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Repairing scratches

Q: When I build a model, I almost always end up with some minor scratches that need to be filled in. They're almost always too shallow to hold putty, but they're too deep to be block-sanded out. Any suggestions?

- Brian Helmsly
Sterling, Virginia

Ken: Even minor blemishes become big problems when you're looking for that perfect paint job.

In instances where another coat of thick primer would potentially cover up details, one solution is to spray a little primer into a cup (or into the paint can lid) and brush it on the offending areas in much the same manner as you would use touch-up paint on a 1:1 car. Use your favorite type of automotive primer, such as Dupli-Color or Plasti-kote.

Filler/primers would work, too. Dab the primer on with a tiny brush or cotton swab (watch out for cotton fuzz), let it dry, then sand it smooth to match the surrounding areas. You may need a couple of applications, but with patience, you can generally repair the scratch.

Here's another trick you may want to try if you want to paint a concentrated area, but don't want to spray the whole model:

Cut a small hole in a piece of heavy paper or card stock. Make sure the hole is at least as big as the area you want to cover with the spray pattern.

Instead of laying the card stock directly onto the model, hold it an inch or two off the surface, and spray through the hole with a spray can or airbrush. Because the mask isn't directly in contact with the model, the edge of the spray pattern will be "feathered" and easier to sand smooth, and you haven't clogged up any of the
surrounding details with another layer of paint.

This technique can be used in just about any application where you don't want a hard edge between colors.

If the scratch is too deep to be filled with primer, you'll have to perform some minor surgery. Gouge the scratched area so it won't be too shallow to bond with a "skim coat" of body putty. This may seem like a step backward, but remember: you have to break the eggs to make the omelet.

Thanks for the question, Brian. Let us know how you make out.


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