Tips for Covering Stick and Tissue Models

other good tips can be found in Chris Parent's finishing notes

Dick Baxter's "Wrinkled Paper Technique"

Covering the Pussycat is easy. Roll the tissue up into a ball and smooth it out as best you can using your fingers on a flat surface. Attach tissue to frame with dope, glue stick, 50/50 water and white glue. Probably anything else that's sticky and doesn't weigh much will work. Avoid shrinking the tissue. It will warp the model all out of shape.

good flying, Dick Baxter

Preshrinking Tissue and using Glue Sticks

With thanks to Tom Sanders for pointing out a couple of key omissions.

This is how I often cover Stick and tissue models. It is not necessarily the best way, just one that works for me.

First, it is a lot easier to cover a model in component pieces that are not glued together. The obligitory photo of the bare framework can be made by lightly tacking the framework together with saliva.

For delicate models that I do not expect to dope, I start by preshrinking the tissue. Lay the tissue on a towel, and spray it with water to shrink it. Let it dry, flip it over and do it again. Once it is dry the second time, I iron it flat with a dry iron, and without concern for the "alligator hide" appearance. The texture provides a bit of natural slack which will help prevent the tissue from warping the structure with later humidity changes. If you can't stand it, and want your tissue smooth and flat, glue it to a balsa frame before spraying with water.

Now trim the tissue to get a bunch of pieces that are a bit bigger than the surface they are going to cover. At least 1/2" bigger in all directions, maybe up to an inch or more, if I am feeling flush.

Next step would be to break out the UHU brand purple glue stick. Give the structure to be covered a coat, smearing the big chunks away with a balsa scrap, and then lay the tissue on the frame. Work it flat by tugging and smoothing. then on to the next piece while the first is drying. If the glue dries on the framework, it can be reactivated with rubbing alcohol. Indeed, some modelers will put glue on the surface and let it dry. Later, when the tissue is applied, the glue is re-activated by brushing on alcohol.

If you can be patient, wait overnight before trimming the excess. That said, I often trim with the glue still wet, and gum up my razor blades and sandpaper. Yup, sandpaper. A few light angled swipes with some 220 grit will cut the tissue right on the edge of the frame. Be careful, though. It is easy to sand through the tissue, and you can unknowingly reshape the wood below it. A new single edged razor or exacto blade will trim the tissue nicely, but there are better, and cheaper blades available

Perhaps the most appropriate readily available blade for trimming tissue is found in twin blade disposable razors. If you are careful, the head of the razor can be teased apart with an X-Acto knife or jeweler's screwdriver, yeilding 2 of the sharpest little blades commonly available. They can be carefully broken in half with fine pliers, or cut with some tin snips. Be extremely careful when handling these blades!! They will cut you in an instant, and I will not be held responsible. If you think you are old enough to do it on your own, but are still in school, get help! Your parents will be really impressed when you ask them, and might even let you stay out later this weekend because you are so responsible. These blades can be inserted into your x-acto knife handle for much easier handling.

If the wing is a flat plate, you can glue in the dihedral, then cover it with one piece. With an airfoiled wing, you will need to cover each panel with a separate piece of tissue.

Once the parts are all covered, they can be glued together with your usual adhesives. I like to lightly tack the wing and tail in place, until I know the angles are all right. Then they can be snugged down with a stronger glue bond if necessary.

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