Card Modeling FAQ

3. How about tips on techniques?

3. How about tips on techniques?

3.0 What model should I start with?

Start small, even if it means compromising your interests a little. If you're longing for that 4,500 piece model of DKM Prinz Eugen, build a few small models first. A couple of months honing your skills will be an invaluable investment when you start a large project. The Free Models section contains many suitable starting models, and with a free model, you have lots of latitude for making mistakes or experimenting with technique. Other good beginners models are the Dover line and the Fiddler's Green models.
from Todd Anderson <>: As a beginner I started with the wrong model (because it was so cool looking) the Wilhelmshaven 1:250 scale Bismarck. Wooo baby, what a model! It burned me out quick. I quit after a month of not getting anywhere.

I walked away from the hobby for a couple of months. Then I found the Geli DC-3 1:33 scale. It has nice glossy paper and is big, results were immediate and satisfying. Price was $9.00 US what a bargain. Two weeks of a couple hours a day and boom a nice big airplane. I even was brave enough to put clear plastic in the windows.

So start off easy and dare I say big. The mistakes are easier to see and correct in a model this size. After a couple of easy kits jump into the ones you really that are more difficult. Unbuilt kits don't take up that much room.

A ship takes me about six months to build but I do nothing else but roll gun barrels. (I have to roll them I hate octagon shaped barrels). Airplanes usually take a couple of weeks. I think this is probably the norm.

from H. David Caldwell <>: I started with "kits" that were too complicated. Too much time was required to get the structure right and the rewards (that neat finished model) took too long to realize. For the new modeler and the experienced modeler who wants to detail himself into a stupor, may I suggest the "Cybermodels" from Fiddler's Green?

You can go to the website and view the planes, pick a few that interest you, buy the files over the net, print out as many as you want and try any techniques you can invent or discover. The instructions are easy to follow and the rewards are only hours away. These new versions of the original cardmodels are quite spectacular. Even a novice can put together a great looking plane (I have proof)!! "Structure" consists of occasional toothpicks for struts or landing gear.

The number of available models is remarkable. WWII aircraft seem simpler to construct than WWI, but those bi and tri planes sure look great on the desk. For maximum value (if you try them and like them) - get the CD with all of Chip Fyn's redesigned planes. For 50 bucks and access to a good inkjet printer, you will have years of modeling fun on the cheap. An added plus...these printouts are great for introducing a friend to the hobby.

Is there a shipbuilder's equivalent?

from Mark Lardas <> Nah. No such thing as a simple ship model if it has sails. The JSC St. Adalbertus Boat is the closest thing I can think of, and it is fairly sophisticated. It's also not "sexy."

There are some 1:100 scale viking ships, and simple fishing motorboat kits, but, frankly, they look like toys. Cannot think of a seagoing equivalent to a Fokker D-VIII or WWII monoplane fighter as far as combining simplicity and realism. There are some ships that might be good starter kits (a lugger, or schooner-rigged pilot boat), but unless they gots guns folks are not interested. Besides when people think of ships, they think three-masted square rigger -- possibly the worst model to get started on.

This is a problem that transcends paper. There are only three plastic kits that I could recommend as starter kits, and about as many wood kits. The plastic or wood models you see at Hobby Lobby or Michaels are good for just one thing -- frustrating kids or beginner adults out of the hobby. And the entry price for worthwhile wood kits tends to be $200-300 once you factor in kit ($50-$100) and the tools you need to make a go of it.

What would I recommend for a beginner? JSC St. Adalbertus Boat, Schreiber Yacht America or Cheops Funeral Barge, the Shipyard HMS Hunter, and maybe the Green Dragon (I have not seen that kit, so hesitate to make a judgement). The Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum Expeditionsschiff Grönland von 1867 doesn't look like a bad kit for an experienced shipmodeler that wants to experiment with paper. It looks to be a good exercise in paper modeling if you replace the masts, spars and sails, with something that looks realistic. (At 1:100, I would replace the sails with thinner paper with boltropes and reefpoints added.)

Of course to do any sailing model right you need to invest in additional paper -- in the form of books. Dover has three excellent books on rigging period ships that run between $7.00 and $15.00 each. Well worth the money.

3.1 What tools do I need?

3.1.1 Required tools

The tools you really need are:

A sharp hobby knife
An X-Acto knife or one of the several similar brands. Opinions differ on whether the straight or curved blades are best, but in either case, they should be sharp. Either learn to sharpen them, or change blades whenever it begins to drag and catch. The handle of the knife can be used for burnishing and forming curves in the paper.
Sharp scissors
Whatever size is comfortable for you.
from Myles Mandell <>: By the way I personally prefer using fine scissors for cutting out most of the parts. I only use a hobby knife for inside cuts and crenellations on castles. The scissors I prefer are called Iris scissors and you can get them at medical supply houses. I found that getting the best stainless steel scissors was worth the money. German or Swiss. and they cost about $15.00. I have picked up Iris scissors at flea markets here made in Pakistan for about $2.00 but have discovered that they are not really a bargain, you are better off getting the best. I also searched for years to get a handheld scissor sharpener and finally found one to my liking for a couple of $. There are also Chinese scissors that are used in a Chinese craft of paper folding and cutting. I have some beautiful things made in China but have never seen the special scissors used for this craft here.
from Myles Mandell <>: Iris scissors have been my scissor of choice until I got Fiskars Soft-Touch Micro-Tip Scissors which were mentioned by John Murray. They are available from craft and sewing supply stores. They are spring loaded and cut through very heavy cardboard which the iris scissors can not. In addition they have a very fine point for detail work. [ Alan J. Frenkel <> and Michael M. Slivkoff <> also endorsed the Fiskars scissors.]
Steel straight-edge
For cutting and scoring straight lines. Brass is too soft--the knife blade will nick it. A small machinist's rule works well, but make sure it's only graduated on one side--the marks on the underside can mar the paper. The ones with cork backing are good.
Scoring tool
For scoring lines to be folded. Some people simply use their knife with very light pressure, but it's very easy to accidentally cut through the lines. If you deliberately dull a knife blade on sandpaper or a brick, it will make a safer tool for scoring. A darning needle mounted in a pin vise or dowel handle also works. So does your thumbnail. See the section on scoring tips below for lots more ideas on scoring tools.
Cutting mat
The green `self-healing' mats available in office and artist's supply stores, and at Wal-Mart, are ideal. You can also make your own by laminating several layers of cardboard (not corrugated--use the cardboard from men's shirts, or the backs of paper pads, or cereal boxes.)
Choose a glue that dries clear. There's more detailed discussion of glues below.
Both round and flat, for spreading glue and reinforcing components like landing gear and propellors.
Building board
Ship models and some buildings require a building board, which is a flat rigid surface the model is glued to while it is constructed. It can be stiff cardboard or a wooden plank, depending on the size of the model. Once the model is completed, a razor blade can be used to lift it off the building board.

3.1.2 Optional tools

There are lots of other tools which you may not need starting out but may wish to add to your collection as you get more experience.

Coloured markers or watercolor paints
For colouring the cut edges of the paper so they don't show. For more on this topic, see the section Colouring cut edges.
A 6-9" scrap of wooden dowel, sanded smooth, is a handy tool for forming cylinders and can also be used as a roller for pressing glue joints. Choose a diameter convenient to your models--you may want a couple of different sizes.
Smooth-jawed needle-nose pliers
These are useful for holding and folding small parts. Line the scored fold line up with the edge of the pliers' jaws before folding. Needle-nose pliers are also useful for applying pressure to glued joints. Make sure the jaws are smooth, as the more common grooved jaws will mark the paper.
from Lila P. Bess <>: If you need smooth pliers just tape the points so the teeth can't bite. Any tape will do- masking, etc.- but just remember to clean the points after. This way they 'hold' and don't bite at all!
For handling small parts.
Q-Tips or cotton swabs
are useful for cleaning any glue that gets on the printed parts of a model.
Cotton gloves
For working with glossy, metallic finish kits, where fingerprints show, Tom Mc Rae <> suggests a pair of the light, thin, cotton gloves used by nurses when dressing wounds, or for handling photographic films. Look for these in pharmacies and photo shops.
Nail clippers
from Erik Johnson <>: For cutting out small circles, rought cut out the circle and then trim to final shape with nail clippers. Do this after gluing the double or triple thickness sections. Get the biggest sized nail clippers for a diameter over 1 inch. For cutting the slots in the end of a glue ring to accomodate the next piece with a sharper slope, use the nail clippers after the ring is glued in.

3.1.3 Make your own tools

As you get more involved in the hobby, you may find it useful to make some of your own tools.

Scoring tools
A useful scoring tool can be made from an old, dull knife blade. Cut a slot in the end of a small dowel, wedge the blade in the slot, and bind it tight with strong thread. Soak the thread with superglue or thin epoxy, if you like.
Special knives or chisels
The same technique used for the scoring tool can be used to mount other knife blades. Stephen Capps has provided instructions for grinding your own small chisels.
Glue applicators
These can be improvised from many things. The simplest, and perhaps most common, is a wooden toothpick. However, you can make tools for this, from stiff wire with one end bent to form a handle, or a needle inserted in a dowel handle. You don't have to make your own:
from Lou Dausse <>: About the handiest accessory I know of is a plastic syringe with a curved tip that is loaded with tacky glue and does away with toothpicks, wires and the like for putting spots of glue in tight places. These are sold in craft shops and is sometines packaged with tacky on a card. They can also be found in dentist's offices, where they are called irrigators.
from Bill O'Neil <>: Decent clamps can be made with plastic clothes-pins. Re-shape the nose to flats or points (for inside corners) or any useful shape, with a file or saw. The plastic usually won't stick to excess glue. You can make extended-reach clamps using popsicle sticks. Glue two together to get necessary stiffness if desired; use one "beam" on each face of the joint, and use clothes pins, as reach allows, to clamp the sticks. Shims at the "open" ends of the beams will allow some clearance, and help apply the force more locally.

from Bob Pounds <>: One of the most useful tools I have in my modeling box is a set of four short lengths of square section brass. These slide inside one and other for storage. They range in size from about 1/16 inch square up to about 5/32, and are about four inches long.

The material was bought at a hobby store - most stores seem to have a proprietary box of small bits of round tube, square section and sheet brass and aluminum, usually of about 12 inches long - enough to make a couple of sets of these tools.

The square section makes an ideal former for things like chimneys on Micromodels (it's about the only way I can get 'em properly squared up) and gives a useful way of checking that glued right angles on a wide range of models haven't acquired a curve during the gluing up process.

Of course, there are larger size sections available, and perhaps one day I might even buy some of them, but for the moment (and that's lasted over six years) I haven't found that I've needed the larger sizes.

from Stephen Brown <>: A useful tool can be made by drilling a small hole in the end of a dowel and forcing the eye end of a sewing needle into it. You end up with a needle with a handle, and it has several uses. I use mine for spreading tiny amounts of glue, for picking up very small parts, and for transferring marks to the reverse side of the paper, when you need to score the back side of a part. I have two, in different sizes. The larger one is useful as a curling tool, and as a former for rolling tiny cylinders. The handles of both can also be used for curling and forming.
from Peter Richardson <>: I noticed your note for making a piercing tool from a needle inserted into a short piece of dowel. Instead of a standard sewing needle, I use a sewing machine needle which has the added advantage of the eye at the pointed end which can be used for threading through components and has a thickening shaft from the point to the square section top which allows you to pierce varying sizes of holes.
from Larry Stillman <>: I have found that wooden skewers used in barbeques/cookouts very useful:
1) as a neat, sharp glueing tool, especially because you can get full control, and you can always sharpen them.
2) for making masts and the like, they whittle down and don't break like matches, and my wife is sick of the jar of used matches by the stove that haven't been used.
3) as a scoring tool
4) as a general poker, shaker, and stabiliser, and for stirring your coffee....

3.1.4 Sharpening

from Stephen A. Capps <>: Here's the "Poop" on sharpening "mini-knives" for card modelling. Most of you veteran card modellers probably already know this stuff and even more, so feel free to add your favorite "tips"!

Here's the "Stuff" on sharpening small blades, such as X-Acto's, etc.

I keep three things in mind as I sharpen a modelling blade --

Number one is, think about the blade as if it was soft, like a wax crayon. If you "scrub" a crayon on paper and never change its angle, etc., then the crayon becomes "sharp". This is the thought you should have as you are sharpening your blades for modelling. Pretend the blade is just a "very hard" waxy crayon, and you are "scrubbing" it against the sharpening stone.

Number two is, pretend you are cutting off very small slivers of the sharpening stone. While you slide the blade against the stone, always move the blade as if you were trying to cut off a very thin and very tiny sliver of the stone. If you were Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies, then just pretend you were a "Drug Store Dude" from the Big City. You are standing on the sidewalk by the Drug Store, whittlin' with your knife, impressing all the girls by shaving off a very thin and very long shavin'! (Use sharpening oil, available at any knife store.)

Number "C" is think about the angle the blade makes with the stone. A very sharp angle makes a very thin cutting edge on the blade. The thin edge has less metal at the cutting edge, and while sharper, gets "mashed" and deformed and gouged by the cutting material more easily. The wider angle has more metal at the cutting edge, but is less sharp. I use experience to judge the sharpening angle -- wish I could tell you more, but I don't measure angles & etc. while sharpening....I just know what's good!

What's the best sharpening stone?

Without a doubt, the best sharpening stone for Exacto-size blades is an Arkansas "Moon-Stone" -- Unfortunatly, I have been unable to find these stones for sale recently. I bought mine about 20 years ago, and it is one of my "treasured" possessions. If anyone finds a dealer who sells Arkansas Moonstones, please let me know! They come in the "Black" and "White" variety ... I prefer the white. They are artificial stones, not natural stones that might be found in the earth.

I give a light sharpening to my Exacto blades after about every 250 cuts or so.

If you want to use your blades to cut tomatos or etc., then use a "soft" arkansas stone.

To "refine" or just "recharge" the sharpness of the blade, I strop the Exacto blace against a genuine "Exacto" leather strop. Best leather strop I have ever used, and it really makes a noticeable difference!

While you sharpen your blade by "pretending" to cut into to stone (that is, moving the blade sharp-end first into the stone) you "strop" the blade against leather in the opposite direction (move the blade with the sharp-end trailing). This polishes the blade and smooths tiny defects on the sharp edge caused by the rubbing against the stone.

I strop my blades after about every 50 cuts or so.

Leather has a WIDE variety of textures...the Exacto company has come up with the most perfect of all leathers for stropping small blades. My piece of Exacto Leather is about 1 inch by about 3 inches, with a smooth side and a rough side. DON'T use the smooth/hard side, use the rough/soft side of the leather.

I have always gone into every leather shop and every knife shop I ever saw, and I have never seen a piece of leather like the Xacto stropping leather. This piece of leather is also one of my treasured possessions!

Using these techniques, it is very easy to keep your Xacto blades sharp. Even sharper than a scalpel! A super-sharp blade makes cutting MicroModel and regular paper model parts easy and even fun!

Obsidian flakes are even sharper than steel blades, but will crack from the pressure of the handle as you "screw them in", and have other problems, such as the skill to "flake" them off. (Obsidian is a "glass-like" rock, and no, I don't have any obsidian, nor do I have the skill to flake off sharp pieces, though I have seen them about 20 years ago -- a man used a cylindrical rock-piece to whack sharp pieces off). [Editor's note: here's more on obsidian blades.]

I always throw away my blade after every model, and use a new one for the next model.

