What's Your Favorites?

Since it seems there is a lot of activity lately in the Off-Topic Shenanigans forum, with otherwise friendly guys spitting vitriol and throat slashing, posting YouTube stuff and political poison, I thought I’d start a post about something we don’t talk enough about - building the damn model. Everyone has different equipment and supplies they use, decided upon from years of experience, or are looking for that better substance or tool that will make their modeling easier \ better. I’ve been modeling 55 years and have settled on all of my best stuff, so I thought I’d share what I use and ask you all to do the same.
My skill level is AMPS Advanced Gold Medal level with Best-of’s, so I hope someday to build the elusive perfect model and get named an AMPS Master. It’s an elusive goal, so if it never happens I can still die a happy man. Other things in life are more important, like my two grandsons.

  1. Sprue Cutters - I use Zoukei-Mura sprue cutters. They are better than God Hand and make cuts that really require no cleanup.
  2. Knives - My #11 blades are Excel, which are just as sharp but less expensive then X-Acto. I’ve got 5 colored Excel soft grip #1 handles with various blades in them.
  3. Glue - I use all 3 types of Tamiya solvent glues. Extra Thin Quick Setting, Extra Thin, and the Thick in the white cap. The 3 bottles are all held together in a 3 bottle DSPIAE glue holder.
  4. CA - Starbond. Not very well known, but the best CA on the market, by far. They guarantee their glue for a year shelf life with free replacement. The glue performs better than any CA I have ever used. Their black medium-thick CA will change the way you put together PE.
  5. Paint - This may not be for all you environmentalists out there, but after years of having acrylics clog my airbrush, I switched to lacquers. I use AK Interactive Real Colors (and Tamiya “acrylics”) thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner. I also love to use Hataka Orange Line Lacquers, which are ready-to-shoot from the bottle.
  6. Clear coat - Since Future is officially gone in any form, I’ve moved on to it’s official replacement. Holloway House Quick Shine. Works exactly the same. For flat coat, I make my own. 70% Quick Shine and 30% Tamiya X-21 Flat Base. You can push it to 60\40 but it starts to get a little frosty.
  7. Airbrushes - Iwata. I have a .2, .3, and .5 with a Powerjet Pro comressor.
  8. Decals - I always go glosscoat-decals-microsol-glosscoats until I can’t see the decal edge anymore.
  9. Washes, Filters, etc. - I usually use Winsor and Newton oil paints thinned with blue label Turpenoid.
  10. Pigments - I use Bragdon Enterprises pigments. They invented modeler’s pigments back in 1980 and they’re a bargain in today’s market.
  11. Specialty Tools - I’ve got many Small Shop folding tools, but with them retiring, I’ve been buying a lot of DSPIAE tools. DSPIAE is an outstanding tool line! I’ve got most of their line and every single tool has exceeded my expectations. I also have excellent tools from UMM-USA.

Well that’s enough for now. What have the years taught you? What are your go-to items?


All right I’ll take up the challenge and see how many people face palm and shake their heads and my caveman like system to model building.

  1. Sprue Cutters - I just got a Despai set but haven’t rally used them yet but am excited to.
  2. Knives - I have a hodgepodge mix of knife handles with varying pedigrees and quality.
  3. Glue - I use Tamiya extra thin and the quick setting kind and still have a testers hard plastic triangle shaped thing that I use to hold parts in place if the need arises.
  4. CA - I just got is a whole set of Bob Smith glues with a zip kicker and a debonder, but was using whatever was on sale prior.
  5. Paint - I really don’t have a set brand or type I go for whatever is the closest to what color I need. Also use a lot of rattle cans.
  6. Clear Coat - I went to Hobby Lobby and got a spray can of flat and gloss it works well for me so far.
  7. Airbrushes - I am still gaining the confidence to try this dark magic so I cheat, and rattle can most of my stuff, but it works for the subjects that I build.
  8. Decals - I gloss coat lay decals and flat coat i have never used any of the decal assisting products.
  9. Washes, Filters, ETC… - I got a pretty big order of different products from MIG and use the Tamiya panel liners.
  10. Pigments - I got a set of powder pigments from amazon they seem to work well for me.
  11. Specialty Tools - I kind of think all modeling tools are specialty tool but my favorite nonstandard tool in the ceramic scraper from SMS.

