An essential tool for any miniature hobbyist is a reliable glue and adhesive. How else do you assemble the miniature kits? Do you wonder what the best glues are for miniatures and models? For hobbyists working with miniatures, models, and even 3D printing, the best glue needs to be strong, reliable, and easy to apply. It needs to also be convenient and work across a variety of materials.
I’ve worked with a lot of hobby and art supplies. The best glue (or any supply) is personal. But sometimes the right tool comes along and is the best for that particular purpose. A best glue for miniatures is something that would be use-dependent, but can be narrowed down to just a few.
Here are the top 10 best glues for models and miniatures. Read on for more information about my recommendations for the best glues for miniatures and models.
Best Glues For Miniatures and Models?
Some of the more impressive miniatures are made by highly experienced, well-known game companies, such as Games Workshop (Citadel), Privateer Press, and Corvus Belli. There are many other game companies, including board game publishers who have established miniature lines. In general, these miniatures come in kits that need to be assembled.
Finding the best glue to help with this aspect of the gaming miniature hobby is part of the challenge. The components for these kits might be made of plastic, pewter (also known as white metal), or resin. In some cases, you might purchase a kit that contains parts from several different materials.
What is the best glue for each hobby kit material?
“Just use super glue!”
Sometimes it won’t work.
Or, you find that over time little bits fall off your mini.
This is especially true if you are a tabletop gamer. You’re carrying your models around, and bustling them around a table battlefield or board.
Oops, an arm falls off.
That axe you tried for hours to keep in place, pops off.
Sure, you pinned your model. But, is that horse’s tail spinning in circles like a flag?
Best Glue for 3D Printing
In some cases, the models I’ve had to glue together were 3D printed.
3D printed models are usually made of PLA or ABS plastics. In the more sophisticated DLP or SLA 3D printers, the parts are made of cured resin.
Still, isn’t super glue enough?
I know most of you already go by the standard super glue. Good choice. Is super glue the best choice of glue? Indeed, it’s what I use most of the time. But, there are so many types of super glues. Some super glues are better than others.
There are super glues in gel form, or super-thin form that runs quick. Some cure and form a bond faster than other glues. Others are really useful for filling gaps between surfaces. So, in fact, there is no best super glue for miniatures.
The best super glue is the one that does what you need. And, if you think about it, there are lot of glue options out there.
I’ve tried a lot of them!
Even this adhesive (see Bondic), isn’t actually an adhesive (according to the company who makes it). UV curable resin “adhesives” are great for random household stuff. But, in my experience, they are limited for the miniature hobbyist. They break off easily, as they don’t actually form a strong bond with plastic or metal surfaces. And, it’s pricey.
Ultimately, for 3D prints, the best glue is any super glue. They all work perfectly.
Glues! What should I know to find the best?
I’m not a chemist, but I do a lot of research. I also experiment, a lot!
I’m in the hobby for fun, so part of that is the thrill of discovering new things. What works? What doesn’t?
As a commissioned artist for miniatures, I’ve had to assemble all kinds of models. I’ve had to learn through experience what was the best glues to use for assembling miniatures, crafting terrain pieces, and constructing 3D printed parts into a complete model.
Three Most Common Types of Adhesives for Miniatures and Models
1. Cyanoacrylate (also known as “Super Glue”)
- Easy to use
- Fast acting, cures almost instantly
- Works on almost any material (plastic, metal, flesh)
- Potentially harmful fumes and vapors
- Bonds skin and flesh
- May not work on “dry” or water repelling surfaces (requires moisture to cure)
2. Plastic model cement (or styrene cement)
- Best glue for plastic
- Most effective agent for bonding styrene based plastic miniatures
- Fuses plastic surfaces permanently (almost unbreakable)
- Well-respected in the scale modeling world
- Easy to find in most hobby stores
- Only works on styrene-based plastics (won’t work on resin, etc)
- Strong and harmful vapors
- Can be more technical to apply properly (i.e., less is more approach)
- Cure time depends on many factors
3. Two-part epoxy
- Strong bonding properties
- Works on almost any surface
- Best glue or adhesive for long term durability
- Chemically resilient to most solvents
- Longer working time than super glue
- Low or no odor/vapors
- Can be more expensive
- More complicated to apply to models
- Requires proper ratio mixing to cure
- May not be ideal for small contact surfaces (i.e., small miniature parts)
Everyone has their opinion on what is the best product for their needs. I hope some of this information is useful for helping you decide on the best way to assemble your models.
