I'm getting back into modeling after a 20 year absence.
Can't believe the improvements in model detail, number of
manufacturers and especially all those PE parts now available.
1:35 armour is my favourite North Africa WWII - easy to paint :-)
I am about to convert a small bedroom into a hobby room and will be
using one long and short wall to build my work bench.
The other long and short walls are being used for book shelves.
Dimensions are 2m (7ft) allowing for the door to open inwards x 1.5m
(5ft) - yes rooms are small over here, but the house is over 30 years
old, so the 3rd bedroom is much bigger than new homes!
The short side (5ft) will be against a window and radiator.
Any thoughts on what/how to include/build?
Don't want to dive in and regret later.
I'm looking forward to my first PE build, but oh the eyesight is in
for a bashing.
Norfolk - UK not VA
Not sure about availability in the UK, but here goes. I bought a number of
workbenches at Sears. These are metal benches with drawers (not for the
radiator side). Threw away the tops they came with and went to our local
Do-it-Yourself supplier (Home Depot, known in these parts as "Homeowner's
Hell), and bought some Formica kitchen counter tops. Bought the cheapest
ones available, on sale, for not much more than the cost of an unfinished
flakeboard bench top. Luckily, I got some decent looking ones, sort of
motley gray... but I would have accepted them even if they had been purple
with orange and green strips .. maybe not.
Anyhow, the formica kitchen counter tops have a backsplash in the
rear which prevents things from falling off behind. The hard surface is
easy to clean, glue scrapes off easily, and they are very, very hard. I
have them under my lathe, grinders, sanders, saws, and various other tools.
You'll need a softer surface for cutting on. A big maple cutting board
serves admirably. And when the surface gets too messy with cuts and gouges
to tolerate, just plane or sand it down for a fresh surface. I've got a 4cm
thick board that should last me several lifetimes.
Now for wall cabinets. When we redid our kitchen I saved the old
metal kitchen cabinets and used them in the workshop. White, sturdy, easy to
clean. Since such metal cabines are out of style these days, you might be
able to pick them up used, fairly cheaply. I added a few which I picked out
of various neighbors' trash. If you can't find used metal ones, consider
used wooden ones. Myself, if I had to do it over and couldn't find metal
cabinets, I'd run down to the local Ikea and buy some of the least expensive
kitchen cabinets ... but get lots of extra shelves.
No pegboards. Pegboards are not for serious tool users. They are
for yuppie tool collectors who don't have very many tools and want to show
off the few they have .. think of old student micrometers mounted on a
walnut plaque. Get most of your tools and things out of sight, in
drawers, and only have the ones out that you regularly use.
Keep it simple. I had a piece of glass cut (about 2 feet by 3 feet) to
work on. I put a piece of white poster board (paper) between the glass
and the table top so that I have a nice bright background to work on.
Glue, paint, etc. clean up easily off the glass. I also have a green
cutting mat near. I do most of my knife work here as the surface is
self healing and the blades last a lot longer. I have good
fluoresecnt light overhead and use the natural light bulbs if you can
find them. I also have a portable OTT light on the table which I can
move around for additional lighting and elimination of shadows. Some
type of magnifier comes in handy as well. If you can, you want to work
on a hard surface floor. Rugs tend to eat small parts when they fall.
Don't get me started on hand tools. I am a tool junkie. Outside of
the normal stuff everyone has, I would recommend a Xuron Sprue Cutter
and Xuron Photoetch Shears. I also have a Panavise mounted on their
moveable stand. It has a lot of flexibility and if you use your
imagination, you can make a few simple jigs to hold just about anything
at any angle. I use one of those plastic rotating tool caddys to hold
my most used tools within arms reach and a machinist wood tool chest
for the not so ofter used goodies that I can't possibly live without
I rebuild my modeling bench about every four to five years (having been
modeling for sixty years, this means a lOT of benches :-) ). Every time
I think I have it perfect, but still more experience leads me to changes
on next iteration. Sometimes I modify bench, sometimes make a
completely new one.
Whatever you decide, make sure that the building surface is at the right
height to sit at comfortably, and you get a great chair too! You can have
all the best tools and the best building area, but if it is uncomfortable to
sit at for extended periods, the work area's not worth anything. I went
from a desktop, to a laptop computer, and converted my computer desk into a
Of course lighting is important, and an Iwata airbrush too!
Thanks for all the responses and ideas.
I've responded to most of the posts, but here's the latest.
