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Armor/AFV: Techniques
From Weathering to making tent rolls, discuss it here.
Hosted by Darren Baker
How do you build??
Washington, United States
Joined: September 21, 2010
KitMaker: 1,845 posts
AeroScale: 103 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 05:54 AM UTC
This question has been bothering me for a few months and I have finally worked up the courage to stick my neck out and show my ignorance. So, please take pity on the idiot and help a brother out.
When you build do you cut parts from the trees once you need them, doing it in stages? Or do you cut everything from the trees, sand each part and put it in a box and label it, then begin building?
Reason I am asking, is I have seen a few build logs here that seem to progress REALLY fast. Maybe you all have more time, maybe I am just slow. But it occurred to me that maybe the way that I had been doing this since I was a kid, was not the "best" way to be doing this. Usually I cut parts from the tree once I need them, sand it and make it "purty", then test fit and glue. But maybe its better to cut everything, sand, file, and then begin the build.
Am I over thinking this?? Cheers.
Cork, Ireland
Joined: August 31, 2008
KitMaker: 67 posts
AeroScale: 3 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 06:20 AM UTC
I only cut the parts from the sprue as needed. My question to you is why do you want to speed up as I'm pretty sure speed = mistakes = bad
in the world of modeling (I could be wrong). I'd keep doing it the way I'm more comfortable with and just remember to have fun.
Milano, Italy
Joined: July 13, 2010
KitMaker: 3,845 posts
AeroScale: 25 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 06:26 AM UTC
Me too, I cut the parts from the sprues just if I have to mount them

In my humble opinion that's the best way to avoid mistakes and losses

Anyway, me too i'm a really slow modeller, but I think it doesn't depend on that.
Utah, United States
Joined: December 14, 2007
KitMaker: 3,326 posts
AeroScale: 370 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 06:33 AM UTC
Cut the part from the sprue, clean it up, drop it on the floor, loose it for a day or so, unless it was critical to the build, in which case I won't find it until after the build is complete. If I remove too many parts I'm bound to loose them or get them mixed up. I've even marked off parts on the instructions once installed so I don't get mixed up or forget steps.

I've seen builds that seem to go pretty fast, but I am lucky to get 30 minutes a day. It may be only two or three parts at a time. Bill Plunk (I think it was him) posted a time log on one build. It seemed to go fast with the updates, but he was showing several hours of work for each new post.
South Carolina, United States
Joined: May 07, 2010
KitMaker: 2,233 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 06:44 AM UTC

I'd have to say that the "best way" is which ever way works best for you.

As for myself, I clean the parts up as I need them, usually cutting all the parts from the tree that are needed for which ever subassembly I'm working on at the moment.

I often leave parts attached to a short section of the sprue to serve as a handle (especially useful for very small parts). I then use the X-acto knife first to clean all the way around the mold parting lines by cutting or scraping. This is followed up with, as needed, files and or sand paper. Finally I buff the cleaned-up mold parting lines with 0000 steel wool. Lastly, I cut the part from the sprue handle and clean up that attachment point.

I usually l clean up all the parts for any sub-assembly before I start to glue it up, but this varies depending on the nature of the assembly. This lets me test fit / dry-fit and experiment with assembly sequence to get the best end results.

I usually leave the rest of the parts attached to the trees in the box to make finding them easier. I also tend to paint a lot of parts separately and glue them up in final assembly and finishing. Those parts are kept in small plastic cups, usually grouped by assembly step or sub-assembly or the finishing / final assembly stage that I wnat them in.


Michigan, United States
Joined: September 10, 2004
KitMaker: 1,575 posts
AeroScale: 78 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 06:46 AM UTC
Russ, you crack me up!!!! How many times DOES that vital piece go flying and wind up hiding out where ever the missing socks from the dryer are!!!!

