Thursday, June 4, 2009

“Mobile Modeling Manufactory”

I’ve always wanted to have a mobile model building setup so that I can take my hobby with me when the family and I are at our weekend place. After much procrastination and fruitless internet searches, I finally decided to just wing it and build one myself. My “Mobile

Modeling Manufactory” (M3, for short) consists of two major components - a storage unit and a work surface.

Storage Unit:

The storage unit is a metal Craftsman 4 drawer tool box. Now before we go on, I do need to disclose I’m a huge Craftsman Tool fan. Craftsman hand tools and tool storage units are the best I’ve ever used and the guarantee is superb. I selected the 4 drawer version. Here’s a link to the Craftsman website for the item. The top storage bin has enough room for the critical modeling tools and the four tool drawers seemed to be designed to hold Vallejo paints. I can fit 40 bottles per drawer - that’s a 160 paint bottles!

I do suggest you install a thin foam liner so the bottles don’t roll around.

As for my M3 list of critical tools: here they are (suggestions for additions / deletions are most welcome)

Xacto Knife (#11 Blades)

Various Glues

2 pair of tweezers

Small Curved pliers


Small file set

Metal ruler

Sanding block

Spray on Primer

Chopper II” Cutting tool

High quality paint brushes (I think they’re worth the money)

Work Surface:

The work surface was cobbled together with some excess finishing wood I had left over from a boat repair project. The overall dimensions of the work surface is 24” wide by 22” deep. I added a small shelf on the back to place models for drying. I also drilled some holes for brushes. I covered with wood with 5 coats of polyurethane to help with durability and prevent warping (we’re on the water, so the elements play havoc with unprotected wood). My design has more than a passing resemblance to the paint station sold by GW - isn’t mimicry a form of flattery? There is one difference, the GW item costs $40.00 and is made out of MDF. My version is made out a marine grade wood and cost maybe $5.00 - plus about 90 minutes of bench time.

The bottom of the work surface is cushioned with 12, 1 inch wide felt pads which help ensure heavy usage on the bench doesn’t damage the table underneath - very important in keeping the warden, oops, I mean the wife happy.

I use a bungee cord to clip the work surface to the tool box for storage in the hall closet.