How to Build a Model

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Do you have an interest in boats? If you do then you will probably want a model one.


  1. Take your model kit out of the box and compare the pieces to the instructions to make sure you have everything needed. Kits do (infrequently) come from the factory with missing or damaged parts. The time to return it to the store is before you begin assembling it!
  2. Cut the pieces off of the sprue tree with care. Use flush cutting sprue nippers, an X-acto knife or a single edged razor blade. Do not cut too close to the part or you may leave a gouge where you cut it. Use a No. 11 hobby blade to remove the rest of the sprue by shaving across the nub. This is the time to remove any raised bumps caused by the molding process. Use a smooth emery board, 400- grit wet-or-dry abrasive paper or lightly scrape the No. 11 blade at a 90 degree angle across the offending plastic nub until it has been smoothed away.
  3. Paint small pieces while they are still attached to the sprue. They are much easier to handle this way!
  4. Scrape paint off any edges which are to be glued. Glue and adhesives do not adhere well to paint, and may cause it to run.
  5. Test fit the parts before gluing, making sure they fit together snugly, with few or no gaps.
  6. Use the right amount of glue on each part or it will not adhere properly. Also, too much glue can actually melt the plastic a bit and deform your models surface. It takes a little trial and error (and practice) to know what amount it the right amount. If in doubt, err on the side of too little: you can alway add more if needed, but too much glue will spoil your model.
  7. Apply glue or adhesive only after you have test fit the parts first to see if they fit. Superglue takes a set almost instantly, whereas other adhesives and bonding agents can take longer. Be prepared to hold the parts for a few moments while the glue sets up, or use rubber bands, spring-type clothes pins, or a hobby vise to clamp your work while the adhesive dries.
  8. If there are large gaps where the seams of your model are joined, you may need to fill them with body filler putty. Apply the putty sparingly, smooth it with a moistened finger or tongue depressor (popsicle stick). Once it has cured, it may be sanded with 400- then 600-grit wet-or-dry paper. Once painted, you wont know its there.
  9. Use newspaper while painting, but try to avoid this paper when gluing. If you forget to pick the part up, you will have news print on your part and you will then have to sand and paint again.
  10. Use white or craft type glue to attach clear sections. Other types of glue will either damage or fog the piece. This type of glue can be used as a filler as well. Simply apply to the gap with and an old paint brush then wipe away the excess with a damp paper towel or a damp cotton swab. This works very well when filling a gap between clear sections and solid color parts.


  • Be smart-(dont buy a wooden ship model kit worth $400.00 for your very first attempt.) Start with a simple automobile, a boxcar, or a small airplane and then work your way up to more advanced models. You will need many skills and tools before youre ready to tackle a large project like Admiral Lord Nelsons flagship from the Golden Age of Sail.
  • Read the instructions all the way through before starting to assemble the kit.
  • It may be easier to reverse Step 2 and Step 3 above and paint the pieces before separating them, depending on the layout of the kit.
  • Make sure to buy paints which are compatible with you models materials. Some paints contain solvents which melt or eat certain plastics, for instance.
  • Avoid use a motorized rotary tool, like Dremel, on plastic kits, as it removes styrene plastic very quickly, and just the heat from the friction of the cutting burr or wheel can melt plastic (doing irreparable harm to your model).
  • It is a good idea to make an internal wire frame (armature) for modeling clay to give your sculpted model a firmer stance.
  • Show it off! Build or buy a stand or base for your model, or hang it from the ceiling. A diorama (landscaped scene) featuring your model will really showcase it and can put it in a historical context, as well. Display it in a prominent place where everyone will see the result of all your efforts!
  • Model building should be a rewarding and relaxing pastime. If you are uptight or stressed out at the end of your modeling session, youre probably doing something wrong. Give it your best effort -- and while true perfection may not be attainable, with patience, perseverance, and practice, you -can- attain excellent, even startlingly realistic, results. Be patient, and have fun!


  • Use model glue in a well ventilated environment.
  • Dont touch the model kit too hard because it may break.

Things You Will Need

  • Model kit
  • X-acto style craft knife with sharp #11 (angled) blade
  • Flush cutters (for removing parts from sprue)
  • Emery boards of various coarsenesses (found in the beauty section)
  • Needle files
  • Razor saw
  • Plastic modeling glue or cement
  • Cyanoacrylate ("superglue" or CA)
  • 5-minute epoxy
  • Body filler putty or epoxy putty
  • Round toothpicks or cocktail sticks (for mixing

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  • KitMaker Network is a good place to learn more about building models of all types
  • Forums such as [1] are extremely helpful with questions and other interests. Note that this is a model CAR site only.

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