I don't get on with the Eduard pre-painted seatbelts, so I prefer making my own. They don't look as good, and the detail isn't as fine, but they're cheap, and look good enough for me. They're a bit fiddly, and I only make them for 1:48 scale, but I'm experimenting with some 1:32 versions currently.

There are lots of different approaches to scratch-built seatbelts, this is just one simple way of doing it. I've used this method as a basis for more complex belts, and I'm pretty happy with the results. They're obviously not particularly historically accurate, so they're not for the rivet counters out there.

So here's how I do it ...

Ingredients for simple homemade seatbelts ...

Materials ...

AIZU 1.0mm micron masking tape (or similar)
CA glue
CA kicker
Scrap piece of 1.0mm x 0.75mm Evergreen stripstyrene
5 amp fuse wire (or similar)

Note: You could use different masking tapes, but I find the smooth AIZU type looks best (it's pretty much the same as Tamiya tape). Other tapes, such as the Jammydog tapes are too textured in my opinion.

Tools ...

Side cutters
Model knife
Pin vice with needle (optional)
Cocktail stick (or similar for applying CA glue)
Locking tweezers

First you need to make your buckles out of the fuse wire. Simply cut off a length and wrap it around the scrap styrene in a spiral. You need to do it tightly enough so that the wire will take on the shape of the styrene i.e. a small rectangle.

Next, using your model knife, cut along the styrene, cutting through the wire. This will spread the links slightly which is what you want. It's easiest doing this with a curved blade. Then gently slide off your wire links. They will be a bit 'wonky'. Straighten them using the handle of your model knife as a rolling pin. You want the links to remain open slightly, as they're easier to handle that way. Once you put the links in place you can gently close them with tweezers and the join will either be hidden or barely visible.

Next you need to prepare the tape straps. You need two lengths of tape. The shorter one should be the length you want the finished item to be. The longer one should overlap about 4mm each end. Here I've used my prototype as a length guide.

Then stick the two bits of tape together so that you have sticky over laps at either end.

Next, take one of your wire links, feed it over the small sticky section of tape, and fold the tape back onto itself, trapping the wire link so the join in the wire is hidden in the tape fold. At this point you could add some CA glue to the back of the tape to help secure the end link.

Then do the same at the other end.

To make the 'adjuster' buckle, make a fold in the tape, where you want the adjusting buckle to be.

Take another wire link and thread the folded tape through it.

Poke a piece of the fuse wire through the fold, and flatten the tape down again. You have to do this very gently or you'll distort the wire link.

Apply some CA glue to the back of the belt and use some kicker to cure it.

Finally, cut off the excess fuse wire either side of the buckle and you're done.

If you want, you can use the needle in the pin vice to punch tiny holes in the belt to look like buckle holes.

Rather than painting the belt and picking out the metal buckle, I prefer to use brown washes to stain the belt the colour I want. This way you retain the natural metal look of the links. Here they are stained using the new games workshop washes; I used the two browns.

Here they are stuck on the seats ...

And into the cockpit ...

Anthony Lorton