This site was designed for the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer (version 10+). Some features may not work correctly in your browser. OK
How to Get Started with Building Miniatures

Hands holding miniature craft
Building miniatures is a delightful activity for anyone who enjoys working with their hands and who has an eye for detail. Miniatures are used in a wide variety of settings, from department stores to movie sets, and can be used to show off all kinds of designs such as architectural, fashion, fantasy, and more. Whether you’re planning to build miniatures just as a hobby or hope to go professional, it’s an activity with a lot of potential that can be as simple or as challenging as you decide. So where to start?
Assemble your tools
Before you start, you need tools. What you need depends on many factors, such as the type of miniature you are building, your workflow, and the space you have available to you. For example, if you are not able to invest in a full-blown workshop, it probably doesn’t make sense to buy heavy, noisy power tools. And while some tools are very sophisticated and can help you save time, they’re not necessary to building miniatures.
When you’re just getting started, it’s best to keep it simple and focus on the basics. At the minimum, beginners should have: glue, a pencil, small ruler, a small paintbrush, craft tweezers, nail scissors, and a pair of small pliers (needle nose, wire cutter, or round nose can all work). You may also want to invest in a craft knife, paper cutter, nail file, cutting mat, and toothpicks. These are all low-cost tools that you may find yourself using on every project.
Set up a dedicated space
Building miniatures is a messy endeavor. Projects tend to involve a lot of sawdust and paint fumes, so having a dedicated space is ideal to prevent sending all of those particles throughout the rest of your home. It’s also important for staying organized. After all, miniatures are made up of lots of small parts and often require small tools. Without a clean, well-organized space, it’s easy to lose track of all those little items.
Remember to clean up after each session as you work on a project — you might be surprised at how many things can get lost under a nearby piece of plywood! And if you have pets or small children, make sure to keep your miniature workshop secure, with small, easy-to-swallow parts well out of reach.
Start simple
Though it’s a deeply satisfying hobby, building miniatures for the first time will involve trial and error. Keep things simple before you tackle complicated designs. Try to learn what works and what doesn’t. For example, you can build miniature houses out of just about any kind of material, but different materials can have widely different properties. Wood is hard to cut, paper doesn’t hold weight, plastic can be tricky to glue, and it’s tougher to get a good paint finish on metal.
These may all seem self-explanatory, but they’re just some of the many factors you’ll need to take into account when making design decisions. Limiting your possible decisions by keeping your beginning projects simple can save you a lot of unexpected frustrations and backpedaling. And here’s another tip: make everything easily removable. Inevitably, you’ll get halfway through a project when you realize something isn’t right. In that situation, being able to easily undo your work can be a huge timesaver.
Making miniatures is a fun and addictive pastime. If you’ve always dreamed of building your own, the best time to start is in the present. Gather your tools, set up your workspace, plan your design (or buy a kit), and have fun!
This article is presented by Gold Coast Cadillac.
- + Disclaimers