Well, I hope I don’t get roasted to badly.


Ok, I will throw my bit in as well… And it won’t take long to type lol …
Now this will have a lot of people shaking their heads and generally :see_no_evil:… But hey ho … It works for me :grin::rofl:

  1. Sprue cutters. Nice and easy, about 11 months ago I got a twin pack from Amazon for £6, first one is just losing its edge so I may swap it for the other one. Always been perfect for me.

  2. Knives. Various amounts of unused handles , but I keep a small handle, a large handle on the go with the same type of small and large blade in. I also have another handle with a chisel blade in, that’s it.

  3. Glue. Revell contacta and AK extra thin.

  4. CA glue. Whatever I grab off the shelf… at the moment it’s Gorilla glue normal CA and the gel.

  5. Paint. AK RC range and Tamiya.

  6. Clear coat. Bought a can of Army Painter Matt varnish … Rarely use it lol

  7. Airbrushes. 1, bought a cheap 40 quid one about 3 years ago, still going perfect, and I bought a separate airbrush on the recommendation of Ryan @Tank_1812 , which is my go to brush.

  8. Decals. Whack those bad boys straight on, no gloss coat, ever … I may use micro sol and set if needed.

  9. Washes/filter. Various MIG and AK ones or I knock up my own with oil paints.

  10. Pigments. MIG and AK and Plus Models.

  11. Speciality tools. Does a Tamiya razor saw count ??.

That’s it :grin:


Took time off for school and I am now just getting back to building. This is what I have at the moment.

  1. Sprue cutters: Xuron that still work well, and brand new Despai that I haven’t used yet.
  2. Knives: Excel handles and blades, but I also have a 100 pack of Havel’s surgical blades that have worked very well. X-acto don’t hold an edge as well.
  3. Glue: Tamiya extra thin. Because it is harder to get locally, I also have Mr. Hobby thin but haven’t used it yet.
  4. CA: I have used Bob Smith, Gorilla, and Loctite. Matt, I should look for the Starbond you suggest.
  5. Paint: Allergies and odor sensitivities in the house limit me to acrylics. Tamiya, Vallejo, and I have just purchased some AK to experiment with.
  6. Clear coat: I have several bottles of Future that I bought years ago when it was reportedly going away. They are starting to thicken. I have also used Testors and Krylon in the rattle cans.
  7. Airbrush: My inherited Badger first generation compressor is giving out so I just purchased a Ghaaleri compressor and GD98 airbrush. Hoping to put them to use soon. Before that I was using a Badger 105 and was happy.
  8. Decals: I had done microsol-microset-glosscoat, but have started to use glosscoat as a setting agent on smooth surfaces.
  9. Washes,filters: Winsor and Newton oil paints thinned in Mona Lisa oderless thinner. I have also used Academy oil paints which work, but don’t flow as well as the W&N. They do go down well with dot filters.
  10. Pigments: Artists pastels ground very finely, and some naturally sourced materials such as ashes, rust from steel wool, and clay.
  11. Specialty tools: Small shop bug, micro-drill bits, assorted small pliers, and a jewler’s saw.

My ten cents…

Fifty-three years at the model building game. My skill level is AMPS Advanced Silver Medal, have had a stock model win Best of Show at an IPMS contest long ago plus various Best-of’s. I hope someday to build a model worthy of Gold in AMPS Advanced but family and the cats are more important.

  1. Sprue Cutters - I use Zoukei-Mura, God Hand. My Zoukei-Mura had a slightly blemished blade so they cut equal to the GH’s otherwise the God Hands would have went to heaven and be retired as back ups.

  2. Knives - My #11 blades are Testor’s or British/German scapel blades both are sharper and more expensive then X-Acto. Use a lot of #15 blades and exclusively use British or German manufacture scapel blades. Six #1 handles with various blades or zimmerit tools in them.

  3. Glue - I use Tamiya Extra Thin on occasion but prefer Testor’s Liquid Cement in a Tamiya bottle for 90% of building. One bottle of Testor’s is used exclusively for thinning Molak Stucco Putty. The 3 bottles are in stand alone bottle holders, two of them are home made.

  4. CA - exactly what Matt said: Starbond. Not very well known, but the best CA on the market, by far. They guarantee their glue for a year shelf life with free replacement. The glue performs better than any CA I have ever used. Their black medium-thick CA will change the way you put together PE.

