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Builder Basics: Parts prep 101

A model is only as good as its pieces
Eduard’s 1/48 scale X-1 Mach Buster is not a complex build. Proper parts preparation and basic techniques will easily yield a good-looking model.
Great models often exhibit great skills. Not many can scratchbuild a .50-caliber ammo belt in 1/48 scale and make it look good.

But, more often, great models are based on a consistent application of good, basic techniques easily within reach of beginners and intermediates as well. And that begins with taking time to prepare each part: removing flash (excess plastic) and mold seams, filling ejector-pin marks, smoothing rough edges, and making sure the part is clean before you attach it so glue and paint adhere as they should.

So, to build better models, the best place to begin — as usual, for almost everything — is at the beginning. Start by washing all the parts in warm, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and let them air-dry.

Now, let’s prep those parts!

1) Don’t twist parts off the sprue. Clip as close as you can without damaging the part. Xuron sprue cutters are available from FSM: Visit Tools.

2) Mold lines are usually easily removed by dragging a hobby knife across them. Be careful not to take a divot or damage the part; sand and smooth if necessary.

3) For thicker sprue attachments and for prominent parts (like wingtips), a fine saw may be better for precisely parting a piece from the sprue and avoiding damage.

4) Cut photo-etched parts loose with a hobby knife (not your good clippers). Clip as closely as you can, but be careful — they are naturally springy and elusive. For tiny parts, I leave the fret in the bag and cut through the plastic so when they come loose, they’re still in the bag.

5) Resin parts often are attached to a pour stub. A fine saw (mine is from UMM-USA) is the best way to detach the stub.

6) Trying to avoid marring the tread on the tire, I carefully trim excess with a hobby knife …

7) … before finally smoothing with a few swipes of a sanding stick. Squadron has handy sticks comprising three grades of grit, sufficient for all but the finest finishing.

8) After the resin castings are cut loose and smoothed, soak them in Westley’s Bleche-Wite to remove oils and casting residue that can hinder paint and adhesives.

9) A fine saw is the best way to detach clear parts from a sprue. Clippers may stretch the plastic, and a stress mark in clear plastic is impossible to repair or remove.


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