The Top 10 Must-have Tools for Architectural Model building

The Top 10 Must-have Tools for Architectural Model building
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Making models is a very important part of an architect’s life – student as well as professional. It is an enjoyable yet tedious process, which helps in giving a clear idea to others of your intent with the design. The models are a way to have a sneak peek into an architect’s mind. While making models though, one has to have a basic toolkit comprising of all the tools to make a model. The other thing that must be kept in mind while working on models is to keep one’s patience intact to acquire the maximum precision in an architectural model. To make a checklist of your model making toolkit, let us go through the top 10 must-have tools for architecture model building –

1. Self-Healing Cutting Mat

A self-healing mat is a must-have when working on models. It provides a perfect base to create those precise and sharp cuts on the modelling material. The benefit is that even if you think that the blade cuts through the mat, it doesn’t ruin your mat.

It is a good idea to use a cutting mat to save the surface of any other base from damage. The cutting mat is available in various sizes – A4, A3, A2 and A1. Most mats have a grid (linear and angular) for precise markings. A very hand tool to have if you are an architect or an aspiring architect.

2. Scalpel

A scalpel is another that should be in an architect’s toolkit. A scalpel is a cutting tool which helps in cutting precise and sharp cuts. It is more so used to cut curves or very detailed or intricate smaller-scale elements like a jaali pattern.

The blades can be changed when they go blunt. All the scalpels come with a safety cap to prevent piercing into unwanted elements. Look for a scalpel that gives a good grip leading to accurate cuts.

3. Snap-off cutter

This is a tool that no architect can do away with, from sharpening their pencils to cutting the elements of their models, they use a snap off cutter. This has a roll in mechanism, which exposes the blade only when working.

The blades come with grade lines; these lines help to break off the blade from that point when it goes blunt from the tip. A very handy and useful tool that no one can do away with. It comes in varying width of the blades, the selection of which is based on the thickness of the modelling material that needs to be cut.

4. Steel scale / steel edge

If one likes to have sharp cuts to adhere to the neatness, then this is a must-have. A steel scale or a steel edge is used as a guide to cut straight lines. The reason this is used that it doesn’t lose its edge even if the blade runs over it, unlike the plastic scale. The pencil carries forth the trademark Lamy metal pencil clip. It comes in various sizes – 15cm,30 cm, 60 cm etc.

5. Drafting tools

Measuring tools

Measuring tools are must to get the accurate and precise elements, keeping in line with the scale and proportion of the model. The measuring tools that one must have are –

  • T- Scale / parallel Bar
  • Adjustable set square
  • Triangular scale

For making circles and curves

For building the circular or curved profiles in the model one needs to have appropriate tools to build precise forms. These tools include –

  • Circle master
  • French Curve set
  • Compass


Pencils are a must have toolkit for architect and designers or whoever is working on models. It helps one mark the boundaries of the elements for the model. One can prefer to include a manual or mechanical pencil in their toolkit.

6. Adhesives and Tapes

Adhesives are a must have in your toolkit, and that to an array of adhesives. As adhesives help in joining and bonding the various parts of a model, they become an vital part of model making. One needs to understand which adhesive works with what materials. The examples of types of adhesives are –

  1. Cyanoacrylate Adhesive (Fevikwik)
  2. PVA Glue (Fevicol)
  3. Rubber Adhesives

Glue guns are also becoming an important part of model making, as they help binding the parts firmly. At the same time these are easy to use and less messy.

Tapes are a handy and useful tool to have in your model making toolkit. They are useful for various purposes like temporarily binding the parts, overlapping surfaces, mounting one element onto the other, etc. The two types of tapes that are useful are –

  1. Masking Tape
  2. Double sided tape

7. Modelling and carving tools

Modelling and carving tools are a must-have when it comes to building organic forms. These tools help in modelling and carving materials such as softwood, clay, polymer clay, terracotta, leather etc. Easy to use with diversified uses – moulding, modelling, carving and sculpting, depending on the choice of material.

8. 3D Printing Pen

These pens help in creating models of your visualizations. They use plastic as their cartridge to build the model.

These could be used to create an entire model or a part of some bigger model.

This is quite a tool which also lets you doodle your ideas in 3D thus help in gaining a better clarity of ideas while designing.

With the technological advancements in place, this is a must-have tool for architectural modelling.

9. 3D Printer

These days 3D printers have a huge scope when it comes to making models, printing body parts, even printing entire structures. A model making enthusiast should definitely invest for a small 3D printer which could help in printing the elements of a model or a complete model (dependent on the scale of the model) easily. All you need are the drawings to feed commands to the printer and voila’ your model is ready!

10. Laser cutting and engraving machine

Those of you who like to be technologically equipped, a laser cutting and engraving machine are a must-have to provide an edge to your models. These come in various sizes depending on the scale of models or products you want to work on. This tool helps to come up with precise models.

A very helpful tool and works on an array of materials. It can be synced with the CAD software to do the needful cutting and engraving.


This is my list of 10 must-have tools for architectural model building. But if you think that I missed upon a tool that can be added to the list, please feel free to post your suggestions in the comments.

Happy Model Building!

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