I don't "sharpen" new blades at first, but I always strop them on my Exacto Leather Strop, which really does improve their cutting edge!

All this may sound like a lot, but actually it only takes about ten minutes or so to keep your blades sharp for an entire model.

When I need a specialized cutting blade, such as a chisel of 1 millimeter of etc., then I grind it from an Exacto blade with my Dremel Moto-Tool. (It stinks up the house with the smell of "burning metal" so do it in the garage!) Use Safety Glasses in case a fragment of the grinding tool or blade flies off! You can clamp the blade while grinding, but the Dremel Moto-tool is very forgiving, and I usually just hold the blade with pliers.

Grind it to size, and also grind a "somewhat" sharp edge on your custom "knife/chisel" -- then use a "soft arkansas stone" to get a fairly sharp edge, then a "hard arkansas stone" for a better edge. If you can find one, then use an "arkansas Moonstone" for a "wicked" edge, and then the Exacto leather strop.

If any of you have been working on a model, and then tossed out your old blade and inserted a new one, you understand the "WOW" factor when using a new blade. Using these techniques, you can keep the "WOW" up through the whole model!

3.2 What kind of glue to use?

There are almost as many answers as there are modelers, as you'll note from the comments below. A popular choice is PVA resin glue, also called white glue. This is sold under various trade names: Elmer's Glue-All in the USA; Evostik Resin W in the UK; Aquadhere in Australia. Technically, most white glues are a suspension of polyvinyl acetate (PVA) resin in water. There are some variations. I think most so-called tacky glues are also a PVA glue, but thicker.
from Stephen Brown <>: I now use Elmer's Glue-All (a PVA glue, i.e. a latex resin dispersed in water, commonly called white glue) for almost all of it--I don't have a problem with tack, but I sometimes have trouble with it drying too quickly. I started using Duco, because that was recommended for some White Wings planes I built some years ago. Duco, however, has no tack and dries very quickly. I tried Sobo, which worked well but didn't dry quite clear. I've also used tacky glue (get it at craft or fabric stores) for small parts. (Tacky glue is basically, I think, thickened white glue. As I've gotten more practice, I find that leaving a small dab of Elmer's out for a few minutes gets me something similar.) However, as I get more practice, I find I use Elmer's almost exclusively.
from King Butler <>: I use a very small, flat brush to apply the glue too which gives me a lot better control over the amount of glue - you only need a tiny amount. Keep a glass of water handy to keep the brush clear of glue. I also find that "Tacky Glue" works better for me, especially on Micromodels. It sticks better initially and sets up faster.

from Christopher Cooke <>: I have found UHU good and durable. However, I have been using white wood PVA glue (in the UK this is Evostik Resin W) which is very good for card and a lot cleaner than UHU.

from Kaye Meldrum <>: I like "Yes", it is more of a transparent paste then a glue, it is made for paper, and will not bleed, or set up too fast. If I can't get that, which is most of the time, (I get it at some art supply stores,) I use Aleenes, which is O.K.

from Bill O'Neil <>: ... plain ol' white glue is probably the best value. Adding a very small amount of water can help the working time. And relative humidity affects drying time. In muggy summertime Cincinnati, in non-a/c'ed spaces, glue will stay wet a bit longer. Conversely, heat in winter makes for drier air, faster dry-out. Granted, these are small variables. Those living in fully climate-controlled homes (a/c, humidified, air cleaners) likely never have these issues.
from Jack Graham <>: Try this with Aleenes [a brand of 'tacky glue' often recommended for card modeling]. Get a baby food jar ( those things are a national treasure!) use the lid to spread your glue on. After my Aleenes container gets about half empty it tries my patience trying to squeeze some out. Usually I get a "poooop" of air and a splatter of glue. I put the Aleenes upside down in the baby food jar and that way the glue settles to the nozzle of the container. Needless to say one should put the cap on the Aleenes before turning it upside down.
from Tom Mc Rae <>: My current preference is for Evostik Waterproof White Glue as Aquadhere can break down when wet and I like to do final touch-ups with acrylic paints on my work. The bottle I bought was very thick so I diluted it to a workable consistency, I put a little on a plastic bottle cap where it soon becomes slightly tacky.
Many modelers, particularly European ones, prefer glues made by a company called UHU. Most favour a solvent-based type called "Alles Kleber" ("bond all").
from Robert Tauxe <>: I started with Duco, but have found that after several years it yellow and shrinks - leading to crinkles and discoloration. After trying every glue I could find, I finally settled on UHU Bond-All ("alles kleber" in German), which is what is advertised in the instructions of the Mowe paper models. This is a solvent based glue that lasts for years, sets up quickly, and doesn't shrink or yellow. I am very pleased with it, except that it can be hard to find - it is imported in the U.S. by Eberhard Faber (Lewisburg TN) in 33ml yellow tubes with a nice fine nozzle attachment that makes careful spot gluing easy. My local office supply store gets it in for me by special order. It does stink, and it is flammable. It also dissolves the ink of color xerox's, which is a new and serious drawback.
from Frank-Michael Goldmann <>: Modelers in general and cardmodelers in particular could write books about failed tests with glue. Some even take it as a reason for long philosophical discussions. The first fact is that there are obviously two different "gluing traditions". While modelers in the States mainly use the waterbased white glue, modelers in Europe generally use solvent based glue. I don't know if the Australian "Bostik" glue pen is water- or solvent based.

In Europe, especially Germany, many people use glues produced by UHU, which offers hundreds of different glues. But only a handful are helpful for our purposes. If any of you are interested in UHU glues, look at their website.

They have pages in English and French also, so you will find a lot of information which could be useful. I will concentrate in the following on the glues I have tested in the last few years, describe the different qualities, tell advantages and disadvantages in my opinion and will try to name alternatives to european products for the oversea-modelers - as far as I know them.

The glues I use for different solutions are of three different types: water-based, solvent-based, and CA or super-glue (Sekundenkleber). Sometimes I have tested glue sticks, glue pencils or what ever industry offers. But I donīt use them, because they are to unwieldy and impractical for my purposes. I use only the good old thing, the tube, and, with white glue, bottles.

  1. UHU Alleskleber (yellow tube)
    Base: solvent
    Consistency: liquid, slowly running
    Advantage: holds very well. No distortion of the parts.
    Disadvantage: Dries glossy. If dry, not removable without damaging the card.
    My use: I donīt use it.
    Oversea-alternative (I guess): Testors, which comes in a green and white tube.
  2. UHU extra (yellow tube with red sticker)
    Base: solvent
    Consistency: gel
    Advantage: Holds very well. Easy to use in little portions. I use a toothpick to put it on the parts. No distortion of the parts.
    Disadvantage: Dries glossy. Not removable after drying.
    My use: I use it in the cases when I need more glue, for example, when I glue bigger parts like shipīs walls or decks. I also use it when I have to double parts, for example the middle-frame of ships or decks from time to time. When I double parts like these, I use relatively more glue, and with this solvent-based glue I can be sure that there are no distortions following.
    Oversea-alternative (I guess): Elmer's Washable School Glue No Run Gel
  3. UHU hart (hart = firm, solid / comes in blue tube)
    Base: solvent
    Consistency: middle between liquid and gel
    Advantage: donīt see any
    Disadvantage: dries yellow and glossy, distortions of the parts after drying.
    My use: Only once - before putting the model in the rubbish.
    Oversea-alternatives: donīt know.
  4. UHU Alleskleber lösungsmittelfrei (means solvent free, comes in yellow tube or bottle with green sticker)
    Base: water
    Consistency: liquid, slowly running
    Advantage: canīt see any for cardmodelers. The producer says itīs better for your health than solvent based glue. Maybe itīs a reason when little children use glue and put their fingers in their mouths.
    Disadvantage: dries glossy, gives nice distortions. In your hands, it feels like thick sugar water after drying.
    My use: only once and never again.
  5. UHU coll (= white glue)
    Base: water
    Consistency: slowly running
    Advantage: the biggest one: it dries transparent + matte, nearly invisible after drying. Holds very well. Perfect to dose on the parts with a fine brush.
    Disadvantage: Too much white glue distorts the paper.
    My use: I use white glue for nearly all small parts. Or for parts, when they are already affixed on the model, but are not affixed perfectly. I use it this way: Put a drop on a piece of scrap card, take a hair-pencil (fine brush, No. 00, No. 0 or No. 1), wet it a little bit, stick it in the drop of glue and put it on the part, connecting strips, joiner stripes or whatever it is. If I use too much glue, itīs easy to take away the remaining glue with a washed out, wet hair-pencil.
    Oversea-alternatives: You know them by yourself.
  6. UHU Sekundenkleber (= super glue = cyanoacrylate)
    Base: cyanoacrylate = solvent
    Consistency: it exists either as a liquid, very runny, or as a gel
    Advantage: if parts suck up liquid super glue, they become much stronger, more flexible, easy to sand with sandpaper. For details see section 3.14.
    Disadvantage: the runny version doesnīt hold paper/card. Both the runny one and the gel go through the card, the gel a little bit slower, but it does, and changes and/or darkens the colours of the printed side dramatically.
    My use: I use it only for invisible parts like frames etc. I only use the runny one for impregnating parts. I donīt use the gel. For the reasons, I could theoretically use it, I prefer UHU Alleskleber, mentioned above. Some people say, that super-glue sometimes blooms out. I never had this experience as long as I take not much more glue than the card sucks up in one or two seconds. In my experience blooming out starts when the card is filled up with glue.
    Oversea-alternatives: There are many super-glues of Loctite, 3M and other companies. The product names you know better than I do.
  7. UHU plast (= Revell contacta = Polysterene cement) it comes in a violet tube)
    Base: solvent
    Consistency: slowly running
    Advantage: none for cardmodelers / the most used glue for plastic modelers
    Disadvantage: doesnīt hold at all. Goes through the parts and makes them transparent. Changes colours of the printed side of the part.
    My use: Only one test, never again
    Overseas-alternativs: any glue for plastic-modelers (Revell, Humbrol etc.)
  8. Fixogum (= rubber cement)
    Base: solvent
    Consistence: like gel
    Advantage: removable from every ground
    Disadvantage: itīs not a glue in the word's own meaning
    My use: See section 3.4.
    Oversea-alternatives: I donīt know producers or product names. Ask in shops for painting- or graphics-materials. The producer of Fixogum rubber cement is Marabu in Germany. The home page is testing at the moment and will be ready after 1.12.2000. I have no idea if they will offer english pages after this date. [Editor's note: they do have English pages, but Fixogum is apparently not mentioned.]
from Frank-Michael Goldmann <>: Yesterday I surfed a bit through the FAQ and found the note about acrylic paints. Today I tried to colour some edges of the "Schnellboot" with acrylic (Tamiya Color). The results: First, the acrylic dries glossy, therefore I had to paint a second time with white glue, to cover the gloss. Second, when I tried to glue acrylic-colored edge to acrylic-colored edge, white glue didnīt hold. And UHU solvent based glue destroys the acrylic paint. I was lucky, because I tested coloring and gluing first with scrap cards and not with the model. Because of the gluing problem I went to a nearby store which offers dozens of different glues and I discovered a brand new glue, which in my opinion is a little sensation. The name is "UHU sekunden alleskleber gel lösemittelfrei". A never ending name, which means this glue is a super glue, it is a gel, and it is solvent free. This combination is quite new, as far as I know. The great advantage for us is that this solvent free super glue does not change or darken the printed side of the card at all. After testing several times with scrap cards today, I glued the acrylic colored edges of the shipīs walls to the acrylic colored edge of the deck - it holds perfectly, does not destroy the acrylic paint, does not darken the printed side of the deck and shipīs walls. This new glue can be the solution for some other gluing problems, too. Think of metal-to-card, plastic-to-card, cellophane-to-card and so on. I will test these combinations over the next few days and will let you know the results. I think this glue is really brand new, I didnīt even find it on the UHU homepage.
from Thomas Peters <>: UHU loses its strength during the years. Really! UHU is not very suitable for card models, my experience is not very good. I prefer Technicol here in Germany.
from Roger Pattenden <>: UHU is also my favourite glue (available widely here in the UK.) I know that being a solvent based glue, it is not favoured in the US. Joe Cangero kindly sent me a couple of packs of Elmer's no run school glue gel. It's unlike anything available in Europe. It's a water based gum, but with a plasticised and tacky texture. It doesn't have the immediate 'grab' that we're used to with UHU, but with a little more patience, it works well. It needs to be applied with a brush, which can be washed out with water. Particularly, as Joe recommended, I find that if you're organised well enough to be able to pre-glue both components and let the glue dry for maybe 15 minutes then apply a little more, you'll get almost the same efficiency as with UHU, and none of that stringiness !
There are also uses for some other types.
from Mike Felmeri <>: In the UK Bostick No. 1 is pretty good, solid, clear, removable when dry, flexible, all in all probably the best glue for paper engineering available, certainly way above PVA/wood glues.
from Peter Richardson <>: After exhaustive trials with every conceivable type of adhesive I am convinced that "Evo-stick" (impact adhesive) is streets ahead for flat surface to surface gluing. I apply sparingly with cotton wool buds (Q-tips). For assembling completed components which require edge contact, Evo-Stick can still be used. Apply reasonably generously to edges, immediately put these in contact with part to be glued to, thus transferring a thin line of adhesive, separate the parts, wait till the glue is touch dry and then assemble.

I also use cyanoacrylate (superglue) extensively. It's a fantastic adhesive which will stick almost anything to anything else. I use modelers quality with low viscosity, and apply the glue with a piece of thin piano wire dipped in the glue and then applied drop by drop to the model. Where wire or metal parts are fixed into holes in card, one drop suffices, capillary action will carry the glue into the hole. If blobs of glue accidentally drop onto the model, immediately remove them with Q-Tips. Once the blob dries it will be impossible to remove without damaging the model. On "Astrolux" superglue leaves a white powdery residue on the surface of the card around glued parts. This can be dusted off with a Q-Tip.

from David T. Okamura <>: I frequently use cyranoacrylate (CA) glues to attach metal wire and to strengthen delicate parts like anchors, propeller guards and davits. This significantly darkens uncoated paper, but this is not a problem if I decide to paint the entire part afterwards. However, I've found that spraying a gloss coating on the paper beforehand minimizes this darkening effect. Be sure to use a gloss finish, as curing CA fumes tend to leave a white "frost" on matte (flat) sprayed surfaces. The gloss coating should be just heavy enough to protect the printed surface, but be careful to use multiple light, misting sprays which dry completely between passes or you might get translucent spots.
from Paul M. Bucalo <>: What has been your success/feelings/failures in working w/ cyanoacrylates(Super Glue) as a 'long-term' adhesive in paper modeling? ...over the years, stories had been circulating about plastic modelers who were finding that their models were literally falling apart at the seams because the cyanoacrylate joins were finally meeting their life expectancy! This was apparently happening sometime between 5-10 years after the model was built.
From Tom Mc Rae <>: The experience of members of The Brisbane Miniature Enthusists Association is unanimous on this one. We use it on occasions with a wide range of materials but on its own it will break up after around a year. It comes in to its own as a 'clamp' for a slower setting adnesive. You strategically place dots of the stuff along one surface of those to be joined, smear white glue on the rest of the area and press firmly together. Superglue bonds fast allowing the white glue to set. Some of my co-workers actually mix the two glues together and this seems equally efficaeous.
from Karl Guttag <>: I am also interested in glues for gloss paper. I am building photo-models prints on ALPS photographic paper.

