Out with the Old


Labor Day weekend. The family out of town. The house to myself. The heat of summer starting to (kind of) relinquish its grip.

The perfect time, in other words, to give the bench a good, deep cleaning. Because over the past few months, it’s become an absolute mess.


In the process of my cleaning, in between extracting spiderwebs and june bug carcasses, I started coming across what I can only call relics from my modeling past. Paints and tools and materials that I haven’t even touched in a year, two years, maybe more. Alclad’s nice but never-curing enamel-based clears. Anything made by Testors. White tack putty dried as hard as bone. Many different varieties of CA glue.

I was able to chuck a ton of it away, and as a result gained a lot of space for the stuff that I do rely on.


This got me thinking about how much my modeling has changed in the last five years. How many techniques and scales and paints and tools and such I have moved on from. So for kicks, a by no means exhaustive list:

Enamel paints – Staple of my childhood modeling, I now reach for enamel paints for exactly two reasons – I need to drybrush something, or I need to use Model Master Chrome Silver. That’s it. They take too long to cure, don’t spray as well as what Gunze and Tamiya have on offer, and don’t brush as well as Vallejo.

1/48 World War II aircraft – These got me back into the hobby, and sustained me…for a while. But prop jobs just have so much more presence in 1/32 – and aftermarket is there to support them in ways it’s just not for jets.

German armor – I’m sure it will rebound at some point, but I’ve gone completely off German armor. Zero desire to build it or even follow builds of others tackling it.

Superglue – I still love my Loctite ultra control gel CA, but the days of medium and ultra thin CA are behind me. Too much mess. I’ll probably sing a different tune next time I rig a biplane, but for all other work, I no longer see the need.

Water-based putties – They just don’t work. They don’t grip the plastic well enough to withstand sanding. Back to my trusty neverending tube of 3M Acryl Red.

My ancient magnifier lamp – A lamp I’d had since childhood. A lamp that today I realized I haven’t used in years, that was basically just acting as high ground for spiders. Amazing what fluorescent shop lights can do for lighting.

Mixing bottles – I still need a few of these around. Every now and then I need to mix up a specific color and keep it with me for the length of a build. Usually, though, I’ll just mix that one color as a base, then drop it into smaller mixing cups to lighten it, darken it, change up the tone slightly or so on. For everything else, small disposable cups or tattoo ink cups do the trick.

Three-layer blending – Once one of my favorite techniques, it’s fallen by the wayside in favor of black basing, which in my opinion yields better results with less work.

5,387 different clear glosses – My search for good gloss clears has at times felt futile, until I discovered the trick of misting a layer of Gunze lacquer thinner on top of Tamiya X-22 Clear. Oh my. Gloss problems solved. So why is that Gaia clear bottle still taking up space? Next to the Testors clear gloss?

Getting rid of the old (and the spiders and june bugs) I now once again have a nice, clean bench.



What old things have you gotten rid of in your modeling journey?

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Shayne says:

    Always nice to have a good clean up….looks like you did an excellent job the bench looks fantastic, now get to work again and get that messed up..

  2. Nice job. I clean my work area after every model I finish. Depending on the length of time it takes to build, I make clean it halfway through. Clear everything off the desk, then scrub it down. As I put stuff back, I wipe it down real good.

  3. AJ says:

    The modeling season is still ahead of me. I live in Phoenix, and my shop is the garage. And right now, the crickets don’t even venture in there. Still, this has inspired me to go through all of my stuff. I know I still have some Testor’s paints from the 80s (I hang on to crap like that), and some old junk that just needs to go away. Good job on the cleanup!

  4. My modeling journey is in a complete metamorphisis right now. Once I realized my stash was over 300 kits, and being 44 years of age, I realized I was never going to build everything even under the best of circumstances. So, I’m in the process of downsizing and focusing my stash with an emphasis on keeping my HMMWV stuff and finishing my Dragon Tiger 1 collection. I’m a huge fan of the F-16 and F-18 so it is unlikely that I let go of any of the Hasegawa or Tamiya birds that I have.

