An Intro to Part Preparation,Tools & Cement
Parts preparation and handy tools for working with plastics
General preparation of parts consists of cutting parts off of their sprues and filing parting lines and gate marks. When necessary, you may need to ream holes in pipe fittings to slide on the brass or plastic “piping”. Whenever possible, leave sprues on small parts to act a handles when cleaning those parts. Trim off the sprue just before assembly.
In working with our parts, we have found some basic tools and materials helpful. The successful modeler finds that using good tools makes a big difference when doing detail work.
- Pin vise and small drills
- Hobby saw
- X-Acto® modeling knife and blades
- A pair of small needle-nose pliers
- Flush-cut diagonal cutters
- A new 8″ or 10″ mill smooth file (don’t use for anything but plastic)
- Emery boards
- A surface plate (or other flat surface) for alignment
- Liquid cement for styrene (such as Testor’s® or Plastruct® ) and ACC (such as Crazy Glue® )
- White glue (such as Tacky Glue®) for wood or paper
- A 4-0 or 5-0 brush for applying cement
- Paints of your choice (see painting suggestions further on)
Cements and glues
Before cementing our parts, remove parting lines and sprue marks. This may be done with a razor knife or small file.
Two types of cement are recommended for adhering plastics. Alpha Cyanoacrylate (ACC or CA) and Liquid Cement for Styrene (Testor’s Liquid® or Plastruct Bondene® The liquid cements are slow setting, but quite strong. Use them to weld styrene parts to other styrene parts. In our instructions, the word “cement” is used where application of liquid cement is necessary. Use of ACC or CA is required to fasten Delrin® parts in place and to attach styrene to metal and other surfaces. In our instructions, “ACC” or “CA” indicate usage of this product.
For cementing styrene to styrene, use one of the liquid cements. Apply with a small (#5-0) brush. To attach two pieces, align them and hold in place. Dip your brush into the plastic cement and brush on the cement to the back side of your pieces, using the cement sparingly. If you apply it too heavily, it does not improve the joint, but causes the cement to flow onto the surface of your work. The cement will then look like a blush on your front surface. If this happens, it is not a tragedy, as it can be painted over. The cement works by dissolving the edges of the plastic and “melting” the two pieces together. Too much cement can make the joint too difficult to control. Allow the joint to set for 10 minutes.
Use an instant set adhesive or contact cement to join styrene with wood or other materials. White glue can also be used in these situations. We also use it in the miniatures project kits for placing many of the tiny details that miniaturists love.
NOTE: When cementing metal to metal, metal to Delrin® or Delrin® to styrene, see that ACC surrounds the joint or surrounds the Delrin® pins. This is the only way that Delrin® can be secured. Only a small amount of ACC is necessary for a good bond.