You may have already come across some of these knives but this collection will generally get you going with miniature model surgery. There are plenty of other fancy/crazy blades, but these are the workhorses of most tasks. I shouldn’t need to say be careful, but seriously, BE CAREFUL! Generally sharp blades makes cutting easier and quicker which means it’s easier for accidents to happen if you slip.
If you have several of the same kind of knife (scalpels for example), you can distinguish between them by adding some kind of marker to either the knife or blade. I wrapped coloured tape to my scalpels so that I can easily pick up the right one without checking the blade tip. I also find sometimes holding a scalpel for long periods can hurt the finger a bit, so I got a foam bit from a writing pen and shoved that on. The scalpel now has a softer grip.
Scalpel Blade no.10A & Blade no.11
The sharp point is great to do centre marking for drill bits and great for precision cutting. Both are similar but after a while you may find particular uses for each version. I find no.11 (top blade in pic) good for marking out and nipping in tight spaces. The no.10A Blade (bottom blade in pic) I find good for more solid cuts, where I can hack down in a more general cutting sort of way.
Scalpel Blade no.12 (Hook blade)
This is great for cutting curves. The tip can break off quite easily, so try to keep the blade vertical when cutting.
Scalpels Blade no.15
This is fantastic for mould lines and scraping things gently away. With care you can take paint down layer by layer and tidy up fine lining. None of this back-of-the-knife scraping stuff, this can neatly do curved recessed areas. This is a must have blade and what I use the most.
Snap off craft Blades
These are for general usage, good for simple cuts, chopping etc. Blades can dull easily, so lots of spares are a good idea. Sometimes you can find cheap blades or disposable packs. The yellow knife is from a pack of 10. This can be handy, but be careful as the cheapness tends to have flimsy (thin) blades and they dull quicker. You may also notice on the yellow knife, the blade is actually starting to rust up – that’s how cheap it can get. It’s worth having at least one quality craft knife you can rely on.
Stanley knifes/ bigger craft knifes
These tend to be a bit of an overkill when it comes to miniature models, but they still have their use for things like cutting big sheets of material down.
These are cool. Great for doing panel lines etc. Normal they’re supposed to be used with handles, but I find better control just using the blade on its own. The small P-Blade has a strip of putty added to make pressing down easier on the fingertip.
If getting one of these, try to get a quality version and avoid the cheapest as it’ll only be good for cutting paper. It does have limitations such as the size of circle it can cut and thickness of material. These look like they got the right idea, but getting them to work on dense material is hard work. Blades wear out pretty quick. You have to work lightly with this. The deeper the material to be cut, the more chance the blade has to wander off as it’s under more pressure. With thicker material, I sometimes find using Scalpel Blade no.12 helps finish the job.
Hope this guide helps, especially the no.15 scalpel blade. Remember to be careful and responsible with your knifes. Cutting requires more than just tools, but technique. With practice, you’ll be able to use your blades in more ways than just cutting. For example carving is great practice to get familiar with your knife. Just be careful!