"The Workshop"
with tools and tips

...   ..

Work space
No separate dedicated workshop is used, but.... a table for the Works... So don't think that you need a whole workshop to get nice model results! Any simple setting can be used!

The table is next to a window so to get plenty of light. Sometimes I use a handy electronic JPG photo frame viewer with USB stick to have photos nearby. (UPDATE... now a Tablet with internet connection...)

The required references are also not far away. Hundreds of books and magazines and an index/reference book is kept and maintained to find info. But nowadays I use the INTERNET to find lots of information!!!! 
GOOGLE is my favorite search engine

The most used tools are not that many and strange enough I always use the same handy ones:
- the X-acto knife
- a piece of metal to cut and protect the table
- scissors etc
- tweezers
- Olfa P-cutter to make recessed panel lines
- superglue from Eduard that does not "fog" with moisture

Also, the TIGER razor saw is often used with very fine teething

For rougher work, this saw is used:

All the other stuff is kept in a portable carton box... it is a mess but lots of handy materials can be found in here....

Airbrush corner
Airbrushing is done in a separate room near a window and plenty of ventilation. There is an ordinary kitchen air ventilator above the workbench that sucks air and pushes it outside the house through a flexible hose : 

Airbrushes used 
For spraying purposes where I need to cover large areas, a Badger model 150 double action airbrush is used, in use for years; sometimes a new head is purchased.

Now, I almost use the Infinity airbrush from Harder & Steenbeck. Very good airbrush indeed! Nozzles I have are 0.2 , 0.4 and 0.6. For most airbrush work the 0.6 nozzle distinguishable with "2 rings" engraved is used. Compressor pressure varies in most cases between a very low 0.8 bar up to 1.4 bar. 

Compressed air comes from a SilAir compressor, an excellent and very silent compressor complete with air regulator and water trap. Compressor pressure varies in most airbrush work between a very low 0.8 bar up to 1.4 bar. 

3M mask
Very important is the health protective mask, a 3M model 7002 half mask respirator with two filters. I use it every time I airbrush even with "ventilation on" and window open.

Modelling paints used are enamels from Humbrol, Revell, XtraColour, and acrylics from Gunze Sangyo, Revell and sometimes Tamiya.

It seems that the enamel paints will not be allowed any more in the European community countries due to their hazards and dangers of the toxic thinners. But still in 2015, they were on the market. 

Over the last years I try to use acrylic "non - toxic"  paints as much as possible. I really recommend you try to use these as well. Much healthier and far less bad air.  
For each thinner, use their own brand thinner! 

    acrylic paints such as:

    gunze  gunze thinner
    Gunze Sangyo acrylics, these are my favorites.  By far the best acrylic paints and very good! They are sometimes hard to find. Be sure to use their own acrylic thinner for best results.  

    REVELL AQUA acrylics in the blue square containers.
    Thin these not with water but with the Special Revell acrylic thinner from the glass bottle with the "light blue" label and blue shell on top. 
    IMPORTANT: there was a production error in I think end 2012 - 2013 with these thinners with the black shell on top!  DO NOT USE THIS BOTTLE! , SEE PHOTO BELOW. Current bottles are OK. 

    CORRECT THINNER ON THE LEFT WITH BLUE TOP ... ON RIGHT WRONG PRODUCTION ??? thinner with black top at the right (end 2012 and 2013 production batch ? ). The right one does not thin... it sludges..... Fortunately, production is corrected and current later thinner batches look OK.....

    TIP: If you do not have the correct Revell Aqua thinner another solution is: 30% water + 70% isopropol IPA alcohol from the pharmacy and a drop of dish-water liquid to thin Revell Aqua acrylics paint! If the paint dries too fast, use less IPA. The mix to be fed into the airbrush is:  50% desired paint +15% water +35% IPA. 


    Sometimes for Russian aircraft, I use AKAN acrylic paints that, after being thinned with their own thinner, are airbrushed.

    FINAL NOTE: I do not use Valejo acrylic after some bad experiences with adherence and drying time.

When a model is ready for the decals, first a couple of gloss coats were added to avoid "any" decal silvering. Usually I use...