I do the same thing, usually only removing the parts as I need them. And as for speed, that is seldom something that can be used to describe my model building process unless you also include the word "glacial"

Al Qahirah, Egypt / لعربية
Joined: July 23, 2004
KitMaker: 6,856 posts
AeroScale: 77 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 06:46 AM UTC
I personally get maybe 30 minutes to an hour a day to build.. plus my eyesight is very bad and I have to use a magnifier just to clean each part and to see where to put the cement so I build really slow.. I might finish one or two steps in a sitting.. depending of course on the number of parts in each step.

Also, I only cut off and clean a couple of parts at a time because I'm afraid I;ll end up losing something. I can't imagine cutting all the parts off and labeling each part and then looking for it when I need it.

Don't think too much about what others do and how they build.. each person't brain works in a different way.. and what may be very easy for one person to do could be very difficult for another.

I figure I'm not in a race to finish the kit as fast as I can.. so I just take my time and try to get it to look good as best as I can... Enjoy the process itself!


Arizona, United States
Joined: June 30, 2004
KitMaker: 1,336 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 06:54 AM UTC
i too suffer from aged eyesight, ergo i am slow. i look up the model online and if it has the instruction sheets i save it to fave. then i open that page up and i can dnlarge it on my puter screen. 150-`75 the size helps me immensly in seeing the part placement and any instructions for it, as in the dragon instruction sheet.

this site is an example of what i am talking about. and it is my current project.

i do the parts on the tree as far as cleaning and painting the base coat or primer if you will. also i wear a magnifying head set, 8 power , to assist me in cleaning and painting before or after glueing is done.

hope this helps.

Texas, United States
Joined: July 05, 2002
KitMaker: 717 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 07:50 AM UTC
I prefer leaving the parts on the sprues until I'm ready to do something with them. I use letter organizers (slotted rack thingies) to help me keep the sprues in order so that if I need two parts from A and two parts from F and another part from G, I can get to the appropriate sprue fairly efficiently. Doesn't speed up my build time much, but it does help cut down on time spent hunting for the part I need. When I gathering parts for a sub-assembly, I collect them in a plastic box or container so they are all in one place before I start cleaning, gluing, saying bad words, prying the ill-fitting pieces apart, cleaning them again, dry fitting and then gluing for real.
When I have several sub-assemblies ready for the painting stage, I try to keep them organized in compartmented trays. I have the luxury of lots of space for shelves near my build desk and paint shop, so i can have numerous projects in various stages all slowly grinding to a halt and staring reproachfully at me until I get inspired again, or at least halfway busy enough to get something done instead of spending waaaay too much time browsing the internet and posting overly long replies . . .
Jerusalem, Israel
Joined: February 06, 2009
KitMaker: 1,506 posts
AeroScale: 2 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 08:05 AM UTC

that's depends. usually, I cut a part just when I need it. I do, however, cut several parts in one go, if we're talking about a repetitive stage (like road wheels mounts and such).
Louisiana, United States
Joined: March 06, 2010
KitMaker: 3,017 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 11:14 AM UTC
I'm with Russ! - cut them off, admire them, drop and lose them for awhile. I follow up with Cuss. Get my kids and missus to find them for me.

Actually - all these fine folks are RIGHT! Do what WORKS and makes you happy. When a kit has about 600 - 750+ parts not including track-links - I like to mark the instructions off when a piece and step is done. The exception to my usual clip-only-when-needed is to do those repetitive sets - road wheels and all the suspension / bogie sets - as a group.

