How long does it take to finish a model?

One of the roadblocks for people who want to start making their model from kits is time. However, since some people are busy, they should know how long it takes to see the fruits of their labor. To help, I’ve made some estimates based on my experience as a modeler.

As a general rule, it takes six and a half hours to nine days and four hours to finish a model. This doesn’t include the breaks necessary when building a model. The time required is done by computing the times it takes to complete each step and adding them to get the results.

In this blog post, you will see each step and how long it takes to finish each one of them. After that, you will see in the table below how I computed the answer. Furthermore, I provided beginner tips in each step to make your build faster and better even on the first try.

How long to Finish a Model

StepShortest Time to FinishLongest Time to Finish
Choosing a Model Kit10 minutes1 hour
Preparing of Tools5 minutes3 days
Preparing the Model Kit15 minutes30 minutes
Gluing3 hours3 days
Priming1.5 hours4 hours
Painting1.5 hours3 days
Total Time6.5 hours9.24 days
Table computation of how long it takes to finish a model

Based on the data, we can see that it takes 6.5 hours to 9.24 days to finish or build a model from scratch. This doesn’t include the breaks a modeler can have when building. This means it will take longer especially if the modeler only builds in their past time. The answer is computed using the table above.

In reality, how long it takes to build a model kit depends on the size and complexity of the model kits you want to develop. Once you have made your mind, you can work out how long it requires. 

Furthermore, the model kits develop these skill levels that decide how troublesome it is to build it.

These are as follows:

Expertise Level 1: Snap-together pieces and don’t need glue or paint.

Expertise Level 2: Easier kits that require glue and paint to complete. They usually have under 100 pieces.

Expertise Level 3: Smaller, more detailed parts. They typically have more than 100 pieces.

Expertise Level 4: Advanced kits with extra-fine subtleties. They contain more than 100 pieces.

Expertise Level 5: For master modelers. They have super-detailed parts, can contain hundreds of pieces, and frequently have moving parts, such as working suspension on cars and motorcycles, rotating propellers on planes, and movable turrets on tanks.

Choose your model kit subject

The most important thing is to choose what piques your interest.

Choosing what piques your interest is essential since it will take some time to finish a model. In addition, this prevents us from getting bored in the middle of the building process.

You can choose cars, planes, military vehicles–the possibilities are endless.

There are numerous ranges of muscle cars to choose from if you’ve always wanted one. The same is true for military trucks and tanks, warplanes, battleships, and so on.

You can also choose which brand you prefer. There are many plastic model brands to choose from, such as Tamiya, Revell, Airfix, and many more.

Before you start, invest some time looking at different sites on the internet or your local hobby store and finding a topic that interests you. It’s a wise move to learn first and then to build something.

If you need help buying model kits, I’ve made a complete guide on each marketplace available and how they operate. You can find it here.

In general, it will take you approximately 30 minutes to choose what you want to build. It might also take an hour if you’re meticulous in choosing. On the other hand, if you already have a specific model in mind, this step might only take 10 minutes.

Preparing the Tools and Supplies you Need to Build a Model Kit

Preparing the tools and supplies to build a model kit takes only a little time, while it saves a lot of time building a model. In general, if the items are available in your house or basement, it will only take 5 minutes to gather the tools. However, it will take around 30 minutes if you need to find them and days if you need to order them.

Now, let’s talk about the preparation of the tools and supplies.

It is essential to understand that preparing the tools before the building is important if you want to be fast in building models.

That way, we will finish the model as fast as possible without looking for tools while building.

To remove the pieces from the sprue, you’ll need a sharp hobby knife.

You’ll also need a small file to smooth out the nubs and any imperfections.

Tweezers, a magnifying lamp, side clippers, alligator clips, and a tray to work on are also required.

You will find these tools at any hobby shop or store that sells hobbies.

You can also buy tool kits that include extra tools.

Common tools people prepare in model kit building:

  1. Hobby Knife
  2. Needle or Metal File
  3. Tweezers
  4. Magniflying Lamp
  5. Side Clippers
  6. Alligator Clips
  7. Tray
  8. Stand*

Note: The stand is optional. The stand makes model priming and painting easier.

Follow the Model Kit Instructions Included in the Kit

All model kits include step-by-step instructions.

Reading the instructions first is one of the most important steps in building your model.

Please think of the instructions as the best way to build the model since the model manufacturer intended it to be made in that manner.

If the steps here are reversed in the instructions, it is advisable to follow the instructions.

The steps here are the usual steps in model building.

However, other models have a different set of instructions.

This is important since we don’t want you to start from the beginning after finding out that you’ve built it wrong.

Disassembling the whole model is the last thing you want to do with your hard work.

