To Glue Or Not To Glue – That Is The Question


I think Mr Trump should employ a model scratch builder to go with him on his campaign speeches. Not only would it give the model builder a chance to forage in new rubbish bins, but they could finally succeed in getting his hair to stick down. You see, model scratch builders know glue.

It is not an easy subject – I was going to say a sticky question but some of you know where I live and I want to avoid retribution…Glues, adhesives, fillers, bonders, welders, and every other form of attachment are the very basis of scratch model building. They are what help our models to fall apart.

The Knowledge, as it is known, is not easily acquired. Not easily, cheaply, or safely. We all have had to learn what not to do before discovering what really works. This is as a result of science giving us more new materials to stick together with more new chemicals. It was easier when it was only wood and boiled hooves. And you rarely stuck your fingers to the side of things.

My latest fiasco involved ABS plastic shapes from Plastruct – the American company that makes model materials for architectural construction. They use a number of different types of plastic and one of them is harder to stick than others – ABS. It has its uses and the shapes they make are gorgeous to the model builder but the glues that weld styrene plastic together don’t touch it. I didn’t know that, made a complex model of a garage hoist with the BS, and had it fall apart as I was painting it. Back to drawing board and Plastruct website. Unfortunately no glue for ABS in my local hobby shop so I switched to styrene shapes and re-did it. Success.

There have been other uncomfortable discoveries through the years. I once assembled the wheelhouse of a model fishing trawler with the then-new Zap cyano-acrylic glue. It went together fine and has stayed so in the hands of the fishing company but the CA glue let off some form of chemical fog that has marred the windows. If pressed to it, I excuse it as sea spray, but it is really glue spray.

I do gain new respect for old materials as I sit at the scratch bench. Old materials and cheap glues. The C23 balsa airplane cement still has a place, and a good one when paper is used to make things. It sets fast, well, and hard in Western Australian heat so building is never held up waiting. Fortunately the shed is well ventilated, but you still get a rime of glue on the fingers that you sit there peeling off with your teeth for the next two days…

My new gluey girlfriend is a product from Canada called Weldbond. It’s just a PVA glue, of course, but in a thick and fast consistency that makes for good adhesion on nearly anything. The dispenser bottle is one of the cleverest ones available as it cleans the nozzle automatically each time you close it.

Must excuse me now – I am just ready to put two halves of a Chrysler motor block together with spit and I want to see if it holds…



2 thoughts on “To Glue Or Not To Glue – That Is The Question

  1. Uncle Dick, ABS welds acceptably by holding the two pieces together and running acetone into the join with a fine brush. The fumes are possibly less enjoyable than those produced by the same process with MEK and styrene, but you can’t have everything. You can also make ABS putty with the cast-off ABS sprue and acetone, or dissolve some of the Plastruct people (always starting from the feet) for that authentic medieval feel.


    1. Thank you for the advice – I will get a little and see if it does the job. I don’t mind fumes – I used to run a colour darkroom and any air that is not capable of stripping chrome off an Oldsmobile is mere summer breeze.

      Liked by 1 person

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