Eric Sayer Peterson's Card Modeling book states, "[tacky glue] is especially useful on glossy surfaces." I put together some things this weekend with Aleen's Tacky Glue and it seemed to work fairly well. It seems to stick to the surface well, in fact the only problem seems to be that the ALPS paper pulls apart (it has a paper backing and a sublimation layer) before the glue lets go, thus the glue did its job.

Another glue I have found is Weldbond. It is supposed to be a "high tech" white glue that is will to bond anything. I found it at a hardware store one time. It is fairly thick like Tacky Glue.

I have also been able to use a superglue to bond the ALPS paper together, but it aggressively attacks the ALPS inks and makes them run.

from Mike Krol <>: In Poland I used a glue called BUTAPREN (that's its market name). I don't know what would be the name here, but this is the stuff shoe makers are using. OK, it smells and is messy, but if you are careful, the advantages are enormous-it glues everything to everything, never shrinks, it is water resistant, and gives an elastic connection. If there is anybody who knows the name of this glue in the US, and knows where to get it please let me know. I will dump Elmer's instantly.

Coloured glue

from Kell Black <>: Mix a little watercolor pigment into the glue to get a great match on those tiny little spots were some glue seepage seems inevitable.


from Shawn Riley <>: I have lately been using different types of two-sided tape to fasten things printed on plain paper, specifically the fiddlers green modular castle components. It really makes construction fast for playstation-speed kids who want it done now, and can't wait for glue. I have no idea if it will hold up and it can be difficult to press both sides but for the gross seams of a castle wall it seems to hold great.

I found one variety that 3M-scotch has packaged for supermarket or drug store sales like "scotch tape" as a small dispenser with a card as the backing so it can hang on a peg. This stuff peels off the roll with both sides sticky exposed, no backing paper involved. The adhesive on one (A) side has to both adhere to the plastic film but not adhere to the adhesive on the (B) side.

Another variety I found at an art store with no identity has a "backing sheet" rolled up which indicates to me the adhesive may adhere better since it did not have to compromise with a need to not stick too well to a second side of tape. It seems to be just adhesive, no plastic film between two adhesive layers. I believe this is called adhesive transfer tape.

3.3 Basic techniques

Lou Coatney has written a very helpful document entitled Construction Techniques For Paper Model Ships: General Instructions.

Also see §2.2 above for non-Internet reference material.

The basic operations involved in building a card model are cutting, scoring, folding, curling, and gluing, not necessarily in that order.

3.3.1 Cutting tips

Usually, a part is cut in two stages. First, the part is separated from the rest of the parts by cutting roughly around it with scissors. Don't attempt to cut on the lines at this step. Once the part is separated, you can work on it without fear of damaging other parts. Often, it's best to do the scoring and folding before proceeding to the fine cutting. Especially with small parts and narrow tabs, it's easier to fold them neatly while there is still waste paper around the part.

Once the part has been scored and folded, lay it flat again and cut to the outline. There are three methods of cutting: scissors, knife, and chisel. Scissors are used for most curves, as it's very difficult to cut curves freehand with a knife. For sharp curves, it's easier to first make a cut about 1/8", 3 mm, outside the outline, then cut on the outline. With only a thin strip on the waste side, the waste paper doesn't push against the scissors, and it's easier to guide them.

A knife guided by a straight edge is used for straight cuts. Unless the line is very short, it is very difficult to make an accurate straight cut with scissors. Use a steel straight edge, line it up with the cut, and draw the knife along the edge. With a sharp knife and firm pressure, you should only need to make one pass.

Chisel cuts can be made with the tip of a knife, or with small chisels you can make or buy. These cuts are useful for curves and areas too small to get into with scissors. Use the chisel or knife tip to 'nibble' your way around the outline. Chisel cuts are also useful as 'stop cuts', when you have a straight cuts that intersect at an interior angle. Small chisel cuts made before cutting the line make it possible to feel when to stop cutting. This is useful with both knife and scissor cuts.

There is a natural order to the cuts on most parts, as you work your way around the outline. This is difficult to explain in text, but will become obvious after some practice. It's different for left- and right-handed modelers, of course. If there is an interior area to be cut out, I find it usually works best to cut that out first.

The printed cutting lines have some width, of course, and this introduces some limit on how precisely the cut can be made. If the outlines are thick, I usually find it's best to try to split the line with the cut.

3.3.2 Scoring tips

from Bob Bell <>: I use a special scoring stylus with a very narrow rounded tip which I purchased from an art supply store. This will not cut into the paper so there is no risk of breaking it at the fold. An empty ball point pen will serve the purpose as well. I have come across some models that do say to score on the back. However to do this you have to mark the ends of the score lines with a pin prick, then score between the pin pricks using a straight edge, or hold the paper up against a light source so the image can be seen through the paper. The main factor in scoring is to make sure that the paper is dented and not cut, so it is advisable to practice on a scrap of paper from the kit so you can get the feel of the right pressure to use.

from Jeff Cwiok <>: The purpose of the score is only to force the card to fold where you want it to, without wrinkling. There are two ways to achieve this, each with it's own merits and disadvantages.
  1. Surface scoring with a narrow semi-sharp instrument (such as a dull hobby blade or sewing needle mounted in a dowel.) This selectively thins the card on the printed side, forcing it to fold along the weakness.
  2. Reverse scoring with a wider blunt instrument ( such as a pointed dowel, darning needle or out of ink ball point.) This selectively thins the card by compressing on the unprinted side, also forcing the fold to follow the weakness.

Scoring the printed side (surface scoring) produces sharp, crisp 90° corners difficult to acheive otherwise (merit). However this invariably breaks the printed surface, requiring touch-up to match color of surrounding colored areas, especially dark areas (disadvantage). Since this will often be done to tint the cut edges in any case, this is not usually seen as a great problem. It is also much simpler to score directly on the printed score line, speeding production (merit).

Scoring the unprinted side (reverse scoring) produces somewhat blunt, rounded corners. If sharp corners are called for then (disadvantage). For larger models where this may not be as much a problem or when rounded corners are required, then (merit). A good example of this is the leading edges of aircraft tail surfaces, where a soft radius edge is required. (Schreiber often indicates this technique with a small circle at the end of the score line.) Some modelers prefer to do this for all folds to reduce the touch-ups to a minimum. However this slows down construction quite a bit while transferring score lines to the back side of the parts (disadvantage). An alternate method called 'embossing' was suggested on the Cardformation newsletter. This has the (merit) of allowing reverse 'scores' while working from the printed side, but still will not produce a square corner (disadvantage).

Embossing involved stretching a monofilament fishing line or wire across a board or tabletop, aligning the score-line over it, and rubbing down with a dowel notched at one end, along the score line. Once mastered this achieves a result similar to reverse scoring without the flipping over of the parts (merit), however one runs the risk of marring the printed surface so great care is needed in perfecting the tools and technique before attempting on the real thing (disadvantage).

Another alternative to scoring shallow folds is to crease them gently over the edge of a sharp cornered board or tabletop. This technique comes in handy when doing the multiple bends around the circumference of the airship model sections. (Schreiber also calls this out quite clearly when needed.)

It's a matter of taste as to which of these four methods to use. I prefer to switch between them as needed. Ship superstructures seem to look best with tight sharp corners, so I use simple surface scoring with a light touch most often.

My suggestion; practice on scrap or similar printed material (cereal boxes, junk mail etc., to get the hang of this essential skill!!

from Bill O'Neil <>: Surface embossing: use a clear "slip sheet" on top of the printed artwork to protect it from the scuffing which occurs from dragging the V-grooved tool. Try doubled Saran wrap or some more slippery film (low co-efficient of friction desirable). A low-friction tool (no smirks, now) is good; wood dowels might not be so great, maybe a dead ballpoint body, used at a shallow angle (30 deg. or so) to the card.
from Peter Richardson <>: Because my models [Hooton Aircraft] use surfaced "Astrolux" with all cutting patterns on the reverse I have found that in all circumstances fold lines are best achieved by drawing on the back with a dry biro [ball point pen]. For accurate curves I use draughtsman's circle and other templates and French curves. Incidentally, all Hooton AirCraft now come with pre-embossed cards which accurately model the fabric-sag so important to the appearance of fabric covered aeroplanes.
from James & Kandy Nunn <>: Several years ago I built what I call a scoring box. The sides are made of 3/8 inch thick bass wood about 3 inches high (you can pick this up from your local hobby shop) with the top made from a piece of white translucent Plexiglas. Inside I mounted a light bulb socket with a 30 watt aquarium light bulb ( the ones that are about 1 inch in diameter and about 5 inches long). Placing the paper face down on the Plexiglas you have enough light so that you can see the scoring lines through the paper. My only caution is the box will get quite worm so you should have a switch to turn it off when you are not using it.
from Wily <>: Some things that I consider while scoring:
  1. Scores that cut into the paper make cleaner edges, but only cut into the top third of the paper. This may seem difficult to gauge because paper isn't that thick to begin with! My technique for creating scores requires the use of the Sharpest Xacto I have at the time. A sharp blade won't rip or skip across grains. However, greater care is obviously required.
  2. There are "hard scores" where the paper is physically cut and there are "soft scores" where the paper is merely compressed in a certain area to make a fold or curve easier.
  3. Hard Score on the outside for angled cuts, soft score on the inside for radius folds.
    A hard score on the outside will break open the paper and allow for a cleaner, more accurate corner.
    A soft score on the inside of the paper will allow for a seamless curve; a radius fold. Soft score inside folds with a dull or blunt-tip instrument such as a dime drawn across a straightedge. Avoid hard scoring the paper on an inside fold or curve because the paper will stretch on the outside of the fold or curve. This can cause your project to warp or mis-align.
  4. Paper can be trained.
On my workbench, I have a piece of old ceiling tile that is perfectly flat. This allows me to contort parts and fix their shape using pins and time. A piece of paper pinned down, over time, will tend to retain that basic shape. This is especially helpful with complex curves and small parts. Sometimes all you need to do is "train" the paper instead of score it.

For example: ModelArt's Whestland Whirlwind engine cowls. Creating a small jig to train the paper makes for a neater finished project and it doesn't take any time to set it up... do it before bedtime and in the morning, the paper is more suited for the final objective.

from Lou Dausse <>: When taking up paper modeling in the '70s after a 30 year lapse, I started using a method of scoring that is strictly against all the rules and sounds like a big mistake, but it really works. The need for a straight edge is eliminated 98% of the time.

Very simple: I have an old Swiss Army knife with a dull blade. By holding it at a fairly low angle so that the curved part of the blade is doing the scoring and with the index finger putting pressure on the back of the blade, it is quite possible by pushing to score a straight line. Or to follow a broad curved line. Doesn't work by pulling, but with a little practice and slow going, pushing does a great job. I can't believe that I am any more skilled at this than anyone else, so I am sure anyone can do it.

Scoring front or back?
from Dariusz Lipinski <>: I've been wondering how many of you, when there is dashed line to be scored, do this actually on the back side, just like the instruction calls for. I have a confession to make; regardless of which way part has to be bend, up or down I always score on the printed side. Is it bad or what...?
from Tim Ryan <>: Guilty! I always score the front side. I can only recall a couple of instances where this caused the printed color to split, but a few quick strokes of the matching colored pencil and all was well. I think it also has a lot to do with how comfortable you are with whatever implement you are using to do your scoring, a little too much pressure and you dig into the surface, too little and you risk having small cracks splaying out in all directions from the score when it's being folded/formed.

These things can be dealt with with varying degrees of success, but one thing that bugs me even more is that some designers insist on printing the dot-dash score mark right onto the model. These can be damn near impossible to cover/remove on a light colored background.

from Dariusz Lipinski <>: Since I produced a couple of models for the Wilhelmshaven I feel guilty for doing this. I mean, drawing dashed and dashed-dot lines right on the parts. I just adhered to the long lasting company tradition and to tell you the truth, I thought that's what the people want. My third model for them is actually being designed in accordance with this tradition as well, but not totally. For the first time I moved those pesky lines outside of some of those parts.

In fact there are only 12" and 5" gun turrets which have been designed in the "new" way. But if this technique would find acceptance with the publisher my next ship project is going to be totally..., well, perhaps better I say, mostly, rid of the folding lines drafted on top of the major superstructure parts.

I hope people will like it, because I know for sure, that ship models look much better with a "clean" corners and angles on their superstructures. I know it, 'cause I've scratch-built a few for myself.

from Friedrich Lauterbach <>: I always do the scoring on the side it is mentioned to be. It gives much better results (tested only on JFS cardstock). When scoring on the front side I do some correcting with a pencil. But on the kit I'm working on this is not a big problem as it is in dark red.

And I found a new funny design detail on the JFS kit of the steam loco I'm still building (...). There was a dashed line on the front side that had to be scored from back. But, it was a *curved* line! So how to make two holes and use a ruler for scoring? I solved the problem by scoring from the front, was ok.

So all you desingers: Never put a curved line on one side that has to be scored from the other side. But I think these things should be found during the test assembly.

from Fil Feit <>: I always score on the back when indicated; if I'm feeling lazy, I make a small cut with the knife on each side of the line to be scored and turn it over and score it. If I'm not, I hold the piece up to a light or window and mark the back with a pencil, over the fold line.

from Thomas Pleiner <>: I've been in the cardmodel business a few decades now and I feel free to make a few comments about this topic. Also being one of those ignorant cardmodel-designers who doesn't care about the modellers capabilities I've integrated my philosophy of scoring in my models - if possible :-)

But let's start with some facts:
1) Any cardmodel consists of a number of flat parts which have to be folded in certain directions to form a three-dimensional shape.
2) There must be a clear indication where to fold and in what direction.
3) Most of the established publishers (in Europe) have a traditional format for indicating folds and scoring, to maintain a continuity in their model designs.
4) The contracted designer is forced to follow this "tradition"
5) First score and then cut!
6) Most things to score and fold are TABS
7) Curved folding edges are not possible.

What I've experienced mainly in all those years are two things: In my designs I've tried to minimize the number of tabs which has led to extensive use of so-called butt-joints and also to reduce parts where a folding in direction of the printed side is necessary - which normally would cause a scoring from the backside.

One of the most innovative "inventions" from my point of view is the tab-and-slot method of the Wilhelshaven ships to assemble the superstructures of the decks where no scoring and folding is required for proper assembly.

I agree totally that coded-lines on the model's surface spoil the visual effect of the model, but as stated before some publishers insist on continuing with their tradition. The worst line codes I know are the dashed-and-crossed lines on Schreiber models. To mitigate this I've moved the crosses off the parts and placed them a certain distance from the part itself. The big disadvantage is that once you've cut out the part from the sheet and forgotten to score it, it is no longer possible to figure out easy in what direction the part has to be folded. Emil Zarkov has some interesting views upon that matter. [See below.]

Most modellers use suitable methods of painting to camouflage scored edges, but obviously this helps only with parts printed in rather dark colours.

Experiments having all scoring lines on the invisible backside of the parts and the cut-out lines on the front side were soon stopped. The problem here is that even hi-tech printing technology cannot guarantee holding register of both sides in required accuracy. An interesting approach to that technology is the J.F. Schreiber airship "Graf Zeppelin".

