Gluing Walls and Panels

by: Doug Schroeder

Before you Begin:

I strongly suggest using styrene and PVC wherever possible in custom ships and dioramas. This is the same plastic Hasbro uses for most of its ships and playsets. Sheet styrene is very easy to work with (see 

Cutting Walls) Other styrene can be harder to work with but it has one great redeeming value: common solvents found in any toy and plumbing store will WELD pieces for a very strong, permanent bond.

The 2 cements that I use are Tetsors Model Cement (small glass bottles can be found anywhere Testors paints are sold) and Oatey PVC Cement: clear – medium (found in any plumbing center.) There may be other equally good cements that I don’t know about. I do remember as a kid ruining several models with that nasty “model airplane cement” that came in a tube. Stay away from this stuff.

Tetsors cement is clear liquid that dissolves completely and quickly. Before it dissolves it melts any styrene or PVC it is in contact with. This cement will ONLY weld pieces where the 2 surfaces are in contact. So it’s ideal for smooth flat pieces. For big irregular joints I use Oatey. This cement is designed for sealing pipe sections so it has a filler (glue) in it besides the solvent. It is thick and messy. It is more practical for larger, irregular surfaces.

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Supplies

  • Testor’s Model Cement
  • Oatey PVC Cement
  • Dremel
  • Sandpaper
  • Rags
  • Heavy books
  • Clamps
  • Rubber bands
  • String

Step 1

Dry fit the 2 pieces to be joined together. Try to bring as much surface area into contact as you can. If the surfaces are very uneven you should cut and file until the surfaces are more flush.

Step 2

If you’re joining 2 smooth surfaces, lightly sand the surfaces of both parts so the cement has more surface area to react with. Also, some surfaces have a micro-thin coating that prevents the cements from penetrating. Sanding eliminates this coating.

Step 3-A

(model cement) Then cover both surfaces liberally with cement and QUICKLY join them together. This cement tends to evaporate quite quickly in the air so try to work fast. It’s not too messy, because it’s a liquid, but it will scar a finished surface, so try to aim well and apply only where needed. Watch out for runs.

Step 3-B

(PVC cement) Then spread on the PVC cement with the built-in applicator. Cover everywhere, but never thick. Wipe all excess away before it sets. This cement will mar/melt plastic, so try to keep it contained. There is a tendency when using this stuff, since it IS a filler, to not worry about joining the 2 pieces tightly together. Every time I do this my project breaks at that joint. The glue/filler is MUCH weaker than a welded piece of styrene. So try to keep as much plastic in contact as you can.

Step 4

You can wriggle the 2 pieces together a bit when you first place them together. that helps spread the melted plastic evenly, thereby making a stronger weld. It also allows the cement to penetrate deeper which also makes a stronger weld.

Step 5

Clamp the pieces tight. For flat surfaces a stack of books is better than an actual clamp. Use any means necessary to hold necessary to hold irregular surfaces firmly together: clamps, rubber bands, or even string.

Step 6

Regardless of package directions , I let the cement set overnight. Just to be sure. If you made a good joint the cements may be isolated from the air and thus take longer to dissolve.

Step 7

You’re done. To fill any cracks please read Filling Cracks and Seams.