Glue is a key component of any modellers tool kit. But there are so many different types available. Here’s a quick run down of the major types of glue you’ll need for modelling and what to use for different materials.
When to use: Hard plastics; creates a solid join that’s often stronger than the plastics it’s joining.
When not to use: On surface areas or detail elements and on materials other than plastic — it melts the surfaces of the plastics, bonding them together before hardening again — so don’t use on any area where you want to keep the finish.
ModelRailwayEngineer Quick Tips
Looking for a glue for a particular material, look no further.
- Paper/Card: PVA or Uhu
- Plastics: Superglues / Epoxy resin / Uhu
- Clear Plastics: Clearfix
- Cork (track bedding): PVA
- Scenery Items (Figures etc): Uhu, Epoxy, PVA
- Polystyrene (Hills, etc): PVA / Solvent-free glues
- Different Materials (Plastic to Metal etc): Epoxy Resins or Superglue
When to use: Uhu is a great general purpose glue which most modellers have in their tool box. It’s good for plastics, paper and card. As a clear glue that doesn’t destroy the surface of the material it’s also good for joins that will be visible.
When not to use: Some modellers find the bond it creates can be weak and it can become stringy when being applied.
When to use: Great for pretty creating a strong join between much anything except (including fingers!) and a quick dry time is required (most main brand glues of this type set in about 30 seconds, being permanent in 2 hours). Great for delicate plastic models that need holding in place until fixed.
When not to use: The rapid fix time of ‘Super glues’ makes it difficult to work with, once glued it’s hard, if not impossible, to separate without damage. Keep away from Children in particular.
Tip: Superglues, or Cyanoacrylate adhesives, once opened have a short life span, typically under a month so don’t open until you really need to use them.
PVA – Polyvinyl acetate – Glue
Extra: How To Use Clearfix To Make Windows
Clearfix doesn’t have to be used just to glue windows in place, it can also be used to make the window itself – perhaps on a loco cabin. Here’s a tutorial on doing this in Clearfix.
If you found this article useful, you might also find 17 essential model railway tools helpful.
My grateful thanks to @BURTONBRADSTOCK for help and expertise in producing this post.
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.