David Knights' Weblog

September 6, 2019

Random modeling thoughts

Filed under: IPMS,Modeling — dknights @ 4:00 pm
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A few thoughts/observations from the little bit of time I’ve managed to find to do some modeling.

  1. I’ve said before that I love Mr. Surfacer Black from the spray can as my go to primer.  That faith remains unshaken.  I was talking recently with fellow modeler Mike Baskette and he wondered if the black color prevented seeing flaws, thus diminishing its usefulness as a primer.  In my experience it does not.  In fact, under strong light the shiny black finish seems to make flaws jump out more than say they would if the color were gray.
  2. As I have said before, too many modelers are too reticent (oh, look it up) to get rid of old paint, sanding sticks and X-Acto blades.  This leads to frustration and time wasted.  I have become ruthless when it comes to discarding these things in favor of fresh items.  Do it.  You can thank me later.
  3. I love the IPMS/USA Nationals.  I know I’ve said that before.  I am still on the post-Nats high, possibly because this one was the best of the 24 I have attended.  Among other things, the Nats always gets my modeling juices flowing.

August 30, 2019

Random modeling thoughts

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 10:21 am
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What?  Another post about actual modeling?  No way!  Yes, way!

Wet sanding:  I’ve general just dry sanded when I’ve modeled.  However, after many, many years I have been won over to wet sanding.  It doesn’t take much water, just enough to wet the sandpaper.  It makes a bit more of a mess, but it really makes a difference in regard to the ultimate quality of the finish. Also, in regard to sanding, I love the Flex-i-file and use them constantly, but I find that they work much better for me if I split the sanding tapes laterally in half.  The other key is not to try and make them last too long.  Like X-Acto blades, change often.

May 3, 2019

My favorite modeling tools #9: vision enhancement

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 3:57 pm
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I realized recently that I hadn’t done an entry on modeling tools in a long time.  I checked the archive and it has been over two years.  This one will be a bit different as it will be a comparison of three different vision enhancement tools that I have in the shop.

As we get older, one of many modelers main complaints are that modeling gets harder due to eyesight not being as sharp as it use to be.  That is certainly true for me.  That fact was recently brought home when i had to get a new pair of glasses.  I got them, and they are wonderful, but they made me realize home poorly I’d been seeing out of my old pair, which were admittedly very old.  I am a frugal guy and I hadn’t given my eyesight the priority it deserved.  A few days later, on a Facebook modeling group, I saw a member touting and selling a head-worn magnifier, that was touted as being much superior to the classic Optivisor, especially for those of us who wear glasses.    I was intrigued.  A quick check of Amazon, found the same item at have the price being offered on the Facebook site, and as the price was only $13, I went ahead and too a chance.

Amazon alternative

This was what I got.  I decided to test it out while working on my “I blame Jeff Groves” truck project.  The pluses, it comes with 5 different lenses that are quickly interchangeable.  It is a bit easier to flip up to restore normal view allowing a modeler to look between his project, and a TV or book.  It has a built-in light which requires 3 AAA batteries while the light kit for an Optivisior is an add-on.















After using it, I then switched to the Optivisor that I have owned for years.  Every modeler knows the classic Optivisor or one of its look-alike knock-offs.  Mine is a name brand one I have had for years, and I also added the third-party light kit and loup.  Here it is.


For me, there was very little difference between the two items.  Yes, the Amazon purchase was a bit easier to flip up to view things at normal distance.  The Optivisior might have been a tad bit heavier, but not enough to really notice.  The one thing I did note during the test that I hadn’t noted before, I had too strong a lens in the Optivisor.  I have a #10 lens, which is the most powerful.  I quickly realized from testing the different lenses that come with the Amazon purchase, that the #10 lens was much too strong of a magnification.  Luckily I had a #4 lens on a shelf and after a quick swap out, I realized that this was a better lens for me.













