AXM 1/100 Starship 24 with technique


Mar 23, 2020
Let me just say that I am by no means an expert. I have only been building paper models for a few years and have just a handful of completions. I am in no way saying this is the best or only way to do this. But it does work for me. This is a technique I developed while trying to build a 1/48 Mercury Redstone and was not satisfied with my results. I probably built the body of that model 4 or 5 times at least until I got it right. If someone has done this before, then I apologize, it was new to me when it popped into my head. I hope I can explain this to where it makes sense. The technique is not complicated or difficult, but my ability to explain it may leave something to be desired.

One of the things that I did not like on my first attempt to build a rocket was the results from the glue seam. Most rocket bodies are made of a square or rectangular printed panel that must be rolled into a tube shape, with a glue seam running down the vertical length of the tube. To make this glue connection, usually a tab is cut to match the length of the seam, then one half of the tab is glue to one side of the glue seam on the inside of the tube, then the other half is glued to the inside of the other side of the seam, to make the connection. The problem with this type of tab connection is that it is easy to kink the body tube at the edge of the glue tab if you dumb thumb the model with gorilla hands like I do. See the first image of a Mercury Redstone body. You can see the kink of the body at the edge of the internal glue tab running the length of the tab/rocket. I had even put a curve in the tab to match the curve of the body tube. Second image shows the kink eliminated by being built as described below.

My solution to eliminating the kink was to come up with what I call “Tube within a tube”. Basically, I make another body tube, unglued and springy. I then use that new tube to act as a glue tab for the printed body, while also acting as a coiled spring that helps force the printed tube into a true cylinder, while also making the body stronger. Let me explain…

For a single glue seam body tube… Let’s say the section of tube is supposed to be 10 inches tall, and the diameter is supposed to be 2”. This would give you a printed panel of 10” x 6.283”. I cut a piece of blank cardstock to be 10” x 8.5 inches. I roll and shape the printed panel to where it is as close to the finished cylinder shape it is supposed to be. I draw a line on the blank piece at about 2” in, running the full length of the 10”. Basically, the line gives you a 10’ x 2” rectangle on the blank piece. This line is where I line up the glue seam. On the 2” side of the line, I roll/form the piece to match the curve of the printed cylinder, on the 6.5” side of the line, I leave this flat and unformed. I need this piece to have spring and still want to expand outward against the printed body tube.

I glue one side of the printed panel seam to the blank piece, on side of the pencil line that puts the formed part of the blank piece inside the tube first. The 6.5” flat piece is still sticking out. I only apply glue to the inside of the printed piece about 1/8”. I am not trying to glue the entire blank piece to the entire inside of the printed tube. When this dries, I roll the remining flat portion of the blank piece into a tube and apply paper clips to the ends to keep it from unrolling. It has to be rolled and clipped into a tube slightly smaller than the finished printed body tube. I then apply another bead of glue to the remaining side of the printed piece and glue it to the other side of the pencil line, lining up the two edges of the printed piece. When I am sure that the glue is set and the seam will stay intact, I remove the paper clips and let the inner blank tube expand outward against the printed body tube.

Why do this? This “inner” tube has no hard edges that can kink the printed tube, the way a simple glue tab can. Plus, the “spring” action of the inner tube goes a long way towards making the printed tube a true cylinder, without relying solely on circular bulkheads for the round shape. While not glued together completely, the inner tube also adds a lot of strength to the length of the rocket.

Since most models do have bulkheads, you would need make bulkheads with a circle cutter that would be small enough to fit within the double layers (2 tubes instead of 1) of paper or trim the inner tube so that the length is shorter that the original printed body tube. In the above example, the tube was 10” long. So you would cut an inner tube that was maybe 9.75” long so that you could put printed bulkheads inside the printed tube at each end, but resting against the ends of the inner tube. I sure hope I am making sense.

Unfortunately, I do not have any assembly pictures of a single glue seam, tube within a tube set up. I did take pictures during my latest project, which is the lovely AXM 1/100 scale, SpaceX Starship 24 model. Instead of each body section being one panel that is rolled into a cylinder with only one glue seam, each body section has a front panel and back panel. Each of these is rolled into a half cylinder and then joined to make a full cylinder. There are 3 body sections that need to be connected(stacked) to make the full length of this monster, plus the nose cone.

In hindsight, I would approach the construction of this model a little differently, but this is how I built the version. Instead of making a tube within a tube, I made 2 half cylinders within 2 half cylinders, but offset by 90 degrees. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just call each half of the upper body section cylinder printed panel, 5” tall, and 6” wide. I cut 2 blank card stock pieces, each 4.5” tall by 7 inches wide. The missing .5” was to leave .25” at each end so that a connector ring could be inserted to allow the upper, and mid body sections to be glued together, and the nosed cone to be glue to the top. In hindsight, I could have made the blank piece the same height and just offset it by .25”, leaving a .25” gap at the top, and a .25” extension at the bottom that would fit into the top of the middle body section. Live and learn.

I took the blank half cylinders and drew a line at the mid-way mark, to indicate my glue line. After roll forming the printed and blank panels into their respective half cylinder shapes, I then glued just the right edge of a printed panel to the blank panel, against the pencil line. Again, only making the glue about 1/8” wide. Now, half of the blank panel is behind the printed panel and half is sticking out. I did the same thing to the other printed panel. When these glue joints were dried, I did a little more roll forming of the joined parts to refine the shape. I then glued the left edge of a printed panel to the other piece, aligning the printed parts carefully. At this point, 2 printed panels are joined together across one of the blank pieces, and the ends of 2 of the blank pieces are overlapping by a .5” or so. Now I rolled the whole thing into a cylinder and joined the other 2 printed edges with the remaining exposed piece of blank card stock. See image sequence.

The purpose of doing it this way was to avoid that nasty glue tab kink, which it did perfectly. I had intended to now make another huge “spring” tube to put inside this assembly, but realized I didn’t need it. I used my circle cutter to cut some cardstock circles until I got the just barely snug size for by bulkheads. When I got the size right, I cut a whole set of bulkheads for the Starship and heavy booster with a couple of extras for good measure. I carefully made depth marks on the inside of the completed cylinders and glued the bulkheads in. Then made a connector ring and glued the upper and mid sections together.

The bottom body section was done a little differently as the very bottom has printed detail ring that faces inward. The pictures show that section coming together. But generally done the same way I just described.

I hope this made some kind of sense. Please feel free ask any questions.


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Staff member
Apr 6, 2013
I had to do a speed read thru your post, but that is the way I have made tubes for ESTES rockets from 55 years ago. Pictures speak a 1000 words! :)


Mar 23, 2020
I did some more work on the AXM Heavy Booster. The top and middle sections are built and glued together. The partially completed Starship is just sitting on top and not mounted. I intend to build the bottom/last section of the booster as a separate piece so that all the details can be added without me having to swing around 3 feet of booster. Once complete, I will mate it to the top two-thirds of the booster. I will need to build the grid fins and a few other details to attach to the booster as well. My intention is to build into the 3rd section of booster an internal dowel guide that will accept a rod mounted to a heavy base. I don't want this beast to topple over on me.


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Rhaven Blaack

Staff member
Jun 12, 2009
You are off to a great start on this project. Yes, attaching a tube within a tube is a great way of making the connecting seams of the tubes stronger. This is something that I have done as well. I am looking forward to seeing how this project turns out.
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