I'm busy clearing the room out and painting it white at the moment,
but should be finished today.
Will now sit down in the room and do some designs for bench, but it
looks like one long 7ft one up against the wall, about 2.5-3ft high
(800-900mm), with the front framework made of 2x4. This should give
unhindered access for legs.
The short one having a less substantial frame.
Was thinking of using Melamine covered chip/pressboard, as it's easy
to get and not too expensice.
The suggestion of a glass top is excellent. I have a dining room table
and coffee table with glass tops and they are indeed excellent work
Don't know why I did not even think of this.
After some of the replies, I may look at kitchen tops to see what's
If I can I will buy drawer units for tool storage and mount them on
casters, failing which I will have to make my own.
My local diy store sells wood drinks trays that I have used in the
garage for storage, but these are on fixed runners mounted against the
wall and not in a frame on casters.
Will have to search our diy stores' internet sites to see what they
This week I will decide what height to fix the worktop and make a
start on the framework.
Was also thinking of using one of those jewellers aprons.
Has anyone tried one or using one?
B&Q and Homebase are probably our equivalent.
Our local DIY store has these in stock, as well as a seller at our
local Friday market.
I have a couple of them, but they are now nearly 30 years old, so
don't know how they compare with today's models.
They are still packed away, so will have to dig them out.
Don't know what range is available over here, as I haven't looked yet.
They are good. Can remember using them 20 odd years ago and like you
the results where impressive.
I do know that one of mine is double action.
The only ones I can find are 2litre at $170+ or 6litre at $200+
Will do my best, hence this late response. Waiting for replies to
I have a dining room table with just that, glass top that is, but
never thought of it for worktop.
Got one of those.
Best thing since sliced breadt for modeling I reckon.
This is something I will need to sort out.
When you say overhead, do you mean on the ceiling or just above head
height or what?
I have an angle poise lamp, but this is fitted with a clamp and not a
base, so will have to make something up.
I do have one with circular fluorescent light.
Sure does help with smaller parts.
The room has a dark patterned carpet that 'has' to stay. Nuff said.
I'm a member of Tool Junkies Annon Club as well :-)
Just got the MicroMark catalogue and so far the total is running at
$1500. Yes that is two noughts.
Will definately have to stand in front of a mirror and give myself a
good talking to.
That list needs some drastic surgery.
Norfolk UK is considered the backwaters of the UK, the result being
that few 'big' stores have bothered with us yokels.
B&Q and Homestores are probably the closed equivalent to Sears et al,
and they are 20 miles away.
One consolation is that we are not jammed up with traffic as most
other parts of the country - yet!
Paint brush and paint to taste and Bob's your Father's brother.
Only trouble with them is you're stuck with design and layout, so was
thinking of using the white melamine covered chipboard.
I will, however, take a walk down to my nearest builder's supply and
see what they have on kitchen worktops.
My nearest Ikea is 100 miles away - read above about Norfolk :-)
I need more space for books so I will use the same method as on the
opposite wall. This will give me adjustable shelves to put other
things on as well, like kit boxes, boxes, boxes . . . . . .
Coudn't agree more.
Tried pegboard about 30 years ago, but it only lasted a few weeks.
There cannot be a bigger waste of space can there?
Will see what my local DIY store has in ready made drawers, or make
one or two and mount them on casters so they slide under the the
Hence the hefty front frame.
Unfortunately my nearest Ikea is over 100 miles away.
I also have the wood and machinery to cut to size.
My L shaped will give me this same option as well.
This I still have to sort out.
Will have to source an induction motor of some sorts.
Maybe a kitchen extractor unit will work - don't know.
You have more lighting that I would have thought necessary.
This does come as a surprise, but not having done any modelling for 20
years, and now at 3 score years plus, I will no doubt follow your lead
I have one of those typists gas strut adjustable chairs.
Initial thoughts are a bench top height of between 800-900mm
With chair on lowest position, the worktop is not quite chin height,
(chest height in fact) perfect for small delicate work.
Will play around with lighting once everything is in place
Lots of mention about Iwata, so must assume it is one if not the best?
Interesting how medieval tools and practices tend to resurface. I know what
I am talking about: I went through a full apprenticeship as a jeweler and
for many years worked in my father's shop which had from 15 to 20 craftsmen.
