The "Shake and bake" expression probably

doesn't need much explanation to any modeler despite his native language. In our plastic

models world, it generally refers to kits that

could be compared to James Bond's favourite drink. Just shake, don't stir and the result is there. But that´s just a myth... We all

know that unlike the Martini cocktail, even

the most precisely designed and manufactured kits (the ones that reviewers rate as “no

putty needed”) really need a “human´s touch”

as they can´t build themselves.

And just as someone can build a great model from an average kit with a few basic tools

that all fit in one school pencil case, another

one keeps looking for something that would

make building a model easier. Do you know

such people? I personally know at least one,

namely myself. On my workbench, there are

tools everywhere, filling many cases and

holders. And more are still coming.

It actually gives me some kind of pleasure

when I discover a contraption I didn't know

before. For example, the year before last

I succumbed to the lure of a design-oriented and also kind of pricey DSPIAE tool at a

competition in Houten, the Netherlands. My

already varied assortment of hand tools has

thus grown by several more interchangeable

bits with different chisels, mini-grinders and

engravers. And as I subsequently found out,

it's a kind of Chinese generic product, so there are several marks of the same product of

different colors and brandings. But there is

nothing wrong about it.

Years ago, I ordered John Vojtech´s multi-purpose tool from the USA, which I would

sort of compared to a "Swiss Army Knife"

for modeler. I've brought a lot of stuff back

from the Telford Scale Model World contest.

Year by year something new… For example,

a set of "Berna Clamps" (cleverly designed

clamps for both small and large parts), various micro-cutters, chisels, files, colored

wires of various diameters, a table lamp with

a magnifying glass and a special polarizing

light, of course lots of chemistry, scalpel blades, and so on, and so on... And because we

modelers like to create I made a lot of different tools myself. Sometimes due to a genuine need for "something like this", other times

for “just in case” use.

For example, I modify my scalpels (the solid one-piece ones) to fit completely different using than they were originally made

for. For example, I didn't buy a sharp pointed eye scalpel to poke someone's eye with,

I just sharpened it even more so that it could

be used for scrapping of delicate details and

hollowing ventrals and louvres on the engine covers. Another modification was made to

the curved cutting edge one. I sharpened it all

around, so it can be used to work in hollows

or scrape out various depressions, including

what I call „3D weathering“ (indication of the

small damages of the metal covers, so typical for wartime aircraft).

Sanders are a special chapter of my homemade tool assortment. I am using many various stuffs to make different sanding sticks

or pads. For example, small alluminium pro-

INFO Eduard - July 2021

files, to which I glue sandpaper by super glue

and when the sanding surface gets "tired",

I cut it off with a straight edged scalpel and

glue on a new one. I use plain profile, L-shaped profile or round profile cut to various

lengths. In the case of the L profile, I sometimes glue the sandpaper to both arms, sometimes just to one, so as to use the slick side

as a support when sanding. Various flexible

materials are then suitable for making grinding pads, that can be used to work on convex

surfaces. My favorite is self-adhesive felt intended to be used as a pad on the bottom of

the table or chair legs. They never last long

there, but if you stick a sanding paper on

them, you have a nicely flexible sanding pad.

If You can find uncut one-piece of it, it is the

best one. You can cut the sizes and shapes to

your liking than. This works particularly well

on slightly concave surfaces.

The "vertical sanders" are again a great help

in sanding off the ejector pin marks positioned craftily in between the delicate surface

details sometimes. The “vertical” or “head

on” sander is simply a small piece of the

sanding paper glued to the cut of the stick of

suitable size and cross section. The risk of

damage to the surrounding detail is minimal,

as is the cost of making the sander. I normally use pieces of the sprues for this purpose. Occasionally, I also break a classic razor

blade using cutters to create ultra-sharp and

ultra-thin mini scalpels.

We all also know here are another sources

for the special tools, except the model shops.

For example, the range of dental supplies is

literally a playground for plastic modeler.

Their long and thin „torture tools“ can be successfully used as various chisels, scribers

or cutters after various modifications on

small grinding machine and grinding stone.

Also, special shops for jewelers are worth a

note. It is no wonder as they are also kind of

modelers, although working with more pricey „stuff“ usually…

And I did not even mention the "chemistry" so

far! There is always something happening on

the market with new colors, glues, putties…

But even in this area there is always something to try and even here you can experiment a little, even if it is not as easy as sharpening a scalpel or a file into a blade. Not all

of us have had chemistry for an A, right? I am

not undertaking any major ventures, but for

example I haven't bought the “welding” glue

for a long time. That´s the one that works so

well with those great "Shake and bake" kits.

I bought pure ethyl acetate at the lab supply

store a few years ago, which is perfect for

gluing models. It bonds reliably and most importantly the joint cures quickly. You could

find this matter even in pears and it even kind

of smells like it a little, but I wouldn't bother

getting it by extraction… One little bottle of

ethyl acetate does not cost a fortune, it is in

fact quite cheap and such a volume makes

You happy for many years of plastic modeling. There is also one small “secret” there:

You can thin the ethyl acetate with alcohol

to suppress its gluing ability. Why? Then You

can use it as a special agent to clean up the

scribed or deepened panel lines. Weakened

ethyl acetate dissolves the small residua in

the line but does not make any damage to the

surroundings. It just needs some trying to

get the right degree of “aggressivity” of the

thinned ethyl acetate. And don´t worry it will

not explode…

Many modelers also devote considerable

effort to finding substitutes for the original

thinners for their favorite paints, but I personally gave up this pastime after a certain

modelling disaster. Trust me, one of the

advantages of original thinners is that they

also have the original markings on the packaging...

This could go on and on, everyone has their

own gadgets and contraptions. But the truth

is that no one has invented such a device that

would build the model itself. Not even the

"Shake and bake" ones. And as for the tool

selection: I don't know about anyone else, but

I always end up using just a few time-tested

tools when working on a model. The other

so much needed helpers are usually waiting

mournfully for their rare chance, which really rarely comes. So those who stuff their tool

selection into one school pencil case probably know theirs long ago...

Richard Plos