The Glu-sual Suspects

A real glue-done-it.

I looked up from the workbench and noticed I’ve collected an entire shelf of different glues. How did this happen? What are they all for? If you’ve been in the hobby long enough, you’ve got the same lineup. If you’re starting out and haven’t bought stock in Elmer’s yet, here’s a rundown of the sticky-icky Snoop Dog was on about.

Tamiya Extra Thin

This is the good stuff. It’s what you trade up for when you’ve used the last of that squeeze tube junk that came with the model starter kit. Most kits are made from polystyrene. This glue melts polystyrene. It welds two pieces of styrene together into a bond that’s tough to top. The extra thin formula causes capillary action. It will wick into seams for a clean connection. It’s really only good for polystyrene so don’t try it on resin or when applying photoetch (PE) parts.

Super Glue

From the family of fast acting adhesives known as Cyanoacrylates, this glue has almost universal applications. You’ll use it for resin kits, applying PE, stopping the bleeding from careless hobby knife habits, and much more. It cures fast so dry fitting before applying is essential. Super glues come in gels or less viscous mixes, each having a place at your workbench. Super glue not drying fast enough? No problem! There are cyanoacrylate accelerators that can be sprayed onto wet super glue that harden it so fast you can hear it dry (seriously!). I use one from the totally not made-up company, Bob Smith Industries.

Mod Podge

This is a water-based sealer and glue found in the part of Wal-Mart where the grandmas hang out. I think that a lot of people abuse this product by using it to seal puzzles or something? I use it to seal terrain or buildings made from foam. It can be thinned with water and colored with acrylic paint. I’ll water it down and color it brown or black to apply as a base coat. This makes the foam tougher and keeps it from sucking up all the paint I apply on top. It comes in gloss and matte. The gloss is great for small water elements or adding waves on top of resin water features.

School Glue

Used for a million things, (and still as tasty on a cracker as it ever was) school glue maintains a spot on my shelf. This is a polyvinyl acetate glue (PVA). I mix it in water and use a spray bottle to apply glue to affix loose items to a base. The spray is great for applying things like leaves, grass, and sand. If you are extra fancy, spray a rubbing alcohol down first. This breaks up the surface tension and prevents the glue-water from beading.

Family photo

Tacky Glue

A thick and sticky glue, Tacky Glue is great for gluing foam together. It provides a quick hold and slow dry. I find it prevents two pieces of foam from slipping around as they dry. Water based and non-toxic, it is basically a thicker school glue. My hot foam cutter doesn’t have any problems slicing through it either.

Spray Adhesive

Use with caution. My arm still sticks to the area of the workbench I hit with overspray. I use it to apply foliage to trees and bushes. It gives instant adhesion for flocking and clump foliage in a way other glue won’t. I’ve been using Loctite brand because it has a fine spray that some other brands don’t.

Wood Glue

Follow me through on this one. It’s good at gluing wood together. I got no tricks for this one.

Clear Parts Cement

Ever tried to use super glue to attach a fighter canopy or car windshield? I have. The fumes will permanently fog the clear plastic in a way that turns your showroom-clean model car into the fogged windows made famous in that one scene from the Titanic. Testor’s Clear Parts Cement dries clear and won’t scar the clear bits. A PVA glue will also do this for you. An advantage to the Testor’s product is the ability to make your own clear parts by pouring a thin layer into a frame. That’s what the bottle says anyway; I haven’t tried it yet.


There’s a glue for every job it seems, and while you can get away with super glue and school glue for a while, eventually you’ll want to add to the repertoire. I’d love to hear about what glues you guys use for special purposes. There’s room on my shelf, yet.

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