The Mysteries of Super Glue... Some Knowledge and Tricks.....
Super glue is one of those fickle things in this hobby. We all have our favorite brands, but really it glues our fingers together or to models, ruins clothing, smells and goes bad quickly, and really can make a mess when it just is not working right. Trying a Kicker to help? well those sprays are messy and get all over the model... and again.... any glue on your skin and.... well you know the drill.
Im about to answer and fix a few of these problems. Impossible you say? Believe it or not other hobbies like woodworking for example already know these things and it's mostly just us in this hobby not already in the know. After all I still recall a good friend of mine when he rubbed his face during assembling miniatures..... and ended up gluing his eye lids shut!
What is super glue and who really cares as long as it works
For short it's often called CA glue. Its really called ethyl 2-cyanoacrylate, but CA glue works much better. It was discovered in 1942, but didn't hit markets until 58. Today comes in all sorts of brands and is everywhere, from Krazy Glue, Super Glues, is used in the medical field, electronics, and just about everywhere else... including my two favorite hobbies..... Gaming Miniatures and Reef Tanks.
It has a Short Life Span.
We have all had that bottle of super glue that just did not work. In fact it sucked so bad it became frustrating as it just would not hold. This also happens if you leave the cap off, or your super glue has just been on your work table for too long.
So how long does super glue last? Unopened and not exposed to air it only has a shelf life of about a year. This means that you need to really check labels to see if there is a date on it. Some do, most don't. If you open your bottle and it just is too slow to work..... well take it back but realize that the bottles next to the one you just bought are also going to be bad.
If the bottle is opened how long is it supposed to maintain it's quality. It's actually much shorter than you think.... 1 month.
So.... you heard right, keep that cap on it.
Why does Super Glue work better on my hands than my miniatures?
This is always the most annoying part of gluing things. Super glue needs moisture to make it's bond. The truth of the matter is that your hand has more moisture on the skin than your model does, so the glue loves your skin. Oh yea... when you try and rinse it off, notice how it instantly bonds? Yea, super glue loves moisture.
Please do not rub your eyes when working with super glue. Resist that temptation when working on models late at night to rub those eyes.
Big Bottles of Super Glue
Yea, I buy them too... after all the big bottle is so much less expensive for what you get than buying lots of small bottles. So yes, I always buy that big bottle and then not only does the tip get all screwed up with dried glue that I am always cleaning, but the glue always gets old. Its actually better to buy smaller bottles of super glue, unless assembling a massive number of models.
The glue will start to not holding its bond once it goes bad. It will take longer to set, meaning you have to hold your shaky hands tightly together for far too long to get a good bond. If your hand is shaking or moving, so are the two pieces you are holding together.
So my Super Glue is old, not bonding, and other tricks of the trade
OK, lets talk tricks of the trade. I know the number one thing we are all told is to blow on the joint yo are holding together to get a better bond. It turns out warm air helps... and you know... the moisture from your breath.
There are some better ones though.......
Did you know you can make your own kicker, or accelerator? Its simple, and is more controllable to apply than all these spray kickers that I see people using.
The Miracles of Baking Soda and Water
Simply mix 1/4 cup (about a shot glass worth) of water with 1/2 tsp of Baking soda, and thats it! Non toxic and it is amazing. Now the water itself will act as an accelerator all by itself in very small amounts, but what does the baking soda do? It helps nuetralize the acid in the CA glue (which is in there to slow the curing time) and grants you a second or two to position the model parts better. Less moving, better bond. You don't need a lot. Lightly brush your accelerator onto one side to be glued, and put the super glue on the other. If you can see standing water... stop. too much. Then press together and hold. If you need a faster bond, double the baking soda to a full teaspoon.
If your glue is old and not bonding quickly. Again, use the accelerator (baking soda/water) to help speed that process up so you don't have to hold or prop models up while they dry (sometimes overnight). Again, not much water, you need very very little.
Speaking of Baking Soda and super glue! Need a filler on that joint? Baking soda will be just what you need to fill that in. Apply baking soda first, and then the glue. I have only done this once.... but it does work and dries quickly and hard.
When applying water or the baking soda water mix to your models, use a brush to control it. This allows you to really take control of the accelerator.
Oh yea one last tip, Only use a small amount of super glue when applying. I know we all know that, but it still needs to be said.