Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Sticky Situation

A Brief Guide to a Healthy Glue Relationship

I have said it before but it bears repeating - glue is the most important tool a modeler should have at their disposal. After all, what else is going to hold the model together? Choosing the right glue shouldn't be a chore, so I'm hoping this post, as well as the posts from my fellow Unionites, will assist any one looking to find that perfect adhesive.
Glues can be like women - some may too clingy, while others may smell good but are simply after your money. The relationship between you and your glue must be beneficial. Do not settle on a glue. Find one that you are comfortable working with and make sure it pulls, or should I say holds, its own weight. Sticking with an adhesive just because its something you are familiar with is no excuse either (I'm looking at you, dad...) The way your glue behaves should make your life easier, not harder.

Let me start off with the ones to avoid...I have used all of these glues before, so what I say is from experience.

Testors Cement in a Tube!
Ah, Testor's tube glue. Generally this was the first love of every modeler, then a few years later you look back and wonder what the heck was I thinking? While it gets the job done in the sense that yes, it does actually adhere surfaces together, its gel-like consistency has a frustrating tendency to make a real mess of things. Its a cheap date, to be sure, but its like letting your girlfriend move in with you only to find out she never cleans up after herself. Plus, it'll probably kill you...

Pros: You can find it every where.
Cons: Thick, messy, stringy. Did I mention it will kill you?

Testors Non-toxic Cement in a Tube!
Meet her slightly more attractive sister. This glue is a bit more tidy, considering it is more liquid than its gel-like relative but its pretty lazy. You invite it in, lured by the sweet aroma of its non-toxic citrus perfume only to find out it wants you to do all the work while it lives off of unemployment checks. Its a good air freshener, but if you need something glued together today, you're better of dumping this one...At least it won't kill you.

Pros: Smells delightful!
Cons: Glue is suppose to stick, right?

Scotch Super Glue Liquid!
Super, like Super Model, right? Wrong. This one is just out for your money. Though its cheaper than some other (albeit, better) super glues, it hides behind that moniker and irresistible price waiting for unsuspecting modelers to fall for the clever facade. Once you get it home, you find it takes it an hour and a half to get ready when you need to be somewhere. Moreover, its more "liquid" than glue. Like a terrible bartender who cuts your vodka with too much soda, you'll get absolutely no satisfaction from this one.

Pros: Cheap.
Cons: Spit on your model...that might work better.

Here are the glues I have had a better experience with. I'll take the approach a bit more seriously now.

Testors Liquid Cement!
This is my bread and butter. While it isn't the best thing on the market, it is leaps and bounds ahead of the other glues produced by Testors that I have already addressed. As indicated, it is liquid and therefore easily placed and spread over the intended surfaces without making a terrible mess. It has a long, narrow tube through which the glue is applied, making application on small parts quite simple. Even if you over do it a little, it sands off quite easily. The only downside is that on some softer plastics, it can be caustic, so a little care is necessary.

Pros: Decent glue for a decent price and the main glue in my tool kit.
Cons: Can eat away softer plastics.

Loctite Super Glue!
This is a bit pricey, at five dollars for only 14 ounces but it does the job. The one I use is a gel, so caution is needed so as not to apply too much but it sets quickly and with very little effort. The nozzle is a bit wide, so fine application become difficult so dipping a tooth pick or wire into the bottle is your best bet when you need to get it into tight spaces or on fiddly bits.

Pros: It does what super glue is suppose to do.
Cons: Can be a bit stringy due to it being gel and the wide nozzle befuddles refined application.

Testors Super Glue!
A more economical super glue at about half the price of Loctite. It is a bit more fluid, like that of the much maligned Scotch brand but this actually holds. While it does require you to keep the part in place for a few moments, I don't find the wait period to be unsatisfactory. I like the liquid consistency and find it easier to apply than its Loctite counterpart.

Pros: Cheap. Easy to apply.
Cons: Takes a bit longer to set.

 Elmer's Glue (PVA Glue)!
Every school kid knows what this is and has surely spent countless hours peeling it off their fingers. This really has no valuable application for plastic modeling other than gluing clear parts like canopies and nav lights. I, however, use if for dioramas. It dilutes well with water so adding it to a squirt bottle will allow you to spray it over a base of static grass or foliage. I also add it to my celluclay to give it the ability to adhere better to the base. Use it to stick tufts of grass on the terrain. Mix it with certain powders and you've got snow. Though it is not particularly versatile for plastic modeling, it comes in real handy for ground work.

Pros: Go-to glue for ground work.
Cons: Long drying time, but for what it is intended to do in this hobby, I'd say there are no cons.

Hot Glue!
Again, this is the perfect tool for diorama builders. Hot glue will bond just about anything so it comes in handy when mating material to my base. It is a fast and easy way to get some elements of your ground work set. Just be careful...its hot.

Pros: Will glue anything. Seriously.
Cons: Its hot.

After reading several responses to this week's topic which, if you haven't noticed, is all about glue I decided to make another purchase. I snagged Tamiya's Extra Thin Cement online for about six dollars. I have had this on my radar for a while but I never had the reason to execute the purchase. A Sprue Cutters Union post on glues was the perfect excuse. From what I have read, it is super thin and can be applied with a paint brush that is installed right on the cap. Perhaps when it comes in, I'll do a write up on it.

So, I hope you have learned a little something about glue today. Not all glues are created equal, and while some claim to be super, you'll find they may be quite pedestrian. Glue is very important to the hobby, so remember not to sell yourself short no matter what it smells like. Find a glue that works and stick to it...
Thanks for reading!

Read Some More!

Part of being in the Union means you must include links to fellow contributors' posts within your own response. If you liked this post, then perhaps you'll enjoy what some other modelers have to say about this topic!

Fill 'n Sand
The Garage Gamer
Yet Another Plastic Modeller
Miniature and Model Painting

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  1. Interesting posts about glues. I use just two, Tamiya Extra Thin and Zap-A-Gap Medium CA. Those two will cover just about anything you need glue for.

    1. That is why I sprung for the Tamiya stuff. Every one seems to use it and I'll be darned if I don't do what every one else is doing!!!

  2. Great article. I'd rank them a bit differently, with PVA and a hot flue gun my #1 and #2, but then again, I'm a diorama maker. : )

    1. This wasn't so much a ranking system as just some info sharing. But yes, in terms of dioramas, PVA is tops

  3. Looks like we have all been burnt by some poor quality glues, I enjoyed the pros & cons part Jon.

    1. Thanks Shayne! Where is your response??

    2. Right here....

  4. Great relationship councelling Jon. Nice to see you mentioned Loctite as well, and useful to read the review on the gel option...I think I'll stick with the brush bottle!

    1. Thanks Frank, I find that liquid is much better than gel

  5. Entertaining and very informative Jon! Here's my contribution:

  6. Great stuff Jon.

    Here is my post.