Scribing Made Eezee?

The eezee method
It may just be me who finds all these problems when re-scribing, I have read of a modeller who reckons to be able to re-scribe the most complicated model in just a couple of hours. Well I canít do that but Iím quite prepared to do it over several sittings. What tends to happen though is that I get bored and frustrated because of the time it takes and because of the difficulties that can be found. The model is then put away, sometimes never to see the light of day again.

It was while trying to get a piece of Dymo tape to conform to the compound curvature of my B-26 that one of those blinding lights of inspiration struck me. I was determined to finish scribing the sucker because I wanted to write this article on scribing. The trouble was things werenít going to well and I could see the B-26 getting shelved. What I needed was something that had a re-positional adhesive, was flexible enough to follow a compound curve and was thick and tough enough to allow a metal scriber to be traced along side it.

The first 2 requirements are easy, masking tape, but there is no way you can use it to scribe against, or can you? Well no, if you are thinking of the likes of Scotch magic tape or 3M, which is just too thin.

What about Tamiya tape? It certainly fulfils the first two criteria, I use it all the time for masking, itís great, but its paper, surely it wouldnít stand having a metal scriber running down itís length, would it? Yes it does, well it does as long as you are careful, and Iíll explain the procedure in a moment. Suffice to say that after discovering that using Tamiya masking tape, in place of other straight edges, I finished re-scribing my B-26 Marauder in just 4 sittings, of about an hour each. A bit of a record for me, it may have been only 3 sittings, but the memory is going so Iím leaning to the side of caution.

What to do
Using an auto plastic primer, of a contrasting colour to the plastic of your model, spray all the parts that need to be re-scribed and let it dry. Scrape off the panel line you wish to re-scribe, using a curved blade, a number 10-scalpel blade is ideal. When scraping off the raised line go carefully so as to only remove the line. This will leave the plastic colour showing through the primer, as a contrasting line.

Lay a piece of Tamiya masking tape on a piece of glass or tile and, using a steel ruler and a sharp blade cut a length about 2-3mm wide. Place this piece of tape along the line to be re-scribed, I use 2 pair of needle nosed tweezers to position it.

Now the part that requires a little care, but is actually not very different from the usual method of scribing, using a metal straight edge. What you must remember is that the Tamiya tape is paper, itís quite strong - but it is paper. So if you push your scriber against it with any force it will cut into it. I have found that the best scriber to use with this method is an Olfa-P cutter (see pictures). The blade is a little big but can be ground down, which is something I keep meaning to do to mine. The blade will remove a hair of plastic, which is exactly what you require.

The trick is to apply very little pressure at the first pass, let the weight of the knife do the cutting. This is just what you do when doing this by conventional methods. Make another pass, again letting the weight of the knife apply the pressure. With this or maybe another pass the blade will be guided by the scribed line and will not be dependent on running along the tape. I was surprised to find that I was able to scribe the whole of one upper wing using only 3 pieces of tape. The tape will deteriorate but you can use both sides of it. Actually using this method the process of re-scribing is so, relatively, quick itís almost enjoyable.

When I first began to re-scribe the wing I fully expected to conclude that, on flat surfaces, the conventional method would be the best. This proved not to be the case because positioning the tape was so easy. The re-positional properties of the adhesive account for this.

Even more interestingly the third piece of tape was used just once, to scribe the panel line around the tip of the wing. This is a little trickier and using the coffee can sealing foil might be a better way. I did this as a trial and as you can see it worked. There is no other way of doing this, with any success, other than making a template.

The Olfa-P cutter was not used here, it is difficult to control around a radius like this. I used another, purpose made, scriber but it tended to ride up on the tape, with care I managed a satisfactory result. I timed myself on one of the bottom wings. This required the use of one of the Verlinden templates, but I still managed to re-scribe the entire lower wing in less than 28 minutes. This highlights the difference for me, I would have normally expected to have needed several sittings, managing only 2-3 lines a time. Thatís the real difference, seeing ďfastĒ progress and wanting to stick with it.
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About the Author

About Mal Mayfield (Holdfast)

Hi, my name is Mal Mayfield and I have been modelling seriously for about 25 years. My main interest is 1/48 scale second world war. I build all types and all combatants. I have built 1/35 scale "targets" and 1/72 scale modern aircraft, plus a couple of cars. I have also dabbled with figure painting...


Nice article, Mal.... and now I know what to do with the small collection of glue needle applicators, collected over the years.
JAN 06, 2005 - 03:39 PM
Great stuff Mal. I am currently in the process of rescribing a 1/72 hasegawa hellcat. I work on it a little, put it away for a month, pull it out again, etc. Maybe this easier method will help me finish it before my death . Thanks for doing the leg work on this one. Leon
JAN 07, 2005 - 02:40 AM
Yes dave everything has it's uses, eventually. Leon, I have a Monogram F105, which I have had for many years. It was the first thing I tried scribing and managed about 3 lines. It has many more than the A-26 but I feel confident, at last, that I might actually get it finished. Mal
JAN 08, 2005 - 03:27 AM
Hi Mal There are a couple of other types of tape which I use for scribing. Both are plastic, so they may be a bit more robust than Tamiya masking tape. The first is by Pactra and is available in model shops - this stuff is really flexible as you can see: The second is a different type of Dymo tape. It's used to print (rather than punch) labels and is thinner and so more flexible than the normal stuff - but not as flexible as the Pactra tape: I've also used litho-tape, available from art shops. Again it's plastic, but it's nice and flexible. Thanks for an excellent article and I hope these suggestions are helpful. All the best Rowan
JAN 09, 2005 - 05:15 AM
Wow great stuff Rowan, a tape that is thicker than Tamiya tape and is plastic, but is as flexible would be even better. Mal
JAN 09, 2005 - 06:12 AM