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When it comes to building models, whether it is scale models, Warhammer miniature kits, or dollhouses, the materials will vary, and sometimes trusty super glue may not be the most ideal. What are the alternative model glues? What about specialized plastic model glue, or glue for metal miniatures as well as glue for resin models? If you are new to building models there are probably a wider variety of gules than you thought. In this article, we will take a look at some of the best glues for miniatures as well as provide you with some helpful tips to help you along your way.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Craft of Miniatures
- 2 Types of Glues for Models
- 3 Best Glues for Miniatures
- 4 How to Glue Model Parts Together
- 5 Tips and Tricks
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6.1 What Is the Best Plastic Model Glue?
- 6.2 What Is the Best Glue for Metal Miniatures?
- 6.3 What Is the Best Glue for Resin Models?
- 6.4 What Is the Best Glue for Miniatures?
- 6.5 How to Remove Super Glue from a Plastic Model?
- 6.6 Should I Glue or Paint My Model First?
- 6.7 Is Gorilla Glue Good for Miniatures?
The Craft of Miniatures
Miniatures can be bought pre-assembled but are usually built from kits and can also be built from materials that are acquired or machined by the hobbyist and makers. The builds are physical objects usually used for display purposes as well as to pitch design ideas. The model building kits require different levels of skill to assemble. Some of them simply click into place and require no gluing, clamping, or painting. Other kits are more challenging and contain smaller parts with more detail that may require special glues as well as paint and sometimes clamping.
Scale modes are popular in a range of different fields from military command to engineering and filmmaking. The physical models are miniature representations of real-life objects that help teams figure out the best way forward concerning a certain project. Scale models are produced pre-built and painted as well as in a kit form that requires the builder, be it a hobbyist or professional to assemble and paint the model themselves. The materials used most for model kits are plastic, resin, and metal.
Architectural modeling is a form of scale modeling that is built to study the possible attributes of architectural design as well as to pitch design ideas. These models include representations of skyscrapers, office parks, industrial areas, towns, and estates. These models are built from a variety of different materials like paper, wood and plastic. These models are used within a professional setting where important decisions need to be made about structures that have yet to be built.
Model figures are a type of scale model that can represent animals, human beings, monsters or even biomechanical creatures. These are sometimes sold as collectibles and come pre-assembled and painted. Sometimes these models are sold in kits that require the hobbyist to build and paint the figurine. These types of scale models are extremely popular as collectibles and for use in tabletop roleplaying games. These figures are usually made from resin plastic or metal and are sometimes sold with specialized glue.
Model Aircraft, Cars, and Ships
Model aircraft kits are available for hobbyists and collectors. They usually scale replicas of actual aircraft as well as fictional machines. The same case applies to model cars and ships. Some of these machines are for display and some of them function to a certain degree. They are made from a variety of different materials and are built for museums or other display areas as well as children’s toys and adult hobbyists alike.
Types of Glues for Models
Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional, selecting the correct glue can make or break your model. Seeking to understand the nature and properties of different types of glues is a great way to select the correct glue every time. The method of trial can lead to project failures and wasted materials. In this section, we will look at the most common types of glues used for miniatures.
This section aims to help you gain a better understanding of these glues so that you will not have to resort to trial and error and waste time and money.
Cyanoacrylate Model Glue
Cyanoacrylates are a very common glue in the world of miniatures and for good reason. Usually referred to as super glue, cyanoacrylates are fast drying and strong. They do not dry like most glues. Cyanoacrylates draw moisture from the air and surround and form a mesh-like structure as it dries. These types of glue are very strong and widely available.
Diehard hobbyists refer to cyanoacrylates as CA which are a go-to model glue. These super glues usually come in two forms, liquid, and gel. Superglue in liquid form runs and can be very thin. This can be a good thing depending on what you are working with. It will fill small cracks and nooks. If you are not careful and apply too much it can form visible seams.
