape, sand, paint, fill, and glue together. It can be cut with an X-acto knife, or scissors. Bend it with solvent, glue into shape, or heat it over a flame. You can laminate several pieces together and sand it into a shape. Using Styrene is a much better alternative to putty as it has a less likely tendency to crack, shrink, or lose shape.

Brass is and often used material in scratch building. Brass is slightly expensive, but is often better in some applications. Brass comes is several different shapes, but is not a readily available as styrene. K&S Engineering, along with their partner Special Shapes produces a lot of brass shapes and sheets. Most hobby shops have a K&S Display to sell brass and aluminum.

The common use of brass is where something needs to be rigid and strong. Brass can be cut, soldered, and shaped with a hammer and heat. Cutting brass depends on the shape used. If you’re using tube, you can use a tubing cutter, or Dremel cutting wheel; same works for rod. Sheet can be cut with sheet metal sheers. Soldering is the best method of attaching brass together. (A more in depth explanation of soldering and its uses will be in a seminar later.) Shaping brass is not easy, but can be done with practice. Using many different types of tools such as hammers, tucking forks, hammer forms, bucks, and torch brass can be shaped. The best advantage of brass is that it can be chromed.

Sometimes you may have to coming materials. Like a brass rod inside of a Styrene tube to give the Styrene some strength; other times neither resource works well. Take a look around a craft store for ideas of different materials. Everything has multiple uses. Once again “think as if there is no box to think in”.

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