North Carolina, United States
Joined: June 06, 2006
KitMaker: 4,563 posts
AeroScale: 233 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 12:00 PM UTC
I cut them only as I use them,too easy to loose or difficult in identifying different parts.
Florida, United States
Joined: May 04, 2008
KitMaker: 757 posts
AeroScale: 16 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 12:02 PM UTC
I cut off the pieces only when I am ready to glue them or do a sub assembly. Sometimes paint while on the sprue. No point in cutting off all the parts and leaving them in a pile as that would be hard to find the pieces. What I do to make it easier to find the pieces as I go, is to remove and throw away the excess sprue, thus continually shrinking the size of the remaining sprue and making the remaining parts easier to spot. By the time I am finished there is little remaining sprue left.
Washington, United States
Joined: September 21, 2010
KitMaker: 1,845 posts
AeroScale: 103 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 01:28 PM UTC
Gentlemen, thank you one and all. I am glad to know that I am not the only turtle here. I have been feeling a bit inadequate with some of the amazing work that goes on here, very impressive. I have just gotten out of the hobby after a few years and am building my first kit since, well since a while. . . .
Thank you all for the reassurance and thank you all for your continued support. It is nice to have a community where you can ask stupid questions and not be made to feel even dumber. Cheers to all of you.
Arkansas, United States
Joined: June 29, 2009
KitMaker: 11,610 posts
AeroScale: 79 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 01:41 PM UTC
Some of the faster builds you see, like mine, are because the modeller has more time to devote to the build. Normally, I cut parts from the sprue as needed. With repetitiive assemblies, I cut all the parts at the same time. I also build subassemblies separately. I have lost far too many parts to the carpet monster. I currently have three kits on the back burner for lack of critical pieces. I would suggest that you build in your comfort zone. I have all day to build models, since I draw disability. Otherwise, I would suggest building 1 or 2 subassemblies each day.
Victoria, Australia
Joined: February 20, 2011
KitMaker: 87 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 02:25 PM UTC
Ah....so I'm not alone and dropping small pieces and losing them, actually, they are probably large pieces but my eyesight now is shot to pieces so everything looks small

I'm now back into the modeling gig after a bit of 'time away', so I'm too picking up where I left off. I'm trying to accelerate my 'learning', probably biting off a bit more than I can chew but this forum and threads like this only help me and I guess others.

And just for the record, I too leave the piece on the sprue till required then remove and clean up, as required. I do like the idea of a final clean with 0000 steel wool (cheers for that gem SdAufKla).

Thanks guys.
South Australia, Australia
Joined: November 06, 2010
KitMaker: 537 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 03:09 PM UTC
Im guilty as charged of speed building.

I leave things on the sprue until needed, and have not yet met a person who removes it all first (except one guy who cleaned about 800 parts at once for a gundam robot... had them all lined up on boards with each part numbered etc )

I too paint things on the sprue sometimes.

I speed build because I dont like building. I like painting. I build to get to the paint. Also when I build I usually do it with large blocks of time 5- 7 hours at a time sometimes twice a day (before and after work), and when I put a blog post up, it has what some people might consider 2 weeks work if they only did an hour a day. So speed is relative perhaps?

I wish I could take my time but im quite short attention spanned and very impatient. I want to decal wet paint. I want to wash fresh base coats.. primer coats slow me down,, etc etc. Im a very lazy modeller sometimes, I wish i took more time and the quality would be even better!

Sometimes when scratchbuilding it looks like it goes fast because build time only happens after a looong time of thought and preparation. I might take years to read things accumulate pictures, ask questions on posts etc before starting a scratchbuild, but when I do its with confidence I have nutted out all the problems before hand, and can just go for it!

I also have a horrible carpet monster living under my desk. he eats parts on regular basis. I swear i am clumsiest modeller in existance. for every piece I pick up i drop two more. serious. My wife knows when I am modelling as there is a constant one way conversation of cursing comming from the hobby room. In the last 3 months I glued my hand to my forhead with superglue, my hand to the wall with superglue, my hand to my butt crack with superglue and my shorts to my leg with superglue. Not to mention the dozens of superglue spills on kit parts. Not to mention thinning enamel with acrylic thinners and vice versa. Yeah clumsy, impatient, noisy, lazy - thats how I roll.


