Turning Plastic into Wood — Finishing Techniques that add Realism

Turning Plastic into Wood — Finishing Techniques that add Realism

There’s nothing wrong with plastic. Plastic is everywhere and well-integrated into our daily lives. However, if you’re flying a WW I biplane or perhaps a Golden Age aircraft such as a Piper Cub or Tiger Moth, perhaps you’d prefer wood — at least on the parts that are typically made of wood. The performance of an electric prop is indisputable, as is the beauty of a varnished propeller — what to do? I think that there’s a way to have both. Welcome to a quick tutorial on faux finishing, or turning plastic into wood! This tutorial will explain the basics of faux finishing, or making something appear to be something else.



First you have to decide what type of wood you are simulating: Spruce? Mahogany? Birch plywood? These three types of wood can be categorized simply as “light, medium, and dark” and each requires different color combinations. For the purposes of this article, I chose to simulate the spruce interplane struts of the Tiger Moth and created a German Axial propeller from an ordinary APC gray electric prop. Once you’ve identified the o’ ending plastic items to be transformed into gleaming varnished wood, you’ll need to thoroughly clean them with soap and water, followed by alcohol.


It’s not a bad idea to wear latex gloves as oil from your fingers will compromise adhesion of your paint to the plastic — especially if you are using water-based paints…

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Updated: July 21, 2016 — 10:56 AM
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