The thicker formulation of gel super glue makes it easy to work with as it does not run and allows you to be more accurate with your glue placement. The downside of cyanoacrylates is that they require moisture to harden. This can be a pain when trying to glue materials that repel water or if you are using it in a very dry climate.
Sprinkling a bit of baking soda can speed up the drying process rapidly. Be Careful when using cyanoacrylates as it tends to bond to skin very rapidly and can be difficult to remove.
Super glues can create a cloud or frosted look on certain plastics which can ruin the look of clear plastics that are used for windows on models. Super glue also smells bad and the fumes can be toxic so it is advised to work with it in a well-ventilated area. Another downside of super glue is that it can be a little too super at times and dry before you have your part in place. Super glue is a great glue for metal miniatures as well as an ideal glue for resin molds as well as plastic.
Solvent cement or plastic model cement is another popular adhesive, especially as a plastic model glue. Plastic is a very common material used for model building kits as it keeps production costs down and it is a very strong material that is very light and easy to work with.
Solvent cement used to have very strong fumes but recently we have seen new versions that give off less toxic fumes but one should still exercise caution and use the stuff in a well-ventilated area. Plastic model cement works by melting the surfaces of the plastic and bonding them. Think of it as a plastic weld. It essentially makes the two parts into one part that will not come apart.
Plastic cement is well respected as a plastic model glue as it does not frost or cloud plastic in the way that super glue does. This is especially useful when it comes to gluing transparent parts like windshields and windows. One downside to plastic cement is that it can melt the plastic to the point where the join becomes uneven. You can avoid this by using plastic cement sparingly. This being said, solvent cement is the ideal plastic model glue!
Epoxy Model Glue
Epoxy glues are ideal for when you are trying to bond larger areas. Epoxy glue requires you to mix two parts. One of the parts is the resin and the other is the hardener. The hardener is the catalyst that activates the curing of the glue. This makes it ideal for materials that repel water and for dry climates as it does not require moisture to harden like cyanoacrylates. Epoxy glues are water-resistant as well as resistant to solvents as well as hot and cold temperatures.
Because epoxy glue requires special mixing before you can be used, it can be a bit of a pain to work with but it does provide superior strength. Epoxy glue takes longer to dry than a super glue and may require clamping to hold the parts in place while the glue hardens. Epoxy glues bond a wide variety of materials from metal and plastic to paper and wood which makes it an extremely versatile model glue.
Epoxy glues are free from strong chemical odors and are easy to clean off surfaces like work tables and skin as long as you do this before it cures. Epoxy glues vary in curing time. It is best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing ratios and curing times.
Cyanoacrylates (Super glue)
|Ideal for plastic metal and resin parts||Ideal for plastic parts||Ideal for plastic metal and resin parts|
|May cause frosting on plastic||Creates a strong weld by fusing the parts||Ideal for larger heavy parts especially metal|
|Not ideal for transparent plastic parts.||Not ideal for metal parts||Requires special mixing before use|
Best Glues for Miniatures
Now that you understand more about the most common glues for miniatures you are now ready to select the best model glue. But you may be asking yourself where to start? There are a plethora of different brands out there which can make arriving at a decision rather difficult. In an attempt to cut through the noise we have compiled a list of our top model glues. We have kept things simple by narrowing things down into the three main model glue categories. We hope this will save you the trouble of having to sift through the overwhelming amount of options available.
Best Super Glue for Models: GORILLA Gel Super Glue
Gorilla is a trusted brand in the world of adhesives and their gel superglue is one of their best products. Super glues in gel form are far easy to work with especially when working with models. Because the gel formula does not run it makes it ideal for those with limited experience in model building as it is easy to control. Gorilla’s anti-clog cap ensures that the applicator will not clog which will save you from having to unblock it before use. This super glue dries in 10 to 45 seconds which is fast! Best of all it is versatile. It bonds to metal, plastic, resin as well as wood.