No such aprons ever used -- I'll tell you wat is used. Such aprons were a
hold-over from (early) European practices. The problem with them is that
you are tied to your workbench. It takes time to untie yourself every time
you want to get up or get a tool that's just out of reach. It makes a
prisoner of the worker. That's okay in the 15th and 16th century when
craftsmen were virtual prisoners and there wasn't much reason to get up from
the bench. I never a saw a shop in the US that used such aprons. My
father and some of the older craftsmen did tell me of shops in Europe where
that was the practice.
The main purpose of such aprons (and modern methods) for jewelers is
to catch gold and platinum filings, dust, etc. If you didn't do that, you
could rapidly go broke. The floor is rigorously swept two or three times a
day and hand washing is done over a special sink-filtration system that
captures the dust on the worker's hands. Generally, the wash water and
floor sweepings typically equalled the shop's annual rent. So it was quite
important to have some means of capturing all that gold dust.
There's a much better way. A jeweler's bench has a built-in metal tray
that pulls out and sits on your lap. It is fairly wide (e.g., 2 feet) and
captive so that it can't accidently fall down. When you sit at the bench,
you pull the tray out and let is sit on your lap. If you have to get up,
you push the tray in . You periodically sweep all the filings and put them
into a special box. You always sweep out the tray when you change metals
(e.g., gold to platinum) so you don't get the two types of dust mixed up.
I adapted the same kind of tray for my modeling work. I'm not
trying to recover gold dust, but the tray helps me avoid the frustration of
looking for a tiny part that's dropped. The tray has another advantage. It
is a convenient place to keep the tools you are using at the moment.
I did a Google search on workbenches and got a ton of hits - some very
good benches for just about anything a modeler may want. There are also
a bunch of books on workbenches at the DIY (do it yourself) stores.
That's where I got the idea for mine. Go to alt.binaries.models.scale
where I posted a picture of two benches I made a couple of years ago.
Cheers, now go build something,
You had the maid in before you took those picturs didn't you? :-)
ha wrote: ===
I did a Google search on workbenches and got a ton of hits - some very good
benches for just about anything a modeler may want. There are also a bunch
of books on workbenches at the DIY (do it yourself) stores. That's where I
got the idea for mine. Go to alt.binaries.models.scale where I posted a
picture of two benches I made a couple of years ago.
Cheers, now go build something,
Actually, the wife and I recently agreed to have a "crafts" room instead of
working out of the garage. The pics were taken about a day or two after we
moved the benches in. If you take a close look at the bench in the corner,
with the clutter, that is what the room will look like in a few weeks. Then
again it may not since the wife needs a pretty clean area (room) for her
miniature ceramic houses she paints. The room has gone thru a couple of
transformations, first a guest room, then a storage room for my daughters'
crap, then an exercise room, then a guest room again and now a crafts room.
Who knows what the wife will want done there next year. Please say a prayer
for me. Anyway, thanks for the observation.
I think you want the work surface below elbow height for comfortable
working. Use a pedestal and a magnifier if you need to do lots of
We had a "whats in your toolbox" thread a while back, which should have
some pointers for a starter set. Google for "Toolbox" on this
newsgroup, around June 2004.
With airbrushes, unless you are well off, you will probably stick with
the one you buy for a long time, perhaps never getting another unless
you make a big mistake with the first. That said, there are several
good, reliable, well-established and respected manufacturers that each
produce excellent brushes. Badger, DeVilbiss, Iwata, Paasche all come
When I bought my airbrush, over 30 years ago, I went for double-action,
internal mix, bottom-fed and bought a Badger 150. It has been utterly
reliable ever since. If I was to have my time again, the only thing I
would change is to get a top-feed brush, one with a small colour cup on
top. I have found that I never use the large bottles, only the colour
cup, and a top-mounted cup allows you to get closer to the canvas, so to
You are close enough to Hannants to go and see what they have, are you
not? Read some reviews, see what takes your fancy, then go and try
holding them, if you can.
Some kind of paint booth will be necessary to extract the overspray and
fumes. Mine is made from a cardboard container, re-engineered with duct
tape and bulldog clips (so that it folds flat). A large synchronous fan
(mains-powered, no commutators and so no sparking) is mated to a
tumble-dryer venting kit. To take the exhaust outside I have a block of
furniture foam, cut a bit larger than the fanlight opening, so that it
fits tightly and seals well, with a hole for the vent of the
tumble-dryer kit. This controls fumes, and keeps the overspray from
drifting about and performing involuntary rainbow redecoration leading
to subsequent spousal aggravation ;-)