Tools & Materials

There are a number of tools that I just can’t live without and there are some tools and materials that I use on almost every build. Other more specialist items get plenty of use but here are my recommendations.

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Basic Tool Kit
More Tools…
Basic Materials
3D Printing

Basic Tool Kit


X-acto knife (or similar) – the most basic tool that you will use all the time. There are a number of options but consider trying

You can improve your cutting by using a sharp blade – either sharpening the blade regularly or replacing frequently.
Knife sharpener
Spare X-acto blades

For bigger jobs, you will need a box cutter.

You will need something to cut on to not only protect your work surface but also to not blunt your knife.
Cutting Mat

For straight lines, a metal edged ruler is best
Metal Ruler

To weight items down or to keep them square I use these:
1-2-3 Blocks
Set Squares

Other Basics

Basic Tweezers – I have a variety but more on that in More Tools:
Bent nose (my favourite)

Small pliers (I use clippers and the serrated tip ones the most)

Emery boards
Sanding sponges
and Metal files

Disposable glasses are great mixing cups and I have them in every size from shot glasses to pint size!
Shot Glasses
Sauce Pots – useful as they have lids so you can keep what you have mixed – for all else use cling film.
Small Cups
Pint Cups

Spray Bottles – vital for an even glue application
Fine Spray Bottles
Dropper bottles – small and large

Brushes are vital for painting. I use anything from decorators brushes to expensive artists’ brushes depending on what I am painting.
Good brushes – I use Daler Rowney as they are available locally: or
Cheap brush set – loads of variety for all sorts of jobs
Disposable foam brushes are great for glue etc

Health & Safety

You cannot underestimate how damaging some of the fumes and dust are to your health! I have a lot of headaches when I am at home full time despite my best efforts so do take care of yourself!

Protective glasses
Dust Mask
Organic Solvents Mask
Nitrile Gloves

More Tools…

More Tweezers!
Ceramic tip (for hot stuff)
Fine point (for extra precision)
Self clamping (if you need an extra pair of hands – I use mostly for painting or spraying glue)

More Rulers!
Acrylic metal-edged ruler
Scale Ruler – I’ve only seen these at US specialist hobby shops but very useful.

Sprue Cutters – I showed Xuron but any brand of side nippers or flush cutters will do.
Dspiae Nippers – I cannot say how much I love these nippers for plastic kits or 3D prints

Model Clamps
Bar Clamps
Small Pegs or smaller if you can find them
Painting holders

Pencil and Sharpies
Black Sharpie with ultra-fine point
Silver Sharpie

Fine Glue Application
Cocktail sticks
Post it notes

Tea Strainer/small sieve
My favourite sieves are from Precision Ice & Snow

Palette Knives

Hoover or Vacuum Cleaner
Henry Hoover
Handheld Hoover – mine is so old it is out of production but this is a similar type

Hot Glue Gun
I personally use a hot melt glue but it you are planning to model with children then consider the low melt glues as the hot ones will burn you and give you blisters!

Basic Materials


White Glue – I use this so much and not just as a glue. I add it to a lot of scenery mixes to prevent cracking. For gluing, I prefer a thicker glue but I use a thinner one for scenery mixes or diluting to spray or drip on.
Thin scenic or white glue
Tacky Glue (thicker white glue)

Matte Mod Podge

Isopropyl Alcohol (99%)

Super glue is great for all the things that white glue will not stick. It is best for non-porous surfaces like metal or resin.
Thin Super Glue
Thick Super Glue

What I particularly like about super glue is that you can use a kicker to set it instantly.
Spray accelerator
Liquid accelerator

Thin plastic cement is best for any styrene-based plastics. It works by melting the plastic to form a strong bond.

For anything needing a really strong bond, I use 5 minute epoxy.

For everything else (almost) I use hot glue.
Glue Gun
Glue Sticks
Consider using low temperature glue with children.
Quick tip – to release it, drip on isopropyl alcohol.

Sheet and Strip Material
Brick Sheet
Styrene Strip – Evergreen, Plastruct and Slater’s are great brands for styrene
Styrene Rod
Styrene Sheet
Craft Foam – denser than most XPS builders’ foams
Grey card
Foam core

Natural Materials
Dead leaves, twigs, bark, silver birch catkin spacers…
Kitchen Blender for rough cut
Coffee Grinder for finer


I often use picture frames to make neat bases for my dioramas.

Foam comes in so many forms. I get most of mine from building works in the area.
XPS foam – this is carvable with hot tools and is commonly found as a building material
Craft foam – a much denser XPS foam
PIR foam – another type of building foam but fire resistant so you have to use a knife to cut it.

Sculptamold is great for building up contours


My favourite product is tile grout. It comes in a wide range of colours but I recommend adding around a third silver sand to help glue sink in and to open up the texture. My favourite is currently Taupe by Larsen.

Otherwise, use sieved garden soil or any other natural materials you can find. Alternatively, look through your local garden centre supplies for fine grits or soils.


Check out this page for washes and recipes.

3D Printing

I love 3D printing so these are the companies and brands I personally know and have had great results with:


Mars Series – I had an original Mars before upgrading to the Mars 3. Both have been reliable printers that have worked well with little input on my side.

I also love the wash and cure station. I prewash in a bucket like this:

Then I clean and cure in an Elegoo Mercury Wash and Cure station:


Scraped using rounded scalpel blades
Blades #24 or similar

Spray Putty
My favourite is Motip
I’ve also used this one by Simple when Motip was out of stock