The quarter-inch scale of the past often demanded more effort from a modeler. Ready-to-run items were rare and details on the models that were available were often crude or non-existent, requiring the modeler to bring their skill and attention to the work. That largely isn’t the case anymore, yet the stereotype mentioned above still prevails in the mind of many.
Power tools are a blessing and a curse. They are a blessing that provides increased efficiency and accuracy over handwork alone, yet they can also lull you into a false sense of mastery where you make mistakes and waste material more quickly. A shop full of tools will never be a substitute for your own skill and imagination.
I received the gift of a miniature table saw last Christmas. It’s a tool I’ve looked at for nearly ten years, yet always felt the money should be spent elsewhere in my craft. Thanks to my generous and supportive wife, the model shop is more complete now.
I can be a tool geek as much as the next guy but I have to exercise restraint. It helps that I know where I want to go with the craft and the skills I want to master. This table saw alone won’t make me a better modeler; however, it will let me push farther in developing the skills and mindset that will. I’m grateful for the time spent developing my hand skills, however, I now have more options for doing advanced modeling with stronger and cleaner workmanship over what I did before. That’s satisfying in ways I can’t adequately express. This sense of satisfaction helps me to slow down and consider the work more carefully. Seeing positive results eases the self-imposed internal pressure I often inflict on the work.
A craft like this can pull you in a hundred directions with screaming voices for each claiming their way is the best. Until you find your own voice through experience and wisdom, it’s easy to feel pulled in many conflicting directions.
What I want is an engagement that naturally pulls me toward the bench. Scratchbuilding does that by challenging me to push deeper and discover what I’m really capable of doing. It provides a home for the many interests I have by integrating them around a common goal.
This isn’t for every taste and I wouldn’t suggest otherwise. Each person reading this has widely different goals and needs from the work. Trying to convince people who are closed to new ideas or simply not interested is a waste of everyone’s time.
What I share in these posts are the choices that form a highly personal approach around what I truly enjoy. On the surface this is a post about a new tool but it’s also about the value we get from the craft, along with the ways we define and provide it for ourselves. Your mileage will obviously be different.