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Essential Architectural Supplies | Model Making Tools to Survive Architecture School

Updated on April 6, 2013

Architectural Model Making - Cut , Paste, Stick, Glue

Architecture school comes as a shocker to most people without an art background. All your life you were taught to write and read, but suddenly you are expected to draw and visualize. The first year in architecture school is the toughest. I know that for a fact because I went through five years of architecture school and managed to graduate in one piece. The best part was I had no idea what to expect or what i needed to do.

Apart from drawing, a major part of architectural education involves in making physical models. In the age of computer 3d visualizations, physical models are still very much the norm in architecture school as it coveys space and form that no computer visualization can match. Making models is another way to convey your design and idea, hence, you'd need good tools to begin with. Here I share with you some of the very essentials. Enough for you to Cut, Paste, Stick and Glue

X-Acto Knife

To make a model, you'd need a penknife for cutting. Now penknives come in all sorts of fashions, but what is important for an architecture student when making architectural models is this, considerations your penknife needs to be...


2. Blade tip.

The blade tip should be a 30 degrees tip for precision cutting to negotiate all the corners to ensure that the model pieces are cut accurately.

Cutting Mat

A cutting mat not only provides a stable flat surface for you to work with the material to build your model, it also prevents damage to your table, and prevents your blade from getting dull too quickly. It's an essential to have in any model making survival kit. Get a minimum A2 size mat as materials often come in large sizes.

Metal Rule

What are you going to cut with? Naturally a metal rule! Get a broad and longer one so that you can do one continuous cut for large pieces. The worst situation is that you'd have to cut twice for a single piece and it is off alignment!

Be careful of stray fingers as I have many a friend who had sliced their own fingers in the process.

Model Glue

Glue is a key ingredient for your model. You need it to stick stuff together. Although UHU is a great option, it has 2 drawbacks. The main drawback is it's messy application (you get plenty of spiderweb like bits of glue all over your model) and it cannot be used with foam material.

Hence, art glue is recommended. It works well with most materials.


This may seem to be a strange inclusion, but rather than spend your limited money on glue guns, why not use a far cheaper option of syringes?

The use of syringes ensure that glue is applied neatly and accurately onto surfaces and also for repair touchup works in difficult to reach places of your architectural model.

Get cheap disposable ones as the unused glue within the syringe would solidify after some time.

Sticky tape

Sometimes, you shouldn't glue down all the pieces of your model as you may want to explore different design options. Hence, rather than use glue, sticky tape is another option to have to hold everything together temporarily. A must have.

Acrylic Cutter

To cut acrylic and plastic material, normal blades wouldn't work. Instead, you'd require an acrylic cutter to do the job. Don't ever try to use a normal blade as it'll simply slide all over the material and achieve nothing but scratch the surface!

A final word

The list here would be enough to handle most of the model making that an architecture student would be required to master in the first year of architecture school. Of course, there are other skills such as drawing, which requires another totally different set of tool kits. Enjoy architecture school!


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    • souleru profile image

      souleru 6 years ago

      Very thorough hub. Hadn't thought of syringes though, but with architecture students it could probably double as something else..kidding ;)

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      haha nice