Not following the instructions may lead to the disassembly of a component to insert a missing piece.

Parts may appear to be very similar, or there may be multiples of the same part.

As a result, you should match the parts to the illustrations in the instructions.

Only cut off the parts that are required for that section’s assembly.

Because many kits contain similar parts, read the instruction manual thoroughly.

Always double-check the part numbers.

There’s no time required here since you’re only pulling the instructions from the box and reading it while building.

Prepare the Model Kit

Preparing the model kit ensures that all the pieces are there. The number of components is usually included in the instruction manual. Furthermore, you also need to clean the parts to remove oils that interfere with the painting process. This step usually takes around 15 to 30 minutes.

Double-check your kit to ensure that all of the pieces are there.

Go over the instructions carefully.

You’re likely to see a slew of boxes, resembles mostly a comic strip, with illustrations inside.

Each of these boxes is for a part that you must build first with smaller pieces.

When you have finished assembling all parts, you can put them together to accomplish the model.

Be careful with the numbers of the illustrations.

The numbers will be printed on the plastic frame to which the pieces are attached.

Clean the parts with liquid soap when they are still attached to the frame.

Fill a plastic tub halfway with warm water, then add a pump of soap.

Dip the frames into the water and then pull them out.

Let them dry after rinsing them with fresh water.

Alternatively, use a lint-free cloth to pat the parts dry.

This step is essential because it removes any oil or dirt that may be preventing the paint from sitting.

In case you’ve assembled your model already, you can wipe it with a wet cloth.

Gluing the Model

Gluing is essential to make the models sturdy. This step is usually the longest in the model building process. An experienced modeler with an easy model kit can finish this step in 3 hours. However, harder models with many little parts can take around three days, even for experienced modelers.

The first of gluing is to locate the pieces for the first part that you must construct.

Locate the first box where the first part is according to the instructions.

Take note of the numbers on the illustration, then look for the pieces with the same numbers on the frame.

Use clippers or a craft blade to cut the pieces off.

Hold the frame and use clippers to remove the necessary pieces.

If you don’t have clippers, place the frame on a cutting mat and cut it off with a craft or hobby blade.

Only cut off the pieces needed for the part you’re building.

Don’t cut the remaining pieces yet.

Using a craft blade or file, smooth out the rough spots.

You may end up with little pikes or stubs if you cut the pieces off.

The pikes and stubs can be sanded down with a file or scraped off with a craft blade to smoothen the edges.

Don’t worry if the parts don’t fit perfectly because any gaps or bumps can be filed or filled in with a bit of glue or modelers putty.

To both parts, apply a small amount of model glue or plastic cement.

This is a solvent that melts and welds the plastic together.

Make sure that the solvent/glue is only applied to the parts that are in contact.

Plastic model solvent cement is the best choice.

When working with plastic models, solvent-based epoxy is usually the best option for bonding the plastic pieces.

Solvent-based epoxy produces a stronger plastic weld that will outlast other adhesive products.

Priming the Model

Priming a model is necessary to make the paint finish better. In addition, it serves as the bridge between plastic and paints since plastics aren’t good at retaining paint. Since primers usually dry within an hour, it will take an hour and a half for experienced modelers to prime a model and about 4 hours for inexperienced modelers.

Beginners usually skip priming since they see it as a bonus step.

However, my answer is always the same when asked if a primer is required for painting plastic.

Yes, primer is required, and if you’re using regular spray paint, you’ll need a primer designed particularly for plastic.

Primer adds a layer that will aid in the adhesion of the paint.

Think of the primer as the bridge between plastic and paint because plastics are not good at holding the paint.

This prevents bubbles and provides a smooth finish once the model is done.

Apply an even coat of spray primer to the completely clean, sanded, and dry plastic item.

You might have to apply several coats in case of imperfections that need to be leveled out.

Most primer manufacturers say that it takes an hour to dry a primer. So let’s say that priming will take you an hour and a half.

Painting the Model

Painting is the part where a modeler’s creativity shines. Therefore, it is advisable to use acrylic paint to save some time in the painting process since acrylic paint dries in 30 minutes. Thus, it will usually take an hour and a half to paint a model with acrylic paint. Enamel paints, on the other hand, can take three days because of their drying time.

Acrylic paint is the common choice for painting your models.

Acrylic-based paints can be sprayed, brushed, or even found in paint markers.

These paints are also available in a range of sheens or finishes, glossy to matte.

Most model enthusiasts prefer acrylic modeling paint. It’s simple to work with and can be thinned by combining it with water.

However, Acrylic paint is not as long-lasting as spray paint or enamel. Therefore, unless you have a specific requirement for durability, acrylic paint is the best option.