My StarBond is over 3.5 years old and still good, never had super glue last over six months before.

  1. Paint - Another not for all the environmentalists out there, but after experimenting with various acrylics, I stay with Floquil enamels and acrylic lacquers.

Floquil Railroad & Floquil Military Color thinned with Floquil Military Thinner, lighter fluid or Mr Color Leveling Thinner are my primary paint choices.

MR Paint or MRP is my current favorite acrylic lacquer for airbrushing.

Mr Color/Mr Hobby is also a favorite for filters w/Mr Color Leveling Thinner or brush work.

Have AK Real to try on a modern US AFV build and appreciate Matt’s suggestions.

  1. Clear coat - Floquil Military Crystal Cote but actively testing alternatives. My only gripe with FMCC, it’s a little too soft when cured and more fragile than other clears. Quick Shine is at top of my list after Alclad II AquaGloss proved mediocre.

  2. Airbrushes - three set up for use on the compressor with one swapped in or out as desired.

Paasche H - thirty-five years and still going. Always useful painting or spraying thinner to clean other brushes etc

Paasche VL - customized, my go to work horse.

Harder-Steenbeck Evolution - good airbrush but I really dislike how it feels.

Iwata Micron B - ideal for camo, very capable airbrush.

Compressor is a custom set using an old GE rotary refrigeration compressor, pump switch & propane tank with twin gauges and regulator with three air brushes.

  1. Decals - Like Matt, I always go glosscoat-decals-microsol-glosscoats until I can’t see the decal edge anymore.

  2. Washes, Filters, etc. - Like Matt, I usually use Winsor and Newton oil paints but I thin with mineral spirits or cigarette lighter fluid.

  3. Pigments - I usually grind pastel chalk. Have a few bottles of MIG’s pigs for use on occasion. I like AK/Mig textured mud/dirt paint products to apply to suspension.

  4. Specialty Tools - Fan of Small Shop for PE folding, holding & rolling tools. DSPIAE is fast becoming my favorite tool provider. Every tool meeting and usually exceeding my expectations.


  1. Rotary Tool - UK :uk: MiniCraft, 3 outlet transformer with rheostat two 12 v DC high torque drills, lathe & sander. Only regret not buying the MiniCraft drill press and back ups. ~Thirty years, no issues.

  2. Nitrocellulose Filler Putty Favorite is Molak Stucco Putty. Tamiya Basic Gray is also excellent. Bondo Fine is outstanding as well. They all thin with liquid cement like Testor’s etc and will go on like paint but shrink etc.


So I’ll toss my hat in this ring . First model I can remember was a bagged kit of some sort of air racer . Built it on the kitchen table with my mother’s help as my dad was too tired . That was in our home that we moved out of when I was in kindergarten and I am now 70 . Looks like I’ve been at it for 65 years give or take .
As far as skill level goes I’ve won some small contests sponsored by our local hobby show many years ago . Just built for fun after that until entering my first IPMS which was the National in South Carolina a few years ago. My only entry was a largely scratch built Japanese starter truck in 1/48.
Took second place in that category. I have since placed in various IPMS events , the latest being MosquitoCon - four firsts and a couple best ofs
So what I like to use …

  1. Sprue cutters - ZM . I don’t see how anything
    else could be better.

  2. Knives- No. 11 in various handles - also saw
    blades and chisel blades .

  3. Glue - Mostly Tamiya quick setting Extra Thin
    but also Testor in a Tamiya bottle when needed
    Epoxy and PVA when called for .

  4. CA - Zap thin and medium.

  5. Paint - Tamiya Acrylic and Gunze lacquer.
    Use Vallejo Modelair now and then . Was a big
    fan of Stynylrez for a while but have gone over
    to Tamiya extra fine light grey in rattle can for

6 . Clear - Tamiya Clear gloss or Testor’s Dullcoat.

7 . Airbrush - started out years ago with Badger -
various models but now have 3 Iwata double

  1. Decals - Sometimes kit decals but I much prefer
    quality aftermarket when appropriate/available.
    Life Like are among my favorites.

  2. Washes - Artist’s oils thinned with odorless
    mineral spirits.

10 . Pigments - dry artist’s pigments.

