Volume one: The base
There is nothing more flat, hard and resistant against temperature and humidity than glass. I have used for as long as I can remember, a pane of glass as the base. I take a pane of 15 cm x 50 cm, itīs long enough for the most models. If the baseplate is longer, the pane of glass must be longer also. The glass is 1 cm thick. If it is thinner, it may break more easily and not always are broken pieces of glass signs of luck. Then I fix the baseplate for the model on the glass. I use RUBBER CEMENT, it is the kind of glue layouters used for many years for gluing paper or pictures in layouts, before they started layouting with computer-graphics programs. This glue is available all over the world in shops for painting or graphics materials. Rubber cement is removable without any problems from every ground. I leave the baseplate on the glass until the frames, decks and shipīs walls are finished. I let the whole thing dry overnight and remove it the next day. This way distortion is impossible.
Volume two: How frames and other inside parts become ready to grind with emery.
Often there is a need that frames should be more stable than paper-parts are
naturally . And sometimes I emery parts until they get to the 100 percent
measure I need before afixing them. The steps:
1. Cut out the part.
2. I impregnate the part with Cyanoacrylate-glue (crazy or super glue). It is that kind of glue, which glues materials like metal, rubber, ceramics, glass etc., in seconds. In Germany we call it Sekunden-Kleber (seconds-glue?). I do it this way: hold the part with tweezers in one corner, fill some drops of CYAN in a little can of glass or in the metal-closing of a bottle (after removing the rubber inside the closing), dip a tooth-pick in the glue and bring it on the part. The paper sucks it up in a second and it goes through to the backside of the part. I repeat this, til the whole part is sucked up with cyan-glue. The glue is dry after a few seconds. The result is:
A. The formerly card-part now feels like a plastic sheet and has got the same qualities. It is stable, flexible, cannot fray out, cannot break so easily, donīt bend anymore.
B. It is nearly resistant against humidity, which is important for every kind of frame.
C. Best of all: I can grind the part with emery, like plastic or wood. This is sometimes necessary, when I correct parts for split millimeters and scissors or cutter are not helpful in these cases. This way I get an exact measure and a maximum of stability for all frames or other inner parts of the model. It helps a lot, when I preeced building decks, shipīs walls etc.
WARNING: The Cyan-glue changes the colours of the printed side of the parts dramatically. It should therefore only be used for inner, not visible parts.
Cyan-glue is available in any stores.
P.S. When I emery the impregnated parts, I use emery paper with 1000 grain. This means very very fine grain paper.
Volume three: How to avoid the little white flashes on the connectors or between parts than donīt fit perfectly.
A cardmodel can be built very carefully and perfect but it looks unfinished if
you see the white edges after cutting out the parts. Or if you glue one part
to another and they donīt fit 100 percent so that after glueing a little white
flash is left over. So the colouring of edges and glue-area is necessary, I
always color three different zones of the parts.
1. Of course the edges.
2. Around 1 mm of the white glue-area ( for the part, which will be glued on there) adjoining the printed zone of the part.
3. Around 1 mm of the connecting strip adjoining the printed zone of the part.
I tried different methods of coloring, for example color-markers or
colored-pencils. But Iīve never been absolutely content with the results,
they gave me. For many years now I have used only water colors with perfect
results. The advantage is evident: No other method gives me, because of
mixing the color, more color-variations and therefore the possibility, to
find the exact color-tone, I need (including gold and silver for airplanes
And thatīs the way, I use it:
1. I use a hair-pencil (= very fine brush) with No. 00.
2. Mix the color, I need, in the cover of the water color box.
3. Try the color on a white sheet of card and let it dry for a few minutes. After drying I can see if the color is ok or not. If necessary, I correct the colour.
4. Coloring the edges:
Cut out the part, colour the edge from THE BACK SIDE = the white side of the part. If You do it from the printed side, itīs dangerous, in case the brush slips you will get the color on the visible side of the part. If this happens for all that, itīs not a fracture of the leg, because itīs easy to repair with a clean brush and a little bit of water. One more advantage comparing with other methods.
For coloring the edge I use the flat side of the brush. The brush is "laying on the edge".
5. Coloring the border of the glue-area. I color, BEFORE I cut the parts out. I have "more in my hand" when coloring, specially if the parts are small. The other steps are the same as coloring the edges. But in this case I use of course the end of the brush. Here again, what happens more often, that the brush slips away, itīs easy to correct with a clean brush and water.