Best Plastic Cement for Models: TESTORS Plastic Cement for Plastic Models
When it comes to gluing plastic models together it is best to opt for specialized plastic model glue. Testors Plastic Cement is exactly that. This model glue fuses the two surfaces as a welder of steel might do. This creates an extremely strong bond. Testors plastic cement dries fast and glue comes with applicator tips that increase the accuracy of the glue placement. Make the smart choice for your plastic model building and opt for Testors cement for plastic models. This product is flammable so be sure that you take the necessary precautions.
Best Epoxy Glue for Models: J-B WELD Pro Size Steel Reinforced Epoxy Twin Pack
When dealing with larger or heavier models epoxy is your best bet. J-B Epoxy is one of the strongest epoxy adhesives on the market which makes it an ideal glue for metal miniatures. It will require you to mix the two parts before you use them but this is a small hurdle considering the benefits of using such an epoxy glue. This epoxy sets in four to six hours and is fully cured in about 15 to 24 hours. Once cured this glue is impact resistant, water-resistance and clean-up is a breeze with a bit of isopropyl alcohol.
How to Glue Model Parts Together
If you are just starting you may be wondering where to start. You have bought a model kit and have seen your friends complete models. The glues you have selected may intimidate you as they claim to dry fast! Can you get the parts in place before it hardens? What if I stick it wrong? These are a few of the questions that may be running through your head. This section aims to put your mind at ease by providing an overview of the process of building miniatures with glue. Take your time, be patient and enjoy the process.
Tools Needed for Gluing Models
There are a few things you will want to keep around to make the whole process of gluing your model a little easier. Firstly a work mat or drop cloth is ideal for protecting surfaces from tough model glue stains. A hobby knife or clippers will help you to extract the parts from the sprues without breaking them.
You will need some sandpaper or needle files for cleaning the pieces and removing imperfections that may prevent a proper fit. Paper towels or rags will help you address problems of glue accidents.
A solution of acetone and Vaseline in a container can be applied using a cotton swab to break accidental super glue bonds. Just remember that acetone can strip color from some materials. To keep parts in place while the glue sets you may need some masking tape, elastic bands, or hair clips. This depends on what exactly you are working with. Below is a list of the basic supplies that will get you started and well on your way to gluing models.
- Work mat or drop cloth
- Hobby knife or clippers
- Sandpaper or needle files
- Paper towels or rags
- The best glue for miniatures
- Painters tape or elastic bands
Clean the Parts
Before you get gluing it is a good idea to inspect the parts and remove any imperfections such as seam lines and ejector pin marks. These imperfections can be difficult to remove once the model has been assembled. If the parts you are working with have been painted already make sure there is no paint on the surfaces that are to be glued. Paint on these contact surfaces can lead to adhesion failure. If you notice that a part does not fit properly you can use sandpaper or a needle file to remove the obstruction, be it a seam or other imperfection.
Oil and greasy residue such as fingerprints can severely impact the adhesion of your glue. It is for this reason that it is best to wash the parts with soap and water before you get down to gluing. Using an ultrasonic cleaner is an ideal method to get parts clean from oil fast. Washing the parts while they are still on the spurs makes this process a lot easier
Remove Parts from the Sprues
Once you have washed the parts and made sure they are dry it is a good idea to remove them from the sprues using clippers or a hobby knife. Simply twisting them off can damage the parts and make them difficult to fit. Be patient with this part of the process and account for all the parts to not lose any.
Small parts can disappear quite easily so be cautious.
Fitting the parts together without glue first is a great way to test that everything is going to fit together without a hitch. There is nothing worse than applying the glue, trying to fit the part, and realize that the joint is uneven and needs to be cleaned. Doing this is a good way to test if any clamps, elastic bands, or tape will be needed to hold things together while the glue dries. Fitting the parts dry can also show you how you will have to hold the respective parts to glue them successfully. This is especially the case when it comes to small and awkward parts.
