Pioneering Tools

What colors do you use?

Which era and nationality?

WW2 US, and German

Dark grey/ steel for metal. Tool handles (except German wire cutters) were wood, Often painted over with the base coat. I like to keep mine in wood color by using a light buff under cost followed by brown oils for wood grain. I find this adds some nice contrast over the base coat.

German wire cutter handles were Bakelite an orangish reddish purple color


German tools tended to come coated in a heavy black or dark gray lacquer to protect the metal, although that would wear where handled and chip where used. The wood was also varnished but that would wear fairly quickly out in the elements and as mentioned would often get overpainted when the crew applied camo or whitewash if it was something paint wouldn’t hurt.

The wire cutters indeed had Bakelite handles. They had to be nonconductive for cutting electrical wiring. The cutters themselves were in the black lacquer I mentioned above.

I generally paint my wooden handles as new and weather the metal parts, and then attach them to the vehicle after the base coat but before any ‘field applications’ to allow some wood to show.


US on vehicle tools were painted OD like the vehicle. It is hard to find colour pics that show tools on the vehicle, but not covered in dust… or that have been colourised.

TIME Magazine original colour pics have this as a good reference to standard fit out to all vehicle types and the crew option to paint the camo right over the tools !:

That said, I still use artistic license and paint the wooden handles similar to Mead for that touch of interest…


If a vehicle has been in for repair or been repainted for any reason then yes the tools (US) will be all OD. However I still like to use this as an excuse to give my models some slight addition color variation so my tool handles are always natural wood grain.



For wood handles I always liked Modelmaster wood in enamek,still have some left,also Vallejo Model Color wood,also use a brown wash on them.
Modelmaster gunn Metal for the steel parts

Lifecolor does an outstanding acrylic 6 color set called “Weathered Wood” that will get you any shade of natural wood possible. Then I paint the metal parts with a lightened shade of the vehicle base color and chip the edges up a little.

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I have that set.

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Like I said earlier; I know the pioneer tools are going to quickly get painted over but in a restoration I still like to see the natural wood shades.

'43 Ford

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