6. Colouring the connecting strips is the same procedure like THE GLUE AREA (= 5.)
7. In any case it is necessary to color BEFORE GLUEING, because many glues push off water color.
I use only a very little water, so there is no reason to be afraid, that the water damages the card. Some people may say this, but itīs only a proof, that they never used water colors. In any case, itīs not wrong, to try this method with cut away pieces first.
Volume four: The Glue
Glue is that thing, modelers in general and especaily card modelers could write books about testing glues. Some even take it as a reason for long philosophical discussions. Fact is first, that there are obviously two different "gluing traditions". While modelers in the States mainly use the water based White glue, modelers in Europe use in general solvent based glue. In Australia there exists a glue named "Bostik" glue pen, I don't know, if itīs water or solvent based.
In Europe, specially Germany, many people use glues produced by UHU,
who offers hundreds of different glues. But only a handful are helpful for
our purpose. If any of you are interested in the UHU glues, look at:
They also have pages in English and French , so you will find a lot of information which could be useful. I will concentrate in the following on the glues I tested in the last few years, describe the different qualities, tell advantages and disadvantages, in my opinion, and will try to name alternatives to european products for the overseas-modelers - as far as I know them.
The glues I use for different solutions are of three different types: water based, solvent based, Super-Glue (Sekundenkleber). Sometimes I tested glue sticks, glue pencils or what ever industries offers. But I donīt use them, because they are to unwieldy and inpractical for my purposes. I use only the same good old thing, the tube, and bottles of White glue.
1. UHU Alleskleber (yellow tube)
consistency: liquid, slowly running
Advantage: holds very good. No distortion of the parts.
Disadvantage: Dries glossy. If dry, not removable without damaging the card.
My use: I donīt use it.
Overseas-alternative (I guess): Testors, which comes in a green and white tube.
2. UHU extra (yellow tube with red sticker)
Advantage: Holds very good. Easy to use in little portions, I use a tooth-pick, to put it on the parts. No distortion of the parts.
Disadvantage: Dries glossy. Not removable after drying.
My use: I it in the cases, when I need more glue, for example, when I glue bigger parts like shipīs walls or decks. I also use it, when I have to double parts, for example the middle-frame of ships or decks from time to time. When I double parts like these, I use quite a lot of glue, and with this solvent-based glue I can be sure, that there are no distortions.
Overseas-alternative (I guess): Elmerīs gel, Elmerīs no run school glue gel.
3. UHU hart (hart = firm, solid / comes in blue tube)
consistency: middle between liquid and gel
advantage: donīt see any
disadvantage: dries yellow and glossy and causes distortions of the parts after drying.
My use: Only once - before putting the model in the trash. overseas-alternatives: donīt know.
4. UHU Alleskleber lösungsmittelfrei (means solvent free, comes in yellow
tube or bottle with green sticker)
consistence: liquid, slowly running
Advantage: canīt see any for card modelers. The producer says itīs better for your health than solvent based glue. Maybe itīs a reason, when little children use glue and put their fingers in their mouths.
Disadvantage: dries glossy, gives nice distortions. After drying It feels like thick sugar water.
My use: only once and never again.
5. UHU coll (White glue)
consistence: slowly running
Advantage: The biggest one, it dries transparent + matt, becoming nearly invisible after drying. Holds very good. Perfect to dose on the parts with a fine brush.
disadvantage: To much white glue follow distortions.
My use: I use white glue for nearly all small parts. Or for parts, I have problems reaching when they are already fixed on the model, but are not fixed perfectly. I use it this way: Put a drop on a piece of cutaway card, take a hair-pencil (No.00, No.0 or No.1), wet it a little bit, stick it in the drop of glue and put it on the part, connecting strips, joiner stripes or whatever it is. If I used to much glue, itīs easy to remove the remaining glue with a washed out, wet hair-pencil.
Overseas-alternatives: You know them yourself.
6. UHU Sekundenkleber (Super Glue = Cyanoacrylate)
base: cyanoacrylate = solvent
consistency: it exists either liquid, very runny, or as a gel
advantage: if parts suck up liquid Super Glue, they become much more strengthen, more flexible, easy to emery with grain paper. Details look at Vol.2 at the top of this page.
disadvantage: the runny one does not hold paper/card. Both, running one and gel go through the card, the gel a little bit later, but it does change and/or darkens the colors of the printed side dramatically.
My use: I use it only for later not visible parts like frames etc. For details look at Vol.2. I only use the runny one for impregnating parts. I donīt use the gel. For these reasons, I could theoretically use it but I prefer UHU Alleskleber mentioned above. Some people say, that Super-Glue sometimes blooms out. I have never had this experience, as long as I do not use more glue than the card sucks up in one or two seconds. In my experience blooming out starts, when the card is filled up with glue.