The problem seems to concentrate on how to reduce scoring lines on the model but still to be clear enough to avoid confusion on the modeller's side. One solution could be to use ultra-thin (but solid) lines on the part and print the "code" outside the part. This is - for example - one of the approaches of Emil Zarkov. My approach is to differentiate during the design process between sharp edges needed and smoother edges. In case of sharp edges I would now strictly follow Emil's thoughts - it's real progress, if the designer is freed from following the publisher's tradition. In case of smoother edges I've always placed short marker-lines coded with a tiny circle outside the part. The junction between these markers then must be "grooved" with a proper tool. This avoids breakage of the cardboard's surface as well as of the colour.

Is it really questionable from what side to score folding lines? Seriously I believe not. During the design process the cardmodel designer has to be aware of the material thickness. And he has to reflect this accurately while placing scoring lines and deciding where and when a part has to be folded forward or backward. Usually the designer estimates that scoring will cut into the cardboard between 30 and 50 percent of it's thickness to assure proper folding and maintain enough stability. If anyone scores from the "wrong side" the cardboard material will be squeezed on the reverse side and will lead into not fitting junctions. This is more or less irrelevant with simple models but nerve-wreckingly irritating with mind-mangling and highly detailed models. And gaps are the most embarassing thing in cardmodels.

And last: Curved folding edges. Cardboard or cardstock in general is not bi-directionally formable. Not to be too dogmatic: Within a certain (very, very little) degree there are possibilities to form the material bi-directionally. But what happens when this is done is that the pulp-fibres are forcibly being broken and the cardboard loses its built-in stability. Also coated papers will split into their layers and fall apart. It's still funny to look at older Schreiber or Wilhelmshaven designs of airplane tyres - fans know what I mean. They are formed from bi-directional cones with a curved scoring line of a funny radius. A provocative statement: no cardmodel designer who understood the material will integrate curved scoring lines in his/her design. Forming cardboard bi-directionally is a very advanced technology to enhance the visual effect of spheroid-shapes achieved by "burnishing" certain parts very carefully on a rubber pad.

from Emil Zarkov <>: I would like to share with you my point of view about scoring lines on the paper models.

The scoring lines appear on the model parts to mark the place of their folding. For quality folding and achieving sharp and straight edges the scoring is necessary as a preparatory process. As you see the SCORING lines are related to the TECHNOLOGY of the model building in contrast to FOLDING lines that are part of the ready model and represent the places of its edges. Despite that scoring and folding lines coincide, I see a sharp difference between them - the first ones are for technological purposes and the second ones are real and always present on the finished model. My approach to the cardmodel design is based on this difference. Maybe you will agree with me that the less visual things on the finished model are connected with its technology of building, the better it will look. Consequently every scoring lines that are coded with dashed or dotted etc. lines are undesirable on the external surfaces of the model.

A few questions arise immediately:
1. What the folding lines on the cutouts should be?
2. If we optimize the design using the maximum visual similarity to the prototype represented as criteria, and forgetting about the building technology for a while, are the folding lines on the cutouts needed at all?

I'll start from the second question. Imagine a uniform colored object with flat surfaces (a polyhedron for example) and mentally unfold it, producing a cutout. No fold lines are present on the flattened cutout. But when we look on the object, we will see its edges as lines, defined by the sharp changes of its illumination in those places. So we see the edges as LINES and we are able to recognize the same object in a line drawing of its isometric or perspective projection. In our mind it exists as a uniform colored object with sharp lines with contrast (let's say black) hair lines on its edges. It is due to the image processing in our mind that is part of the object recognition and classification process that our brain performs. The part of this process is 2-D image differentiation that produces sharp lines on the edges and compensates the gradient illumination of the flat surfaces. The result of this mind image processing is something very similar to pictures in the comics magazines - spot colored images with sharp black contours. This is the reason that children love them. They somehow release their mind from this primary image processing.

According to this, we can say that the sharp thin black lines added to the object edges will not interfere with our perception of its shape.

Until now we found that the folding lines represented as black hairlines can be placed on the model without causing perception conflicts. Somebody will ask: Is it necessary? As the model is scaled copy to its prototype, the same holds true to the model shape. The same image processing takes place on it too.

At first glance it is true. But let's imagine a hypothetical model that represents ship in 1/250 or 1/720 scale. Let's suppose that the model is an EXACT scale copy of the prototype, with ALL details, textures and so on. Most of its small details will be invisible because of the wave nature of the light - light diffraction for example. To see our hypothetical model "just like a real thing" we must use UV light or even to go to the Gamma Ray part of the electromagnetic spectrum :-). So our visual perception of the model will differ considerably in comparison to the prototype view. The goal is to make the scaled copy that satisfies our criteria for maximum visual similarity. It can be done only when we draw on the model such details, in such a way as to achieve the visual impression similar to the view of the real thing.

Leaving the theory apart, with some practical experiments we can convince ourselves that the presence of the thin hairlines on the folding edges improve the view of the model, also masking the inevitable inaccuracy of the paper folding.

So here is my answer to the second question - the fold lines MUST present on the model cutouts as thin black (or with contrasting color) lines.

Now we must return to the technology aspects of folding. If we leave our folding lines as they are described, it will be not clear where to score. The best way by me to mark them is to put the corresponding markers that are thin lines placed on the continuation of the fold lines outside the parts. They don't represent the direction of bending. They are only scoring markers. The card that I'm using for my models is very easy to be bend to both directions with face scoring only. The direction of scoring is clearly visible in my instruction drawings. I'm trying to make them in a way that every part is represented at least twice - alone in the exploded view and then on its place in the next view from other viewpoint.

Just score, THEN cut, then fold and then glue.

Scoring tools
from Ken Seemann <>: I use (and have for 15+ years) a metal nail file. The point is blunt enough that I don't tear/cut the paper, yet still enough to get a finely defined score line.

I never had success with the "dry ballpoint pen" idea -- it always left a broader score than I liked. I also seem to recall some early disaster with pens that suddenly weren't dry anymore -- and I wind up with an extra line on the model!

from Tom Mc Rae <>: I use the back of a fine scalpel, been using the things for years so I have a light touch with them and they give a fine score. If you want to try use old cardstock to pravtice on but it is a skill worth developing and very accurate.

from Lou Coatney <>: My scorer is the point of a CHEAP dime-store geometric compass ... without pencil insert, of course. It's just dull enough and just sharp enough. I'm talking about the old metal one with the long point which may be in the process of being phased out for a plastic one.

from David Hathaway <>: I went to my local arts/crafts/graphics supply shop and asked what they would recommend. They GAVE me a replaceable compass point they had in a drawer. Its hard, pointed but not too sharp and fits in a craft knife handle which give excellent control. Works a dream.

from Tim Ryan <>: I've now got my ever expanding tool kit down to a core set of 6 items that are always on my desktop. Among these and always within a quick grab is a stainless steel dental instrument that on one end has a small spoon shaped implement that is great for burnishing out lumpy seams, rounding airfoils, and smoothing out and removing excess glue squishing out of seams. The other end is flattened into a arrowhead shape that is about as sharp as a dull knife. It took a little practice, but I can get near razor sharp corners with the scores it makes. It also makes a fantastic glue spreader, burnisher, small part lifter, prying tool... you get the idea. It's in my hand more that any of the other tools. All this and it was a flea market find, a bargain at only a buck!
from R. Mark Adams, Ph.D. <>: I have had very good luck with three different tools:
1) A sewing needle in a pin vise. I slightly dull the tip with a sharpening stone to prevent it from cutting the card. I find this most useful in the models I design and print on heavy card via laser printer. The sharp scores work great on the dull, heavy material.
2) A fine-tip burnishing tool. This is like a metal needle with a small metal ball on the tip. It has been the perfect replacement for the "dry ball point pen". I find that it works great on models printed on light, glossy card where anything sharper might cut through or badly scratch the material.
3) A clay scribe. This is a metal tool with a point similar to a nail. It is somewhere between the two abovementioned items, and there seem to be cases where it works better than both.

I have bought all of the tools for pocket change at local art supply stores over the years, and all seem to be widely available staples. Whenever I start a store-bought model, I always give each of them a trial score or two on scrap from the model to see which one works best, and then use it for the duration.

from Fil Feit <>: For card models, I just turn the xacto knife over, and use the back of the blade, very carefully. I keep the angle low, to keep the point from damaging the card. So far, I haven't had a problem. I am waiting for the day that I forget to turn the knife over.

from Harry B. Frye, Jr. <>: Regarding scoring tools, I have found two items that I like; one is by Xacto, sorry I don't have the part # but it is like a #1 knife except that it has a flat piece of black plastic on one end and a ball on the other. If I see another one I'll get the part number. The other thing I use is a non-serrated tracing wheel, found in the larger sewing supply stores. The wheel is very wobbly but if you slightly peen the rivet it works really well, at least for me.
from David Green <>: I pinched two large darning needles from my wife - one sharp and one blunt.
from Bob Santos <>: I use an old leather working tool. One end is great for scoring and the other has a nice rounded surface that is great for "dishing" out a concave or curved surface. I don't know the name of the tool. It is a solid feeling metal tool with a dull bent point on one end (scoring) and a sort of smooth small spoon shape on the other (burnishing). Visit a leather working shop and look over the dozens of tools they have and you might find one that fits your needs.
from Peter J. Visser <>: I use an old kitchen knife with a rounded top. This always gives a nice fold, no damage what so ever.

3.3.3 Folding tips

3.3.4 Curling tips

from Max Meerman <>: The models I design, of SSTL Satellites, often require tubes to be made. For this I press the bit of paper against a scissor edge, and slide the paper across the sharp edge. This causes the paper to roll over the edge, and form a cylinder. The pressure defines the size of the cylinder, I use this for tubes between 1 and 10 mm. For long tubes I use the edge of my desk, and I roll the paper with both hands. This way I make tubes of up to 250 mm, 3 mm diameter. The smallest tubes I make are about 1 mm (0.04 inch) diameter.

3.3.5 Gluing tips

from Stephen Brown <>: When using white glue, spread the glue in very thin, even coats, and it will dry quickly as the paper absorbs the water out of the glue. For the tabs, double-gluing is dandy. Spread a very thin layer of glue on one or both surfaces and let it dry, then spread another thin layer on one surface before carefully bringing them together. The parts grab right away, so align them carefully. Press firmly on the joint with fingers, or an orange stick, or a polished dowel, or some other improvised burnisher. Provided the glue didn't dry before you got the parts together (which is sometimes a problem with larger parts) this gets a strong joint which dries quickly. (If you're lucky enough to have smooth-jawed needle nose pliers, they're great for squeezing the joints together. Grooved jaws will mark the paper, however.)

By the way, an overturned yogurt cup, or one of those little margarine tubs, makes an ideal glue container. It keeps the glue off the table, so tools don't roll in it and you don't drag things in it, and it's always easy to find.

from Bob Pounds <>: I use ordinary white PVA glue (mostly sold under the trade name 'Aquadhere' in Australia.) I place a small 'line' of glue, about 2 cm long and a 'squirt' wide on a flat mixing dish. Then, using a fine paintbrush to mix the glue, I add water, beginning about a third of the way along, but working out at right angles to the glue line. What I try to achieve is a line of glue of varying dilutions. If I need a fast, tacky glue, then I take some from the undiluted portion; if I need a 'size' to seal the furry edge of a cut, or a glue that will flow down into a join, then I use glue that is more diluted.

In effect, I have an infinitely variable range of setting times.

One trap, however, is having the glue too diluted. In the end you have too much water that just soaks in and swells the paper fibres, making it very hard to match details along a join, let along gaining any adhesive power. The corollary of this is that sometime when putting glue on the inside of a join, it is worth wetting the outside so that there is no distortion of the paper. I'm sure you've all experienced a right angle bend, which when you put glue on the joining tabs, takes on a distinct curve along the fold line. Moistening the outside of the card will take the curve out.

3.4 What to use for a building board?

Stiff cardboard or wood is the usual choice, depending on the size of the model.

from Stephen Brown <>: I am trying 0.125" acrylic (Plexiglas) for a building board. My first ship, a submarine, was built on regular cardboard (like the back of a pad of paper) and that was frustrating, as it was insufficiently rigid and awkward to separate without flexing the model too much. I did some experiments with some scrap Plexiglas and glues and found that white glue would stick to the plastic, but could be easily separated. So I got an appropriately sized piece of plastic from a glass shop. It works pretty well, it's easy to wipe glue spills off, but it's a little too flexible--I wouldn't use it for anything bigger (the model is about 14") unless I found a ready source for thicker sheets. I think the regular glazing plastic (0.1") is too flexible for anything. Mr. Wolter of Möwe Verlag recommends a 4mm acrylic sheet as a building board.

I haven't experimented with glass and glue, but I think it would probably work fine. It would be cheaper and more rigid than the plastic, but it might be a little heavy. Be sure to have the edges ground, so it's not a hazard. I'm planning on trying plastic laminated to a rigid backing (particle board?) for bigger projects (1:250 USS San Francisco, 28"; 1:200 SS Titanic, 54").

from Lou Coatney <>: When I'm constructing my model ships, I use a sink-top "formica" cut-out ... like the hardware/construction stores and lumber yards have left over. Elmer's temporarily bonds to it, but the ship can be popped -- "launched" -- off of it whenever you want ... and these cut-outs are absolutely flat.

from King Butler <>: It was Jeff Cwiok that first tipped me off to Plexi-glass as a base. It was a great tip. If you just put tiny spots of white glue about an inch apart all around the ship's base plate and quickly lay it down on the plexi-glass, then put it under pressure for a while, it will hold just fine until it's time to take it off. To get it off, just run a very thin sheet of metal (I use a draftsman's erasing template) between the card and the Plexi-glass. It will pop right off without damage. I have tried glass, but the glue sticks to it too well and the hull won't pop off. Same problem with wood. You do need a Plexi-glass sheet at least 1/4 inch thick for stability. There is a plastic supplier near me who has a bin of off-cuts near the door with lots of small sheets that are free for the taking.
from Frank-Michael Goldmann <>: There is nothing more flat, hard and resistant to temperature and humidity than glass. So I have used as long as I can remember a pane of glass as a base. I take a pane 15 cm x 50 cm. Itīs long enough for most models. If the baseplate is longer, the pane of glass must be longer, too, of course. The glass is 1 cm thick. If it is thinner, it may break more easily and broken pieces of glass are not always signs of luck. Then I fix the baseplate of the model on the glass. I use rubber cement. It is the kind of glue used for glueing paper or pictures in layouts, before they started laying-out with computer-graphic programms. This glue is available all over the world in shops for painting or graphic materials. Rubber cement is removable without any problems from every surface. I leave the baseplate on the glass as until I haved finished the frames, decks and shipīs walls. I let the whole thing dry overnight and remove it the next day. This way distortion is impossible.

3.5 How do I cut little tiny parts?

from Jack Graham <>: I've found the best way to deal with small parts that have "saw toothed" tabs is with a wedged shaped blade made by X-Acto. With this blade you can cut straight down on the lines. Sorry, I don't know the number of the blade but I'm sure someone here can supply that info.
from John Baines <>: "Post It" stickers can be used to prevent very small parts getting lost. Stick the small part onto the gum and it is much harder to lose.

Cutting very small circles or holes

from Stephen Brown <>: For small circular cuts, I've done some experimenting along these lines. I tried making cutters from brass tubing. Just grind a bevel on the edge and hone it up on a whetstone. Line it up on the paper and give it a light tap with a small hammer (it took me some practice to learn not to drive the cutter into my cutting pad.) I was worried that the brass would be too soft to hold an edge, but it seems to be fine. It makes very round, repeatable disks (or holes). Use a short piece of tubing so you can poke the cut pieces out with a needle or wire.