    On the flip side, I’m trying to expand my hobby knowledge. For years I have only used Tamiya and Model Master paints. After being around so many model builders who talked about using Vallejo, Model Color, etc. I’m trying to use different products. Right now, I’m focusing on Vallejo and I must say it is not a positive experience so far.

    I don’t normally build/paint figures. I hoping to dabble in that this winter. It would be nice to display some figures with my armor and aircraft.

    Can you elaborate on this comment “the ttrick of misting a layer of Gunze lacquer thinner on top of Tamiya X-22 Clear.”

    What is the benefit of this method? What do you accomplish?

    Thanks for your commentary!

    1. Doogs says:

      IMO Vallejo and the other “pure” acrylics (Ammo, AK, Lifecolor etc) are almost more trouble than they’re worth. They’re great for base coats, but they don’t do that well at spraying small. There’s a reason I stick with Tamiya and Gunze. That said – Vallejo in particular is FANTASTIC for small detail brush painting.

      As for Tamiya X-22 Clear and Gunze Mr. Leveling Thinner, it’s all about getting a good, smooth gloss coat. Tamiya X-22 thinned with Mr. Leveling Thinner is the first step. Then, immediately after, hitting it with a misted coat of straight Mr. Leveling Thinner. I don’t know exactly what’s going on from a chemical perspective, but the misting coat turns the X-22 extremely smooth and shiny. You can see the effect on my A-4 Skyhawk:

  5. Wow! The surface of that A-4 looks like glass.

  6. Steve says:

    While I do enjoy your perspective and thought processes brought out in your blog. I have to draw the line here. Getting rid of paint before it’s used up? Throwing out various parts of ….something… just because you haven’t seen or used it! Sacrilege Sir! The “Modelers Creed” (as amended in 1941) specifically says you must keep all paint and left over parts and sprue pieces until used or the end of mankind -which ever comes first.
    I shall console myself by recounting the number of Testers bottles I have and run my fingers over the boxes filled with bits of sprue kept “just in case”, until I have recovered from the shock…… whimper…sigh.

    p.s. Seriously great tip on the gloss coat trick-thumbs up-

  7. Gene says:

    I learned the “flash coat” technique you describe from refinishing guitars – it’s a great trick to get super glossy finishes. It also works if your final topcoat is 10% clear and 90% thinner, which you sometimes you want to do if you want a super thin final coat.

    The big difference with painting guitars (or actual real cars, which is where many of the painting techniques come from) is that you often lay down 9-12 coats of clear to build depth, which is usually undesirable in scale modeling.

  8. Zach Patton says:

    Sweet gloss trick, will have to try it out. I’m actually more interested in what kind of bench vise is that you have?

  9. Thom Ream says:

    Hi Zack –
    I think that vise is a Dremel vise:

    2500-01 Multi-Vise
    The Dremel Multi-Vise helps you secure your project or free up a hand for extra control when using your Dremel rotary tool. The removable cushioned jaws of the mini vise help protect delicate workpieces while providing a firm, steady grip. Rotary vise is adjustable to 360 degrees and tilts to 50 degrees.
    Can clamp to work surfaces up to 2.5 inches thick
    Multi-functional small vise can be used as a stand-alone bar clamp by removing the cushioned jaw grips

    o Rotates 360° and tilts 50° allowing the user to lock the workpiece in any position
    o Clamps to any work surface up to 2-1/2″ thick
    o Tool holder turns Dremel rotary tools into a stationary sander, grinder or polisher
    o Removable clamping jaws create a stand-alone bar clamp
    • Vise head, tool holder and adjustable base


    https://www.dremel.com/en-us/Attachments/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx? pid=2500-01

    I found it at Amazon for less than $30, and I really like mine.
    Fresno CA

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