Tabs? Do we really need them?

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by thewoodengraver, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. thewoodengraver

    thewoodengraver Active Member

    I don't know the answer to this question.

    I'm sure you all know my opinion by now...if you don't, look at my signature.
    Since my signature changes almost daily, I will tell you it says;
    "Tabs on cardmodels are like training wheels on a bicycle. Recognize the edges as a viable dimension".

    I'm not an I really want to ask everybodys opinion.

    Are tabs for beginners? Because I have found that using tabs greatly reduces my accuracy.

    If tabs are needed, use internal tabs instead of attached tabs?

    If we can glue the edges of cardstock, why is there a tab?

    We can cut, with our knives/scissors, accurately within ten thousandths of an inch, we can score precisely down the center of a 2 pixel line, but we use the tabs, in my opinion, that were provided for beginners.

    Please me find reality in this topic...
  2. Clashster

    Clashster Member

    Before joining this forum, the few paper builds I did used the tabs attached to the pieces and I was never really satisfied with the result. After looking at some pictures and reading what others were doing, I tried butt glueing or using a backing tabs (not attached). The results were much more to my liking. Of course, now I need to improve my modeling skills! You know, when I look at my model, I say "Wow! that looks like what they do on CardModel.Net!" Then I take a picture, post it and say "Whoa! What was I thinking!!!"

  3. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

    I never went for butt glueing for my glue was not good enough, but I find tabs to be reasonably okay in the following case:

    If they are on parts with angled edges rather than curved ones.
    If they are on not-so-visible parts that is not too big in size.
    If they are on a small model and I'm too lazy to do backing tabs :D

    Otherwise I'm increasingly doing backing tabs there days, but I think attached tabs are good for beginners.
  4. Elliott

    Elliott Senior Member

    OK - I'll bite. Thought I understood most terms but am somewhat puzzled by this one. Backing tabs?? Are these pieces glued behind the joint as when constructing tubes in order to strengthen the joint? A picture here would be worth a great deal.


  5. Texman

    Texman Guest

    Well well well. Something that I can actually factually speak to. Yes, tabs are needed. For some people. Definetly for the beginners. It gives them a way to put a kit together easily, while allowing them to gain the skill and knowledge of how the kits go together. As their skills and knowledge improve, as their successes build, they will strive to improve themselves, thus leading to the vision of removing the tabs and using joining strips, resulting in some of the smooth joints we see now.

    So, yes, they do serve a purpose.

  6. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

    Elliot -- Sorry I don't have a picture for now, but go to Jan Muller's site,:
    The tabs on his models are all backing tab type, which you glue the tabs on the back of BOTH parts to be joined.

    While models unrolled with Pepakura, e.g. on Mizuirogakuen:
    uses what's considered to be "normal" or "basic" tabs that attaches directly with ONE of the parts, and you join it to the other one.
  7. papertrain

    papertrain Member

    From a designers point of view I include the tabs so that those that like tabs can use them and those that dont can mearly ignore them and cut them off. Some of what I do is geared more for the experienced modeler such as my latest project but yet I have included the tabs. As for my self, on what I do I like to have them and since I model in 1/4 " scale they do not hamper the appearecne of the finished project and gives me greater gluing surface. If one was to build my model and scale it the way Phil does, the tabs would most certianly be a hinderance since they would only be 1/32 of an inch wide.:twisted: I can see it now...building my 16" mallet 3" long useing the tabs, certainly enough to drive anyone up a wall.:grin: It is difficult enough trying to find the peices you put together without that electron microscope.8) I will include that tabs so that someone that useing the mallett for thier first build can at least have something to blame if it does not turn out.:oops: IT WAS ALL BECAUSE I HAD TO USE THE TABS.:grin: :wink:
  8. Dave Treby

    Dave Treby Member

    I think it varies. Tabs are sometimes useful and sometimes best avoided. If there is a largish straightsided block to fit on a base plate, tabs help keep the side stright and make it easier to fit the unit accurately, especially if you can get inside and make the joint with a straight edge. For fixing hull sides to a ships base and deck tabs help.
    In smaller parts tabs can make joints more difficult to position, and very small tabs make shaping a part more awkward and serve no purpose at all. Tabs at corners are probably best replaced with an internal piece, and if you're trying to make a cylinder why would you make a step in it by using a tab rather than a backing piece?
    Talking of things we don't want why do we need black lines on a part to mark fold? The corners of my house aren't coloured black why should corner on models be? Wouldn't marks off the part do the job? Mind you I've never designed anything, so what do I know?
  9. jparenti

    jparenti Member

    I like backing tabs, the kind that are cut out seperately and glued behind the main parts. Those are necessary. Gluing together some of these pieces without a backing tab would result in an ugly joint, or worse (gasp)... A GAP!! :grin: Tabs help line the pieces up.
    As far as tabs that are connected to the actual part, they work well in two situations: when they are on right angles and get scored (think the edge of a cube) or when they are hidden from view. Attached tabs on a cylinder are a no-no in my book.
  10. B-Manic

