Starting Scenery: Basic Tools and Materials

Starting Scenery: Basic Tools and Materials

We all have our favourite tools and materials and this video covers the basics that I personally use. I’m sure you will have your own favourites and please let me know in the comments.

A selection of my basic tools. I do use many others but these ones get the most use.
The materials I always have to hand and come back to every time I do scenery.


The Amazon links are all items I have either bought or bought something similar for myself. Clicking on any links to Amazon will give me a small affiliate income which I use to produce more videos. Every little helps!

Most of these items are readily found at home though so you shouldn’t need to go out and spend loads!

Basic Tools:

1. X-acto knife and box cutter plus cutting mat and metal ruler.
X-acto knife Knife sharpener
Spare X-acto blades Utility knife
Metal Ruler
Acrylic metal-edged ruler

2. Tweezers and small pliers.
Small pliers set

3. Spray and dropper bottles for scenery glue.
Spray bottles

4. Sanding tools – small files and emery boards.
Needle Files
Emery boards for filing

5. Weights and squares to hold items whilst glue dries.  I use bricks a lot for large areas.
1-2-3 Blocks
Set Squares

6. Paint brushes in all sizes including disposable ones for glue.
Disposable brushes

7. Disposable plastic containers for mixing paints and resin, diluting glues etc.
Disposable small cups
Disposable pint glasses
Plastic Shot Glasses

Most important – protective equipment!
Protective Safety Glasses
Disposable Gloves
Respiratory Mask –

Hot glue gun – this is one optional item I find myself using more and more. 
Hot glue gun and glue

Basic Materials:

1. Range of glues – white (PVA) glue, super glue and hot glue are my favourites.  Some tasks may be easier with specialist glues but I get by with white glue 90% of the time!
White/PVA glue
Tacky Glue (thicker white glue)
Gorilla Super Glue

2. Wet water – I use 1/3 isopropyl alcohol to water to break down the surface tension so when you are gluing scenery, the glue will sink in.  Some people use a few drops of washing up liquid which is much cheaper.
Isopropyl Alcohol

3. Paints – it’s useful to have large pots of your earth and sky colours.  I use emulsion/latex paint for my sky and have it custom mixed to match a photo at my local DIY store.  My earth colour is generic Raw Umber which I buy as an artists’ acrylic colour.  A range of other earth, rust and greenery colours are also needed but I buy them as I need them.
Raw umber

4. Tile grout, sand and earth – I use tile grout a lot as it’s easy to get hold of, sets with very little glue as it is a cement and comes in a range of colours.  I find it needs a 1/4 sand mixed in if it is unsanded as otherwise the glues don’t sink in leaving the lower layers unstuck.  Earth is also useful but you will need to sieve it to remove large stones and lumps.
Tile Grout – best to use sanded if you can. If you can’t add about half sharp sand to it.
Beige tile grout

5. Ground foam – this is exactly what it says – finely ground foam – but comes in a range of colours from earth to green.  I use it in all my scenery to add texture or vegetation.
Woodland Scenics ground foam – various colours such as earth fine turf T42 and green fine turf T45 and

6. Static grass – we are so lucky to have this product.  You don’t necessarily need a static grass applicator as you can use an inexpensive nylon puffer bottle but if you are doing large areas, you’ll want the ease of an applicator.  
WWS or Peco Scene (they’re the same product) 2mm spring grass
4mm summer grass
6mm spring grass
10mm Peco/WWS patchy static grass

7. Natural materials you find everywhere from the gutter to a garden and they are free!

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4 thoughts on “Starting Scenery: Basic Tools and Materials”

    1. Jeff

      I always say to start on a small section and just start. It won’t be the best modelling you do but you will learn so much!

      Good luck


  1. Kathy, I find ordinary pliers are not a patch on the Maun parallel action jawed pliers, they have the advantage that you can tighten small nuts without rounding the corners and they also give a much firmer grip. I have three pairs, the big ones with the side wire cutters will cut 12 gauge piano wire, if you are strong enough to squeeze them . but the medium and small sized ones are brilliant. When I tell you that I bought the two bigger pairs in 1970/71 whilst on holiday in London it will give some idea of their longevity. Their wire cutters are also brilliant they cut through HO gauge rail like butter. As an illustration of the firm’s quality, I wrote and asked if they could sharpen my 1970s cutters which they did for free and they cut as well as ever. Piano wire is too much for most of the ordinary cutters I’ve tried. Try a pair and support British industry.

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