Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

What to splurge on for your workbench

If you’re ready for pricier upgrades, here are the hobby items to look at
Rick Troutman of Lynchburg, Virginia, knew the upfront cost of protective glass cases was worth it for the safety of his builds. “These lighted cases make for easy viewing while protecting the planes from people and dust. My goal is to have one example of every aircraft type from World War II in the collection.”

So, you’ve saved up and are ready to purchase a few pricier picks that will make your hobby room sing. What items are really worth the higher price tag? What specialty products would make building more enjoyable?

Here are the fancier items FSM swears by, many of our readers own, and are totally justifiable with the right amount of space and cash.

  • Lighted cases — You’ve spent hours on your creations; you should show them off — safely! Purchase glass display cases with interior lights. Now you can showcase your models while knowing they are protected from the elements and wandering hands.
  • Chair — Standing may be healthier, but it doesn’t lend itself well to the fine detail work of model building. You need to be able to sit comfortably, without slouching, so you can work steadily and for long periods of time. Don’t sabotage your relaxation with an uncomfortable chair. Throw money at something with support and cushion, and preferably with a seat that can be raised, lowered, and swivels.

Dan Pocek of Walton Hills, Ohio, might have a small space, but he still prioritizes comfort with a supportive chair. He knows that it adds to his enjoyment of the hobby. “My workshop is 4-feet, 6-inches wide by 9-feet long and is located under the basement steps. It may be jam-packed, but, since I do mostly military miniatures, it works just fine.”
  • Paint racks — You’re going to collect a lot of paints, so it’s best to have specific shelving meant for storing small bottles. If you’re short on wall space, look at Doc O’Brien’s Paint Tower, a vertical storage tower that can hold 56 bottles of paint.
  • Magnifying Visor — Go easy on your eyes with a lens that helps you see details. Prices vary for this specialty item. Be sure to get a set that fits your face and head comfortably and be on the lookout for one that includes interchangeable lenses of different magnifications. 

This magnifying visor from OptiSIGHT checks all the boxes for easy hands-free magnification.
  • Tool organizers — HobbyZone USA is where it’s at when it comes to modeling-specific organizers. They have brush holders, model stands, pallets, part holders, storage drawers, and as many module setups that you could ever want. But no matter what brand you buy, look for ones that are easy to clean.
  • Secretary desk — A beautiful, sturdy desk can last a lifetime. Purchase one with a retractable lid and keep your models safe in-between build sessions.

Warren Graser of Elkton, Maryland, swears by his sturdy workspace. “When it comes to workbenches, my personal preference is the classic secretary’s desk. This allows me to protect everything when I am not working. It has served me well for more than 40 years.”
  • Desks with storage — If a secretary desk isn’t in the cards, consider a workbench that includes shelves, drawers, or cubbies. If the storage space is built in, you might actually save money because you won’t have to buy additional storage containers. 

Charles Spencer of Mundelein, Illinois, uses a desk with built-in cubbies below the worktop to corral many of his tools. “My corner of the basement is almost overflowing! The workbench is from a laboratory I once worked at — perfect for storing longer tools and those with cords.”
  • Spray booth — Airbrushes and spray cans push out a lot of paint and not all of it makes it to the target model. Overspray on walls and your workbench might be OK, especially if you aren’t fussy about the decor. But the one place you don’t want stray paint particles going is your lungs. Or the pilot light on the water heater. (OK, so there are two places you don’t want paint fumes.) Invest in a good spray booth to avoid problems. The typical size of the models you work on will govern the booth size. That, in turn, will govern the power of the fan — this is one tool you’ll be happy to say really sucks! Make sure the fan draws the paint fumes through a filter and out of the workshop to the great outdoors. If you prefer to build your own booth, find inspiration on the FSM forums by typing in “build spray booth.”
  • 3D-printer — These machines are gaining popularity by the hour. With the technological know-how, you can design and print your own scale models and accessories. You’re going to pay a high price for both the printer and materials, but your creativity will know no bounds with a piece like this. 

Read and share your comments on this article

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.


Essential finishing techniques for scale modelers.
By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.