Author Topic: Zaku Piping Tutorial  (Read 2840 times)


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Zaku Piping Tutorial
« on: November 22, 2009, 04:36:16 PM »
After searching a few different forums and not finding an answer that I liked, I came up with this method for sanding the Zaku piping beads. More or less what you are doing is creating a mandrel out of a cordless drill to help in the sanding process. I know that many of the modelers here probably do this or have a better systems but for those who are starting out this may help a little.

As we all know the piping beads for the Master Grade Zaku's can be a real pain to deal with. There are two main problems to deal with, the first is the two attachment areas per piece and secondly a nice seam runs along the bottom of the piece. The main problem that I ran into is that when you sand down the seam and what is left of the two attachment areas the piece usually isn't that cylindrical anymore and is a real pain to fix. The main benefit of using a mandrel is that since you are spinning the bead while sanding, you can maintain the cylindrical shape fairly easily. So this leaves us with two options sand them down very carefully or find after market piping.

To start off, after cutting the beads off the tree carefully cut the remaining nub down with an exacto knife. However you dont have to be to careful since we be sanding down the part, just try to get close.

Now comes the fun part with the cordless drill. For the mandrel I use a bamboo skewer that is close in size to that of the bead that will be sanded. It doesn't have to be exact because we can use masking tape to built up the diameter of the skewer to a snug fit as needed. I usually cut the skewer into a inch to inch and a half length, so it doesn't snap while sanding. Also when you place the bead on the skewer put the end with the seam at the top of the skewer, it makes it easier to sand.

Starting out I usually use 320 grit sandpaper for the first initial sanding pass. Holding the sandpaper roughly parallel to the bead will sand down the two attachment areas and also sand down any other imperfections that the bead may have. You don't need to spin the drill to fast, just fast enough so that a small amount of material is taken away and that you are in control of the process. Once the side of the bead has been taken care of fold the sandpaper in half so that you have a nice straight edge of sand paper, this will help with the seam at the top of the bead. Holding the sandpaper at roughly a 45 degree angle to the bead start to sand away the seam. Do be careful with the amount of pressure used becasue to much pressure will result in a rounding effect on the edge of the bead.

After the initial sanding I proceed to use 400 or 600 grit sandpaper and repeat the process until I am satisfied with the finish. 400 grit sandpaper will usually be sufficient for most cases since priming will fill any small remaining imperfections.

Below is the final result of about 2-3 minutes worth of effort. While this is not the quickest way the results are worth the effort. I hope that this small tutorial will help someone who has had the same problem.


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Re: Zaku Piping Tutorial
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2009, 03:18:21 AM »
I've seen it explained elsewhere (maybe not on this forum) but this is clear and nicely presented, thanks!


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Re: Zaku Piping Tutorial
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 03:57:37 PM »
Excellent idea for sanding those little buggers down.



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Re: Zaku Piping Tutorial
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2011, 12:38:54 PM »
A lot of old school armor guys do this with tank wheels.
Funny though, I still didn't think about doing it with these type parts.  ???   :doh:
Thanks Silent!
« Last Edit: May 25, 2011, 12:39:22 PM by Grail »
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