Gluing the Parts
Once the parts are clean and that you have dry-fitted the parts to make sure that they fit it is time to glue! A very important thing to remember is to be conservative with the amount of glue that you apply. Using too much glue can make a mess of things especially if you are using plastic cement in excess it can completely ruin your project. This is because plastic cement melts the surface of the part to fuse it to the partner.
Tip: Apply glue sparingly. Using too much superglue can ruin how the parts sit together and can be difficult to clean after the fact.
Tips and Tricks
- It may be tempting to rush through the process so you can gaze upon your build but remember it is not a race. Take your time and enjoy the process. The joy is in the process and the reward is in a successful completion.
- It is always a good idea to work in a well-ventilated space when working with model glues as some of the fumes can be toxic if inhaled. Take care when working with cyanoacrylates (super glue) and plastic cement.
- Using a pair of tweezers to hold, glue, and place tiny parts together can be a great help especially when your fingertips are struggling for grip. A pair of needle-nose pliers can serve a similar purpose. There are no rules. Use whatever works.
- Doing a dry run by fighting parts without glue can save you time and heartache. Do this to make sure everything fits properly before you glue. It is no fun when you have applied the glue and you realize that the part in question does not fit properly!
- Use small containers or plastic baggies to store parts to avoid losing them. This is especially recommended if you are dealing with a large build over an extended period of time. This simple trick can save you a lot of unnecessary frustration.
- Cyanoacrylates require moisture to cure. Sometimes this type of glue will not set as fast as you would like it to. It sounds gross but applying a bit of saliva can accelerate the drying process which can save you time.
- Running parts underwater that you have accidentally bonded together with super glue can help break this bond so you can start again. Another great trick is using acetone and Vaseline on a cotton swab. This can break down the bond of super glue.
The best glue for miniatures depends on the type of material you are working with as well as the strength required. Super glue is the ideal go-to model glue as it is strong and works on a variety of materials. Super glue can cause a frosted effect on certain plastics this is why the best plastic model glue is plastic cement which welds parts together. Looking for the best glue for resin models? Use super glue. And the best glue for metal miniatures? Stick with super glue unless you are looking for superior strength, in which case epoxy is your best bet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Best Plastic Model Glue?
Super glue is the best all-purpose model glue but if you are looking for a model glue that will not create a frosted, cloudy look to clear plastic parts then try plastic cement. These glues create a weld by melting the surface of the plastic to then fuse the two parts.
What Is the Best Glue for Metal Miniatures?
Cyanoacrylates, often referred to as super glues are ideal for building metal models as they bond well to metal. However, if you are looking for an even stronger bond that is moisture and impact resistant you should consider two-part epoxy glue.
What Is the Best Glue for Resin Models?
Superglue works well for resin parts however if you are working with parts that are quite heavy or if you require extra strength you may want to consider using a two-part epoxy adhesive. It will require you to mix the two parts before you apply the glue but the benefit of such glue is well worth the fuss.
What Is the Best Glue for Miniatures?
An ideal all-purpose glue for your model building is super glue. However, if you are looking for the strongest glue possible for building miniatures you will want to opt for epoxy glue. Although sometimes the strongest glue is not the most ideal for the job. Consider what is needed before choosing the strongest glue for miniatures.
How to Remove Super Glue from a Plastic Model?
To remove excess super glue from your plastic model try using acetone. This strong solvent can be very effective in removing super glue however bear in mind that it can strip color from some materials so take care when using it on your model especially if it is painted.
Should I Glue or Paint My Model First?
Choosing to glue or to paint your model first is all a matter of preference. Some hobbyists like to build the entire model and then apply the paint and some people like to paint the parts while they are still on the sprues. Just be aware that some glues will not bond properly to painted surfaces.
Is Gorilla Glue Good for Miniatures?
Gorilla gel superglue is ideal for miniatures. It is quick-drying and relatively strong. It will work however some super glues can create a cloudy stain on some plastics which can look bad especially on clear plastics. To avoid this use plastic cement instead.