What’s the difference between these glues and adhesives?
Cyanoacrylate or CA (“super glue”)
Super glue, crazy glue, or just plain cyanoacrylate is the most versatile glue. It is the best glue for new modelers because super glue works on almost every material that a miniature hobbyist uses.
If you’re a veteran hobbyist, then you’ve noticed that CA sticks really well to your skin!
Quick tip: To remove super glue from your skin, you can use acetone. Acetone breaks the bonds in cured cyanoacrylate. Acetone is found in nail polish removers.
Unlike the white (PVA) glues, which are water-based glues we used in school arts and crafts, cyanoacrylate is a form of acrylic resin. The active ingredient in super glue is cyanoacrylate, which transforms from a liquid-form into a hardened plastic acrylic-state after curing.
Interestingly, cyanoacrylate doesn’t “dry” like other glues. That is, this kind of glue needs some water moisture to bond to a surface. This might be why when you apply super glue to a very dry surface (like a pewter model) it might fail to harden into a bond.
If there is some water present, cyanoacrylate glue will very rapidly cure and harden.
One trick that I’ve used to accelerate the bonding of super glue (when I was rushed for time during an convention event), is to add a little saliva.
I know it’s gross, but it’s just using science to work in our hobby. There are super glue accelerators.
Despite the versatility of Super Glues (cyanoacrylate), there are times when you can’t use this adhesive.
In my case, it’s because there isn’t enough ambient moisture on the miniature (e.g., some materials repel water). Or, in some large models that I work with, I’m not sure the super glue has enough strength to remain durable over time.
So, when I’m looking for a stronger bond that can endure some of the stresses imposed on a model, I turn to epoxies. Epoxy based adhesives are the best glues for when you need bonds to withstand breaking force over a long period of time. Even when conditions are poor, such as extreme heat or cold temperature, epoxies can deal with it.
Although a bit more complicated to use, I love this stuff.
Epoxies are suitable for a wide variety of materials. They are just as versatile as super glue. However, because they require the mixing of two parts to begin curing, epoxies can be more complicated to use. Epoxy is best for when you have a plan. Do you know what needs bonding? And, can you you hold those pieces together for sometime while the epoxy cures?
Epoxies have variable cure times, which means you won’t get the instant bonding you may achieve with cyanoacrylate super glue. Choosing the best cure time is a key part of deciding which epoxy to use.
Two-part epoxies bond many kinds of materials such as most metals, including pewter, plastics, and even wood. Unlike super glue, epoxies have better chemical and water resistance that makes them perfect for outdoor applications. I’ve never left a model outside, but I have spill a beverage or two on models.
Epoxies should be your “go-to” best adhesive when you really don’t want the model to fall apart.
Some of the other benefits of two-part epoxies are that they don’t have the powerful odors of cyanoacrylate super glues. In general, they are safer to use in a smaller environment.
Because their curing process is through chemical mixing of two parts, epoxies are easily cleaned up from any surface, as long as it hasn’t fully cured. This means that epoxy on your skin is much easier to remove.
Quick tip: Uncured epoxy is washed off surfaces with isopropyl alcohol (“rubbing alcohol”).
Another reason I like using epoxies, is that you can predict when the product will bond. Detailed below, the epoxy I recommend cures in 5 minutes following mixing. This allows you time to apply it where you want on your miniatures. Additionally, you’ll know how long to keep the surfaces you want bonded together before you can let go.
Plastic Model Cement
Many of the model kits that we assemble are made of plastic.
