Tools of the trade

I’d like to find out what tools we’re all using here to finish our models.

While some folks here take the raw model and pass it on to their customers with none or minimal post print finishing, I’m sure that most of us end up finishing our models. The extent of the finishing work may vary, but I’d like to find out about what tools you’re using and even the techniques you employ. So I’ll start.

For support removal I use a couple of different things. Flush cutters, cuticle cutters and a scalpel knife (Xacto knife set too)

Once the support is removed, I use a variety of tools to clean up the model. A set of needle files is probably the most handy, then I have a small portable rotary tool with diamond needle bits to grind down little bits in hard to get places, and a small reciprocal sander I made out of an electric toothbrush, which I use to sand down and smooth larger surface. Of course There’s always the manual sanding with various grits of sandpaper.

For painting I use a variety of primers, most commonly Armory and Citadel black or grey, for colors’ I’ve use all kinds of different paint, Tamiya, Testors, ScaleModeler, and recently GamesWorkshop/Citadel, Vallejo and Scale75. I occasionally use an airbrush, on larger parts, or surfaces that are too large to paint without leaving marks, but most of the work is brushed by hand with a variety of brushes ranging in size from 10 down to 10/0.

So what do you use?


I have a huge number of different sanding things
The micro sander is super super useful, you can find it on Amazon or MicroMark

Besides that, I use Tamiya primer and acrylic paints, after that if you want a nice finish I use the Novus plastic polish which works pretty well.

1 Like

I find lots of different sanding papers and shapes useful. Especially small sanding sticks that I found at hobby lobby. My stuff is used for 1/10 scale rc off road trucks. So just use Rustoleam flat black spray paint.

My stuff is jewelry and I absolutely love my cuticle clippers. I use the castable resin for making silicon molds and it makes divots if you just break the supports off, so I carefully cut with the cuticle clippers of with some Lindstrom clippers.

I also use a white plastic plate under my work to catch the bits and to bounce light back up into the model when I’m cutting the supports.

I have some of those plastic test tubes for small amounts of resin to make repairs, a UV pointer, cut up emery boards. 800-1200 grade sand paper. The best clean up paper towel is Viva.

What I’d really like to find is a clean up liquid that will get rid of all the stickiness. I think I get it with alcohol, but later on I realize I didn’t get it all so I have some sticky table tops.


Our prints are usually models of window and door vinyl extrusions, so we are not looking for jewelry-like finishes but neither do I want evidence of the supports on our “extrusions”.

I have extensive background in several areas that required hand finishing and the best advice I could give with respect to finishing 3-D prints is to use files before you step down to sand paper.

I could probably write a book on file selection but I’ll note those that we use here and if you would want to delve into file selection more I’m sure there is plenty of info on the Net that would help.

I use the following files: 6" Mill file (2nd cut), 6" Half round file (2nd cut), 8" Half round file (2nd cut) & 10" Mill file (2nd cut). These work fine for what we need, you needs would most likely vary. The “cut” refers to the coarseness of the file (American pattern files) There are 4 choices (coarsest to finest). They are “Bastard”, “Coarse”, “2nd Cut” & “Smooth”. Size does matter in American pattern files. A 6" 2nd cut will result in a smoother finish than a 10" 2nd cut.

Get good quality files, Nicholson or Simonds, stay away from Chinese or “Harbor Freight” type files. Do not forget to get a good file cleaner, get one with metal teeth on one side and a brush on the other. Keep your files clean to keep them cutting well.

Sanding (especially by hand without using a sanding block) will blurr high spots instead of removing them. A file, used properly, will remove high spots and then allow for a final sanded finish.

Hope I haven’t been too wordy…ya can probably tell I used to teach such things… Good luck !

1 Like

Agree 100%.

1 Like

Outside of having the parts in the IPA bath for enough time and fully curing parts, I have found that the most reliable way to have a not-sticky surfaces in the end is to “rub down” the parts with gloved hands in the IPA, just as you put them into the second bath.

Underwater UV curing seems to solve all stickiness on the part.
We use all the tools folks already mentioned- small files and rasps- sandpaper and emery boards- xacto knives etc.

Have yet to try using a UV pen for repairs… anyone have a product recommendation?

As to table stickiness… I just expose the table to sunlight for an hour or so after spilling a puddle of water on it and harden any trace resin on the table- if and when it gets thick enough, I’ll scrape it off with a drywall tape knife.

I have been using a micro electric sander from MicroMark that plugs in the wall. Probably one the best tools around for cleanup of parts. Literally has saved me hours upon hours.

I have even made a custom nib for it that I printed out on my F1+
Other tools I use is a jewelers saw to cut the base off, 405nm focusable laser pointer and small injection needle full of raw resin for touch up, usual nippers, and lastly a container full of clean water under a reptile lamp for post curing.

1 Like

Yeah, that’s the same type of thing I use, got some tacky glue that can be used to attach other sandpaper to the end so you don’t have to use their sanding sheets

1 Like

As a new person to this process, I’m finding that sometimes there’s some supports fairly deep away from the edges - is there a tool ideal for getting to those little awkward spots?

Also, any recommendations on tool brands to purchase when it does come to flush cutters?

I use a sharp, pointed xacto knife to cut the supports that are recessed deep into areas where I can’t get the cutters in.

As for a particular brand, I have a set from Citadel/Games Workshop, but the ones that work best are the ones with the blue handle (photo at the top). You can get these from ebay really cheap:

As long as you use them to cut plastic, they’ll stay sharp, but if you use them to cut metal and wires, they’ll start to get dull, so buy more than one.

1 Like