How to Wet Sand Plastic Model Cars


Plastic model cars are among the most common form of models built and displayed by hobbyists. Manufacturers around the world produce a wide array of designs to keep builders busy. As you're learning how to model it's easy to end up making a mistake, especially when you're painting. The good news is that you can correct most plastic model car issues with the wet sand technique.

Things You'll Need

  • 400-grit wet sand paper (up to 1000-grit)
  • Foam (to wrap the sand paper around)
  • Water
  • Wet your model using warm water and a light detergent or soap (optional). Avoid submerging the model, as water can collect in the interior of the model and take a very long time to dry.

  • Wrap your sand paper around the foam. The foam is used to help the sand paper conform to the plastic cars as you sand them. Note it is easier to use a cloth or mesh based sand paper instead of paper since paper will fall apart from its exposure to moisture.

  • Place the sand paper gently against the model. The less pressure you use the better. It will take longer to sand the model, but will dramatically reduce the risk of damage you could do.

  • Rub the sand paper over the model in a circular motion over the areas you wish to sand. Small circles help concentrate your work and increase your accuracy.

  • Add more water to the model as you are sanding it. This will help to both remove debris as it builds up on the model, as well as keep it lubricated while you sand. A spray bottle filled with warm water is good for removing debris safely.

Tips & Warnings

  • Another great method for removing paint from model cars or miniatures is using Simple Green, a cleaning agent found in most major stores. Simple Green is completely non-toxic and, if left in contact with the model for several hours (or overnight), the paint should come off without too much effort. Be aware that any primer you use may still adhere, but the color will be gone.
  • Don't use the wet sand technique on those sections of the model that are heavily detailed unless you are using a very fine grit. Using sand paper to wet sand details raises the risk you'll actually damage or destroy them.
  • It's important to remove any detergent before you sand. Detergent will bubble on the surface of the model and make it hard to see exactly where you should be sanding.
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