Games Workshop models, for example, make most of their miniature line with an injection molded plastics. They sell the “sprue” kits that we cut the pieces from, and assemble into the completed mini.
This is why plastic model cement is so popular. It is the best glue to use with plastic kits. Note: plastic cement isn’t a typical glue. More about this below.
Plastic cement is useful for scratch building (I’ve written a little about scratch building and 3D printing here). If you’re a scratch builder, then you should probably consider having plastic cement in your gluing arsenal.
In general, plastic model cement is one of the most respected adhesives in the model-making and miniature hobby world.
Why is that?
Plastic cement work through a unique chemical process whereby the glue melts the two separate plastic surfaces. As the glue cures, the melted plastic solidifies into a single plastic membranous bond.
Essentially, plastic model cement “fuses” plastic together into a single part.
It is a permanent bond.
For some of the more experienced modelers, you may have noticed that Super Glues can create a “frost” over parts. This is especially troublesome for clear parts, like windows for cockpits.
Plastic cement doesn’t have this problem, and are therefore ideal for when you want to glue miniatures that have clear parts that you want to have stay clear.
This is the best adhesive for gluing clear parts (Micro Kristal Klear), according to the Internet.
Because plastic cement works by dissolving the plastic surfaces, it is better to use small amounts of this glue. Otherwise, you risk “melting” your plastic pieces too far, creating gaps or uneven joints in your minis.
Finally, note that these glues have strong odors with vapors that are harmful. Sure, if you’re “sniffer”, you’ll get a short-acting high, but it won’t be long before you’ll have a headache that never goes away. You should use these glues in a well-ventilated place.
Best 10 Glues and Adhesives for Miniatures and Models (Tips and Recommendations)
It’s a question I’ve asked myself several times over the years. What is the best glue for miniatures? What is the best glue for plastic models, or pewter miniatures? How about 3D printed parts?
I’ve spent a lot of time shopping online, art stores, and simply buying what I thought might work better. I love to figure things out by experimentation.
Here’s a list of what I think might be the most versatile, cost-effective, and reliable adhesives for our miniature and modeling hobby.
Top Picks for “Cyanoacrylates”
(The “All Purpose” Glue)
This is the standard super glue that most people use at my local club. It is easy to find in most hardware or art stores. It comes in a small bottle with an easy to dispense tip. The glue is viscous, but flows enough to get it where you want it to. In my hands, the models I’ve used this super glue on have stayed together.
The bond is strong enough for me to handle the models while gaming, or for holding up fairly heavy pewter pieces. I personally don’t pin my models, so I’ve relied entirely on the strength of my glues.
If there was one drawback that bothers me with this glue, and most super glues in general, is that they tend to lose their “sticking” power as time goes on. After I’ve opened one of these glues and uncapped the bottle, there comes a point when the glue won’t cure.
The only way I’ve gotten around this is to use an accelerant like this.
Anyway, I usually have this glue on my desk within easy reach.
Other marketed specs:
- No run control gel formula; great for use on vertical surfaces
- Impact tough: unique rubber particles increase impact resistance and strength
- Fast-setting: dries in 10-30 seconds, no clamping required
- Versatile: bonds plastic, wood, metal, ceramic, rubber, leather, paper and more
(The “Alternative All Purpose” Glue)
Early on when I started the hobby, a friend recommended this glue to me. It was available in my favorite local hobby shop, so I picked up a bottle. Apparently, its a super glue that helps fill gaps between the two surfaces your want to join. I’m not sure if the super glue expands as it cures, or if its because it flows through cracks. It does have a lower viscosity and thickness than other super glues I’ve used.
At the end of the day, it worked and joined pieces well. It also filled cracks and gaps in my models well.
The only issue I had was that because it was thinner, I ended up using the bottle faster. It flowed out easier and so I used more of it.
I generally don’t buy this kind of super glue anymore only because I’ve been trying to be judicious with my hobby budget. But, if you’re looking for something that comes out of the bottle without any hassle this is it!
