Progress continues on the warehouse doors. While the design isn’t difficult, treating them as individual projects works well given the repetition involved with ten doors. Even though I produced the pieces in batches, each door has slight variations that require a custom touch during assembly.

The work is such that I can reflect a bit and I thought about why people consider scratchbuilding to be so hard. I don’t have any earth shattering conclusions to share, just a few personal observations.

It Can Seem Intimidating.
We see a very curated presentation for the most part. A handful of images in an article or blog post doesn’t begin to convey the actual process involved in a build. We seldom see the mistakes or outright failures. As a result it all looks so easy. Often though, it’s anything but. It’s frustrating when you don’t know how to figure something out. I’m blessed in that I can visualize my projects long before I touch any material. By the time I sit down and get to work, I have a clear idea of what I want to do and how. Things don’t always go as I imagine but when something doesn’t work I can modify the work as needed.

I hasten to add, this is just how I work and this skill didn’t arrive ready-to-go at birth. I had to develop it over time with lots of mistakes and wasted material as tuition for my education. The fact that skill is the outcome of a process is an idea I can’t emphasize strongly enough. This is why I write often about deliberate practice techniques and the mind-set you approach the work with. These do make a difference in what you’ll learn and how well. Practice has become a dirty word in many circles within this craft, yet there is no better use of your time.

Lack of Proper Tools
Scratchbuilding is frustrating when you try to make a tool do something it can’t. In recent years I’ve been investing in proper tools for a given job and in better quality tools overall. Like many, I’ve made do with ones that are barely adequate for the task or are just poor quality. Doing so makes the work harder and kills my joy quickly. I don’t have a shop full of tools because I don’t need them. I simply have the basic assortment of modeling tools and learned what I can and can’t do with them. The only time I consider a more complex tool is if I know that the work I want to do more of requires it.

These boxes from The Container Store are perfect for storing hand tools. The rubber material on the bottom is ordinary kitchen drawer liner found at any big box store. A single roll is inexpensive and provides plenty of material. It not only cushions the tools but keeps them in place when moving the box.

I know that we all have our preferences about how clean or cluttered the bench top can be. I prefer to keep mine as clean as possible when working. It not only keeps things organized but also helps move the project along with time saved in looking for the tool or part I just had a minute ago. An assortment of my hand tools used to sit on an open shelf above the work surface. They collected dust easily and had to be moved every time I wanted to clean the area. I finally resolved to build a frame work under that shelf for separate drawers to organize each tool and its associated accessories. Modeling knives and spare blades together; drill bits and pin vises the same, files, tweezers and so on. This makes things easier to find, keeps them cleaner and I know when to restock an item. My only advice is to learn your working habits and organize accordingly. The work is more enjoyable when you take steps to make it so.

I understand this is all obvious and old news to experienced modelers. We can however, fall into habitual patterns that don’t serve us well and blame the work rather than look at how we approach it. My greatest strides as a model builder come from breaking old patterns that aren’t producing the results I want. Life can be haphazard or deliberate. The modelers I most admire didn’t reach their level of accomplishment by accident.

Regards,
Mike