Indiana, United States
Joined: August 19, 2007
KitMaker: 2,184 posts
AeroScale: 54 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 03:18 PM UTC
I'm with the rest of the guys. But things like road wheel, boggies ect, if there are a lot of parts, I cut them off for sub assembly and use one of those plastic ice cube trays. I put the cut offs in the top row and as I come back to clean them up, put them in the lower section. Then I sub assemble and move on to the next sub assemble. I usually sub out the whole model, makes painting a bit easier. Just remember that you can knock over a tray, don't ask me how, it just happens, just like paint, glue, ect, ect.
New York, United States
Joined: January 29, 2004
KitMaker: 3,836 posts
AeroScale: 1,036 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 05:57 PM UTC
About 99% of the time I cut and clean all the parts. Here’s what works for me, during the weekends while watching the NASCAR races (Fri, Sat and Sun) I’ll pull out a kit to prep. I’ll cut, sand and clean parts. I’ll leave the tiny fragile parts on sprues. As of now I have many kits ready to build, example…I’m working on five F/A-18’s here and there and just finished 2 Abrams kits that I started last year.

I do however put pieces into those small sandwich baggies, full cockpit sections, road wheels on so on.

You might be thinking “he’s just cleaning kits and not building”…no not the case as I’m always building while prepping for the future.

Do I loss parts…no (knock on wood)

I also go back to prepped kits and glue major parts together, wing halves , drop tanks and well you get the picture. I’ll throw them back into the box and later come back to sanding and finishing the build. Once again throwing back into box for painting another time.

In the end…I have many kits in various stages.

Happy Modeling,
Washington, United States
Joined: September 21, 2010
KitMaker: 1,845 posts
AeroScale: 103 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 06:19 PM UTC
Adam, damn near pissed myself with the comments about gluing things. Thank you all again. This really is a great community and just bummed that it took me this long to find it. And to be quite honest, I was considering getting rid of all my kits back in August and realized with this site that there still is interest in it for me and some of the happiest days of my youth were spent building. Thank you.
England - North East, United Kingdom
Joined: October 03, 2004
KitMaker: 942 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 - 08:25 PM UTC
I cut 'em as I need 'em.
I also try and clean up the part as much as possible before removing it. I find it (sometimes) makes it easier to hold.
Pennsylvania, United States
Joined: October 05, 2002
KitMaker: 2,658 posts
AeroScale: 209 posts
Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 01:26 AM UTC
Very Slowly...

I take the parts off as I need them

Sachsen, Germany
Joined: November 28, 2007
KitMaker: 1,462 posts
AeroScale: 27 posts
Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 02:00 AM UTC
Mostly I cut only parts, which I next plan to use... which sometimes is very slow, but safe.
But also I have "scenarios" I cut more than the actually needed parts, to dry-fit some parts or make the next step while the actual step is drying.

That depends on my actual time, mood, the kit and its instructions.

South Carolina, United States
Joined: May 07, 2010
KitMaker: 2,233 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 03:35 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Ah....so I'm not alone and dropping small pieces and losing them, actually, they are probably large pieces but my eyesight now is shot to pieces so everything looks small ....

Mark, I spend so much time on my knees, head down and butt up, that I now consider that an essential part of my personal exercise program! "Get down! Get up! Get down! Get up!"

In fact, my poor wife won't even come into my workroom anymore. She's convinced that every time she comes in, I drop something, and she then blames herself. I try telling her, "Hey honey, I drop stuff all the time. It's not your fault." But, she's convinced it's all her doing for distracting me or something.

I think I spent about as much time yesterday on the floor looking for dropped bits and pieces as I did sitting in my chair. I even keep a flashlight handy on my work bench for looking under it for missing bits.

I'm also glad I'm not alone "suffering with this cronic syndrom."
Alberta, Canada
Joined: July 23, 2010
KitMaker: 786 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 04:26 AM UTC
like most, i cut as i need pieces but a tip i use for something that is made from multiple pieces that kind of look similar is i always place the numbered pieces lowest to highest from left to right in front of me for gluing.

say i'm building a gun breach from four pieces and the sides look the same once removed, i put parts 12, 13, 14 and 15 from left to right on my workbench. this speeds up the process as i never have any questions as to which piece is what after they are removed from the sprue. done this for years and it's just second nature now.

good question as it is this kind that gets constructive feedback for many to share methods, cheers bd.

PS: if i lose a piece, it is gone forever which means until i scratchbuild a new one and lose that... then while searching the original missing piece always pops up. at which point i accidently break it and now i need that lost scratchbuilt piece.