Glue, Paste, Cement, Putty and the
Writing about glue and miniature modelling could fill a
website of its own, but I'll try to limit myself to this
And you thought only miniatures could be
Miniatures often require assembly. The sheer number of
situations involved in miniature modeling - casting quality, materials in
contact, weight constraints - makes the existence of a one-size-fits-all
glue impossible. Cost, ease of use, toxicity, hardening time, cleaning
ability, contact strength are most factors to consider. I own a fair
variety of different glues mainly because I didn't find the perfect one
and always needed something different for what I had in mind. I found most
glues proved to be useful in one situation or another, and in fact the
trick is to have the one matching your modeling habits. Most glues have
their own usages. This guide is by no means exhaustive but covers a number
of situations; feel free to experiment at will.
melts plastic in order to create the bond. The process is destructive:
parts involved will suffer damage if you separate them or even if they
break, although it can be easily repaired with more polystyrene cement.
The bond is not very strong and of course happens only on
plastic-to-plastic contact. After one minute the parts hold together and
hardening is usually complete within one hour. If you are using plastic
models, you will need some, but as soon as metal is involved (for example
in mixed plastic-metal kits) you will need something else.
cement has a bad effect on some lacquered paint and is surprisingly fluid:
be careful when gluing painted miniatures. Bear in mind that Polystyrene
cement is best suited for unpainted plastic. Use in ventilated
This glue is more widely known as
Taking full strength in less than a minute, this glue is
unfortunately mostly useless in miniature modeling (despite being found in
Games Workshop stores). The cyanoacrylate bond happens because of the lack
of air in the join when you press the parts together. However, you need a
perfect surface contact. This never happens in the miniature world, where
casting quality is hardly rocket-science. Only plastic kits can come
close, but in that case the Polystyrene cement is far better off. Trying
to get the perfect alignment for parts imply enless filing with
fine-grained files or even sand paper.
If you use cyanoacrylate glue
nonetheless, be careful for it glues skin to skin contact - for example,
your fingers - surprisingly easily.
epoxy glue resists
heat, time, water, can be drilled and filed, etc. Materials involved are
irrelevant: you can glue metal with plastic if you want to.
Could it be
the perfect glue then? Unfortunately not. All those qualities come at a
price. Epoxy cures without pressure or heat in five minutes or less but
real hardening is slow and progressive (even if "fast" is written
everywhere on the packaging) and full strength is reached only after 12
hours. The speed of the cure can be controlled by the amount of
'hardener' used when mixing, the more the hardener, the faster the cure.
The mix is very sticky.
Since you won't hold the parts for hours, you
are well advised to work one object at a time, and to find a suitable way
of holding the parts together with inanimate objects. This requires some
planning as it's a bad idea to find a suitable support after
gluing. Lay your model carefully because the following morning you may
discover that your favorite fighter conversion is brandishing his sword in
a very different way. If you hold your models for the required five
minutes of cure, you will discover the hard way that after that time the
bond is far from being able to hold the parts of its own.
epoxy is non-destructive, it's near impossible to clean it off once
Epoxy is not the perfect glue but the closest thing to. I use it
for most of my work when single miniatures are involved.
One of the most basic product available,
glue is very useful for miniature basing and to produce textured paint.
Sometimes it's used for paper work - putting banners on poles - but PVA
glue is of little use for anything else.
Textured painting is a mix of
paint, sand and paste useful for scenery work. Since scenery work usually
imply larger painted surfaces than the average miniature, a good deal of
textured paint is often necessary. PVA glue is inexpensive enough to be
used in large quantities. Don't waste your money buying Games Workshop
packaged PVA glue; do-it-yourself stores sell them by the liter for a
fraction of Games Workshop's price.
When dealing with PVA glue and
water, it's a good idea to add a (small!) drop of washing-up liquid to
break surface tension. It dries in one hour but hardens in no less than 12
hours, becoming somehow transparent. I use PVA glue to flock miniature
Kneadatite Blue Yellow, also
Stuff, is a two-part epoxy putty primarily used for sculpting. When
kneaded the product gets warm and green (a mix of yellow and blue, hence
its name). It has a gum-like texture and can be sculpted for several
hours, curing slowly. After 12 hours cure is complete.
Green Stuff is
easily overlooked as a putty, but it can be used as a glue, and a good one
at that. Since it's sticky and has some bending strength, it can save you
some trouble. I used Green Stuff to attach my Eldar Defender Guardians'
arms to their bodies. Putting a very small ball of Green Stuff in their
armpits, I could fit the arm afterwards and direct them as I wanted, to
have the left arm holding the barrel of the right arm's Shuriken Catapult
for example. Since all parts were plastic, ie. small and lightweight,
Green Stuff was hard enough and I could try various attitudes.
Stuff is not sticky enough to hold heavy parts together.
puttyThis particular putty
is related to Green Stuff and is produced by various brands like CarGo's
QuickSteel. Once mixed
the putty gets warm and then you only have roughly two minutes of
flexibility before it hardens, depending on how aggressively it is
kneaded. Hardening happens quickly and leaves a sturdy bond wich can be
drilled or filed at will after one hour.
It's slightly more sticky
than green stuff and can be more used as a glue than as a gap filler.
often use this putty when I want a "shaped bond" and when the involved
parts are not falling in place so I can't wait a whole night holding
them. For example, if you have two parts of a Dragon body not matching
properly you can attach them with this putty and sculpt some scales with a
toothpick. If you haven't finished as the hardening begins, just remove
excess matter quickly and do the final touches with Green Stuff. I used it
to assemble an Epic Capitol Imperialis and it was the perfect putty for
It's very comfortable to work on it with a Dremel tool once
This unusual glue has to be put on both
parts. After 15 minutes of separate curing, the parts can be put in
contact and the bond happens within seconds. Involved materials are
irrelevant since the glue is non-destructive.
From this destription the
cement seems very interesting but the truth is less impressive. The bond
is weak, at least with the brand I own, not enough for anything on a
typical miniature - from weapon-swapping to basic assembly. It becomes
weaker as time passes. It can be useful for low-effort joins over a big
surface. Since I own a tube, I typically use it to put pennies under
miniature bases. It's slightly stronger than paste and hardens quicker.
On the plus side, the glue can be removed very easily, you may use it for
modeling prototypes before going for some serious glue like
And the winner is...
Well, there is no clear winner.
You will certainly need three different glues: PVA glue
for basing and flocking your miniatures.
cement for plastic kits.
Epoxy glue for
plastic-to-metal or metal-to-metal joins or any odd situation.
special projets exotic products are sometimes more appropriate, but you
can always rely on the three glues above.
published on 27 Apr 2004