The drawback to this approach is that you have to find tubing of the right diameter and it's not readily available in arbitrary sizes. For sizes that don't match my stock of tubing, I've been taking a leaf from Stephen Capps' book. I ground a tiny chisel, just as he suggested. I actually make a series of straight cuts, so that I'm making a polygon rather than a circle, but I find that on the tiny pieces it doesn't show. I've made a chisel about 0.025" (0.6 mm) wide (also perfect for the end-cuts on those narrow slits), as well as one about 0.095" (2.4 mm) wide. I can do pieces down to about 1/16" with the small chisel.

from King Butler <>: Here's a tip I originally got from Myles Mandell: Most hobby ships carry telescoping brass tubing in diameters from about 1/16" to 5/8" in increments of 1/32". I got a full set and cut two lengths 2" long from each size and sharpened one set on the inside and the other on the outside using a Dremel tool and conical bit, finishing it with micro-abrasive honing paper. If you place the card on a fairly hard surface, center the appropriate cutter over the hole you want and give it a tap with a light hammer, you end up with a perfect circle. I use the cutters sharpened on the outside when I want to keep the hole and the others when I want to waste the hole. I thought the brass would be too soft to hold an edge, but I haven't had to resharpen any yet. The set cost me about as much as your punch and die cutter in the end, since the cost of the tubing is high for a single length, but I end up with 18 sizes. Since each size fits perfectly inside the next smaller size, they take up little storage space and the next smaller cutter makes a good tool to remove the card from the cutter. [Editor's note: I thought I'd invented this approach, but I wasn't the first. I found a sample pack of short (1"-2") lengths of tubing at a local hobby store for about $6, which was cheaper than buying a 12" length of each size and gave me lots of short pieces of round and square tubing in brass and aluminum.]
from Bill O'Neil <>: A "star-wheel" hole punch, although not a "punch & die" set, is very useful and much less expensive. Leather workers use them, and I'm not sure if other sizes are available, but here's one: "Revolving Punch, #223, sold by C.S. Osborne & Co. Harrison, NJ. Unit is made in England." Looks like a pair of pliers, but with the punches on one jaw and a brass anvil/pad on the other. Jaw throat is 1-1/2". The six hole dias. are 2mm to 4mm by 0.5 mm, plus 5mm (5/64" to 5/32" by 1/64", plus 3/16") Costs around $10, IIRC, and should be available at any decent hardware store, probably at the large crafter's chains, too.
from Adrienne Sherwood <>: For the little holes in the rings for the Dover Ferris Wheel I finally got fed up and started using a plain ol' garden-variety hole punch.
from Harry B. Frye, Jr. <>: I have been using one of those rotary hole punches since I started card modeling, a tip from my mentor, Matt Vance. I also have purchased an inexpensive, punch set. Found 3 really large punches, largest being 3/4 inch. The larger ones didn't work too well until I took my Dremel drill and honed the inside a little. I have found that when punching out just paper it is best to back it with a piece of card stock. I bought all of them at various Flea Markets. Jon Murray, alias the Snipper of Cardformation also suggests using empty (of course) shell casings. These also will need a little honing to produce a clean punch.
from Frank-Michael Goldmann <>: To perforate small holes for portholes or other small circles, which have to be cut out:

A long time ago I decided for myself to build ships with "real" portholes (bull-eyes). The models look better in my opinion, because they look more realistic. Perhaps many cardmodelers donīt do it because they think itīs much too much work with dubious results. But it is not as much work as it seems at first sight.

Of course, to cut out the pieces inside small circles with scissors is impossible. And when I tried to do it with a cutter, the results looked like cheese from Switzerland. So for a couple of years I have done it this way:

  1. To perforate holes with diameters from 2mm up to 5mm I use punch pliers. The usual punch pliers (in Germany) have 6 different diameters to choose: 2mm, 3mm, 3.5 mm, 4mm, 4.5 mm and 5mm. It is the tool which is generally used to perforate new holes in a leather belt, if you can't close it any more (maybe because of some extra kilos). The important thing is that the punch pliers are hollow. The punch pliers are a perfect tool for most holes in scale 1:200 or bigger. They are available in stores for craftsmen.
  2. For holes smaller than 2mm diameter I haven't founnd punch pliers yet. But there are a lot of smaller holes in scale 1:250 or smaller. So I use another method for perforating. I take Cannulas (tubules) of syringes. They are available in any pharmacy for a few cents/pennies/Pfennige. If you tell them you need the cannulas for modeling purposes and not for fixing, they even often give them away for free. They have the following advantages for perforating:
    • they are available in diameters 0.45mm, 0.55 mm, 0.7mm, 0.9 mm, 1.2mm, and 1.5mm. So Iīve got every smaller diameter Iīm missing with the punch plier.
    • they are hollow
    • they are made of metal, that means very stable
    • theyīve got a "head" made of plastic
    I use the cannulas this way:
    • cut the peaked end with a file until the end looks like a ring
    • use a smooth piece of wood as base plate under the card
    • put the cannula absolutely vertical on the porthole or whatever circle - beat softly with a little hammer on the plastic head of the cannula
    • thatīs all
    After some dozen perforations the end of the cannula is a bit destroyed and should be filed again, until it looks quite new for next use.
Both methods, punch pliers and cannulas, work really quickly with a little training. After perforating a scrap piece of card twenty or thirty times it will be no problem for anybody.

One thing is important: tools for perforating must be hollow. Before I discovered the cannulas, several times I tried perforating with nails of different diameters, after cutting the tip of the nails. But: the nails are massive (solid) and the use of massive perforation tools yields frayed out, not perfectly round holes. And the bigger the diameter, the worse the result.

3.6 How do I butt glue edges together?

Often with small parts, especially small cylinders, it's necessary to glue two edges of card together, without an overlapping tab. These butt joints can be challenging, because the glued surface is tiny, but there are several approaches which can give good results.

In butt joints, it's very important to have a good fit. Use a straightedge to guide your cuts, and test fit the pieces carefully. It may be necessary to bevel the edges if the joint isn't flat. You can make the initial cuts at an angle, or use sandpaper or an emery board to make the bevel. Use fresh sandpaper, because as it wears and gets dull it will tear rather than cut the fibers, and you end up with a fuzzy edge.

If carefully done, it's possible to simply glue the edges together. You need to be very sparing with the glue, and it soaks readily into the fibers on the cut edge, so it's difficult to get the right amount of glue. Double gluing is often helpful here.

If the butt glued joint isn't strong enough, you can back up the joint with a bit of scrap stock overlapping both sides. If this adds too much thickness to the joint, you can use vellum or onionskin paper instead of card stock for the overlap.

from Tom Mc Rae <>: Edges may be held together using the magnet method I described and long joints may be strengthened considerably by placing a piece of match stick inside abutting both joints.

3.7 How do I roll tiny cylinders?

from Adrienne Sherwood <>: How do you get card stock to roll nicely into really tiny tubes? The books just say `roll it around a pencil', but it doesn't work too well. I even tried a Number 7 steel crochet hook. It curves a little, then `breaks' and ends up all creased and lumpy-looking. Is there a special technique for this?
from King Butler <>: Dover models are particularly difficult with the coated card they use. I think you're on the right track with your crochet hook but the trick with Dover's card is to lightly moisten the top (printed) surface before you start the curve. Then start with maybe a 1/4" or so cylinder and roll it over the ball of your thumb or your palm. Then move to smaller and smaller cylinders. I use a set of wood dowels down to 1/16" diameter about 6" long. The handle of your Exacto knife might be a good starting diameter, although you have to be careful with aluminum because it can leave black marks on the paper.
from Charles T Davenport <>: Simple, acquire a cylindrical master that is SMALLER in diameter (by about 30%) than the piece you wish to roll. Drill bits come in a variety of sizes both metric and SAE and will work well for this purpose. Since I cannot send a picture, I will make a very precise word picture:

1. Use a piece of low tack adhesive tape (artist's frisket works well) and attach a piece across the full height of the cylinder you wish to roll. The tape should be on the printed or exposed side of the cylinder. The tape should should extend past the paper 1/2 the circumference of the cylinder you are rolling. Therefore, a small cylinder has a small section of tape adhesive exposed while a larger diameter cylinder has a larger section exposed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if you can, do not cut the cylinder to its final circumference. Leave some extra material on either edge so that it can be used to back the splice of the cylinder.

2. Place the taped paper printed-side down on a hard-flat surface. Position the drill bit parallel to the height of the cylinder directly adjacent to the tape. With you fingers, roll the drill bit onto the tape keeping the bit as parallel to the height as possible. Continue to roll the bit onto the paper using as much pressure as you need to keep the paper rolled tight.

3. Cinch up the rolled paper. Stress the paper so that it will hold its curve shape. Then, unroll it only enough to remove the tape and cut the excess circumference (C).

4. Glue a section of the excess C to the back of one side of the cylinder leaving about 10% (of the diameter of the cylinder) of the backing strip exposed. Use the drill bit to bond the two by rolling the bit on the splice. Again, try not to unroll the cylinder.

5. When you go to join the two sides of the cylinder, you will find that the unbacked side will slide neatly and with well-defined circularity to the ledge formed by the other side and its backing. Glue into place and Voila!

from Jack Graham <>: I usually cheat and use a small wire or wood piece. Stain or paint it the appropriate color. It looks better and no one knows the difference.
from Myles K Mandell <>: Sometimes you are better off using wooden dowels or pieces of wire instead of the paper part supplied. Heighway suggests adding details to his models with wire or in the case of of the pillars in front of some of the London Gates using broom bristles. When doing the six little ships I used bristles or wood doweling for the masts. I do not consider this cheating, like using plastic behind windows that I have cut out, but rather enhancements.
from Bob Santos <>: I too use some small dowels but in addition, I use a set of graduated brass rods that go down to about the size of a needle. Almost every hobby shop that I know of sells these brass rods by K&S. Buy one of each size, they work really great.

from Bob Bell <>: Making tiny tubes is not too difficult. First I dampen the paper slightly and place it face down on the fleshy pad of my fore finger or base of my thumb then, taking a darning needle I start rolling back and forth till the piece curls and the two sides meet. I can then increase the curl by rolling it between finger and thumb. For glue I use Aleenes "Tacky" which will tack the edges of the tube together instantly so it can be set down to dry without it springing open again. With very thick paper (such as micromodels and Maty models) I sometimes substitute ordinary bond paper which rolls easily, and color with felt pen or, preferably, oil pastel crayon.

from Bill O'Neil <>: Forming small cones on Hotel Vancouver. Try wood toothpicks or cocktail stirrers as forming cores; leave 'em in, too. I don't think a bit of dampening can hurt; form damp, not wet (authentic Vancouver weather, too), let dry, glue.

from Emil Zarkov <>: For bending thin cylinders you can use another piece of thin paper that is already rolled to a pipe - the pipe bending tool:

     .---->        PART FOR BENDING
    /  ____               |
   /  /    \              |
  |  /      \             V
  | |\ \____/  ___________________________
    | \_________________________________________________________
    |        |        ^
    |   D    |        |
    |<------>|        |
            *                   *
            * PIPE BENDING TOOL *
            *                   *
Unroll part of it, then insert the cutout for forming, and then roll it again. Make one or two additional rounds so the cutout to be firmly tightened. Then release the roll and remove the part from the side. It will remain in almost the same shape. After few experiments you can find an appropriate reduction of the desired diameter. It depends of the card used. I discovered this tool few weeks ago when I was forming the Sidewinder missiles for Moshe's F-15 E Strike Eagle. It works flawlessly.
from Bill O'Neil <>: A factor known as the "grain" of the stock comes into play, too! Although ideal cardmodel stock ought to have neutral rolling characteristics, it's likely that most models will be printed on stock with a grain; that is, it will roll more easily in one direction than the perpendicular "other." This is due to the fibers orienting themselves in the direction of the flow of the papermaking machine, creating a kind of mini-rebar structure within the layer. Rolling "across" or at 90 degrees to the grain gives you the wrinkles. Rolling parallel to the grain (centerline of the cylinder parallel with the fibers) gives a smoother form.

Try this on almost anything above a 24# paper, should be a good demo. So if you don't *have* to follow a printed outline, roll 'em with the the grain. The outer sleeve idea discussed should help greatly in making cylinders or cones. Of course, dampening the part to break down the binders is a legitimate technique, too.

from Peter Ansoff <>: I just finished building one of the Mowe GRET PALUCCA kits. This is a little postcard model, but it's more sophisticated than it appears at first glance -- it would be a bit rough as a starter model because of the tiny deck fittings. Has anyone come up with a method for rounding those skinny little masts? I ended up folding them, but even that is hard because they are so narrow at the top.
from Bob Bell <>: This is how I make tiny gun barrels. Instead of using the masts (or gun barrels) supplied I substitute by rolling thin paper (I use origami paper) from one corner to form a tapered tube which is then trimmed to size and colored. I start the roll around a darning needle after slightly dampening the corner of the paper.
from Gunnar Sillén<>: My method when carboard is too heavy is to cut away at least half the cardboard thickness. It is much easier than you believe. Use a sharp knife with a slightly curved edge. Place the cardboard piece you want to make thinner with the back side up on a flat surface and treat it like cutting fillets from a fish. You can get postcard model stuff thin as cigarette paper.
from Erik Johnson <>: Landing gear struts are often hard to roll using the typical card stock that comes with a kit. Instead, take a square of common paper, say 3" on a side, and roll it over a small rod, such as a 1/16" dia or smaller music wire. The trick is to start with the paper face down on the board, at an angle, with a corner pointed at you, and the wire running from left to right just on top of the bottom corner. Add glue as the paper rolls over the wire and away from you. Don't add too much. You stop when the outside diameter is what you want. When dry, pull out the wire and trim each end to length. Added detail, such as larger diameter rings, would also be common paper strips, one end glued on and then rolled & glued to the chosen diameter. Old catalogs, brochures and other throw-aways are a good source for thin paper already colored. [Joe Cangero <> suggests origami paper with this method.]
         / \                           _ 
        /   \                         | |
       /     \                        | |-----------------,
      /       \                       | |-----------------'  
     /  paper  \                      | |            ^ paper strip/ring
     \         /                      | |
      \       /                       | |  <---- gear strut
       \     /        
  ================  <--------- wire
         \ /
from Frank-Michael Goldmann <>: The printed card-parts for barrels, pipes, and tubes are often very difficult to round and - in my case - after rounding and gluing, don't look really well done. So I searched for alternatives. In the beginning I used needles, with two disadvantages: First I couldnīt find all the different diameters I needed for the different scales. And second, needles are not hollow.

When I found my solution for perforating bulleyes or other small holes (see section 3.17), I found at the same time the solution for the gunbarrels. I use the same cannulas mentioned there.

This is the way I use them:

  1. choose the right diameter of the cannula compared with the built card-part
  2. cut the cannula to the correct length, with nippers and file. If you own an electric Minicraft machine [Dremel], you can cut it in a few seconds.
  3. color it with plastic-colours (Revell, Humbrol etc.)
  4. Glueing: In this case metal to paper/card. White glue doesnīt hold at all. I use Uhu extra gel (see section 3.2.) It holds well enough for this purpose. If I really want to be on the safe side, I build a little bracket this way: I take a little piece of scrap card, double or triple it, put a hole with the diameter of the gunbarrel in the part and glue the gunbarrel with Super Glue gel to this bracket. The bracket including gunbarrel now can be glued without any problems (UHU extra gel or white glue) into the original part, for example the cannon, the Flak or whatever.

