Building model trains is a great way for dads to bond with their kids. School-age kids, and even some younger kiddos, will love helping you build the perfect layout. Check out these essential tools for model train hobbyists you’ll want to have on hand when you start.
Lots of Pliers
There are dozens of pliers, and you’ll need a couple of different types as you get started in model railroading. Needle nose pliers are very helpful for holding tiny train pieces and bending wires. You can usually find them in the jewelry section of the craft store.
You’ll also want some pliers specifically for model trains, like coupler trip-pin pliers that help you adjust your train’s magnetic couplers.
Another essential tool for model train hobbyists is a hobby knife. These knives have very tiny blades designed for cutting small, exact pieces of crafting material. Because the blades on these are removable, you’ll want to be careful about letting your kids use them. Having a stock of spare blades is also helpful, so you’re never stuck trying to cut with a dull one.
Unless you’re working on an extremely large scale, your regular screwdriver is probably too big for model trains. You’ll need at least one set of precision screwdrivers that can handle tiny screws.
Tweezers are another tool you’ll want to help pick up small model train pieces. We recommend getting ones with angled tips and serrated jaws. They’ll make things much more manageable.
Rulers and Gauges
The National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) makes a series of tools for measuring the correct width and length of pieces based on scale and gauge. You’ll want to have some of these around to double-check the wheel gauge and the accuracy of track pieces.
While there are many tools you can use for building model trains, these are the ones we think are absolute must-haves. If you have younger kiddos, keep anything small or sharp out of reach unless you’re there to provide direction.
We also recommend working with HO scale if you’re sharing this hobby with your children since smaller train sizes require fine motor skills to handle properly. Many hobbyists prefer HO scale because the parts are readily available, and it’s easy to find tools that fit. You don’t need to be a model train expert to ensure you and your kids have fun together!