The other choice is enamel paints. However, I believe that enamel paints are only suitable for experienced modelers since it can take 2 to 3 days just to dry enamel paints.

To compare, it only takes 20 to 30 minutes to dry acrylic paint.

That’s why if time is an issue, go with acrylic paint. While it is not as long-lasting as enamel paint, it is beginner-friendly and dries quickly.

Bonus: Which comes first, Painting or Gluing?

There is no straightforward answer if gluing should be done before painting or vice versa. You have to rely on your logic.

It is obvious when and what to paint first and glue second, or vice versa.

Assume you’re assembling a model car. You wouldn’t want to paint the seats and dashboard after the roof and body have been installed.

Painting the smaller parts while they are still attached to the sprue can be a lot easier.

Using overlapping strokes, apply thin coats of paint.

Make sure that all of your strokes are going in the same direction. Then, allow a single, thin coat of paint and allow it to dry.

Use small, natural hair paintbrushes in sizes 0, 2, and 4 for the best results.

Even if you cleaned your brush thoroughly, use a separate brush for metallic paint because it is difficult to get all metallic out of your brush.

Tips On How To Build Model Kits Faster

Building a model kit is one of the most rewarding hobbies – and in our opinion, the best. No other interest permits you to recreate scale models of real-life (or fictional) items with such detail. 

Yet, picking up your first plastic model kit can indeed be daunting. As you already have seen, there are many steps required to finish a model kit, and it can take weeks to complete a hard model kit.

With the number of available items to purchase, just trying to figure out what to buy is overwhelming. This section will guide you through the process, from the first time you step into a hobby shop until your build is complete and you’re ready to grab another kit. 

Tip 1: Selecting Your Kit

Are you a fan of motorbikes, cars, planes, ships, or pop culture (e.g., Star Wars)?

While picking your next scale model, it pays to go with something you are keen on or want to learn more about.

The build process can stretch for months or even years, so do you want to spend the energy on a venture you won’t enjoy from the start to wrap up?

Make sure to find the model you want to build since if you build something you don’t like, the likelihood of not finishing the model is high.

Tip 2: Do Your Homework

After tracking a suitable scale model to build, spend some time researching and finding as much data about the models.

The reality is, the process of building models is almost the same for all. So the more you build models, the easier and faster you’ll be.

Read magazines and search on the internet to get a good idea of how you need your model.

Join forums that provide excellent sources from experienced modelers. You can also watch videos.

Of course, you can also read articles from this website.

Tip 3: Choose A Scale

Choose a scale that you are content with, and remember that the greater the scale, the smaller the models are.

Greater scale models tend to be more for the experienced modeler, but if you’re up for a challenge, remember to follow the instructions with a sharp eye.

Popular scales are 1/4, 1/8, 1/12, 1/16, 1/18, 1/24, 1/32, 1/35, 1/48. 1/72.

Bonus Tip: A larger model might look easier to build since its parts are bigger, but some big models are composed of many small pieces. Thus, be careful when buying big models.

For a guide on Scales, you may check my other post. Here is the link: Model Scale Analysis

Tip 4: Use Right Tools and Adhesives

A woodworker wouldn’t thump nails in without a hammer, and likewise, you shouldn’t begin an undertaking without the vital tools for the job at hand.

You don’t need to have every tool accessible as you start, but a few essential modeling tools from a reliable model kit retailer will start you off on the right foot.

The tools introduced at the start of this blog post are enough.

There are many types of glue, while general knowledge is provided with the model kit, but if you doubt, you should seek guidance through some other sources.

Some kit manufacturers provide you with a sample of glue to get you started. When gluing small parts, use tweezers to make placing the pieces easier.

If you want a guide on glue or cement, I made a comparison between Tamiya regular and extra thin cement. These two are some of the best glue you can use for your build. You can find the comparison here: Tamiya Cement vs. Extra Thin Cement.

Tip 5: Don’t Rush your Build

Scale model making takes time and conceivably numerous years to become an accomplished model maker, so take things slow; building models is a marathon, not a sprint.

Take breaks in-between stages, and ponder how you’re going to tackle the next steps of manufacturing.

Patience will lead to a superior end product.

Tip 6: Use Glue, Primer, Paint

When utilizing any solvent/glue/paint, always make sure you have good ventilation.

Ensure to replace the cap after use and store it in a cool, dry place out of range of children or pets.

Tip 7: Pick the Right Storage

Regardless of what type or size model you are building, there will be many small parts that you can ill afford to lose.

Keep a vacant, clean container or sealable plastic bag nearby to safely store any small or completed parts.

All too often, sometimes small model parts get lost, making it difficult for you to complete your model manufacturing.

Remember to keep your model, its spare parts, and tools in a secure place away from children when you step away. 