Oh, lastly, because of either the formulation or how the bottle is designed, I haven’t had to unclog this super glue from its bottle. It keeps the flow going!
Other marketed specs:
- Zap-A-Gap 1 oz
- Marketed as “The Only Total Adhesive System for All your Needs
- Multiple Sizes and Applications Available
(The Best Glue for Magnetizing Models)
This is the best glue to use if you’re attaching magnets to your miniatures.
Magnetizing miniatures is a huge part of the hobby for many people who collect Games Workshop models. These miniatures come with different options for assembling a particular kit.
On a single vehicle chassis, for example, there might 4 or 5 different ways you can create your model’s outfit (e.g., kind of like dressing up a Barbie doll).
But, magnets tend to be a challenge to glue. Some of the stronger magnets can rip themselves out of their sockets without a strong glue holding them in.
I’ve heard from various places/vendors (source) that this BSI super glue is the most reliable and durable glue for attaching magnets to your minis. It probably works well for magnets because the glue tends to fill gaps really well. This increases the bonding surface area, which in turn improves the durability of the parts staying together.
In general, I’ve found BSI glues to be a premium hobby product. They are sort of expensive. But if you’re looking for something that will last and work well for magnetizing your miniatures, then this BSI super glue is the best glue for magnetizing your models.
Other marketed specs:
- Insta-Cure+ is a higher viscosity CA for loose fitting joints in which the adhesive must bridge gaps
- Bonds Metal, Plastic, Wood, Ceramics, Rubber, Leather, Glass, and more
- Bonds in 5-10 Seconds
- Proud Sponsors of Wounded Warrior Project
(The Best Value Super Glue, My Favorite)
This is my favorite glue.
It’s weird because its the cyanoacrylate that no one really knows about. I stumbled on it during an online search for cost-effective bulk glue. A few YouTube channels showed this glue, and on a whim I purchased it. The volume to cost ratio is way better than its competitors, so why not?
Well, it’s simply awesome.
You get a ton of it (get the 8oz bottle). The thick viscosity is perfect for easy application on small miniature parts. It sticks where you want it, and cures up parts securely.
Although I didn’t know at the time, but the cap design is convienent. Don’t you hate it when your glues gum up the cap so badly that everything is clogged? Then, you need to pull out a needle or sharp object just to get your glue to flow again? Well, this cyanoacrylate comes in a bottle with a screw cap! It doesn’t clog! Yes, really. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t actually use this stuff for along time without this surprising finding.
It’s the small things, isn’t it?
Bottom line: this is my favorite cyanoacrylate glue right now because of its cost, thick consistency (perfect for miniatures or modeling), and that bottle cap. So good. Get it, you won’t regret it. And if you do, it’s cheap (or on Amazon, just return it).
Other marketed specs:
- Industrial strength Cyanoacrylate Resin with the strongest bond on the market for your money
- Settles in just under 50 seconds, this glue is the epitome of easy
- Builder’s first pick for a quality hold and a flow you can trust with those delicate planes, trains, and boats
- From building models to repairing old china, glass, wood, and more, this is the pick for general household repairs, carpentry and whatever else you need fixed.
Top Picks for “Plastic Cement”
(The No Spill Bottle and Applicator)
I have two of these bottle applicators. One opened, and another spare in its packaging in my drawer ready to go. The cement is easy to dispense from the bottle with its narrow dispensing nozzle. This is important because you don’t need a lot of plastic model cement for it to work.
As the plastic cement functions to “melt” or dissolve the plastic surfaces, it only takes a small bit. Because the chemical inside is a volatile solvent, it evaporates quickly, which also means your plastic parts bond fast.
Because of the shape of the bottle, this particular brand of plastic cement allows you to sit it on the table at an angle without the cap on. This is probably the best reason to get this plastic model cement for your miniatures.
Glue applicator ergonomics, who would have thought?
