A Quick Gluing Guide for Scale Modelers

There are several types of glue that are available for scale modelers to use and often times, committing mistakes in choosing the right one for a particular application leads to irreversible problems. Whether it’s a glue that takes time to dry or something that does so very quickly, knowing the right kind of glue to use is important in any scale modeling project.

What glue is best for a particular application and what kind of tools do you need in handling some gluing tasks? We’ll tell you everything that you need to know in this article so stick with us and you’ll learn everything there is about glues and gluing!

Different Types of Glues for Different Applications

If you have been into scale modeling for a long time now, you should’ve already tried a lot of glues and now have a favorite type or brand of it including epoxies and other adhesives that keep different parts of your project together.

However, for those who are new to this hobby and you’re looking for the best type of glue to keep your project together, here’s a quick run through of the available types of glue for you to use.

PVA or Polyvinyl Adhesive

Used in both commercial and domestic applications, this water-based glue is best for building landscapes and other projects like dioramas where it can be applied over a large or wide surface. It’s generally is weaker in terms of adhesion when compared to clear adhesives but is easy-to-handle and use and effectively adds details of fine fixtures to a particular display like stones, grass, and other natural elements. PVA is also easy to remove in case of mistakes during assembly.

Aliphatic Glue

Commonly known as wood glue, it is similar in chemistry to PVA but it’s capable of seeping through tight joints which then results in a better bond. It also resists sand and water better than PVA and sets faster as well. It is the perfect glue to use for wood to wood applications.

Epoxy Resin

It comes in twos most of the time- one adhesive and the other is hardener. Epoxy resin is capable of bonding any surface together but before application, you need to mix it first. The time it takes to dry is generally slower when compared to super glues but there are mixes and brands that dries and sets quickly. Parts that are glued by epoxy resin are mostly hard and strong but because of the mixing, hardening time and the mess it results to makes is less popular for use in scale modeling.

Canopy Glue

Works well with plastic to plastic bonding applications. Canopy glue bonds well and is easy to apply which generally results to a cleaner and clearer finish. There are no white marks left when the glue dries which can ruin your model’s appearance. The bond isn’t that strong but it works perfectly for smaller scale models.

Super Glue or CA (Cyanoacrylate)

This is probably the most popular glue among scale modelers- super glue is capable of joining metal to plastic, metal to metal or even wood to plastic materials. This type of glue dries and sets very quickly so extra care in handling is important when putting parts together to avoid costly mistakes and fixes later on. You also need to be careful and avoid skin contact, especially on the fingers and thumbs since they are mostly the victims of being bonded together accidentally.

Essential Tools to Use When Gluing Parts Together

Once you found the right kind of glue that will perform the job of bonding different parts of your scale model together, it’s time to know which tools and equipment you need in performing all the bonding tasks. As we mentioned previously, different glues have a varying setting and drying and bonding speeds. This is an important aspect to consider before starting with any bonding task. Below is a list of materials, tools, and equipment that you need as you start sticking different parts together.

  • Clamps, vice or similar equipment- Holds bonded parts tightly with each other to give time for the glue to set and dry
  • Sandpaper- Helps establish better adhesion by gently scuffing surfaces to be bonded
  • Paper towels and drop sheet- Keeps accidental spills at bay
  • Scalpel or a sharp hobby knife- Cuts mold lines that are left which can interfere with gluing and establishing good contact between two parts

Plan First to Avoid Gluing Mishaps

If you’re using canopy adhesive or PVA, you won’t need to worry that much about mistakes in bonding different parts together since they are easy-to-clean and generally takes time to bond. But these types of glues tend to weaken over time and before you know it, the project which you worked on for several days, weeks or even months are already falling apart.

So before choosing to use these glues, be sure to look into the materials that you’re going to bond together or even do a test bonding them before starting the project. Doing a research or asking in scale modeling forums can also give you a good idea on what glue works best for the materials you’re planning to work on.

On the other hand, if you plan to use super glue, you’ll need to be extra careful to avoid misalignments since it dries quickly. Be sure that the parts you’re going to bond are the right ones before applying glue to them. If possible, it’s also recommended that you hold different parts using a vice or a good clamp while applying glue to the areas that need to be bonded.

When Mistakes Happen, What Should You Do?

Just like any other venture that you have in life, there will be mistakes and accidents along the way while you’re bonding different parts of your scale model together. There are times that parts don’t line up properly during the gluing stage or worst, you might have understood the instructions in the wrong way which led to the wrong pieces being glued together

So how can you them apart so you can start bonding the right ones together? Here are simple solutions that you can apply for different types of glues:

PVA or Wood Glues

If you used these types of glues in the wrong parts that were bonded together then you can simply use a paintbrush that’s dipped in hot water onto the bonded areas. Just paint the water to these areas and shortly after that, the glue will loosen and the bonded materials should come apart easily. After that, just clean the surfaces with a clean cloth, let it dry then re-apply PVA or wood glue and bond the correct parts together.

Super Glue

In the case of super glue, bonded parts could be harder to separate but it’s not possible. There are a couple of methods that you can use. First, you can use a sharp hobby knife, a fine blade or even a scalpel to cut through the areas that have been bonded. This way of separating parts works for larger scale models but not on those “photo-etch” materials since they are more delicate.

If it is two metal parts bonded with super glue, nail polish remover or acetone works like magic in separating them since it softens the glue over time. However, this method doesn’t work for metal to plastic or plastic to plastic bonds since acetone is strong enough to dissolve plastic.

Thankfully, there’s one more method that you can use. Since super glue generally melts at temperatures around 75 degrees Celsius, all you need to do is boil water in a kettle then let it cool a little bit. Once the desired temperature is reached, you can pour it on the bonded parts or even soak the parts to be separated on the hot water. Just remember to take the parts apart while it’s still hot since removing them out from the water will harden the glue once again.

In case your fingers get bonded together, acetone is the best liquid to use. It evaporates very quickly though especially when it touches your skin due to the warmth so use more of it or mix it with vaseline in a 50:50 ratio to prevent it from evaporating quickly.

Conclusion

There you have it! a quick guide for gluing the different parts of your scale model together and hopefully keep it whole in the coming years. What brand of glue do you usually use? Are there additional tips in gluing different parts and materials together? We’d like to learn more from experienced builders like you so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.