When starting your journey into the world of model railways the wide variety of tools available to you can be daunting. From the incredibly useful Scalpel style craft knife through to the more obscure Gear Puller there are hundreds of different tools and it can be tempting to run out and buy them all in your excitement.
Here we cover the tools every beginner needs before looking at some of the more advanced options.
The craft or utility knife is probably the most useful tool on this list, useful when working on everything through modelling, scenery creation and electronics work. It can also double as both a mould line remover and as sprue clippers when you can’t find them amongst your hobby collection.
The most well-known brand would be X-Acto Knife, often mentioned online although as a US based brand not the most actively available in the UK. As with all tools its best to buy once and buy well, get one with a solid metal handle and replaceable blades. The blades are universal so you will be able to get replacements for them online and in DIY and hobby shops for years to come.
Sold variously as Railcutters, Sprue Clippers, Side Cutters and several other variations of this. These appear similar to wire cutters except they have one flat edge so you can cut flush with a straight edge to get a neater cut.
Useful for cutting track to length as well as removing scenery from spues without leaving uneven cuts and chunks of plastic on your models.
These do come in a variety of price levels, and the quality reflects this. If you are looking for a cheap pair try Modelcraft Sprue and Plastic Cutter’s although we would recommend something a little more hard wearing like Tamiya 74093 Modeler's Side Cutter the reviews on Amazon speak for themselves.
A wide range of scissors are always handy to have in your hobby toolbox, this set has a range of five sizes and will cover a wide range of uses. I would recommend getting a 5 pack as they will inevitably end up scattered around the house every time a family member needs some scissors. Once you find that you use a particular size more often it can then be worth upgrading to a higher quality, hobby specific pair. The docrafts Xcut Stainless Steel Pro range is highly regarded once you are looking for specific sizes.
Any hobby that involves painting will inevitably require paint brushes, you can pick up cheap multipacks of brushes for next to nothing cost wise in the craft section of most stores, however these usually have low quality nylon bristles.
A good starting point for brushes is the Games Workshop range of brushes, whilst still made from a synthetic fibre bristle they are the cheapest of the professional level brushes. A Medium Base and Small Layer brush are all most people need to start any kind of model painting. Whilst they won’t last as long as a high quality sable hair brush set they are a good place to start where the brush quality won’t actively be hampering your painting.
Whilst it is often said “a bad workman blames his tools” there is something to be said for paying for quality. Often a paint brush upgrade can make a big impact as they hold their shape better and allow for more precision. The Winsor & Newton – Series 7 range is generally accepted as the gold star of hobby paint brushes (Not to be confused with the Winsor & Newton – Series 7 Miniature Painting Brush range, which whilst good is for painting portraits on an matchbox), in a recent online poll over 50% of responses were for them. However this has led to it becoming the most expensive range on the market. Depending on your country you can find the Raphael 8404 series which is made of the same Kolinsky Sable as the Windsor & Newton’s for cheaper price and the quality is comparable.
You will need paints to go along with your paintbrushes. Whilst enamel paints used to be the go to for most hobbyists, with Revell or Humbrol being the name most people are familiar with as they often got into modelling with a Revell or Hornby Kit. However Acrylics how now become the most popular choice, with Hornby owned Humbrol serving the market along side brands such as Vallejo, Rackham and Army Painter and Tamiya.
Whilst everyone has their favourites, and will often happily talk at length why their favourite is the best, all of the above are solid paint ranges. If you are unsure I would recommend Vallejo.
Pin vice’s are small hand held manual drills, which hold very small drill bits. They are great when you need to drill a model and a slow accurate turning speed is needed. They generally all come with a reversible collet so that you can fit most small drill bits. Avoid the ones with classic style drill chucks as the quality is not quite there on them yet. Other then that they are all pretty much the same so go for one that has a comfortable grill to avoid fatigue on your hands after repeated drilling. Personally im still using a Model Craft PPV2237 that ive had for years, its never broken so ive never needed to replace it. I more comfortable handle would be nice though and a lot of people recommend the Revell 39064 Hand Drill due to its rubber coating being easier on the hands.