A Beginner’s Guide to Model Building

Jan 18 2022
This post may include affiliate links Click here to read my Disclosure and Copyright or, for more information on how this website collects your data, click here to view my Privacy Policy. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Wow this post took me WAY back to my childhood. You probably won’t be surprised that though I didn’t quite dip into full model building as a child I was still absolutely a builder! From Legos to Lincoln logs I was not your normal girl lol. This post intrigues me though and I wonder if I have the time to perhaps look into it! It certainly sounds and looks like a lot of fun 🙂

Operation BLISSFULLY HAPPY: My updated 1, 2 and 10 year plans! Paying off my home mortgage within ten years, putting in a VRBO rental suite in the basement
(This is a contributed post, for more information about my compensation please read my disclosure policy)

As gadgets increasingly hone in on our existence, a growing segment of the population is in quiet, creative revolt: the crafters and model builders. In response to the technological intrusion, the arts and crafts way had been gaining adherents for years, but then when the pandemic came along and shook up the world, we witnessed a massive boom in crafting devotees.

We’re here to issue a hearty welcome to all the new crafters and model builders out there, those luddite-curious folks who are putting their smartphones down and making something instead.

We’re also here to help you on your way. This article is geared toward all the beginner model builders out there. We want to make sure you’re set with all the model-building tools you’ll need to take your hobby to the next level.

So snag your stainless steel tweezers and let’s craft a guide to get you on your way.

Get That Kit

When you’re just starting out in the model building game, you’re probably not quite ready to construct the ol’ ship in a bottle, but there are endless opportunities to try your hand at putting together super cool, super fun models that are challenging yet doable for even the greenest model builders. 

So step one: Get that kit. This list almost certainly has something that tickles your fancy. Don’t labor too much over the decision. If you’re torn between something that’s a little pricey/intricate and an option that looks a little less daunting, you might want to take the easier route this time.

A quick note on model difficulty: You’ll see models attributed anything from Skill-Level 1 (generally snap together; no tools required) to Skill-Level 5 (here, you definitely need tools and paint and know-how).

You can probably hop right by Skill-Level 1, perhaps you can even bypass Skill-Level 2, but you’ll need to gain skills and beef up the tools in your arsenal before you’ll be ready to conquer more challenging models. 

Now about those tools…

A Good Craft Knife: The Tool Every Modeler Needs

It’s not an exaggeration to say that pretty much every modeler is going to have a hard time getting by without a trusty craft knife. The right knife is a clutch tool in the modeling game. They are indeed so versatile that they make lots of other modeling tools seem redundant. You can use them for a wide range of applications, from freeing pieces from their sprue to shaping bits that need a little cleanup.

And be quick to replace your blade once you detect even the slightest bit of dulling. You may resist the urge, thinking you can surely get at least a few more cuts from your blade. But when you’re building models, you need to be precise. That little bit of extra effort you need to exert when your blade loses its edge could lead to injury and/or damage to a piece of your model.


Even an expert modeler with excellent craft knife skills will regularly be confronted with rough edges she needs to sand down pretty much every time out. You can get by with basic sandpaper you can acquire at any hardware store. Now you will be confronted with a dizzying array of grits. Don’t let the options overwhelm you. When you are just getting underway, you’ll almost certainly be fine with either 400 or 800 grit.

As you sink deeper into your hobby, you may find yourself needing additional abrasives. Here’s a helpful guide to modeling abrasives that will help as you advance. Files and sanding sticks are also extremely helpful precision tools for sanding down the areas where sprues were cut.


Any model beyond a Skill-Level 1 (those are the snap-together options) is going to require some adhesive. You don’t need anything too fancy here. But you certainly want to take a moment before you begin to make sure you have the right glue for the job. After all, you don’t want to build something that isn’t going to stand the test of time.

Take a look at this breakdown of modeling glues. A moment to make sure you have the right glue for your model will save you a lot of grief down the road.

Professional Tweezers and Needle-Nose Pliers

At the risk of stating the embarrassingly obvious: When you’re working with models, you’re working with exceedingly small parts. You’ll routinely find yourself confronted with itty-bitty pieces and tough to reach places. So make sure you’re ready for the inevitable by equipping yourself with the right tools for the finer work.

Those tweezers we mentioned a bit ago? You’ll be needing at least one pair of those. You might be tempted to go with the cosmetic tweezers you have lying around the house. We’d caution against that. You need tweezers with pincers that are designed for the task at hand, not to pluck eyebrows.

A good pair of pliers can also prove invaluable as you find yourself confronted with the more intricate aspects of modeling. A sprue cutter can also come in handy.    

Wow this post took me WAY back to my childhood. You probably won't be surprised that though I didn't quite dip into full model building
(This is a contributed post, for more information about my compensation please read my disclosure policy)

Leave a Comment