Finally, I also tested a pair of flip up magnifiers (like flip up sunglasses baseball players use.)  I’ve had these for a while.  I picked them up at a show.  I picked up a set a long time ago, but they were made a glass and proved too heavy to wear comfortably.  This set is made with plastic composite lenses and is so light that they really have add no noticeable additional weight to my glasses.  As for magnification, they are a very comfortable magnification.  I think they may be a +1.5 or a +2.  In any event, they turned out to work better for me than either of the head mounted items.  My model room has tons off light, so I really didn’t need additional light and, of course, they flip up very easily when not in use and don’t get in the way either of the head mounted items do, especially when you turn your head.  I was surprised, but I think these will be the items I use for vision magnification when modeling in my model room, where light isn’t an issue.  No, I just wish I know what vendor I got them from or who made them.





August 28, 2017

My Favorite modeling tools #8 X-Light

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 11:41 pm
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It has been a while since I did one of these.  In fact this is only the 8th time I’ve done one of these posts since I started blogging.

I’ve previously had a lighted X-acto knife before, but the bulb was incandescent and the light was hard to turn on and off.  However, I recently came across the X-light which has a switch on the end that turns it on and off and uses a long life LED bulb.  I got mine on Amazon, but my local hobby shop, Scale Reproductions carries them as well. I recommend it.


June 20, 2016

Tamiya White Tape

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 8:59 pm
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Last year on a business trip to Denver, I picked up Tamiya White tape at Colpar Hobbies.  (Colpar is great BTW.  Well worth the visit.)  The other night I finally got to try it out.  I highly recommend it.  It works exactly as advertised, masking around curves and even compound curves like nose cones.  Get some.  You won’t regret it.

June 19, 2016

My favorite modeling tools #7: Coffee cup warmer

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 11:36 pm
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I looked back and I haven’t done a favorite modeling tool entry since Nov. 2010, almost 6 years ago.  That is sad on so many levels.  Way back in the late 80s, early 90s, Verlinden broke on the modeling scene.  In reading one of several good modeling books he published, he  recommended warming paint before spraying it thru an airbrush.  It makes the paint flow much smoother.  I’ve tried it several times over the years, and it really does work.

Verlinden recommended using warm water to heat the bottle of paint. (I think this only works for enamels.) A few years ago, I picked up a coffee cup warmer.  While you can use it to keep your coffee warm, you can also use it to heat up your paint.  Just turn it on, put the jar of thinned paint on the warmer for a few minutes and you are good to go.  Just don’t leave it on there too long.  Try this, it sounds weird, but it works.

June 2, 2014

Modeling tool I didn’t know I needed

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 9:41 pm
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I like modeling tools.  I am always looking for something that might help my poor efforts.  Recently I acquired this:

Paint shaker

Paint shaker


















I like shaking bottles of paint by hand.  I find it therapeutic.  However, for paint that has really separated, this thing works wonders.  20 seconds using this and the paint is thoroughly mixed.  I have to say, I never thought I’d use one of these, but now that I have it, I use it regularly.

November 9, 2011


Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 11:15 am
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A pair of tamiya nippers.  See photo below.  To claim, mail your address, along with a Dragon/Cyberhobby Sea Vixen FAW.1 to the owner of this blog.

Tamiya nippers

November 5, 2010

My favorite modeling tools #6: Microbrushes

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 6:10 am
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One of my favorite tools is Microbrushes.  These items are great for any number of things.  One of the main things I use them for is applying superglues.  The tiny hairs at the end grab and hold small amounts of glue allowing for precise application.  I’ve tried using a lot of things to apply superglue, (wire, toothpicks, etc.) but haven’t found anything better than microbrushes.  I highly recommend these important modeling tools.


March 16, 2010

My favorite modeling tools #5: Tamiya hobby gloves

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 8:39 pm
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Its been a while since I’ve posted an installment of “My favorite modeling tools”.  Since I was modeling the other night, it reminded me of another one I had been wanting to do a post on.

I use nothing but the Tamiya hobby gloves when I model.  I learned early on that wearing gloves was essential once the painting stages were reached in a project.  I, like most modelers, started using the classic latex gloves you can pick up at the drug store.  They are fine, however, they don’t breath meaning that if you wear them for any amount of time, your hands sweat, a lot.   The Tamiya gloves are not latex and appear to be a version of “clean room” gloves you see in the computer manufacturing industry.  They are very comfortable and breath so well, you can wear them for hours with your hands getting sweaty.  You can read all about them on Tamiya USA’s site here.

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