    Cannulas are in my opinion the perfect solution for all kinds of barrels, tubes, pipes and so on up to an diameter of 1.5mm. Maybe there are even bigger cannulas, I forgot to ask my pharmacy, because I havenīt needed bigger ones so far.

3.8 How do I hold parts while the glue dries?

Paper clips, clothespins, and cross-locking tweezers are all handy at times. You can also put a rubber band around the handle of your smooth-jawed needle nose pliers. For some parts, such as tiny cylinders, there's no substitute for fingers. As you acquire practice in getting just the right amount of glue in just the right places, you'll find you need clamps less and less.
From Tom Mc Rae <>: Forgot to add this pearl of wisdom...It can be tricky holding Micromodel and other small card model joints in place to dry. Tiring of wandering round with the things pinched in my fingers I tried placing the part concerned on a ferrous metal base and moving small rectangular magnets gently in position to keep the joint aligned until the glue set. Can take some manipulation, particularly with sloping roofs, but my results are good on straight angle joins.

Micromark sell a magnetic setting jig for $20 but a cheap tin tray and a few magnets from Tandy will suffice quite well.

3.9 What if I mess up?

from Myles K Mandell <>: Believe it or not the best is to use simple white glue and a piece of your local newspaper. It's always handy and you have a lot of it. Just paste to the back side of the part.

3.10 How do I preserve my paper models for posterity?

from King Butler <>: Most high quality cardstock now is acid free, but you never quite know. If you want to find out if a particular stock is pH neutral, pH testing pens are available quite inexpensively (one in a catalogue I have here is $5.65 Canadian - so maybe $3.00 US) from library supply houses. You just make a mark on the edge of the paper or card and check the colour. You can also get buffered tissue for wrapping paper things (like models) for long-term storage. The acid in the paper migrates out into the tissue. Then there are archival quality storage boxes (expensive) that are supposed to work some manner of magic for storing paper things. Library supply catalogues are a gold mine of good stuff for paper modelers. Your local university or public library must have several. Good source of high quality, acid free, flexible adhesives too.

I recently went on a search for a finish that would waterproof soluble ink-jet printer inks for models I was printing on card. The best I came up with was Krylon (#41311 Matte Finish). Although it doesn't waterproof to the point where you can soak the card in a bucket of water, it does protect from splashes, glue slops, etc. (Sorry, didn't test A&W). Comes in a spray can, gives an invisible finish, has no effect on colour inkjet ink, is fairly inexpensive, is available in any artists' supply store and is considered pretty high quality stuff. It's used by artists to protect their work, photographs, etc. If you're handling your models a lot (i.e. wargaming) remember that you'll be transfering acid to the paper from your fingers, so two or three coats of Krylon would be a good idea I'd think. I've started spraying the cardstock (both sides) before I begin building. The matte finish takes glue well.

from David Green <>: A friend has just returned from Poland with two Maly Modelarz kits on very old, coarse paper (almost like thick, friable blotting paper). Are these worth even attempting? Can anything be done to "rescue" the paper?
from Harry B. Frye, Jr. <>: What I have found that helped me was to pre-coat that cardboard (Maly calls it paper) with some clear acrylic spray. What I have been using ever since I started building is a Clearcoat Acrylic Sealer by Plaid. Available at most Craft stores. I use the Matte finish, they do have a high gloss. Be sure you use one that is especially formulated for paper and states that it will not shrink, warp or yellow the paper. Since I use the matte finish I do not spray the canopy. It soaks in, as you might guess. On some of the old Maly models the first coat or two is sucked in so fast it just disappears.

I put several coats, very thin, on each side. It dosen't seem to affect the glue. You can always scrape a little away where you want to glue.

from Peter Heesch <>: While at the recent National Model Railroad Show, I was asked a question about the effect of humidity on completed models and whether or not spraying the models would protect them against the ravages of humidity. Although we have customers in very humid places, I was not in a position to answer this question.
from Kell Black <>: The effects of humidity are transitory, that is, as the humidity decreases, the model returns to normal. I speak from years of stingy experience. When we lived in Savannah, GA, we refused to turn on our air-conditioning unit until at LEAST the first of June, waiting sometimes until the first of July. (Keep in mind that most AC units started kicking on sometime in April.) We watched in horror as paper object after paper object began to metamorphose before our eyes, yet once we closed the windows and brought the relative humidity down to normal levels, everything returned to normal. This happened not only to my paper sculptures, but also to my framed drawings. I onced asked a paper conservator about the long lasting effects of this annual process, and she said not to worry. In fact, she said that works on and of paper SHOULD be allowed to breathe a bit. For drawings and watercolors she suggested that works NOT be matted, but merely tabbed and "floated" from the top so that they could expand and contract freely. I wonder if this would also apply to varnish and fixatives for models? As for mine, I always leave them uncoated and except for the dents and dings, even the fifteen year and older ones are still perfectly true. (Provided, of course, that I trued them up to begin with!)
from Robin Day <>: [Is there any information out there on coatings that will help preserve the color?] Standard fixatives (spray coating for artwork available at most art stores) will prevent fading due to exposure to the air and dust, but will not prevent damage caused by UV radiation. This is the most harmful on all inks, pigments and dyes. An unfortunate aspect of UV fading is that the inks will fade at different rates: reds and yellows go first, followed by black and then cyans or blues. This is why posters placed in windows for long periods of time in the sun will look predominantly blue: the magenta and yellow inks have faded completely leaving only the cyan and black.

In addition, some pigments and inks are what is known as "fugitive" colours. These will either fade very quickly due to the chemical nature of the pigment or rely on a chemical reaction within the ink itself. This is why fluorescent colours fade so fast: the fluouresence is created by a chemical reaction in the pigment converting the UV component of light into the visible spectrum. Once these chemicals are used up, there is no more fluorescence.

All of these factors affect paints, inks, dyes, etc, at different rates. The bottom line is eventually colours will fade, regardless of the methods used to reproduce them. The amount of time it will take can be lengthened, but there is no stopping this process completely. The factors involved are: exposure to air, exposure to UV light, dust (which is abrasive), and chemical nature of the ink/dye/pigment/toner/paint. Fixative can be used to prevent damage due to dust and exposure to air, but aside from buying a new printer or painstakingly painting the sheets with more durable media, the others are out of our control.

The cheap fixatives will become yellow over time - be careful.

from Frank-Michael Goldmann <>: Try UV-lacquer. It exists in matte and gloss. Itīs a 100% transparent layer (spray), which protects photographs, airbrush, aquarelles, objects of window display, screen printing, art printing and - in our case - models. It dries immediately. Do not apply too thick, better more often, but only one time - in general - is enough. It protects against bleaching from sunlight. I have used it for many years and had good results, even after years. There are many producers of UV-lacquer. In Germany I use one called Marabu. But I think itīs hard to find in the States. Look for 3M for example. Ask in shops for writing materials or painting materials.

In general I build one group of parts, spray for protection, and glue the parts group then do the whole thing. Itīs important to do it this way, if you build ships, because if you spray after rigging youīll glue all the dust in your room to the rigging.

3.11 Miscellaneous tips

from Jack Graham <>: For modelers of buildings: to make your building square and also to make it more rigid after the four walls are glued together, cut a triangle gusset and glue in each inside corner. I snip the square corners off of a piece of card. Cut diagonally and you will have a triangle gusset.

from King Butler <>: Some ship models use several thicknesses of card for a mast and in my experience, even a light accidental bump will crease it. I had that problem with Schrieber's cute little tugboat "Michel". Mast just wouldn't stay stiff. There is a product available, in North America at least, called "Minwax High Performance Wood Hardener" that is meant for penetrating and hardening soft or partially rotten wood before using a filler when refinishing, but it worked like a charm on Michel's masts. They're now almost as hard as if I'd replaced them with a wooden ones, and I can still brag that there's nothing in it but paper. It did cause a very slight but not noticeable discolouration. I have no idea what's in the compound, but there are enough warnings on the container that I'm not sure how safe it is to have around.

from Kell Black <>:
I discovered an easy way to reinforce parallel wall box type constructions. I'm currently working on a 1:30 Komatsu Excavator, and the boom and stick are approx. 200 mm long but only 15 mm wide. In addition, they have to carry moveable weight, since the stick supports the moving bucket, and the boom supports them both. How then to minimize shear? I simply took a piece of stock as wide as the inside width of the boom, zig-zag folded it into an accordian, and then edge glued it to the two parallel inside walls. I weighted the boom down while the glue dried, and the result was PERFECT! (I then did the same for the stick.) A simple an elegant solution.

3.12 Die-cut models: blessing or bane?

from Myles Mandell <>: One of the major benefits for me of the 1st international convention of card modelers was to dispell some of my prejudices and introduce me to the 20th century in card model production technology. I had a built in prejudice against die cut models and particularly those that were tab & slot construction. Well thanks to Bill O'Neil who brought modern samples of Domus which are superb architectual models from Italy, and one of the space craft models from Space Craft International. Now space craft models have no interest at all to me, but anyone who builds or collects card models should have one of these in their collection. They are laser cut with aluminum and gold metal laminations and cost only $14.00 each.

Bill also brought along the latest model from Alan Rose which is die cut and tab and slot construction. To me, tab and slot meant kid's stuff that never fits tight. How wrong could I be. The Miami Beach Deco book contains a series of 12 buildings from the rehab efforts in Miami Beach and fit together perfectly. No slots or tabs show and no glue or knife needed. Interestingly this model was printed in China. Hopefully we will get more production from China by St. Martins Press.

3.13 How to cut circles?

For cutting tiny circles, see §3.5.

from Bob Pounds <>: Sooner or later, most card modellers will find that they will need to cut accurate circles. While gently nibbling around the model part's outline with a pair of curved nail scissors is good start, eventually it will be only the accuracy of a cut with a compass-like device that will satisfy. Let me outline some the tools (and pitfalls) that I've found useful.

A pair of curved nail scissors is a good start. The cut is better than that of a straight scissors blade and for some cuts may well be sufficient for the job.

If you must cut freehand with a blade, then the ol' No 11 X-Acto (the tapered one that comes to a sharp point) held vertically and GENTLY led around the cut line will do the job, but it is -- from personal experience (and do I hear of chorus of 'amens' from the more experienced modellers?) it is all to easy to slip and mark the surface of the work piece.

Clearly some form of mechanical aid is required. The arts stores in most larger cities and towns usually carry circle cutters. These can range from the quite inexpensive to the hideously so. Most suffer from one common fault - they'll not cut down to size I'll want at any given time.

My first circle cutter was a home-built job based on the diagram in Geoffrey Deason's "Simple Cardboard Models" (now out of print). It was a short length of metal tube, plugged at one end with a wooden dowel into which was inserted a nail. The protruding part of the nail was sharpened to a point. The tube had two slits cut into it to allow a metal bar to passed through the cross section of the tube. A hole in the tube at 90 degrees to the slits was drilled and tapped to permit a thumb screw to tighten against the bar. The end of the bar had a washer, nut and screw arrangement to hold a cutting blade.

In practice, the bar position was adjusted to make the distance between the point of the blade and tip of the nail equal to the radius of the circle to be cut. It worked fine, but I found it difficult to keep in adjustment - the lock screw seemed to come loose at the most inopportune times, usually when halfway through a critical cut.

In the early 1970s I acquired a commercially-made circle cutter for the first time. It has no markings on it, but comprises a cast aluminum frame in which sits an adjustable centre pin. The position of the pin can be set from 40mm diameter to 210 mm. The blades were quite large - about the width of a small X-Acto. The instrument had a large orange coloured handle (part of the centre pin locking mechanism and this made cutting a circle less risky a proposition that my old home-brew job. The chief disadvantage, however, was the smallest circle you could cut was 40 mm dia.

A few years ago I came across a small plastic circle cutter - the NT MINI 400. It used a much smaller blade and could be adjusted down to 20 mm diameter, but it was such a small tool that I found it hard to control and it was difficult to see what the point of the blade was doing. I replaced it with its big brother, the NT C1500. This is much better tool in operation, and even has a 'blind' foot so that you can cut a circle without leaving a pinhole where the centre point was positioned. Adjustment again was fiddly, but although you could in theory now get down to a diameter of 15 mm, the cutter was really only happy at circles above about 30mm.

Not so long so ago I obtained a new cutter, the Morn GC6040. This looks like a pair of Vernier calipers, and is wonderfully easy to adjust. I can cut down to 10mm diameter as easily as twirling the centre handgrip in my fingers. The best part is that this is the cheapest cutter I've ever bought - AUD$2. It comes with six blades and so far has proved itself the best of the bunch. I'll buy a couple more of these, just to have by me.

For anyone building wheeled vehicle models, a good circle cutter is a must. The Morn is very easy to set up - I'm about to cut the wheels on my Parragon Flying Scotsman and adjusting the radius point for the cuts is as easy as separating the 'jaws' and pressing in the lock pin.

Circle cutting is not difficult, but with some models a clean, neat and ACCURATE circle can mean the difference between a model worth showing and one that is just another that's ticked off the list.

Olfa makes circle cutters similar to the Morn cutter described by Bob Pounds.
from Joe Cangero <>: The OLFA CPM-1 does circles as small as 1cm (3/8") -- and very well. I bought mine from Pearl Art Supplies which I think has stores all over the US -- they have a main store in NYC that will probably fill mail orders. I was also told by OLFA that the "Joann's" line of stores also carries it -- I'm not familiar with that chain here in NY, so I can't comment.

I have to tell you that this little circle cutter is the best I've found. It does come with 6 spare blades that you can store in the body, but they look to be a proprietary design, so standard xacto blades cannot be used as replacements. The compass point is built into the body, so it can't be removed or replaced. One drawback I found was that the Pearl's where I bought my cutter didn't have any replacement blades -- didn't find out if they were just out of stock or don't carry them (next time I'm there I'll ask).

The blade is extremely sharp and when the point is anchored in a cutting mat, I can get a clean circle in one pass. I don't know how I got by without using one before now -- I was definitely not cutting round circles like I thought I was.

from Bob Bell <>: After trying a few different methods of cutting circles I found that the curved blade scissors is the most satisfactory. The secret is to use a very thin blade scissors and to move the paper into the blades, holding the scissors in one position. The same applies when using an X-Acto knife although this is a bit more difficult. With a bit of practice you can cut perfect circles by the scissors method. For large circles it is best to use scissors with straight short blades moving the paper well into the blades and making small cuts as you move the paper around.

from Joe Cangero <>: I received the bow compass and blades from Eastern Art Glass.

The shaft on the blades is rather long (22mm) and, I suspect, if cut down with my Dremel tool will prove more stable and less wobbly. The blade portion itself is about 12mm long which in itself can cause instability because of the distance from the compass leg.

The bow compass itself is large, being slightly more than 6" (150mm+) in height (capable of cutting diameters as large as 9") and rather substantial in bulk with square legs either casted or made of some alloy with what looks like some plastic or resin parts, so small circles would be easier to cut using my small Staedtler bow compass (the blades look like they will fit any standard bow compass). One thing I like about the compass is that is comes with two compass points--one is standard size and one contains a small pinpoint tip, which leaves only the tiniest hole in the center of the circle cutout.