Oversee-alternatives: There are many Super-glues of Loctite, 3M and others companies. The product-names you know better, than I do.
7. UHU plast (Revell contacta = Polysterine cement, it comes in a violet
consistence: slowly running
advantage: none for cardmodelers, the most used glue for plastic modelers
disadvantage: donīt hold at all. Goes through the parts and makes them transparent. Changes colours of the printed side of the part.
My use: Only one test, never again
Overseas-alternatives: any glue for plastic-modelers (Revell, Humbrol etc.)
8. Fixogum (Rubber cement)
consistency: like gel
advantage: removable from every ground
disadvantage: itīs not a glue in the words own meaning
My use: Look at Vol.1 at the top of this page overseas-alternatives: I donīt know producers or product names. Ask in shops for painting- or graphics-materials.
The producer of Fixogum Rubber cement is MARABU in Germany.
The page is in testing at this time and will be ready after 1.12.2000. I have no idea, if they will offer english pages after this date.
In Vol.5 I will tell a little bit about the method, I perforate small holes for, for example, port holes, or other small circles, which have to be cut out.
Barry, Jan, Jeff, Ray, Roger, Saul, Mike H., Mike D., David, David T.O., Thomas and bierce716. You gave me a lot of help with this endless Vol.4. Thank you.
Volume 5: Perforating small holes for port holes or other small perforations.
A Long time ago I decided to build ships with "real" port holes (bull-eyes). The models look. in my opinion better, because they look more realistic. Perhaps many card modelers don't do this because they think it's much to much work with dubious results. But: It is *not* as much work, as it seems at first sight.
Of course, to cut small circles with scissors is impossible. And when I tried to do it with a cutter, the results looked like Swiss cheese. So I have done it this way for a couple of years:
1. To perforate holes with diameters from 2mm up to 5mm I use punch pliers. The usual punch pliers (in Germany) have 6 different diameters to choose: 2mm / 3mm / 3,5 mm / 4mm / 4,5 mm and 5mm. It is the tool, which is generally used to perforate new holes in leather belts, if you can not close it (because of putting on a few pounds). It is important that the punch pliers are hollow. But I think, this is obligatory. The punch pliers is a perfect tool for most holes in scales of 1:200 or larger. They are available in stores for craftsmen.
2. For holes smaller, than 2mm diameter I have not found punch pliers yet. But
there are a lot of smaller holes in scale 1:250 or smaller. So I use another
method for perforating. I take HYPODERMIC NEEDLES (tubules) of syringes. They are
available in any pharmacy for a few cents/pennies/Pfennige. If you tell them,
you need the hypodermic needles for modeling purposes and not for fixing, they even
often give them away for free. They have the following advantages for
- they are available in diameters 0.45mm / 0.55 mm / 0.7mm / 0.9 mm / 1.2mm /1.5mm. So I've got every smaller diameter, I'm missing with the punch pliers.
- they are hollow
- they are made of metal, which means they are very stable
- they've got a "head" made of plastic
I use the hypodermic needles this way:
- cut the peaked end with a file, until the end looks like a ring
- use a smooth piece of wood as base plate under the card
- put the hypodermic needles absolutely vertical on the port hole or what circle ever
- beat softly with a little hammer on the plastic head of the hypodermic needles
- that's all
After some dozen perforations the end of the hypodermic needles is a bit destroyed and should be filed again, 'til it looks quite new for next use.
Both methods, punch pliers and hypodermic needles work really quick with a little training. After perforation a cut away piece of card twenty or thirty times it will be no problem anymore for anybody.
One thing is important: tools for perforating *must be* hollow. Before I discovered the hypodermic needles, I tried several times perforation with nails of different diameters after cutting the peak of the nails. But, the nails are massive (solid) and the use of massive perforation tools gets causes results that are frayed out, not perfectly round. And the bigger the diameter, the worse the result will be.
As for glass-windows I use the cellophane, cigarette-boxes are wrapped with. This cellophane is crystal clear, relatively stable and doesn't crumple (if I do not handle to roughly, of course).
Gluing the cellophane to the card is a little problem, because our modern cellophane is no longer cellulose-based, but plastic-based. So in fact plastic must be glued on paper. For this purpose I use only UHU extra gel (look at Vol.4). It does not hold perfectly but holds well. White Glue doesn't hold very well, Super Glue (liquid and gel) gives me the disadvantages, mentioned in Vol.4. A perfect solution is, to attach the cellophane with TESAFILM, cut in little stripes. This holds very well - but this method really can cause you a lot of work.
