Assembling wooden models is a popular hobby for adults who enjoy putting things together as well as challenging themselves.
The models often first come in the form of wood model kits, which have evolved throughout the years and come in a variety of different themes.
With that said, there is no lack of creativity or themes to pick from when it comes to these sets.
What are wood model kits for adults? Wood model kits are pieces consisting primarily of wooden parts that allow you to create an object by assembling pieces together. Some kits allow you to build a small scale imitation of a larger object, such as a ship, while others can be more intricate and have moving parts, like a clock.
If you are new to wood model kits, there are several factors to think about when purchasing one, including their type, size, and accompanying parts.
You should also consider specific themes you may prefer to have in wooden form.
Our Wooden Model Kit Favorites
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- About Wood Model Kits
- Looking for a Wood Model Kit
- Recommended Wood Model Kits for Adults
About Wood Model Kits
Small scale modeling, or the practice of creating small replicas to scale with original objects, has always been a popular hobby for adults.
However, wooden models, in particular, have their own unique history.
Wooden model “kits” have been around since the early twentieth century, although some early forms of wooden models, such as ships, have existed since as early as the 1700s.
The first known company that created wood models was Monogram, established in 1945. Monogram focused on selling small scale plane building kits out of balsa wood.
One of the first big-name wooden model kit makers was Tamiya, which originated as a sawmill and lumber company in 1946 before moving on to wooden model manufacturing in 1948.
Historically, wood model kit makers would stamp outlines on the wood pieces, which the hobbyist would follow in order to cut out the pieces themselves.
Others would only provide buyers with pieces of wood, leaving it up to the individual to use their own imagination to cut, scale, and detail their wood models.
Of course, the process today is much easier, as modern laser technology allows manufacturers to cut the wood pieces of models in intricate detail so that the user does not have to take this extra step.
So, what made wooden models so popular throughout the decades?
Considering that gaming and other technological gadgets were nonexistent prior to the 1980s, kids and adults alike had a much more “unplugged” lifestyle compared to today.
Wooden model building was the perfect pastime and was a fairly affordable form of recreation, as it still is today.
Many people now collect various wood models, both premade and ready to be assembled, from planes and ships to famous buildings.
Wood Vs. Plastic Models
Plastic models became a regular part of small scale modeling by the 1950s after the company, Revell, discovered that they could use injected molded plastic to create models in addition to wood.
However, there are a few things that make these innovative models quite different than the traditional wood model.
With wooden models, you have the ability to assemble them on your own, while most plastic models already come put together.
The benefit for plastic models here is that you cut out the extra work needed to create a small replica of an object.
However, many wood model hobbyists appreciate the time and effort that go into building such replicas.
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Wooden models that come in kits are usually left unpainted so the builder can decorate it as they see fit.
This allows the hobbyist a certain level of creativity, not only in putting the project together but also in being able to show their artistic side.
Plastic models, on the other hand, usually come already painted or decorated as an exact replica of its full-scale counterpart.
The Wood in Model Kits
Although most wood model kits are composed of balsa wood, they can come in a range of different wood types as well. Many kits can include wood types such as:
Contrary to popular belief, wood model kits are not always solely composed of wooden pieces.
It is common to find cast pieces, brass, or other types of metals within a kit that aid in holding pieces together. You may also find rope, line, paint, and glue included in your kit.
The pieces in wood model kits are usually created using a laser or die-cutting.
The kits range from beginner to experienced, so regardless of your level of experience, you still can find something out there to satisfy your creative modeling needs.
Depending on your level of experience, you may enjoy a snap-together model or one that requires glue to assemble pieces.
Types of Wood Model Kits
Online, you will find a variety of wooden model kits for the model making enthusiast, but there are technically only two different types of models: stationary and mechanical.
Stationary Wooden Models
Stationary models do not have moving parts. This is the type of wood model people are generally familiar with.
The first thing people think of when they imagine stationary wooden model kits are ships.
