Anyone who has ever assembled or tried to fix something on their own will speak to the necessity of having the right tool for the job.  Model railroading is no different.  You will save hours of time and immeasurable amounts of frustration by simply assembling a basic set of tools for working with your model trains.  Over the course of your time model railroading, you’ll inevitably acquire many tools to help you build your track, assemble and fix your locomotives and rolling stock, and adorn your setup with all types of scenery.  Here’s a great list of essential tools that will set you on the right track.

1) X-Acto Knife — Get yourself a good X-Acto knife with several spare blades.  I’ve found that both the pointed-tip blades (no. 11) and chisel-tipped blades (no. 17) are great for cutting anything you’ll need to cut when working with model trains.

2) Scale Rule — You must have a scale rule to help you with your building.  I recommend a steel 12″ ruler to start, but clear plastic rulers are also great because you’ll be able to see through them to follow markings as you build your track.  In addition to helping you to build your track to scale, rulers will also serve as great straight-edges for cutting.

3) Tweezers — You’ll need a pair of tweezers for handling all the very small parts used in model railroading.  Both straight-tip and curved-tip tweezers are good, but make sure they have fine pointed ends on them as they’ll be much better in gripping and grabbing small train parts.

4) Files — Needle files (or jeweler’s files) are great tools for cleaning and shaping plastic, wood, and many other materials you use in building a model railroad track.  Pick up an assortment of these and you’ll be happy you did.

5) Pliers — Needle-nose pliers are essential for model railroading.  You’ll use these to hold parts securely as you build your model train track, as well as assembling locomotives and rolling stock.  They also come in quite handy when bending wire, cutting wire, and various other methods of manipulating wire and metal.

6) Screwdrivers — Pick up a set of jeweler’s screwdrivers.  These small screwdrivers will be small enough to get into any of the tiny spaces associated with model railroad building.  It is also a good idea to have medium sized Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers available for the larger screws that are found on the larger scale model trains.

7) Pin-vise and Drill Bits — A Pin-vise is a manual drill driver, and it is well used in drilling small holes in wood, plastic and other materials.  It is a very helpful tool.  Also, I recommend purchasing drill bits ranging in size from no. 61 (.040″) to no. 80 (.0135″).

8 ) Flush Sprue Cutters — Flush sprue cutters are incredibly easy to use and cut and trim model train parts so accurately that very little, if any, additional filing is necessary.  Flush sprue cutters will save you time in assembling your model railroad track, and they will really help you to build a great looking track.

As you spend more and more time model railroading, you’ll inevitably assemble a tool set that includes many more than just these tools.  But this list of tools is all you really need to get started.  Happy Railroading!

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