Final thoughts

Completing a model kit can take a couple of hours or a couple of days, even a couple of months.

This depends on your competency and enthusiasm.

Whatever your competency level, make sure to be safe while working with tools and paints.

What’s next? Do you know the reliable places both offline and online to buy your models? If you’re not sure, please check my other blog post talking about where to buy and sell models. Here is the link: Model Marketplaces

Only the things I love” is reader-supported. When you buy through links on the site, I earn an affiliate commission.

So, here are the things I love when taking care of my Diecast Models.

Cleaning the Models

The first we are going to talk about is cleaning the models.

Removing Dust

  1. Air Brush – For me, this is the best since it not just removes dust but you can use it in painting/clear coating.
  2. Air Duster – This is a good alternative to Airbrush
  3. Normal Brush – If you are short on budget, you can use a normal brush. However, make sure that the brush has soft bristles because there are some hard brushes than can cause scratches. That’s why I recommended a good brush that can do the job properly.

Cleaning and Shining Hacks

Well, here are some of my cleaning hacks for removing scratches, oxidation, and so much more.

  1. Removing Decal Adhesive – Use Goo Gone on those hard-to-remove decal adhesives. It works fast and works like charm!
  2. Waxing and Polishing – Here is something a lot of people don’t know. Waxing protects the clear coat and paint while polishing shines the model. Instead of buying it separately, use a 2 in 1 to save money. Get this instead.
  3. Beginner Wax – The wax I recommended earlier is good and provides the best results based on my experience. But a beginner might have a problem especially if they’re not good at applying wax. Solid wax reaching hard to reach surface can be hard to remove. You have two choices here. One is to use a qtips to reach those surfaces, another is to use a liquid wax I recommended.
  4. Cleaning Wheels, Rubber, Plastic – Do not forget that rubber and plastic surface are quite different, especially in the cleaning process. Just wiping it down won’t do the job. That’s why I use Meguiar’s Vinyl and Rubber Cleaner and Conditioner. Works like charm!
  5. Make the Wheels Shine! – Making our models look good won’t be complete without tiny details such as shiny wheels! Do not forget this because however small this is, the difference can be as big as night and day.
  6. Remove Scratches Easily – Tiny scratches are not the end for your model. Here is a simple trick I’ve been using to make my models look scratch-free even without repainting. Use T-Cut.

Painting the Models

Painting Tools

Make sure when you paint models, have these ready.

  1. Tape – A tape is important if you are painting a straight line. Furthermore, it will prevent your paint to scatter on other parts. I recommend Tamiya Tape since it is really made for models. Furthermore, they stick really well preventing paint splatters.
  2. Brush (Beginner) – Find a good set of brushes to paint your models. Of course, you can opt for an airbrush but it’s quite expensive.
  3. Airbrush (Intermediate/Expert) – This will yield a significantly better result than an ordinary brush because you can easily spray the paint evenly. I recommend this if you know what you’re doing.
  4. Stand(Optional) – Stands are good because it can be hard to manually hold the models while painting. It is optional but in my opinion, the price is well worth it for the comfort it gives.
  5. Drop Cloths – Drop Cloths will protect your surroundings from the paint.
  6. Primer – The most common beginner mistake I see is painting models without any Primer. A primer will prevent imperfections such as bubbles or paint not sticking to your models. It is a small price to pay for quality results.
  7. Clear Coat – A clear coat will protect the paint of your models. This will make the paint last longer. Also, it is the one responsible for making your models shine.


Of course, you can’t do painting properly without paint. So here are the ones I recommend.

  1. Acrylic PaintGood for beginners because it dries quickly. However, it doesn’t produce results as good as enamel paint.
  2. Enamel PaintProvides a good quality finish and longer-lasting paint. However, it takes longer to dry and requires expertise to use.

Model Maintenance

Model Storage

  1. Simple Wood Cabinet – While it doesn’t let you display your models, wooden cabinets are good storage for these models. For one, they are not heat conductors which means that the temperature inside will remain constant and remain cool. Furthermore, they prevent light from reaching the models which can cause oxidation.
  2. Clear Cabinet with Lock – If you want to display your models, then I recommend this. It closes so dust won’t easily get to your models. I also recommend you don’t put more than 1 model in each compartment since metals are good conductors of heat.

Model Photography

So you want to show off your models to others? Well, I got you covered.

Here is my beginner-friendly model photography tutorial that teaches everything from taking pictures to the editing process.

You will also see me doing hands-on photography in that tutorial.

Here is the link: How to Take Pictures of a Diecast Model or Model Kit | Helpful Illustrated and Video Guide


Model Kit Pro | How to Build a Model Kit

Similar Posts