For finishing the models, usually for the acrylic clear coating used is Johnson FUTURE (renamed Pledge) as it is known in the USA. 

Note: often Johnson KLEAR as sold in the U.K is mentioned in the modellers world. It is noted that Johnson Future from the USA is to be preferred as it does not yellow in time. The Klear does a little bit so should not be used on white surfaces! For other coloured surfaces it is fine. And I know: I have both varnishes as used for wooden floors and have used them for many years... The Klear becomes a little yellow after some years.

Nowadays in the USA the Future is now called "Johnson Pledge Floor Care". It appears to be the same stuff as the old Future.

Future can be thinned for a better airbrushing result. Use 70% Alkohol Ketonatus or IPA Isopropylalkohol. A mix of 60% FUTURE + 40% Alkohol gives good results. For better flowing of this varnish mix add a few drops (0,5%) of "Glycerine" that can be purchased at pharmacy drug stores, this really helps!

glycerine           IPA        

Future can also be given less gloss effects; you can mix in acrylic Tamiya Flat base X-21  .
This acts as a matting agent. Mix in ratios between 5 - 15% max ! The more matting agent added, the more matt the Future becomes. Be aware of the fact that 15% is really the maximum otherwise you get a "white" sheen over the model.


In many cases the fine Harder Steenbeck airbrush was used with 0.6 nozzle with pressure at a very low 0.8 Bar. The Future mix is usually not thinned. Spray from not less that 15 cm distance in very thin layers. This gives a nice even sheen.

Prevent Silvering
Tiny air bubbles trapped below applied decals spoil the appearance of a model. The bubbles are caused by a combination of bad decal glue and uneven under surfaces. Future can help here! Here is how it works....
1. as usual, apply a gloss undercoat on the model with Future (see above);
2. cut out the decal to be applied;
3. soak in water and wait a few minutes;
4. pick up the decal with fine tweezers and turn it to its backing; have a wet glass plate ready and use this to help handling;
5. REMOVE the decal glue with a brush soaked in water; slide/move it onto the glass plate; 
6. Add FUTURE on the back of the decal with another brush; this will act as glue!
7. Apply prepared decal to model;
8. Carefully rub out any air bubbles with a brush soaked in water.
9. clean the surrounding area directly

This trick will prevent air bubbles very effectively!

End finish
A model looks better with an even sheen. It also protects the decals for many years. In most cases a semi-gloss coat can be added, best done with the airbrush. As described above, Future gloss can be mixed with say 5% Tamiya Flat Base X-21. For a matt sheen, add more Flat base to the mix. Again, for better flowing of this varnish mix add a few drops of "Glycerine" fluid. 

Spares/ Parts
Also, the inevitable but very handy spares box is needed; keep all stuff that you don't need from kits, get from older kits etc. These parts can also be used for scratch building, conversions etc...

Always, prior to the assembly of any model, the smaller parts are given a basic coat of paint as required (black, white etc) while still on their sprues. A lot of model kits and sprues are than handled at the same time. This saves lots of work and time later on, instead of having to spray every set of parts for each model separately, you will get a whole set of models to "start with".... please note that only in smaller parts are sprayed and the interiors of bays, cabins etc..

A similar box has lots of spare decals and sets. 

Masking tape
We often need to mask already painted areas, so masking tape is often needed. Very fine low tack masking tape is from Tamiya but a very cheap alternative is to use "wasi tape".  It has similar characteristics.
...and ..... Wasi tape 

Nailpolish remover
This stuff bought in department and drug stores can be used to remove putty without sanding! With tissue dipped into the nail polish remover you can sweep off any surplus putty. It works excellent on eg. Tamiya putty. No sanding needed and you protect your model surfaces from scratches.


Cleaning up material
Sometimes, the paint jars, air brushes and other stuff becomes dirty no matter how well you clean up stuff every time you work with it. For drastic measures and clean-up, I use an UltraSonic cleaning device one in a while. The cleaning fluid is a mix of 80% water and 20% Tickopur R33.  


An alternative is called "Blue Wonder" found in many department drug stores: 





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Created this page 
January 19, 2003

Last update August 1, 2017