Scale Model Scratch Building Supplies and Materials

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Scratch building is often a way to solve a problem. Sometimes there is no model kit for what you want, so you have to make it out of different materials yourself.

Other times, you may need to make an additional part, big or small, to accent your model, or you may want to make a diorama or custom display base.

These are some common materials used to create the scale model project you always wanted, or make an existing model kit better.

scale styrene modeling books

Styrene Modeling

Let's start with the base of your project, literally. Precut pieces of wood, in this case a Birch plywood, make an easy place to begin. It's finished (smooth) on one side, and already cut to size. It's available in 1/8,1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 thickness', depending on the size.

Obviously you can get wood locally, if you live near a Lowes or something, but these are already cut to size,and ready to go. Which is especially handy if you don't have tools to cut your own, or the desire to try and get help at a big chain store.

If you need a smaller, finished base for your model project, Click Here.

plywood sheets for building dioramas

Birch Plywood Sheet

plywood wood sheets for building dioramas

See how wood and plastic signs were used to help build a cost effective Garage diorama.

Note that the wood is normally covered with something. If it's a diorama terrain you're making, you would cover it with materials that were plant like, or paint it to look like concrete or stone, depending on the model subject.

I like to cover my wood with plastic sheets for an ultra smooth surface. You don't need expensive sheet plastic for that. Just use a cheap FOR SALE plastic sign. It's easy to cut, and comes in small or very large sheets. The ultra smooth surface will allow you to paint right on top of the plastic, without worrying about wood grain to cover and sand, or even using primer in most cases. (Note: this plastic is not high quality, like Evergreen or Plastruct, and won't glue together as well, but you're going to paint and glue all over it anyway, so it's fine to cover wood).

(the plastic is green because it was real cheap,
and it's going to be painted over anyway. Every dollar you save on materials is another dollar to buy a model with!)


Quality Sheet plastic has been used for decades to make almost anything when it comes to models. From spacecraft, to architectural buildings, to car trailers, to submarines. The plastic is available in different thicknesses. The thicker ones are good for support and are stiff, while the thin ones can be curved and used to cover a frame structure. You can normally cut the plastic with a hobby knife or a really good pair of scissors. A CA Type glue is needed to glue the parts.


evergreen sheets of plastic

White Plastic Sheet Assortment


If you don't know, or are not familiar with the thickness sizes, the assortment to the left is a good set to start off with. I use this set a lot because you don't always know what you need till you start fabricating something.

It includes 010", 020", and 040".



Other shapes are made in assortments and individual packages as well.
(Round tubing is hollow inside, the round rod is solid).



stencils plastic models

Stencil Assortment

Stencils can be big time savers. Rather than measure out and draw on the plastic a design by hand, you can quickly use a stencil to mark out a shape, ready to be cut out of the plastic almost immediately. This also insures that if you cut out multiple shapes of the same kind, they will all be the same exact size

It's epecially helpful for complex shapes, like hexagons or stars.

Whether you're building a spaceship with Greeblies, a mechanical device, or a Warhammer terrain from scratch, stencils can speed things up considerably.

stencils plastic models

French Curves Assortment

stencil mechanical drawing

Assorted Shapes Stencil

Another thing you can do with Stencils is use them to make a pattern onto cardboard (like a cereal box), then cut out the pattern with a hobby knife. This allows you to make a larger custom design that's good for painting a pattern onto your model.

For instance, the pattern painted here was done with stencils and cardboard.

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led lights for scale models

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