Airfield Models - How To

How to Silk a Model Airplane Wing

May 05, 2015

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Back to Silking a Wing


Airfield Models ( Miscellaneous Items

All parts that are silked must be sealed as explained in Part 2 of this series.


Tools and Supplies Needed

  • Excellent ventilation.

  • Clear Nitrate or Butyrate dope thinned to brushing consistency.  Do not use retarder.

    If you used butyrate dope to seal these components then you must use butyrate dope to attach the silk.  If you used nitrate dope then you can use either nitrate or butyrate dope to attach the silk.

  • Dope thinner.

  • Flat 1/2" or 1" natural hair paint brush.

  • Acetone for clean up.

  • Paper towels.

  • Sandpaper and sanding blocks to remove excess silk.


Silking Miscellaneous Components

Silk is stretched over a frame to apply the silk to small, flat parts. Silk is very easy to apply to solid areas.  Often there are tiny wrinkles that are easily stretched out.  In many cases a dark line remains where the wrinkle used to be.

I wanted to avoid that problem on the wing servo hatches so I decide to apply the silk in a different manner.

Wet silk was applied to the frame, stretched and doped around the perimeter.

This is the same frame I use to test various finishes.  Most coverings peel off easily.  The frame is sanded and it's put away until next time.

The servo hatches are sealed with dope and temporarily mounted using double-sided tape. The servo hatches were finished sanded and sealed with several coats of dope on both sides.

All holes were well sealed because exhaust oil has a bad habit of creeping everywhere.  I really don't like fuel-soaked model aircraft.

A couple pieces of light-duty double-sided tape hold the hatches in place.

Place the silked frame over the hatches and clamp in place. The frame is aligned over the hatches and held in position using magnets.
Apply two coats of dope to attach the silk to the servo hatches. Brush on two coats of dope.  Allow to dry thoroughly.

I used a sharp razor to cut the silk around the inside perimeter of the frame while everything was still clamped to the board.

Trim excess silk with a razor leaving enough to wrap around the edges of the hatch. Use a straightedge and a razor blade to trim the excess silk.  Leave enough to wrap around each edge.
Apply dope to the exposed edge of the hatch and the inside of the silk.  Wrap the silk and rub it down. Wrap the silk around the hatch one edge at a time.  Apply dope to the exposed edge of the hatch and to the inside of the silk to soften the dope already in the silk.

Wrap the silk around and rub it down with your finger.

Sand away excess covering. Excess silk was sanded away.  I used a conical sander in a Dremel to open the holes to give them the neatest possible appearance.

The hatch is now ready for finish coats or sanding sealer to fill the weave if opaque colors will be used.

The silked hatch in the unfinished wing. The silked hatch in the unfinished wing.


Silking Ailerons
Sealing and Shrinking the Silk

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Copyright 2009 Paul K. Johnson