However, there are plenty of other options now available, including trains, Ferris wheels, aircraft, and even famous buildings like the Taj Mahal.
Mechanical Wooden Models
Mechanical wooden models are models that have been designed to include moving pieces. These are often beautiful pieces of art in themselves.
A few examples of mechanical wooden models are mystery boxes, mechanical horses, and mechanical clocks.
They can be intricate and complex to put together but are a great challenge for those who are up to it.
Interested in challenging yourself even more? Check out the models that made it onto my list of the 10 Best Model Kits for Adults.
Other Elements Needed for Wood Model Building Projects
If you find yourself wondering what other bits and pieces you might find handy if you take up wooden model kits as a hobby, consider some of the following as good options to have on hand.
- Wood glue – Wood glue is good to have on hand for gluing pieces, but it is also handy to have to mend pieces that may have separated. (See my glue recommendations here.)
- Sanding paper – Sandpaper can be used to smooth wooden pieces that may have slight burs.
- Regular candle or paraffin wax – Wax is used to help mechanical pieces, such as gears and axles, move easily.
- Scalpel – This tool is useful if you have wooden parts that are not coming together as cleanly as they should.
- Toothpicks – Toothpicks can be used to poke out tiny pieces that are caught or stuck. They can also be used to help apply wax to moving parts.
- Paint and brushes – Most wood model kits do not come with paint to decorate finished projects, so you may want to invest in a small paint set and brushes (this set contains 12 acrylic paints and 6 brushes) to unleash your creativity!
Benefits of Wood Model Kits for Adults
Adults can benefit from picking up a wood model building hobby for a number of reasons, and there is a multitude of options from which to choose when it comes to wooden model kits.
With everything out there from sleek, elegant, historical ships to a mechanically moving roller coaster, there is something for everyone.
- The wooden model kits are great for gifts for friends and family as well as coworkers. Does your boss love trains? Consider a wooden train model as a gift this year!
- Wooden model kits are also a wonderful way for those who are limited by mobility issues to be able to challenge themselves and their minds in a productive way.
- Wooden model kits are also a fantastic way for families to spend quality time together. Rewards can not only be found in a completed project but also in time well spent with a loved one.
- On the other hand, if you are more of a loner and find that you are bored with your other activities, this is a wonderful boredom buster that also gives you something to show for your efforts when done.
- Wooden models can also help relieve stress and anxiety-related issues by allowing you to focus on a task that takes concentration, time, and effort to achieve.
There’s no doubt that wood model kits are excellent for a variety of reasons (and a lot of fun too).
But if you’re looking to expand your horizons a bit, head over to my model kit section to explore other popular models, such as architectural models, military models, and model cars (here’s a beginner’s guide).
Don’t forget that once your model is fully assembled, you’ll need to perform some periodic cleaning – something not easily accomplished on delicate models.
Looking for a Wood Model Kit
Once you are ready to purchase your own model kit, you will need to consider your own experience level with kits, how much time you are willing to spend putting a kit together, and your budget.
Experience matters when it comes to wooden model kits, but one major benefit to the kits is that you do not have to be an expert to be able to assemble them.
Different kits can accommodate hobbyists from all experience levels; even people new to these kits can successfully put them together with the right set.
With that said, it is important to keep an eye on wood model kits that suit your level of experience.
Tackling a model way beyond your level of experience can be hard and frustrating, which can take away the fun of putting it together.
However, a kit that is too easy to assemble may leave you bored. Keeping your own abilities in mind when picking out your wooden model kit can go a long way in happy crafting.
You can usually tell the experience level required for a wood model kit just by looking at it.
Most beginner sets have fewer moving parts and do not look as intricate as kits built for experienced builders.
A model that is aimed at the beginner will also come with detailed instructions that are easy to follow.
Some manufactures include these instructions with the kit, while others provide them online.
The time involved in creating your wooden model depends on the model and you.