Regardless, I used the new compass and blades "as is" to test accuracy--here are the results (all cuts were made on 110# Copy Plus Cover from Hammerhill -- I figured, if I can cut this accurately, then 80# or 67# stock should be easy):

diameter: 5mm -- smallest diameter I was able to cut with accuracy; however, spinning the compass is next to impossible at that diameter and the blades tend to rip at the paper rather than cut it. The best way to cut a circle that small is to place the compass and hold both legs stationary with one hand while spinning the paper. The blade must be fed slowly (almost just scratching the paper with each spin) otherwise the blade tends to grab and either tear at the paper or distort the cut. I attribute the instability to the length of the blade from the barrel of the compass due to the lengthy shaft. Touchup was required, because of slight fraying at the edges of the circle.

diameter: 7mm -- slightly easier to cut than the 5mm circle, but the same paper-spinning process had to be used. Care had to be taken with the cut-through pass, otherwise a slight tearout will occur on the edge of the circle. Because of the multiple passes, a slight raised area (akin to a burr) is raised along the edge of the circle. Again, some touchup was required.

diameter: 10mm -- much cleaner circle and virtually no raised "burr". This one could have been used "as is" with no touchup at all required.

diameter: 10mm+ to 1" -- this is the range (and any anything above 1") where this compass/blade setup is designed to be used and it works well. I still find that spinning the paper instead of the compass gives me a much more accurate and cleaner cut. My technique is not developed, so when I spin the compass, I either dig into the paper, skip the surface or otherwise somehow screw up the cut.

Conclusion: I'm convinced Bob Ruth had it right -- you don't need a specialty cutter, because a bow compass with sharp blades and the proper care, patience and technique will get you just about any diameter circle you'll need. By the way, the compass and blades are manufactured by Grifhold Manufacturing Company, Box 308-c, Webster, NY 14580-0308 and are made to fit their #2804 Bow Compass and #108 Yardstick Compass. [Editor's note: check local artist or drafting supply stores for compass blades, but you may have to ask. They're tiny little things, and my local store keeps them in a box behind the counter.]

from Mary Rowland <>: I follow the KISS plan, and simply sort throught my collection of pocket change until I find something of the right diameter, trace around it, and free-cut with a scalpel. If you want SMALL circles, visit your local dermatologist and ask for a set of disposable (please, in this day and age, not USED!) biopsy punches. These come in sizes from .5mm to 6mm and cut perfect tiny circles for wheel hubs, bearings and other such things.
from Jim "Knobby" Walsh <>: I haven't seen anyone mentioning placing the "self-healing" cutting pad on a "lazy susan" turntable. Fantastic assist when cutting circles or working with repetitive schemes or pieces you don't wish to move around a lot due to frailty. I use it in my Chinese paper cutting.

3.14 Laminating or doubling card stock

from Kaye Meldrum <>: I know it is difficult to find copy machines that will copy on card, but how about trying a spray adhesive, such as 3M, on regular paper and then glueing it on to whatever size card you need? I have tried the spray glues and they work great, no wrinkles or bubbles, if you are careful.
from Peter J. Visser <>: But be sure to use permanent ones, not the repositionable types, and be careful, sometimes the adhesive dissolves the printer and/or copier ink.
from Bob Pounds <>: Be aware, however, that most, if not all, spray adhesives break down after a period of time ranging from a few months to a few years. For some, even prolonged exposure to a hot day can make them fall part.
from Clark Britton <>: A suggestion related to the mounting of prints on card using spray mount. As a graphic designer and book binder for many years I have found the best way to bond paper to board is to use standard book binding techniques. A 50% water and 50% white glue will make a good glue solution, brush on the board or card stock, mount the sheet and place in a bookbinding press between boards slight pressure for 24 hours until completely dry. In book binding you usually then back to take out the warp. Since most of the parts of a model are small I would imagine the warp would be negligble. I believe you could score, cut, fold, and glue as you normally would. If you don't have a bookbinding press plywood and "c" clamps might substitute or back your car over the boards. I believe this method would be more flexible in the long run and out last the spray mount. Of course if you have access to a thermal dry mounting press photomount processes should work also.
from Ronald Kemnitzer <>: I suggest using a double sided adhesive sheet to laminate. Specifically, I recommend Scotch 3M #568 Positionable Mounting Adhesive. It is available in rolls of various sizes and I believe it's also available in sheets. It can be purchased through any well supplied art supply store. This material is very thin and will not unduly stiffen or crack the laminated structure. It's also very easy to work with.
from Jeff Cwiok <>: As for doubling, I have only used the spray adhesives on very large parts, such as the 1' [30cm] square and very pourous parts on the JF Schrieber Christmas Crib I built over the Holidays. Generally, I have used white glue (thickened "Elmer's") with no problems. However I have developed a technique to "work" the lamination that eliminated the unwanted buckling & curling.

I start by roughly cutting out the part to be doubled leaving a margin around the edge. Then the glue is prepared by putting a generous puddle on a plastic lid ( such as a margarine tub cover) and allow to set for about 10 minutes, to reduce moisture content, before speading on a blank piece of card, which has had the outline of the rough part to be doubled traced on it. This way if you lose control, you can always trash it and start again. If you put the glue on the printed kit part, you're committed!

Then place the kit part in place and begin working into position, starting from the center and moving outwards. I then cover with a sheet of plain printer paper and use a roller, such as a rolling pin or rubber roller used on counter tops("J" roller) or just my thumbnail to burnish the parts firmly together, forcing the glue into pores of both pieces. This usually begins to remove the worst buckling right away. Continue to work the piece as required, in one of two ways.

If the part is to take a curve in the finished model, begin forcing the curl in the direction wanted, such as hull sides following the shape of the hull frame, until fairly dry. Then cut out to the line. This will produce the cleanest cut edge. I sometimes will then wedge the piece temporarily in place with small weights such as small jars of hobby paints overnight (or at least several hours) until completely dry. The result is a part which is 'pre-moulded', and much easier to work into position. This makes the curl work for you!

If the part is to be absolutely flat, I wrap it in plastic film or wax paper, then press overnight (or at least a few hours) under heavy books, such as a big dictionary or set of encyclopedias. When removed it will invariably be as flat as it started, and can be cut out to the line.

I also find white glue adds its own strength to the laminate as it cures for it gets firmer with time. The whole becomes "greater than the sum of its parts". An effect similar to plywood, which in a fashion it is, in miniature. The spray on glues are contact cements and stay soft & rubbery, adding no stiffening of their own, only adhesion.

Bob Del Pizzo <> asks of Jeff (refering to doubling card for ship models): I'm curious as to the fit of the hull sides where they meet at the bow and along the deck - wouldn't the doubling leave a gap equal to the thickness of the card?

To which Jeff adds: Even doubled the card is still usually very thin (which is why I double it too begin with) so it often is not a problem, but when it is I dress the edge with a piece of sandpaper to bevel the edge, sort of like doing a miter joint. This way the joint will be tighter than with the original part.

from Norman Walker <>: Are there any guidelines for multilayering? Rough cut, glue, and then finish cut? Finish cut each piece and then glue?
from David Hathaway <>: Parts for multi-layering often come with an outline and an area that you fold over to make the back. I cut out the outline, fold and glue, then put under a pile of books for 24 hours to dry flat. Then I cut out. If the outline is not marked, I would cut as large a rough area round it as you can, glue to card and then weigh down to dry flat.
from Frank-Michael Goldmann <>: How frames + other inside, invisible parts become ready to sand with with emery paper: Often there is a need to make the frames more stable than paper parts can naturally be. And sometimes I sand parts, until they are the exact sizes I need. The steps:
  1. Cut out the part.
  2. I impregnate the part with cyanoacrylate glue (CA or super glue.) In germany we call it Sekunden-Kleber (seconds-glue?). I do it this way: hold the part with tweezers in one corner, put some drops of glue in a little can of glass or in a metal bottlecap (after removing the rubber gasket inside the cap), dip a tooth-pick in the glue and put it on the part. The paper sucks it up in a second and it goes through to the back side of the part. I repeat this until the whole part is saturated with glue. The glue is dry after a few seconds.
    The result is:
  1. The formerly card part now feels like a plastic sheet and has got the same qualities. It is stable, flexible, cannot fray out, cannot break so easily, donīt bend anymore.
  2. It is nearly resistant against humidity, which is important for every kind of frame.
  3. Best of all: I can sand the part with sandpaper, like plastic or wood. This is sometimes necessary, when I correct parts for split millimeters and scissors or a cutter are not helpful in those cases. This way I get exact measures and a maximum of stability for all frames or other inner parts of the model. It helps a lot, when I go on building the decks, shipīs walls etc.

    I use 1000 grit sandpaper, a very fine sandpaper, for sanding parts impregnated with CA glue.

Warning: The CA glue changes the colours of the printed side of the parts dramatically. It should therefore only be used for inner parts, not visible later.

3.15 The traveling card modeler

from Bruce A. Johnston<>: My work requires a lot of international travel to out-of-the-way places and I often spend weeks in a hotel with little to do in the evenings and weekends. So among other pursuits (generally less constructive), I build card models to pass the time. Everything has to pack flat or small.

Airplanes, railroad stuff, and small ships and buildings are best for travel. I usually can't pack or find a suitable baseboard for big models, and they take to long to finish (there have been exceptions). I usually give the finished models away after photographing them. My models reside in hotel bars and restaurants and other unlikely places all over the world. My traveling tool kit consists of:

All the above fits in a fancy carved wood box 3½" x 9" x 2" I picked up in Indonesia a few years ago. Additional items I pack are: Actually this is pretty well my normal tool kit too, but I add some items for more ambitious projects, such as acrylic painting medium for some gluing jobs, rigging etc.
from Bob Pounds <>: My basic travel kit:

Other items are added, as necessary. The whole lot goes in a video cassette box, though sometimes I take a longer steel rule. Depending on the model, I carry part-assembled models in an old 10 x 8 photo paper box. These are very strong and when packed down in the middle of a suitcase has very little risk of damage. FG models will fit in a smaller box. I've carried a Cub in a second video box (just fits - minus landing gear)

Of course, at home, I have a much wider range of specialist tools. However, on the road, provided I'm not too ambitious, this basic kit will get me by.

from Wily <>: My kit consists of Notes When work/clients get stressful, it's an amazingly refreshing thing to pull out your card modeling kit and work for a few hours to unwind. Also, the finished kit makes a swell leave-behind for the hardworking hotel maids and laundry staff.
from Mary Rowland <>: One thing I found out, though. Do not not leave your cutting mat in the back area of your kingcab while traveling in west Texas or New Mexico in July or August! Lost two of 'em doing that at $25 a pop.
from Mark Lardas <> I normally store my cutting mat in my soft-sided suitcase -- and the mat occasionally gets curled up, if I have a long trip and a lot of clothes in the suitcase. Since those tend to be the trips in which I have to take a minivan (to carry a display booth), I fix the problem by leaving the cutting mat in the back of the van on some flat surface for a few hours, when I am doing something. The heat softens the mat to conform with the surface -- flat. I put it in the hotel room once it has "cooked" enough, and it is flat for the rest of the trip.
from Chip Fyn <>: I put mine in the microwave when it gets funky. Also use oven cleaner and scouring pad to clean it.

3.15.1 Packing and shipping models

from Roger Pattenden <>: With lots of cardboard and brown sticky tape I think I've perfected the ideal means of carrying the models. I'm putting them in individual boxes with finely shredded newsprint paper as packaging. Don't use printed newspaper or use a layer of some plain white paper round the models first - otherwise the ink on the newspaper will rub off onto your models. Of course, with something as delicate as a ship with masts and rigging, that must be more of a problem. All I've got to worry about is a few old buildings. Anyone got any better ideas for carrying delicate models as aircraft baggage?
from Imogen Zimmer <>: I always use a stable box with a layer of styropor (or equal) taped or glued to the bottom, then put the models in and fix them by sticking toothpicks all around so they can't move, especially the ship masts and the riggings are quite safe with this method.

3.16 Colouring cut edges

The underlying white paper exposed when paper is cut or scored really stands out, and a very simple technique to improve the appearance of your finished models is to tint these edges and corners to match the rest of the models. As the comments below reveal, there are many ways to do this. I have tried felt tip markers, coloured pencils, artist's watercolour pastels, and watercolour paints--they all will work. However, I discovered with some experience that it was much more important to match the contrast than the colour. So now I rely mostly on about three shades of grey marker, light to match light colours, dark to match dark colours, and only for very bright colours do I try to match the colour.
from Myles Mandell <>: I personally prefer a good quality of color pencils for my coloring. I find the swiss made color pencils which are somewhat softer the best. Most of the people I know use water colors for the edges but I found that particularly on the edges I could never get it quite right. With the color pencils, what you see is what you get: edge or face.
from Bill O'Neil <>: Edges: use Prismacolor pencils (waxy, last a long time) or Prismapastel (softer, but may be your preference) to color the exposed "white" edges. Many greys, and of course colors, available to match about any need. Try art or design supply stores. I prefer these to markers, which often bleed into the print color and spoil the edge tones.
from Robin Day <>: I use watercolour gouache for painting since it is very opaque, water soluble, and it can still be used even if it dries out on the palette (or in the tube). The only problem is the finish is rough and generally does not match the surface of the paper.
from Mike Stamper <>: I use water paints, I have found that the best is possibly the cheapest! I bought a childrens paint box with about 12 different colours, I can mix these to come up with quite a good match. I use the paint in a "thick" form with a fine brush and find that it doesn't bleed.
from Tazman <>: I know I'm just a beginner, and this probably wouldn't be practical for some of the more detailed models..but I've been taking my cut out parts, before folding or glueing, and colouring the edges with a black felt tip pen. The end result is amazing, and in a lot of cases the black is all you need. Now, of course, this is a shortcut, but it's very easy.
from Gunnar Sillén<>: There are some problems with felt tips. They are of different qualities. Some may destroy a good work and others may fade after some time. Better is to use traditional colour pigments or water colours that could be blended after your taste and mixed with white glue. The white glue acts as good as the much more expensive artists acrylic medium. The white glue also gives strength to the edges, which could be a very good thing, at least if you use the method to score folding lines with a sharp knife. With the amount of water in the glue you could control the gloss of the paint.
from Wayne White <>: I've got to throw in with the water-colourists. Identically matching colours is a breeze (with a little practice). One thing I'd like to suggest is to avoid "black" as a watercolour. Mix Van Dyke brown with Paynes Gray (start with a 50-50 mix and go from there for however much "black-ness" you desire; this mixture, well diluted, also makes the perfect gray). It's called "artists black," according to an old art teacher of mine. The Payne's Gray adds the natural "UV-ness".

Several coats of a well-diluted gouache will soften its texture significantly, that is, unless a person should need a "filler."