Tesafilm is a transparent tape from the producer Beiersdorf. www.beiersdorf.de They have English pages but the product pages, if you search for example Tesafilm, are not ready yet. They say in the second half of 2000, whatever they mean by this. If it works some day, you can go directly to www.tesa.de.
Volume 6: Building gun-barrels, pipes and tubes
Did you ever realize that there existed hollow gun-barrels with diameters as small as 0.45 mm diameter in this gigantomanic world? You did, if you read Vol.5 carefully.
The printed card-parts for barrels, pipes and tubes are often very difficult to round and look, in my case, after rounding and gluing, not very well done. So I searched for alternatives. In the beginning I used needles, with two disadvantages. First I didn't find all different diameters I needed for the different scales and second, needles are not hollow.
When I found my solution for perforating bull eyes or other small holes (look Vol.5), at the same time I found the solution for the gun barrels. I use the same hypodermic needles mentioned above.
This is the way, I use them:
1. choose the right diameter of the hypodermic needle comparing with the built card-part
2. cut the hypodermic needle to the correct length with nippers and file. If you own an electrical Minicraft-machine(Dremel) you can cut it in a few seconds.
3. color it with plastic-colors (Revell, Humbrol etc.)
4. gluing, in this case metal to paper/card. White Glue doesn't hold at all. I use Uhu extra gel (look Vol.4). It holds well enough for this purpose. If I really want to be on the safe side, I build a little guide this way: I take a little piece of cutaway-card, double or triple it, put a hole with the diameter of the gun barrel in the part and glue the gun barrel with Super Glue gel to this guide. The guide including gun barrel now can be glued without any problems (UHU extra gel or White Glue) into the original part, for example the cannon, the Flak or whatever.
Hypodermic needles are in my opinion the perfect solution for all kinds of barrels, tubes, pipes and so on up to an diameter of 1.5mm. Maybe there are even bigger hypodermic needles, I forgot to ask my pharmacy, because I didn't need bigger ones so far.
Volume 7: Building conical hollow parts
For nearly every card model we need conical parts. There are ship masts, landing gears, pillars or columns for architecture. The smaller these conical, hollow parts are, the more difficult they become to build. Second, there is no chance to avoid the edge, where the part is glued together. Third, the longer the parts are, the less stable they become, for example high ship masts. So I looked for a more comfortable solution. At first I used wooden sticks, emeried conical to the right measure. But the results didnīt really convince me. Since years now I take a material for these parts, which you can find everywhere and which doesnīt cost you anything.
Next sunday take your wife, your children or grandchildren by the hand and go for a walk in nature and you will find ship masts, landing gears and columns of all sizes with every step. BLADES OF GRASS (spear, spire). Have a closer look on the blades. What do you see? They are 100% upright (straight), they are conical, they are hollow and they are very stable (nature constructs better in any way, than people could in 1000 years). And they are available in *every* size and measures.
Thatīs the way I use the blades:
1. They should be dried by themselves after summer, that means already yellow. If you cut green grass and dry it at home, itīs loosing water too fast and may shrivel.
2. If the dried, yellow blades are wet (cause of rain, snow or whatever), when I take them home, I put them aside for a few days, until they are completely dry.
3. I cut the blades a little bit longer, than I need, letīs say 20 % longer.
4. Anyway, if I cut with scissors or cutter, the edges will be crushed (quashed) a little bit. Depending on the lower and upper diameter, I take a needle or a nail, to re-round the edges.
5. In both openings I fill with a drop of fluid Super Glue. This strengthins the openings against further damages.
6. Now I can cut the blades to the final measure.
7. Emery carefully with emery paper, grain 1000.
8. To color the part, youīve got two alternatives. First: You can take a photo-copy or a computer printout of the original printed card, take the thinnest paper you can get. Glue it around the blade. In this case, the diameter of the blade should be a little bit thinner, so that blade and the glued around paper *together* equal the diameter of the original part.
I prefer a second method: painting with acryl colors in the color of the original part. Even if it is not 100% the same color, you will never notice the difference, because the parts are so thin, since even the color of the original part looks different from, for example, ships walls in identically color. Because how you experience a color depends on many things, light, size of the part, material and so on.
In Vol. 8 I will tell a little bit, which parts I double and why I cut off *all* connecting tabs of many parts.
Return to the Card Model Main Page
This page was created by:
Saul H. Jacobs M.Ed.
Docent: Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, AZ.
Avionics Specialist: United States Air Force (Retired)
Microcomputer Technology: Pima Community College (Retired)