Some models can be assembled in just a few hours, while others, especially those that require glue, can take a substantial amount of time, like a few weeks or even months.
Be sure to look at the model you are interested in to see if it offers an approximate time for assembly.
If it does not offer this, look at the experience level, the components, and the model itself. This should provide you with some indication of how much time it may involve in order to complete.
From there, decide if you are comfortable with spending the required time to put the model together.
Wooden model kits vary in price depending on the manufacturer as well as the kit’s complexity.
If you are purchasing a kit that comes with everything you need to complete the model, including paints, glue, and other accessories, it may cost more than kits that only come with the wooden pieces.
Recommended Wood Model Kits for Adults
For all wood model enthusiasts, the following are some of my top three recommended wood model kits (all of which can be found on Amazon):
- Da Vinci’s DIY Science and Engineering Construction Kit.
- Ugears 3D Mechanical Antique Treasure Box Model.
- ROKR Mechanical 3D Wooden Puzzle Model Kit.
Each kit is unique and great for those wanting to get into wood model building.
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Created by National Geographic, this comprehensive kit provides you with three different models to create: a catapult, bombard, and ballista.
All of the functioning models are made of laser-die wooden components, and everything you need to build all of these models is included in the kit:
- User-friendly instructions.
- Sandpaper for sanding down rough spots.
- Rubber bands.
- Laser-cut wooden pieces.
*Note: Glue is not a requirement for this kit, although it is recommended for certain pieces. If you use glue, keep in mind that some pieces are meant to move freely for the model to work.
The assembly time for these models is approximately 1 to 3 hours per model, which is perfect for beginners.
Once the models are assembled, they can be used to shoot small, light projectiles up to 15 feet in distance. The kit also comes with target boards for which to aim your ammo.
Overall, this wood model kit allows multiple people to work on the assembly together, making it great for adults and children, too.
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The Ugears Antique Treasure box is a 3D puzzle that, when fully assembled, will create a beautiful functioning treasure box to hold your keepsakes.
The plywood model comes with precut details to make it truly unique, including intricate floral carvings.
In addition, you will find that this simple trinket box is also filled with secret compartments inside, which are activated by mechanical maneuvers after you have opened up the lid.
The model is easy to assemble with the detailed step-by-step instructions provided with the kit and when finished, will measure 17 1/2 cm x 14 cm x 10 cm in size.
Overall, the estimated time it takes to construct this project ranges from 4 to 8 hours, suitable for intermediate builders who may have already put together a wood model before.
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The Waterwheel Coaster 3D puzzle is a unique wood model for adults to enjoy with its roller coaster design.
The creators of this model believe in providing the hobbyist with beautiful working models, and this kit is certainly no different with its eye-catching design.
Using environmentally friendly wood products, the pieces that come with this model are non-toxic and, therefore, safe for adults and teens to use.
With approximately 233 components, this model is sure to challenge your mind and keep your hands occupied.
It can provide a little bit of a challenge without being too intricate for beginners. The model also comes with clear instructions with illustrations to guide you along the way.
The assembly time for this particular model is 4 to 8 hours and is ideal for beginner builders.
The final model measures up to be 252 mm x 230 mm x 165 mm and functions as a 3D puzzle marble run after it has been put together.
Overall, the model can serve as a stunning display on a table piece or a functional form of entertainment, making it enjoyable for builders of all ages.
Finding a new hobby or craft as an adult can be a wonderful way to relieve stress or general boredom.
Wooden model kits are great pastimes for those who love puzzles, models, and crafting.
Assembling models allows you to engage in a thought-provoking, challenging enterprise that can take as little as a few hours or as long as a few months to complete.
If you are ready to pick up wood model making, consider your general experience with wood models, the amount of time you are willing to spend on a given project, and the cost.
Finding the right kit will ensure that you enjoy your new venture right from the start and that you will appreciate this popular hobby for many years to come.