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Old 02-28-2011, 12:51 PM
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Beginner's Toolbox - Tools and software to get started with Paper Modeling

Recently there have been a number of questions posted regarding tools to get started in this fine hobby of ours, especially on the software side. Here is a guide for the basic necessities to get going in this hobby.

Physical implements of destru.. err.. construction:
All of these will be available at any hobby store.

Scissors - A good sharp set for rough cuts and straight lines - some folks use multiple pairs, and can manage detail cuts with fine-pointed scissors.

Hobby Knife - Used for the majority of cuts. There are a number of brands available, and various types. Some folks prefer a pen-knife style, and others use scalpels. The knife normally allows for more precise cuts than scissors, and is absolutely necessary for cutting shapes out from inside a part (think holes in a part such as wheels where you can't get the scissors into without cutting through the part).

Cutting Mat - Something to put under your parts as you cut with the knife so that you don't damage your work surface. The general favorite is a "self healing" mat which is a type of rubber that the cuts close back up to provide longer life to the mat. They also provide longer life to the blades by not dulling them as much. However in a pinch, a couple pieces of thick cardboard will do the trick as well.

Glue - Gotta stick the pieces together somehow. Glues are usually classified in two major types - PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) aka white glue, and CA (cyanoacrylate) aka superglue. PVA (such as Elmer's Glue All or Aleene's Tacky Glue) is generally used for most of the construction and CA for special circumstances where a quick strong grab is necessary (though some use CA as their primary adhesive). With all glues, less is more.

Strait Edge - Using a straight edge allows you to score fold lines with your knife prior to bending to ensure a clean, straight fold.

Dull-pointed object - Such as a butter knife, dead ball point pen, or any other rounded but pointy tool. This is used to score the fold lines to weaken the card at this point but not cut through. Some folks use a light stroke with the knife and cut through a bit of the card to score the fold line, others use the dull object compression method. Personal choice.

Tweezers - Very useful in helping manipulate, place, and hold small parts while drying. Some come with self-locking mechanisms to hold parts hands-free while drying.

Additional basic tools - Almost anything can be used in our hobby to help make better models:
Toothpicks can be used as parts (such as prop hubs on planes or wheel axels), or to spread glue into tight areas.
Any type of long cylinder such as a pen, knitting needle, paperclip, etc can be used to help roll smooth curves into paper or make cylinders.
Colored pencils or paint can be used to apply color to the edges of the paper to hide the white that shows through on cut edges.
Paperclips and wire can be used to strengthen small parts like wing struts on a biplane or can be made into a part itself like an antenna or rigging.

Computer hardware and software
In the new world of digital models, many new and experienced modelers find themselves faced with the challenge of getting a digital model from the internet onto paper. These tips should help:

Hardware and media

The first things you will need are a computer with an internet connection and a color printer. Nearly any modern color printer will work fine, but read through the forums for tips and reviews on specific models.

You will want to print your models at high quality on cardstock - a thick type of paper. Most office supply stores will carry both Bristol (or cover) board and Index stock. Paper is measured by weight - 65lb (~160gsm) Bristol is a good general card, and 110lb (~200gsm) Index stock is a bit thicker and useful for larger/stronger parts and models.

Software

This is probably the most difficult section for folks to pick up if they are new to the digital side of the hobby realm. Below are some file types you will come across and some popular software titles that can be used to manage them.

PDF files - File will have a name such as filename.pdf. This is a document format and will be the actual model to print. You can use Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader to open and print these files.

Adobe - Adobe Reader download - All versions
Foxit Software - Foxit Reader for Windows

ZIP or RAR files - These are compressed files. They are a way to make a file (or bunch of files) smaller and contained within a single package. Inside you will normally find PDF files or other model files. To open ZIP files you can use Winzip or 7zip (Windows also has the native ability to open Zip files). For RAR files try WinRAR (7Zip can open both). Once you open the compressed file you will see the model files and you can open them directly or extract them to a folder.