11 . Specialty tools - I use my lathe / mill when called for and solder with iron , torch and resistance setup.

That’s it !


Okay, I’m basically new to the hobby after a 40+ year hiatus since I was in Junior High school, but here is some of what is in my toolbox now. A lot of this is stuff I used back then, so this is what I’m starting up again with.

Sprue Cutters - My main and sharpest set of nippers are actually a pair of toenail clippers from the beauty section at Target. I also have a couple of cheapo Chinesium nippers that came with my 3D filament printer. I also have a couple of wire cutters, so I don’t kill the cutting surfaces of the clippers/nippers with the harder stuff.

Knives - Various hobby knives (X-Acto type) with #11 blades. A folding utility knife from the hardware store, a couple of X-Acto razor saw blades in a #5 handle and a larger Zona Saw (bought it for the miniature miter box). I recently got a small disposable scalpel, which may end up replacing the hobby knives as my go to blade type after using it a bit. Also I often use various pairs of scissors for cutting things.

Glue - Dollar Store super glue (both thin and gel). The small tubes are usually enough for a model building session, and if they do dry-out I’m not out a lot of glue or expense. I keep them in the refrigerator in a small covered Tupperware tub, which helps them last longer. I also use regular orange Testors plastic model glue. And then there’s the PVA (Elmer’s) glue for windshields.

Paint - Rustoleum rattle can 2X Primer. I bought it because it is a little on the thicker side to fill in layer lines on my 3D prints, but I think if I’m cautious with it it’ll give me a good base for color. I have Black, Gray and White primers.

I don’t have my old model paint anymore (used to use Pactra, Testors and Model Master enamel paints), what I do have is Liquitex and Masters Touch artist acryllic (tube) paint. Like I said earlier I’m just getting started again so I am going to give these a shot before I go out and buy more paint. I plan to reduce these paints and shoot them through my airbrush and also use them with regular brushes.

Clear coat - On advice of others, I have a bottle of Holloway House Quick Shine. I used to rely on the rattle can finishes from Testors and Model Master but with the acrylic paints, I wont have any gloss finish out of the tube as it were. It’ll be an experiment in my airbrush like the acrylic paints.

Airbrushes - I bought a Harbor Freight Avanti airbrush kit. It has the gravity fed .35 double action airbrush and a decent, quiet little compressor. I figure I can upgrade as I get better. Have only played with it on sheets of cardboard so far. I never had one as a kid but always wanted one.

I am also building my own airbrush booth.

Decals - I always used warm water with a couple drops of dish soap in it to soak decals in. I am eager to try the clear coat method some of you mentioned above. Never used Set or Sol solutions. I have a color laser printer now, so I am eager to try making my own decals someday.

Washes, Filters, etc. - I always used various India inks (black, brown and red) thinned with alcohol. Seemed to work well if I recall.

Pigments - I have artist oil pastel sticks that I’ll grind up to a powder and apply with soft makeup brushes. I also have a set of cheap watercolor pencils for weathering, not sure how the Quick Shine is going to react with these. We’ll see.

Specialty Tools - I have a cheap set of Dollar Store chisels for photo etch cutting, various sets of tweezers and I use a lot of rubber bands and masking tape to hold things while the glue is setting up. Files - both diamond and regular needle files. I also use a lot of my wife’s old emery boards.

And since someone else listed bonus Items, here’s mine -

Rotary Tool - I have an old Dremel tool that I got one year for Christmas that is showing its age. So I bought a new Wen rotary tool from Hobby Lobby, this one has a flex shaft attachment that I’m eager to try. For bits, I got the set from Harbor Freight. Would really like to get a drill press setup for one of the rotary tools.

Filler Putty - I used to use Squadron Green Stuff tube putty. But I found out it is no longer available, so at the suggestion of some online I got a tube of Bondo Spot Glazing Putty. It reminds me a lot of the old green putty except for its color.

I also use super glue with baking soda for filling small spots.

Lighting - I bought a large LED lamp that spans across my 32 inch computer monitor, It provides good, bright, general lighting across my worksurface. I also have a smaller reading lamp that I put a 100 watt equivalent LED spotlight bulb into for super bright, focused, close in detail lighting.

And since I have had cataract surgery, I am no longer near sighted as I once was, so I have a couple of pairs of magnifying glasses so I can see what I’m working on.