And, mixing water-colours with "Elmers" is a superb solution as well. Water colours and "Elmers" mix perfectly. Run a few sample batches and a person can get a perfect match.

from Saul H. Jacobs <>: Today I went down to the local art store and picked up a set of water colors. The set comes with 18 tubes of colors and cost me $9.95. The reason I wanted to try this was to see if I could mix the colors to try and duplicate the color of the model I was working on. I am working on the Fly Model Mig 23 and used the water colors to fix mistakes and touch up. First thing that struck me is the ease that the colors go on the model, there was no spreading of the colors and the color stayed the same when applied to the model. The engine exhaust was done in grayish silver and there was a spot that the color came off. I mixed some of the gray and white that came with the set I bought and was able to come up with a color that matched the color of the exhaust very well. From the experiments so far this medium appears to be the best I have used for touch up on card models. Price is very reasonable, they have kits from 12 to 18 colors that ranged from $5.95 to $9.95. There is also a large selection of colors that come in tubes that you could use to make or add to your own kit. Since this is a relatively inexpensive method to use you might want to try a small kit to see how it works for you.
from Wayne White <>: I've been using the stuff (watercolors) since day one and wouldn't think of anything else...I personally prefer the Windsor-Newton line. A bit on the expensive side, even the "student" quality lines but its really good stuff. After a bit of experimentation with mixing, you can get by with only a very few tubes of paint (the primaries, a tube of Payne's Grey and a tube of zinc white gauche). But really, the choice is up to the individual...Tubes are, IMHO, the better choice; but it really doesn't matter. I would recommend staying up around the middle of the price line though..The colors are (usually) a bit more stable and the consistency allows for better and easier mixing.
from Gunnar Sillén<>: You can mix small portions of PVA with the water colour and get glue of the right colour to make invisible seems or fill gaps between two parts. You can also mix chalk or something else in the PVA to get a more "pasty" paint if you need it of some reason. With more or less water in the PVA + colour mixture, you can control the gloss. It is great fun to make experiments with water colouring on paper models.
from Saul H. Jacobs <>: A while ago we had a discussion on using water paints to touch up card models. I went down and bought a set of the water paints and used them on a Fly Model Mig 23 I was working on and found that the paint was just too flat to match up to the inks on the model. I decided to try some acrylics to see what they would do so I bought the same set of acrylic, Reeves, that I bought for the water paints. I found it easier to match the acrylics up than the water paints. The acrylics are easier to use than the water paints and do not appear as flat as the water paints.

I went to Michaels with my wife who does ceramics and found that they have a huge selection of acrylics in 2 ounce bottles. The tubes of acrylics run from $2.50 to $6.50 while the 2 ounce bottles were about a dollar apiece. Not only are these bottles cheaper but they have every color you can think of which cuts down on the amount of mixing you have to do. So far I have found these bottled acrylics to match the inks on the paper better than any medium I have used. It is even a better match to use the bottled paint than those in the tube.

from Wayne White <>: Mind you, I don't have a thing against acrylics but as a watercolour purist, I've found that a product called "gum arabic" has a couple of very handy properties: Mixing a bit of gum arabic with your watercolours will "richen" the hue (add luster and texture) which results in a pleasant subtle shine to the finish. Gum arabic acts as a light varnish which gives the colours greater brightness and sheen. Plus, gum arabic also has the ability to "heal" wounds. If I get a little too "ham-handed" when sanding down a poor glue joint the resulting raised tooth will take the watercolours too well. I lightly hit the spot with a bit of un-tinted and un-diluted gum arabic. If I've gotten far too rough, I may need to lightly sand the repaired area and give it another light coat of gum arabic to thoroughly seal the spot. When I go back for final touch-ups (reducing "white-line fever"), the pigment takes as though no sanding happened (I use a 400+ grit emery paper wrapped around a 1/2" (1.25 cm) dowell and 1/2" (1.25 cm) square stock).

I haven't tried glycerin yet, but I'm getting there. Glycerin also adds brilliance although it does have a tendency to slow drying time a bit. While I'm proselytizing on the virtues of watercolour products...I've had some limited success with masking fluid. This is a latex product that when applied and allowed to dry (a very short time, say within a minute) will protect the underlying paper from pigments. Once the pigment has completely dried, use a clean finger to GENTLY rub the dried masking fluid away and, viola, perfect under-colour (the dried masking fluid comes up like rubber cement; little rubbery balls). Underlying deskjet inks have remained intact after removing the mask so long as the mask has not been allowed a nearly permanent residence on the surface.

A bit of caution when using masking fluid: Make sure the paper has a very smooth finish. Raised tooth papers really like masking fluid; so much so they'll not give it up without a fight. Also, DO NOT allow the mask to dry in your brush. Take it from me, a $20.00 brush can be converted to a fancy, rubber-tipped stick if a person should decide to postpone rinsing. Masking fluid cleans up well with water. As with all brushes, a good cleaning with warm soapy water every now and then will protect your investment.

Masking fluid also goes a long way in keeping Elmers (PVA) at bay. If there's a flat, surface-mounted piece that needs applying, I'll hit the surrounding area with a light coat of masking fluid. Then, once the glue has set, remove the masking fluid and, there you have it, no extruded glue. I can't recommend using masking fluid for this purpose around inside corners and projecting pieces as the fluid can be difficult to remove from the crack.

I would suggest spending the money for a top-quality mask rather than pinching a few pennies for a bottle of the cheaper masking fluids (a 2.5 US oz/75 ml bottle of Winsor & Newton's masking fluid will set you back an easy tenner but a little goes a very long way). The cheaper stuff (read: less natural rubber/latex and more filler) usually ends up with a better grip on the paper and when removing the mask it can pull at the paper, often times damaging the surface.

I've used Winsor & Newton products forever and their masking fluid ("Water Colour Art Masking Fluid") is no exception. Never leave the fluid on longer than is necessary (remove the mask once the covering pigment has thoroughly dried). Works well if there's a spot or two that needs some protection from pigment and, in limited applications, Elmer's..

Experiment on a variety of papers and printing scenerios to get the right feel for both. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

from Frank-Michael Goldmann <>: How to avoid the little white flashes of edges or the white exposed if parts donīt fit perfectly:

A cardmodel can be built very carefully and perfectly - but it looks unfinished, if you see the white edges left after cutting out the parts. Or if you glue one part to another and they donīt fit exactly, after glueing a little white flash is left over. So colouring the edges and glue-areas is necessary. I always colour three different zones of the parts.

  1. The edges (of course.)
  2. About 1 mm of the white glue-area (this is that area which will receive a gluing tab, or the connecting or joining strips behind a joint) adjoining the printed zone of the part.
  3. Around 1 mm of the glue-tabs adjoining the printed zone of the part.
I have tried many different methods of colouring, for example colour-markers or coloured-pencils. But Iīve never been absolutely content with the results they gave me. For many years now I have only used watercolours, with perfect results. The advantage is evident: No other method gives me - because I can mix the colours - more colour-variations and therefore the possibility of finding the exact colour-tone I need (including gold and silver for airplanes or vehicles).

And hereīs the way I use it:

  1. I use a hair-pencil (very fine brush) with No. 00.
  2. Mix the colour I need in the cover of the watercolour-box.
  3. Try the colour on a white sheet of card and let it dry for a few minutes. After drying I get the right impression if the colour is ok or not. If necessary, I correct the colour.
  4. Colouring the edges:
    • cut out the part
    • colour the edge from the back side, i.e. the white side of the part. If I do it from the printed side, itīs dangerous, because if the brush slips away Iīll get the colour on the visible side of the part. If this happens anyway, itīs not a fracture of the leg, because itīs easy to repair with a clean brush and a little bit of water. One more advantage compared to other methods.
    • for colouring the edge I use the flat side of the brush. The brush is "lying on the edge".
  5. Colouring the border of the glue-area. I colour before I cut the parts out. I have "more in my hand" when colouring, especially if the parts are small. The other steps are the same like colouring the edges. But in this case I use the end of the brush, of course. Again, if the brush slips away (it happens more often when using the end) itīs easy to correct with a clean brush and water.
  6. Colouring the glue-tabs is the same procedure as the glue areas.
  7. In any case it is necessary to colour before glueing, because many glues reject watercolours.
I take only a very little water, so there is no reason to be afraid that the water will damage the card. Some people may say this, but itīs only proof that they have never used watercolours. In any case, itīs not wrong to try this method first with scrap pieces.

BTW: It takes more time to describe the method than to make use of it.

Mixing colours

from John Baines <>: When mixing water colour paints to get a matching colour for painting exposed edges etc. I rely on 'trial and error' methods. I have almost perfected the 'error' part!

Does anyone have any hints for obtaining reasonable matches with a minimum of mixing? I believe that any colour can be obtained by mixing red, yellow (or is it green?), blue and black (or dark grey.) I could buy a cheap and cheerful child's paint box with 100+ colours, but I travel a lot and need to keep my workbox reasonably small and light.

from Wayne White <>: One publication I seldom keep more than an arm's reach away is The Watercolor Painter's Pocket Palette, by Moria Clinch (UK: Quarto Publishing plc, The Old Brewery, 6 Blundell Street, London N7 9BH; US: North Light Books; ISBN 0-89134-401-2.) From the introduction/first chapter:
"The purpose of this book is to provide the watercolor artist an at-a-glance guide to over 800 mixes and overpainting effects. More experienced watercolorists will already know their favorite color combinations, but hopefully this book will yield some surprises, even in the case of colors that the artist uses regularly. The beginner can cut out trial and error time by selecting a possible basic palette to work with."
With more than fifty pages of mixes and practical combinations and mixing basics I haven't missed TOO many colors yet.

A very basic primer: red + yellow = orange; red + blue = purple; yellow + blue = green. And from there, it goes on, ad infinitum.

As far as a personal basic palette is concerned, I pretty much exclusively carry Cadmium Red, Rose Madder Alizarin, Gamboge Hue (Lemon Yellow), Cadmium Yellow, Raw Sepia, Sepia, Hooker's Green, Viridian Hue (Green), Cobalt Blue, Permanent Blue, Ultramarine, Davy's Gray, Payne's Gray and Zinc White Gouache (for a quick white touch-up and snow-covering on roofs).

My personal choice for media are 5ml (.17 oz, US) Windsor & Newton series 4 and Cotman watercolor tubes. Holbein also makes an excellent pigment. I prefer tube pigment (paste) because they mix quickly and with the greatest intensity (a tiny bit goes a very long way) and is significantly easier to dilute (especially handy when blending/shading).

An excellent palette range is also presented in Windsor & Newton's Cotman traveling watercolor set. These are caked pigments and being of good quality, they too mix well. I've used this off and on for years as well as my tubes.

And yet another option; Derwent makes excellent watercolor pencils (No. 32881 has a very good basic palette selection).

I too travel and keeping the volume to a minimum is not only a necessity, but darned difficult. Believe it or not, those fourteen tubes plus a 1 oz eyedropper bottle filled with gum arabic take remarkably little space. Space or not, I won't go anywhere without those tubes of pigment; there's not a color in my chosen range that cannot be duplicated.

For a mixing palette, I carry a small, shallow porcelean ashtray (about 1/4" X 2" X 4") I picked up at a garage sale. I'm looking for an identically-sized palette but with three dividers for easier color seperation (if you know anyone that throws pottery and would consider making one of these for me I'd pay handsomely).

Cost? Well, good quality tubed artist's paint isn't cheap. From the shops they'll run you an easy $4.50 each; and upwards. Catalogues and the Net should be somewhat cheaper, down to around $2.50 - 3.00 each (?). Student's quality watercolors (an excellent if not THE ideal option) have the same range of color selections but, being of somewhat lesser quality (less color-fastness, purity, etc.) will cost significantly less; up to half the better quality pigments.

I would counsel against the child's paints (although many members of this list swear by them but hey, I'm a bit rententive when it comes to watercolors). Bear in mind that as far as watercolor pigments are concerned, price and quality follow along fairly parallel paths and as such, color-fastness and cover-ability may be suspect (I have no proof of this except for a few watercolors I did about ten years ago that have faded horribly with no more than normal exposure to normal light).

The tubes will physically last a long time and if not allowed to dry for a very long time (say a week or so), they will be little different than caked pigments.

A serious and major drawback with watercolors is that they will not cover glossy or glued surfaces. Personally, I sand practically every edge and still use watercolor to good effect in this context.

Oh, and not to forget brushes. A 00, 0 and 1 (maybe a 2, but it won't be used very often) is a good basic start. Size is, in this case, unimportant and, as in most cases, a matter of personal preference. Just try not to use anything not made of natural hair (there's a few synthetic/sable blends on the market that work quite well and are orders of magnitude cheaper than pure sable (ah, but there's nothing that beats the feel and touch of a sable brush). Don't worry about spending what you might consider to be to much for a brush. They'll last for years (my favorite brush is over twenty years old and is still going as strong as ever; that works out to about a buck a year for that particular brush).

Well, I've gone on for far too long. At the minimum, I really would suggest picking up a copy of the book and a couple tubes of pigment for experimentation purposes.

from Bob Pounds <>: Painting on a white surface = subtractive colour primaries. An aid to remembering this is that white represents the presence of all colours - and black is the absence of colour. What you do in the subtractive system is paint down a 'filter' that takes out or blocks the reflecting of all colours but the one you are interested in. Thus a 'non-red' filter will leave only red. Some people mix up their nomenclature and call the filter just described a 'red filter', but think about it - it leaves red to be reflected, not takes it out.

So, back to the primaries for subtractive systems - these are cyan - a sort of bright blue, magenta - a purplishish red, and yellow - more a bright buttercup colour than an intense yellow. These colours are hard to describe because of what they really represent.

When I use water colours to colour the edge of my card models - and have done for more than 40 years, I cheat. I find a colour in my paint box that is close to the one I want and modify it. Usually I start at a slightly lighter colour and take it down. This does not mean I have a huge selection of colours. I have two paint boxes, my principal one has about 20 colours, while my 'travelling kit' has six. Both are the so-called 'student grade' though I suspect the words 'primary school' or 'elementary school' should have been included on them. For those interested in those things, my main one is a Japanese 'Guitar' brand and was obtained in the early 1970s. I have seen a very nice set made by Pelikan, 12 hard colours plus a tube of white, probably intended for school use - the Deckfarbkasten K12. It features replaceable pans so that as one colour is used up, a new one can be clipped in. Price was under $20 AUD.

I also usually add a little water-soluble glue into the paint (in Australia, Aquadhere, a water-soluble PVA carpenter's glue, that I use for almost all model building) to 'size' the paper and help seal the fibres. Sometimes I put on a coating of watered-down glue first (just on the edge, not the whole model) and once it is dry, put the colour onto that. I think I have previously described my technique for watering down glue to provide a range of dilutions on a simple palette.

Mixing colour is not difficult - as someone posted here, it is trial and error. If you are unable to obtain an exact match, it is my experience that a slightly darker colour on the edge (slightly heavily underlined) is better than one slightly (again heavily underlined) lighter, although on top surfaces, especially if this on a crease line, the opposite seems better.

3.17 Window and canopy glazing

from Frank-Michael Goldmann <>: As glass windows I use the cellophane cigarette-boxes are wrapped with. This cellophane is crystal clear, relativly stable, and doesnīt crumple (if I don't handle too roughly, of course).

Gluing the cellophane to the card is a little problem, because our modern cellophane is no longer cellusose-based, but plastic-based. So in fact plastic must be glued on paper. For this purpose I only use UHU extra gel. It holds not perfectly, but well. White glue doesnīt hold very well, super glue (liquid and gel) gives me the disadvantages, mentioned in section 3.2.

A perfect solution is to affix the cellophane with TESAFILM, cutt in little stripes. This holds very well - but this method really gives you a lot of work. Tesafilm is a transparent tape of the producer Beiersdorf. Theyīve got english pages also, but the product pages, if you search for example Tesafilm, are not ready yet. They say, in the second half of 2000, whatever they mean by this. If it works some day, you can go directly to

from David T. Okamura <>: For glazing small portholes and windows, Microscale produces a product called Micro Krystal Klear. This is a watery solution which you apply with a fine paintbrush over the opening. Surface tension stretches the film over the window, and it dries clear. This should be done after any spray coats, to prevent frosting or fogging. You can get similar results by using thinned white glue, but be sure the paper is sealed so that the moisture won't ruin it.

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