    B-Manic Peripheral Visionary

    I agree with Dave . Sometimes tabs are required, the trick is using the right kind. I often cut off the simple tabs and make my own backing tabs. Sometimes, I cut them off completley, especially for small parts or where a clean edge is required.
  11. MOS95B

    MOS95B Member

    As a novixe level modeller, I have to say I like and/or need the tabs. But, I have also intentionally removed a few tabs where even I felt they were in the way. I hadn't thought of the backing tabs to this point, but I'll definitely have to try them

    So, as a builder only, I would request designers provide the tabs for us noobs. Then the modeller can remove them as desired/needed.
  12. thewoodengraver

    thewoodengraver Active Member

    PHEW! Okay, I get it now, it pretty much boils down to personal preference.

    O' course, I will still design mostly without tabs, you can draw them if you need them. Or want them. Or like shame at all! I will stop trying to make you all feel bad for using them! lol
  13. lizzienewell

    lizzienewell Member

    I mostly makesurfaces in double thickness--the glue surface is the entire surface. Each of the layers folds in a different place so the corners are all a single thickness and the surfaces are laminated. I like this because the parts key together without the difficulty of lining up tabs. The result is quite solid. I suppose as much as anything I like the challenge of figureing out how to design the model to fit together this way. Call me weird, I like the mental gymnasitics of figuring out how to lay out the parts so that every edge has a fold.

    Here is my scale cube designed with this method. In tab build methods I don't know how you would get on both sides of the last joint to hold it shut. With this design by the time I get to the last surface, the undersurface is solidly in place so there is something to push against.

    Attached Files:

  14. Maurice

    Maurice Member


    Nah, you've lost me.
    So for the questions no one else thought (or was brave enough) to ask. :grin:

    Are the patterned squares exactly the same size as the plain squares ?
    Which bits of the total rectangle don't you use ?
    If you omit the undivided bits that are 3 and 4 squares in area why are there still more inside faces than outside ?
    Are there any cuts other than on the ouside edges of the area you use ?
    And what sequence do you use for folding ?

    I think that's all. :)


    Attached Files:

  15. mbauer

    mbauer Cardstock Model designer

    Tabs are cheaper than electron microscopes... Easier to use too!
  16. MOS95B

    MOS95B Member

    Fur the people that mentioned how the tabs "mess up the edge", heres what I do...

    When the tabbed part sticks up too high (tubes, potential butt joints, etc) I use the big end of the embossing tool I use for scoring, to press the part out from the inside. Rub it along the joint a few times from the inside and it pushes the low part back up to flush. Or at least close enough for my standards...

    I wish I had pics to help with this description, but I don't. so I hope y'all know what I meant....
  17. The-Jazzman

    The-Jazzman Member

    I like my models to be sealed up tight with no gaps and NO white showing.

    So yes Tabs are necessary to accomplish that. The bigger the part the more tabs needed to prevent gaps and seems. The smaller the parts the less are needed..In fact small parts fit better with no tabs. Large parts fit better with tabs.
  18. paper warrior

    paper warrior Member

    For veeeeeeerrryyyy small pieces, i cut the tabs off, however, they are quite handy on larger parts.
  19. thewoodengraver

    thewoodengraver Active Member

    I agree with what I think you meant...(what did he say?)...
    Cardstock can be formed, molded, shaped, compressed and even spot-welded (my favorite technique, use smoothe-jaw needle-nose).
    So, if you compress the joint where there is an overlap, you can "hide" that overlap.
  20. ekuth

    ekuth Active Member

    I'll throw in my 2c...

    When I began building them, I found myself both liking and hating them. This rapidly became hating them completely.

    Thus, I rapidly found myself cutting them off of models that had them and using backing tabs. I still work this way on 80% of my models, having not mastered the butt edge glue technique... (probably due to my lack of patience with holding parts until they dry).

    So, I guess I weigh in on the kill them! kill them all! side of the scale.

    Backing tabs. All the way.

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