Take very good care of those new tools. Ask me how I know.

—mike :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Yes, it has changed my outlook on things for sure!

  1. Sprue Cutters - currently using Meng from their tool set but recently got Zoukei-Mura sprue cutters thanks to your post
  2. Knives - don’t recall, I don’t use a knife that often
  3. Glue - using Tamiya airbrush cleaner in an old extra bottle posted the YouTube link a bunch
  4. CA - whatever is available but try to Liquitex gel gloss medium when possible thanks to @SdAufKla posting
  5. Paint - mostly Tamiya and Vallejo, and Scale75 trying to limit brands to get better consistent results from the operator
  6. Clear coat - don’t really use, an area for personal improvement
  7. Airbrushes - A few Iwatas but mostly the Master
    Tool brush post review on here Johnny mentioned
  8. Decals - micro products
  9. Washes, Filters, etc. - another area for personal improvement
  10. Pigments - RJ enterprises from a long time ago
  11. Specialty Tools - I’ve got many Small Shop folding tools, but with them retiring, I’ve been buying a lot of DSPIAE tools. DSPIAE is an outstanding tool line! I’ve got most of their line and every single tool has exceeded my expectations. I also have excellent tools from UMM-USA. Same in the tools, the UMM micro scale, scrapper and ZM scrapper are 3 main tools. Sorta like getting Air Jordan’s, they don’t make you a great basketball player so neither do the tools make me a great modeler but I have fun doing it.

Hi Matt, interesting subject. I have a few favorites:

  1. Cutters: Lindstrom flush cutters. I think these are supposed to be used for jewelry or fine metal work.

  2. Kinfe: #1 handle, #11 blade, like others above, I buy in 100 pack

  3. Glue: Testors Plastic Cement

  4. CA: Bob Smith Industries medium gold plus

  5. Paint: Vallejo Model Air, and Tamiya in cans (for primer and some auto model base coats)

  6. Clear coat: Aqua Gloss II

  7. Airbrush: Badger Patriot and Krome, Iwata Smart Jet compressor

  8. Washes: Highly diluted Vallejo acrylics, Life Color Dust I and II highly diluted, and Tamiya panel line

  9. Pigment: Secret Weapon and AK

  10. Special tools: Four pin vice sizes #78, 72, 68, and 1/16", several shapes of files (round, square, rectangle, triangle), sanding sticks and blocks, 4" square, 4" machinist square, and Small Shop Bug PE bender.

I have a variety of other tools handy, but these are those I use/wear out most often!




  1. Sprue cutters - hasegawa, they are really good for the money and often go on sale at sprue bros for $30. For thick sprue gates or cutting sprue for stretching I’ll use a cheap old pair of banged up nippers. For small fragile parts (looking at you Miniart) I use tamiya photo etch razor saws

  2. Knives - cheap bulk no.11 blades from Amazon. Need to invest in some better quality ones for some jobs

  3. Glue - Tamiya extra thin for 99% of application, and the quick set extra thin for removing “fuzzies” from sanding and knife work on hard to reach spots

  4. CA - starbond at your @SSGToms suggestion! Couldn’t be happier. Also use liquitex gloss medium for some PE work

  5. Paint - a lot of old tamiya acrylics, have been replacing the slowly with AK real colors. Use MLT for thinning. Mr surfacer 1500 for all priming

  6. Clear coat - still have some old future but getting close to end of it! Use dull cote for flat coat

  7. Airbrush - Paasche VLS for most everything. Have an iawata eclipse I got as a gift, but haven’t opened it. Plan to do some camo schemes soon that I think I’ll crack it open for

  8. Decals - I suck at deal application. I generally go gloss-microset-decal-microset-Microsol till happy then one more gloss then flat coat. I have taken to spraying most larger markings with cricut cut masks. Will use Mr mark softer and setter for thicker decals

  9. Washes - Windsor and newton oils with Mona Lisa odorless thinner. I’ve tried some of the AK interactive pre-made washes and they don’t work well for me

  10. Pigments - ground earth tones artist pastels for the most part. Some time pencil lead ground up!

  11. Specialty tools - trumpeter photo etch bender and some other small miscellaneous tools. My favorite is my cricut joy. Thing is awesome for cutting stencils for markings!