WinZip - Windows Zip Utility - Zip Files, Unzip Files
WinRAR archiver, a powerful tool to process RAR and ZIP files
7-Zip

PDO files - Some designers release their models as a PDO - this is a Pepakura file. Pepakura is a tool that converts 3D computer models to flat parts to print out. These files have the added benefit of being able to see both the parts and the original 3D model so you can see how it's going to go together.

Pepakura Designer

That's all for now! Feel free to post questions/comments/tips!
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Last edited by cMags; 03-17-2011 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 02-28-2011, 01:33 PM
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Hi Cmags,

Here is a converted PDF to .jpg drawn, showing some basic stuff. Hope it is ok to post on this thread.

Beginner's Toolbox - Tools and software to get started with Paper Modeling-single-page.jpg

Thanks for a taking the time to make this great tip/info page!

Best regards,
Mike Bauer
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Old 02-28-2011, 02:11 PM
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Thanks for the addition Mike. Looks good. Do you have the original PDF? You could attach it too. The resolution is a little low on the conversion. If not, it's still legible though.
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Old 02-28-2011, 07:13 PM
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Hi Cmags,

I converted the PDF to .jpg because the PDF was to large to upload.

After looking at the converted jpg, decided to upload the original PDF to the download section. It is located in the Papermodels-Self Help Downloads.

Here is the link Basic Paper Modeling Tools & Techniques


Thank you for taking the time to start this thread, I'm sure it will benefit all who read it as it expands with other builders comments, techniques...

Best regards,
Mike Bauer
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Last edited by 3Turner; 02-02-2016 at 11:50 AM. Reason: Fixing link
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Old 02-28-2011, 07:46 PM
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Another tool that is very handy, especially if you don't have access to a circle cutter is a couple of pairs of nail clippers as these are good for trimming the outside edges of a circle...

To go with the strait edge, you may also find that a strait-jacket is useful at times...especially if you have a cat in your household...
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Old 02-28-2011, 10:41 PM
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airdave airdave is offline
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I have a local Surplus type store, that sells Tools as well as many other things.

They also have Medical implements.
Scalpel handles and blades, forceps, tweezers, etc

I picked up two nice pairs of small surgical scissors.
Especially good for cutting small circles and stuff.

Also sharp medical picks and pointed scrapers come in handy.

And everything is tough, high quality steel.

...

Another handy tool I found at the Surplus store is a metal Drill Guide.
Looks like a circle template...but its actually for sizing drill bits.

Its great for marking and cutting small circles
and also good for sizing rolled tubes
and it helps with forming tulip cones.

...

And, don't forget glasses or magnifying lenses!
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Old 03-01-2011, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJPONeill View Post
To go with the strait edge, you may also find that a strait-jacket is useful at times...especially if you have a cat in your household...
Uh-oh, there are two here.
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Old 03-01-2011, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbauer View Post
Here is a converted PDF to .jpg drawn, showing some basic stuff.
It shows cutting along a ruler with left and freehand cutting with right hand; don't think I'm up to that kind of multi-tasking.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by southwestforests View Post
It shows cutting along a ruler with left and freehand cutting with right hand; don't think I'm up to that kind of multi-tasking.
All it takes is breaking both hands at the same time while mountain biking. (8-miles from the nearest road)

When the surgeon installs the pins and casts, relearning how to do your job that uses autoCAD, means you can do anything with either hand!

Was right handed until then, now I do things with both-talk about a positive learning experience....

Best regards,
Mike Bauer
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:57 PM
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Just received my order of Amazon.com: ALVIN GMK818 Self-Healing Cutting Mat Hobby Kit 12x18": Home & Garden and I it comes cheap, too. Would be a very good investment for beginners and serious builders alike. It basically covers all the tools needed to start in this hobby. Just add the glue and we're ready to roll. The package consists of a 12" x 18" self-healing mat, an art knife with 10 spare blades, a rotary cutter and a circle cutter. For under $20, I think this is a steal.
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