Bending strip styrene?

Is there a general techniques category somewhere?

I need to make some reins for horses in 1/35. In the past I have done this for smaller scales (28mm so 1/48ish kind of size) using thin aluminum cut into strips. It’s kind of fine but doesn’t really take paint well. I have bent very tiny styrene rod by wetting it with tamiya extra thin and bending it carefully but I’ve been doing that to attach it to a hull as I went (for a degaussing cable). I’m wondering whether I can just bend styrene strip by wetting it with extra thin but in this case it will just be free hanging. Anyone have any experience they can share?


Wouldn’t some thin strips of tamiya tape work for you? You can detack them, cut them thin and they will take paint well.

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Another suggestion would be to use strips of lead foil or heavier aluminum foil for the straps. (The “traditional” source is the heavy foil around the tops of some wine and champagne bottles.)

Ordinary paper can be formed by wetting it with either PVA (“white glue”) or artist matt medium. With some patience and persistence it can be molded and made to hold a shape.

A variation of this technique is to use thinned polyester putty (aka “green stuff”). Liquid styrene cement can be used to thin the putty.

Another variation is to use dissolved styrene sprue instead of the polyester putty. Small chunks of sprue are dropped into a bottle of styrene cement and allowed to fully dissolve. Add more until a thick, honey-like consistency is achieved (may take a couple of days). Ray Anderson perfected this technique on the many hundreds of scratch built figures he used on his dioramas. (Google his name to see examples of his work.)

Images:: Ray Anderson Dioramas

Thin styrene, say .005, is usable, but it is difficult to form without damaging it. Styrene cement could almost instantly melt it, and heat is very difficult to control.

Another thing about using Tamiya Tape: It can be mashed down to achieve a thinner result. HTH.

I would use lead foil as well. Have been able to bend styrene with glue but for a small, single curve. Guess it would be really difficult to free-form it…

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It depends on how much bend you want in the styrene. If you want to make a bight shape like you find in a rider’s hands, the liquid cement will make it snap every time. For thin (0.01 - 0.02) styrene bends I isolate the area by covering up what I don’t want to heat with anything available - old gift cards, dirty socks, etc. and heat the uncovered area with a blow dryer. It gets hot quickly and bends nicely. Before anyone suggests hot water, I will tell you now it doesn’t work well, except for very slight curves.

The wine thing - you guys must be drinking some good vintage stuff. I might want to bring over some good aged Wisconsin cheddar and hang out some time. The US phased it out sometime in the 80’s and today the only source is from bottles from before that time, That said, if anyone needs a lifetime supply send me a PM. I’ve got huge stash of the stuff I’ve been hoarding along with toilet paper and .357 ammo.

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Hi Phil,

I agree with the others that there may be better alternatives to plastic for reins in 1/35 scale. Still, if you want to use polystyrene strip, that is doable. You would probably want to start with thin sheet, say .005 inch. After slicing some strips off of the width you want, immersing the strip in hot water will soften the plastic sufficiently to enable you to form bends and add realistic “sag” into the reins. The trick here is to shape the plastic quickly after heating when it it still soft; as it cools polystyrene will remain in the shape you formed it into when it was warm. I wouldn’t use plastic cement at all because it tends to melt the plastic too aggressively at this thickness. Rather, I’d attach the reins using PVA (white) glue.

Good luck with them!