Here’s a quick post on how to stick metal miniatures together.
While plastic minis are now the most common, historically, miniatures were made of metal and many still are. For such figures, normal glues won’t work
Before getting to the glue, it’s worth noting that regardless of which of the glues suggested below you use, a bit of preparation is just as vital for lasting joints and a good finish on metal miniatures as it is with plastic.
And the same ground-work techniques apply:
- Clean the model with a toothbrush and warm soapy water and allow to dry completely,
- Remove any mold lines for the surface being glued,
- Gently roughen the area so the glue had a surface to grip.
With that out the way, there’s the info you’re after, what’s the best adhesive for metal minis from Other World Miniatures, Reaper Miniatures, Warlord Games, WarGames Foundry, Dark Sword Miniatures and others.
The good news is that while metal minis are made from a variety of metals, the same glues will work whatever cocktail of metal is used.
Glues for mini metal figures and tiny pieces areas
For 28mm minis or when you’re attaching small parts and need to apply the glue precisely and in tight spaces, my preferred glues is Cyanoacrylates, aka Superglues. The small nozzle of the typical Superglue dispenser makes the precise placement easy and it’ll hold tin, pewter and non-lead alloys.
However unlike plastic figures, superglues won’t always give an instant bond on metals. You may need to hold the parts together for up to 30 seconds for the glue to fix and the parts to hold. A Cyanoacrylate accelerate that speeds up the cure time will help in this regard. It will also help prevent fluid superglues leaking out to nearby spaces although I’d still hold the pieces together to ensure a tight join.
Glues for large metal models
For bigger metal pieces, I find two part epoxy glues — Araldite and the like — superior as you can spread resin mix over larger areas before they start to cure and when set it give a very strong joint that will hold heavy pieces break apart with superglues.
[I’ve had a few visitors contact me and suggest drilling and pinning larger parts together and then using superglue. This can be done but why not just use epoxy to start with?]
Epoxy glues are a mix of a bonding agent and catalyst which activates the curing process. They are usually supplied in tubes or containers containing the two substances that you then mix together, apply and then fix the pieces together while they set.
The challenge is it takes time to harden — some brands recommend 24 hours — and during this period the model parts will need holding firmly together, ideally clamping etc so it’s not only better for larger pieces but easier to use with them.
Adding extra strength
If you want to strengthen joins between metal sections, I’d also recommend getting hold of some green stuff and using it to fill seams around the joins. It may seem overkill but it’s essentially an epoxy based putty and so adds extra bonding power between the parts. If you use this however, wear gloves (see below) as I also recommend for working with epoxy.
What not to use
If you’ve read my article on glues in general you’ll know there are lots of different glues available for modelling, I think I have most of them LOL I use the ones discussed in this article but in the past have tried most others with metal figures and can save you time by telling you PVA, Polystyrene Cement and Uhu won’t work so don’t waste your time with them on metal.
Before leaving you to go off and glue your fingers together, a couple of health warnings.
Firstly, please for your own health, make sure you have a well ventilated space when using Cyano glues. It’s nasty stuff, I regularly get head aches when using it and others report similar and there are reports of far worse. I now use a face mask when gluing and painting and have a window open when exposed to super glues fumes.
Epoxy glues can cause different problems, particular dermatitis allergic effects if it comes into contact with your skin. Always wear gloves, nitrile gloves in particular, when using it.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
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.