You can leave the bottle uncapped as you work, without worrying about any of the glue seeping out onto your work surface (I hate that with the tube glues).
The cement is fairly thin with a medium viscosity. In general, it goes where you want it to. I can’t recommend this more.
Did I mention that I have a spare bottle just sitting in my drawer?
Other marketed specs:
- This is a 1 Oz. Container of Liquid Plastic Cement from Testors
- For polystyrene, acetate, plexiglas, lucite and most other plastics except vinyl, polyethylene, polypropylene and phenolics
- Precision applicator for precise application of cement
(The “Don’t Use Too Much Thin” Glue)
I tried it and loved how thin this glue is. It’s really runny. It’ll go where ever it can without you even trying to do anything. This is good and bad. Good, in that you can dab it on a surface, a very tine surface, and you’ll have plenty for it to function. Take a toothpick and dab that dot of cement where it needs to go. Ta-da, very thin and flows plastic cement.
This is also bad. It’ll smear everywhere if you’re not careful.
Because plastic cement melts and dissolves most styrene based plastics, it’ll scar and abrade any plastic surface. In this case, if you wanted a smooth armor plate to stay that way, you better be sure not to have any plastic cement get on it.
This thin cement glue will make working with fine detailed parts you want to “stay clean” more challenging.
So, with great benefits of this plastic cement (e.g., the thin easy to apply nature), you’ll need to wield greater control over it.
Other marketed specs:
- Genuine Tamiya product
- 40ml container
- Brush applicator
(The Reliable Standard Cement)
The classic tube plastic glue. The red tubes that my generation used to assemble model kits. Testor’s makes everything for the bonafide miniature hobbyist and modeler. This is one of those staple products that has been around forever.
I love this stuff.
It’s a thick, viscous plastic cement that comes out of a toothpaste-like tube. It lasts a long time, meaning that one tube will probably be all you need for many years of modeling and kit building.
Make sure you have some toothpicks or other applicator ready to control where you want this gel-like glue to go. Sometimes it just won’t move around.
Things I’ve observed with this glue over the years is that it can get stringy if you use too much. Those strings of glue and get on plastic surfaces of your model and create unwanted melted bits. So, you do need to be careful of how you move it about your desk as it is applied.
The tube also seems to have the weird behavior of leaking glue out of the nozzle if it is left uncapped too long. This has happened so many times. I’m working on holding two plastic parts together and a few seconds later there’s giant puddle of plastic cement on my desk.
Not great, since this glue also stinks. Those vapors are potent and apparently toxic. Make sure you use this glue in a place where you can get some fresh air.
Other marketed specs:
- This fast-drying adhesive bonds polystyrene and ABS plastics by dissolving and cementing the pieces together
- The precision plastic needle applicator makes easy work of gluing even small intricate detailed parts
- This package contains one 1-fluid ounce bottle of liquid cement
- Conforms to ASTM D-4236
(The Safer, Less Harmful Cement)
On this list of recommended glues is Testor’s non-toxic version of the plastic model cement. Instead of the red colored tube, this is blue (for safer?).
I have a package of this in my desk drawer. After I got a pet dog and had a kid, I realized I didn’t want the chemicals I use for my hobby to get around the house. So, I got this stuff thinking I’d replace the regular red-color tube of Testor’s cement when it ran out.
If you’re looking to get Testor’s plastic model cement and haven’t yet, maybe give this a try instead of regular plastic cement. I recommend this especially, if you do your mini hobby work in a place that might be accessible to young children, pets, or simply a place that you don’t want to stink up with harmful fumes and vapors.
A lot of the stuff we use in our miniature hobby can be bad for you and your household. Why add more risk?
Other marketed specs:
- This is a 5/8 Oz. Tube of Non-Toxic Cement for Plastic Models from Testors
- Safe cement for plastic models
- Joins polystyrene to polystyrene
- Useful for repairing household items made of polystyrene or ABS plastics
Top Picks for “Two-Part Epoxy”
(Fix Everything “Cold Welding” Epoxy)
This is the overkill epoxy. It’s awesome!