Ps- great topic to breakup some to the political crap

  1. Sprue cutters. Tamiya 125 Sprue Cutter has worked well for me. Maybe I’ll get my hands on a GodHand or Z-M someday.

  2. Knives. X-Acto.

  3. Glue. Tamiya Extra Thin Quick Setting.

  4. CA glue. Usually what I can find at the hobby shop.

  5. Paint. Tamiya and AK Interactive Real Color.

  6. Clear coat. Either Vallejo or Mr. FInishing

  7. Airbrushes. I have a Badger 150 airbrush (two actually) that has served me well for decades.

  8. Decals. Star Decals and Archer Fine Transfers.

  9. Washes/filter. AK Interactive washes.

  10. Pigments. I make my own with acrylic chalks.

  11. Speciality tools. X-Acto saws, Army Painter micro drill.


Great thread.

1: Cutters - Upgraded not long ago to a pair of Dspiae single blade 3.0. They cut plastic like butter and really happy with them. I’m impressed with Dspiae tools of the few I’ve tried so far.

2: Knives - x-acto type handle. Mainly use number 11 blades, plus chisel blade (no. 17) and no. blades depending on the job. Again x-acto type rather than branded.

3: Glue - Tamiya extra thin for most work. I occasionally use Revell contacta where large areas need joining, such as middle of aircraft wings. I still use extra thin on the edges though.

4: CA - I mainly use VMS 5k flexi black, but any other standard CA to hand on occasions.

5: Paint - for airbrush pretty much Tamiya acrylics, with the odd Mr. Colour where I need a specific colour and don’t want to mix Tamiya paints. I thin with Mr. Colour levelling thinner with Tamiya lacquer thinner as a backup. When spraying over chipping fluid I’ll sometimes use Tamiya X20a thinner as I find levelling thinner’s otherwise excellent durability actually hinders chipping slightly.
For brush painting, almost all paints I use are Vallejo model colours/panzer aces. I have the odd Ammo by Mig thrown in.
For metallics - Alclads. Haven’t found any better
Priming is done with Mr Finishing surfacer 1500. I do have a rattle can of Army painter primer for big jobs.
I also use Ammo shaders as well for both post shading and weathering.

6: Clear coats - VMS varnishes. Gloss, satin or Matt depending on need.

7: Airbrush - Iwata Eclipse HP CS (0.3 needle). Toyed with the idea of getting a second with a smaller needle for really fine detail work, but the Eclipse is very versatile, so suspect it’s more to do with my airbrushing skills rather than the tool.

8: Decals - pretty much OOB decals though sometimes replace with cut stencils and airbrush. I set down over a satin finish, occasionally gloss, unless over Alclads, in which case no varnish coat needed. Micro sol and set have always done the job as setting solutions.

9: Washes/filters etc. - I have a few Mig productions filters, otherwise I make my own, or use ultra thinned Tamiya airbrushed if my base coat is too desaturated. For washes I mostly use oils, either Windsor and Newton or Abteillung thinned with VMS products (universal weathering carrier/oil expert enhancing mediums).

10: Pigments - I use gunmetal and steel pigments applied with a silicon brush for weapon barrels and worn track edges. Otherwise I’ve found I use pigments only occasionally of late for weathering. I have a mix of pigments from Al Interactive Ammo by Mig and Wilder.

11: Speciality tools - Revell razor saw, Small PE bending tool (can’t recall brand off top of my head), rivet maker from Galaxy tools.

12: other weathering products - streak and grime products from Ak interactive, plus engine grime etc. ,various mud/earth mixes from Wilder and Ak interactive, Vallejo fuel stains.


i hear ya on the cats


Amazon Cat. If I fits, i sits.


@Bomber14 Joe, Amazon cats for the win :trophy:

On a serious note, grill lighters are one of those tools. One for the BBQ and the other to roast photo-etch parts to anneal and make bending easy!


Had mine sit in a Kleenex box……they did not fit. :man_shrugging:


Bully for you cat guys -
now it’s my turn .


sorry wade, i got ya beat, or at least tied. if you look mine was in an amazon box too- lol
btw, for those of you who build nascars or race cars those lighters when empty if you take them apart, the clear tube that feeds the butane to the trigger is great for the overflow tube in a nascar fuel cell or i guess you can find similar use in f-1 or gt cars among other things.