GUNPLA tools part 1: Basic tools

March 1, 2020 at 21:22 | Posted in How-to | Leave a comment
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Back when I started out with this hobby, I used a nail clipper to cut parts from the runner. I’ve moved on from those dark days and have since accumulated quite an array of tools. Some of them are essential, others are there just to make my gunpla life easier. Here’s what my toolbox looks like:

1) Bare essentials:

At the most basic level, all you need for this hobby are a pair of nippers and a hobby blade.

Nippers:
You use this to cut the parts from the runner. There’s many types of nippers available, ranging from cheap ones to premium types. I’ve used several cheap nippers down the years; one got blunt while the spring broke in another. My general-purpose nipper currently is this one by GoodSmile Company:

I also have a GodHand nipper which has a thinner cutting edge that results in flatter & cleaner cuts. You can find out how I use both nippers for nub-removal here.

Hobby blade:
You can cut, trim or scrape with it, that is why it’s essential for this hobby. There’s many types of blades available; for general purposes I use this type:

For some situations, I have this flat blade:

Useful for scraping off melted plastic from melded seam lines.

 

2) Useful tools:

To go beyond just snap-fitting, these tools are definitely helpful, especially if you like to modify, kitbash or add details to your kit.

Cutting mat:
They’re like a chopping board for plastic models. The lines are useful as guides when cutting plaplate or masking tape.

Tweezers:
For picking up fine things and for handling waterslide decals.

File:
I had a cheap file that I didn’t use so often, mainly because it tends to leave ugly scratch marks on the plastic. But now I use these ones by Sujiboridou. This one is for larger surface areas:

And this 2.8mm wide file is for those narrow spaces:

T-ruler:
A steel T-ruler is very useful when cutting plaplate, to ensure a straight, 90 degree angle. Makes a good combo with the P-cutter.

P-cutter:
It’s like a hobby blade, but with a peculiar-looking blade. Good for cutting thick plaplate and also for scribing panel lines, but I mostly use it for the former.

Modelling saw:
I have two types of saws with different sized teeth. The one with the larger teeth is for cutting large pieces but it makes rougher cuts.

I have another one with very thin blade and fine teeth. Useful for making very precise and clean cuts through plastic.

Pin vise:
The pin vise is mostly used for the drill bits, but can also be used for other things, like a chisel or scriber.

Drill bits:
I have a set of drill bits ranging from 1mm to 3mm in diameter. Used with the pin vise for drilling holes, obviously.

For larger holes (2-10mm diameter), I use the step drill by Wave.

3) Consumables

Sandpaper:
I have several grits ranging from 200 (rough) to 1000 (slightly fine), and in various forms. There’s some precut strips:

There’s also sanding sponges by GodHand:

Masking tape:
Mostly used for masking. I have different size ones. Obviously you can just get one big one and cut it, but I’m lazy.

There’s also specialized tape used as guides during scribing.

Plaplate:
They come in all shapes and sizes: strips, tubes, corrugated types. There’s also ones with grids printed on them for cutting precise shapes.

Putty:
Already discussed in this post.

Glue:
Plastic cement, as the name implies, is used to fuse plastic parts. I like to use Tamiya Extra Thin Cement. Because it’s thin, it can flow between seam lines pretty easily.

There’s also the standard cement, which is thicker in consistency.

For non plastic parts (resin, metal) or when I need a stronger bond, I use super glue. This gel type from Tamiya does the job, but it tends to leave white residues after it dries.

Summary:

So these are the tools I use for building and modifying my kits. If you’re just starting with this hobby, don’t worry about getting all the things I listed here, because all you actually need is a good pair of nippers, a hobby knife and some plastic cement.
I’ll introduce a couple more exotic tools that I’ve accumulated in a later post.

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