MDF Model Assembly Basics

INTRO

Let's discuss some of the basic tools and procedures we recommend for achieving success in building our kits. If you’re an experienced model kit maker or if you have constructed one of our kits before, please feel free to skip this post, but it never hurts to review the fundamentals, right?

For everyone else, let’s collect some supplies and do a little prep work!

GATHER YOUR TOOLS

You will need a number of basic tools and items to build your kit. The most important are a craft knife for cutting out the model pieces, a good PVA or wood glue, and a set of hobby files.

We also recommend using an old paint brush to help apply glue along with some craft sticks or toothpicks to clear excess glue out of hard to reach spots. If you have any handy, painter's tape and/or small clamps (and rubberbands) can useful for holding pieces in place while glue dries.

CUT PARTS FROM FRAME

Using a hobby knife or other thin, sharp blade, carefully remove parts from their frames.

We  score our parts from the top, so flip the frame over to look for the connection tabs.

Check along the seams for places where the parts are attached to the frame, and apply even downward pressure to free the parts while being careful not to or score other parts, your table, or yourself!

Since the parts are partially cut, you can just twist and pop the pieces out, but this can tear or snap pieces and generally results in a messier part that will take more effort to clean up. We do not recommend it.

FILE EDGES & CHECK FIT

Take a good look at the pieces you’ve cut out, and file down the rough edges. Pay close attention to the tab marks left over from the frame.

This step is invaluable to assuring a good fit.

Along those lines, no source of wood or acrylic is going to be perfectly sized. Now is a good time to test fit parts, and make adjustments with your files as needed

FINAL NOTES

STAY ORGANIZED. This part is critical. Separate and group like parts, keep your workspace organized, and read the instructions through at least once before you start assembly. When working with glues you only have so much time to get things right before they bond forever. Staging your work area to maximize efficiency not only saves you time, but it can save you from making mistakes that could have been avoided if you'd only made better plans or worked more methodically.

Additionally, models can be a little hard to detail after they have been fully assembled, so we highly recommend you take some time to paint your kit before you begin construction. However, the choice to do so is ultimately yours. You'll also want to make sure you have properly prepared your parts to accept paint before you begin painting them. MDF has a nasty habit of absorbing paint if you're not priming with the right base layers, and this can change the fit of parts of just dampen and muddy your colors. Always start painting by priming with a matte enamel. We prefer black, but go with your gut, just make sure it's an enamel, or you'll need to seal your parts some other way before you begin painting.