5 Ways To Make A DIY Painting Stand For Gunpla

Completed wooden painting stand.

If you’re looking to go the extra mile with their Gunpla, a painting stand is vital for giving your pieces time and space to dry after a spray paint or airbrush session. Fortunately, painting stands are easy enough to DIY! In this tutorial, contributor Doug Wilder has shared with us a few different ways to make your own painting stand. 

When I began learning to paint my Gunpla kits, I wanted to get going as soon as the paint arrived in the mail! I didn’t have a painting stand yet, so I decided the fastest (and cheapest) way to get one would be to build my own. 

A DIY paint stand can be built for little or no cost, and you might already have most of the materials around your house (or in the recycling bin). Depending on what you have, you can use this tutorial as a Choose Your Own Adventure for making the painting stand of your choice. 

For all of these tutorials, you’ll need painting sticks that clip to your Gunpla parts and hold pieces in place while they dry. You can buy these already made or read the Gunpla 101 top coat guide to find out how to make your own out of bamboo skewers. 

Simple Cardboard Painting Stand

Cardboard is probably the easiest material to come by for making a painting stand.  If you had your latest Gunpla kit come to you in the mail, chances are it came in a cardboard box.  

All you’ll need are some paperweights and a cardboard box. Just turn the box over and weigh it down, stick the skewers through the cardboard, et voila: a painting stand in a pinch.

A few notes on picking your cardboard box: look for a sturdy one that you can lay down on one side. If the box has side flaps that can stick out, weigh them down with a heavy object so it’s less likely to tip over or get caught by a stray gust of wind. A few good rocks work just fine.

Once your box is weighed down and in position, simply stick your painting skewers into it. This is my quickest technique for making a painting stand. It’s really good if you’re in a hurry. The downside is, you won’t get too many uses out of it before it’s time to replace it. 

Layered Cardboard Painting Stand

This method takes a bit more time to build, but will last a little longer than just sticking skewers into a box. You can also cut it to your preferred dimensions to better suit your painting project. You’ll need: 

Using your knife or scissors, cut strips from the box. In my photos, the strips I cut were approximately 4”x7.5” (10.15 cm x 19 cm), but you can choose your own size. Just make sure the size you choose is consistent: one way to avoid measuring over and over as you make multiple strips is to first cut out one piece and use it as a template for the rest. 

Once you have a decent-sized stack of strips, start gluing them together with some craft glue (a bottle or a stick is fine). Make sure all your pieces are as close to level as possible. If you have access to a bar clamp, you may find it helpful to use it to hold all the pieces together while the glue dries. Just don’t add too much pressure, or you’ll crush the cardboard!  

Two types of cardboard.

Once everything is dry, you can start using the cardboard to hold up your skewers.  You’ll notice in this sample I used two different types, both corrugated (the kind with honeycomb-like holes) and normal cardboard. After trying both, I preferred the former. The advantage of using corrugated cardboard is that you’ll have premade spots for your skewers.

Circular Cardboard Painting Stand

When it comes to cardboard painting stands, the sky’s the limit! Here is another technique for a standalone painting stand, and all you’ll need is some cardboard and Scotch tape

Cut a long strip of cardboard, about one inch tall and as long as you can manage. Take one edge and curl it into a spiral, wrapping it tightly. When you run out of cardboard to wind around itself, secure it with tape and add another strip of cardboard. Repeat as many times as you need to reach the desired size for your painting stand. 

The benefit of the circular painting stand is that it’s compact and easy to store. It’s also adjustable—by pushing the cardboard in the center up from the bottom, you can stick your painting skewers on multiple “tiers” that mimic a wedding cake, maximizing vertical space so bulky pieces won’t accidentally touch each other if they shift slightly while they’re drying. 

Styrofoam Painting Stand

All you need to do to use styrofoam as a paint stand is to find a piece that is thick enough to support some skewers, and use a sturdy pair of scissors to cut it to the dimensions you prefer. It doesn’t get easier than that. And styrofoam is often free: in the aforementioned top coat tutorial, Lauren found some in the communal recycling bin behind her apartment! 

An important tip to remember when using foam as a paint stand is to put pieces in the center first and slowly work your way out. If you start on the outside, the foam might tip over.

The downside to using styrofoam blocks is that over time it will start to degrade and chunks will fall out, which not only means losing your paint stand’s effectiveness, but also makes a mess to clean up! Even very sturdy foam like the kind used for floral arrangements will start to fall apart after lots of use.  The piece of styrofoam pictured in my example above had already seen its share of use from applying topcoat onto one Master Grade kit and painting one High Grade kit. You can already see lots of holes in it. It did the job, but then I had to throw it out. 

Wood Block Painting Stand

Here’s a more substantial craft project than simply sourcing a block of foam or turning a cardboard box upside down. If you have a little more time and want to make a painting stand that will really hold up to long term use, you can make a painting stand out of a block of wood. You’ll need:

*The drill bit size is approximate. You’ll be using it to drill holes to fit your skewers in, so it will need to be large enough to drill a hole your skewer can fit in snugly. For me, this size worked.

For this example, I used a section of 2×4 that I had available from a previous woodworking project. That said, you can use nearly any size board you want so long as it is thick enough to hold your paint skewers in place. If you don’t have any pieces that are as thick as I suggest (1.5 inches), you can glue two together with wood glue.

Lay your wood block flat, and from one corner measure 1 inch in from the edge. Repeat this from the opposite side. Next, from the middle point between your two marks, measure 1 inch in from the edge and make a mark in the center of the board. Then, measure another inch away from that to start the process over again. You will be making a pattern that resembles an X, or the five-dot side of a six-sided die.  

Now we’re ready to drill.  Always remember to wear proper safety gear and follow safe practices when using any tool, especially power tools.  

Check to make sure your drill bit is just a little bit bigger than the skewers you are using.  If you aren’t sure if it’s the right size, make a test hole with the SMALLEST possible bit first. Remember, you can always make the hole a little bigger by increasing the size of the bit, but you can’t make it smaller.  

Using a drill bit roughly the same width as the painting sticks.

Using the drill, make a hole about three-quarters of the way through the wooden block at your marked points. Be careful not to drill all the way through.  If you’re not sure if the hole is deep enough, place one of your skewers into it and see if it tips over. If it doesn’t, you’re good!  

Now you’ve got a handy paint stand that you made yourself and will hold up to lots of use. You can even decorate it if you want with paint or stickers. Happy painting! 

Doug Wilder is a long time Gundam fan who recently came back to the Gunpla hobby after his self-control was broken by the release of the Master Grade Deep Striker. When not hosting panels about Gundam and other giant robot anime series at conventions, Doug can be found on the AnimeCons TV podcast.

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  • You know what I used? A strainer basket (those with lots of small holes).
    Find one with the hole size just a little bit bigger than the wooden sticks, turn it over and put some anti slip mat at the bottom (the ones for car dashboard – get the cheap generic ones in a roll, not from car accessories section which are usually overpriced), fasten them together (tape, glue, whatever you have) and voila, a holder with many holes that can be reused over and over and over.
    (Would love to send a pic but can’t post it in the comment).

    • I love this Macguyver-esque solution! One day we’ll need to do a round-up of all the Gunpla-building workarounds that readers have come up with in a pinch.

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