How to Make Rivets on Scale Aircraft

Updated February 21, 2017

As a model maker improves in the craft, there's often a greater importance placed on increasing the look of realism of the models created. Model aircraft makers, due to limitations on the moulding process, often have to compromise on moulded details, going more towards the general look of a model rather than true, life-like features. One compromise that's often made is leaving out the rivets in the panel joints of model aircraft. Recreating these rivets can add greatly to the model's realism and reflecting the manufacturing process of actual aircraft; and it can be done by hand to good effect.

Cut a strip of metal long enough to fit the length of the rivet lines on the aircraft. Aluminium or brass purchased from a model hobby shop or craft store is a good material to use.

Lay the metal strip onto the model along the line on which you intend to place the rivets. Tape the strip into place using the clear tape, securing the strip on the side away from the rivet line.

Use the pounce wheel and run it with a light pressure along the edge of the metal strip, using the strip as a guide for the tool. The pounce wheel is a metal toothed wheel on the end of a small handle, which will create small perforations in the surface of the model, leaving a straight line of holes extending just below the model surface, but not all the way through it. You can buy a pounce wheel at most arts and crafts shops, in a variety of gauges for differently-spaced rivet lines.

Remove the taped metal strip form the model.

Paint the model aircraft as you normally would, applying a coat of primer paint and allowing it to dry before applying the final colours to your aircraft.

Dry-brush the row of rivets by dipping the paintbrush into a grey metal paint and then using a paper towel to remove most of the paint from the brush. Lightly apply this dry brush to the line of rivets, making the line of rivets stand out from the surrounding paint scheme.

Apply a wash layer of paint to the rivets. Create the wash using a mixture of one part black paint to nine parts water. Apply the mixture to the row of rivets with the paintbrush, ageing the look of the metal rivets and blending the rivets into the surrounding paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Model
  • Pounce Wheel
  • ¼-inch-wide flexible metal strip
  • Clear tape
  • Paint metallic grey
  • Paint black
  • Water
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About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.