I purchased this stuff years ago when most of my pewter miniatures would fall apart too easily with super glue. I just got frustrated and went for the strongest stuff I could find at my local hardware shop (Home Depot).
JB Weld is the epoxy you use when you want to repair a crack in your car’s engine block, or a leaking hot water pipe. I’ve personally glued together a small tear in my car’s bumper with this stuff.
It is well known that this epoxy is for bonding metal parts.
JB Weld is marketed as the “cold weld”, because of its permanence and durability. It can withstand a literal ton of pulling force (up to 3960 PSI) and can remain intact in temperatures you might use on a frying pan (more than 500F). Ultimately, the adhesive has steel material in it, and has a stronger bond in some cases than “real” heat-fuse welding techniques.
I personally don’t use it much anymore because it takes up to 24 hours to cure. That’s too long for most applications I would need in assembling miniatures. I don’t like waiting…but, if you’re someone who wants something that you assemble to stay together for a long, long time, JB Weld might be it.
In any case, it’s great to have as a backup repair tool in your home. This stuff can help you fix anything.
Other marketed specs:
- The Original Cold Weld two-part epoxy system that provides strong, lasting repairs to metal and multiple surfaces
- Perfect for household, automotive, marine and craft uses
- JB Weld was developed as an alternative to torch welding
- Designed to be effective in extreme environments, once it sets, it creates a permanent bond stronger than steel
- Mixed at a ratio of 1:1, it forms a permanent bond and can be shaped, tapped, filed, sanded and drilled after curing
- At room temperature, J-B Weld sets in 4-6 hours to a dark grey color
- Versatile and dependable: this epoxy has a tensile strength of 3960 PSI & sets overnight
- It can withstand temperatures up to 550ºF when cured.
- Great for use on brick, concrete, metal, fiberglass & more
(The “Clear” Epoxy for Miniature Hobbyists)
At the end of the day, I ended up using this for most of my epoxy needs. Unlike the BSI two part epoxy (not on my list), it is more available in my local area in hardware stores and arts and crafts shops. Z-poxy is like every other two part epoxy in that you mix the two parts together in a 1:1 ratio and apply it.
For miniatures, I’ve used this stuff to glue down large heavy models to bases. I’ve closed up gaps to make water effect ponds and muddy pools.
The cured epoxy has some flex to it, which is good because it helps absorb some of the stresses that might be placed on the model.
The bonded parts with this epoxy is resilient to all sorts of solvents. I know because I’ve put models into paint stripper (denatured alcohol) and almost all the super glued bonds broke except for the ones where I used this epoxy.
This version cures in about 15 minutes, which I found is the perfect time for me to use it all without losing too much to waste.
On large models, I make up small batches and work my way through the assembly. And, I only make enough that I know I can use up in that 15 minute timeframe.
As with all the other epoxies, before the adhesive has cured, you can clean up any excess with rubbing alcohol.
Z-proxy, I’ve discovered, is great for 3D printing applications. I’ve used it to assemble PLA printed parts, as well as use it as a smoothing agent. I apply a thin coat of this stuff over a 3D printed part and it fills in the layer lines that often plague FDM prints. Once hardened, it takes primer and paint very well.
Another neat trick I found was that because it dries clear, it can simulate water effects really well. I’m sure with some experimentation, you could probably come up with other creative uses for this transparent epoxy.
Other marketed specs:
- Cures completely clear!
- Easy to sand and has excellent gap filling characteristics
- Z-Poxy is specially formulated to bond to fiberglass, wood, metals, and plastics
- Resistant to shock and solvents
- Non-brittle, non-shrinking
- Produces a tough permanent bond in just 30 minutes
Summary: 10 Recommended Glues for Miniatures and Models
I’m always looking for new things to try out in the miniature hobby space.
Have you found a best glue or adhesive application that works for your needs? I know scratch builders have a lot of insight into this.
Let me know in a comment below!
Thanks for reading 🙂