An Overview of Glues for Model Railroading

I’m going to diverge a bit from my ongoing series of blogs to talk about something that’s vital to the pursuit of our hobby. Glue! We all seem to find our own favorites, and using a glue that doesn’t work for a particular application can be really aggravating.

My previous blog about the 1/64 scale walk-about of my own layout inspired me to get more detailing done on my Citrus District. I assume that most of us have detail parts stashed away for future use and I’m no exception. So, what good are all these detail parts if we don’t use them? Those detail parts serve a much better purpose when they’re affixed to the layout, right? I inspired myself. How about that!

Different Types of Glue for Model Railroading

Now, being an old timer, I have my long-time glue favorites. My number one choice of glues has to be Walthers Goo. How can any model railroader work without Walthers Goo! It’s been around forever and is always handy on my workbench. I’ve probably gone through a million tubes myself! Goo has that rubbery consistency that will glue just about anything together.


Of course, Elmer’s White Glue is another indispensable product. It has innumerable uses for more porous jobs. I use it both straight and thinned out about half and half. I buy the 1.25 oz. applicator bottles and refill them. Their size makes them great for gluing at my workbench or on my layout. Their narrow design makes them quite tippy however, so I glue a 1½” fender washer to the bottom of the bottle with another favorite of mine, Amazing Household Goop.


Amazing Household Goop is another adhesive that will glue just about anything together. I use it on bigger projects, such as benchwork, facias, and even automobile and household repairs. It is supplied with its own applicator tip.


Epoxy seems to have gone out of favor due to the amazing selection of “super glues”. I used a lot of two-part, five-minute epoxy in the old days, and then gradually converted to experimenting with various brands of “gap filling” super glues. I found that they seemed to go bad relatively quickly after opening them and didn’t adhere well on certain surfaces. I did learn that keeping them refrigerated between uses really prolonged their lives.

Eventually I happened upon the “Gorilla” brand of super glue. It’s the best super glue that I’ve ever used by far. It comes in a 20g (.71 oz.) bottle that’s similar in design to a “white glue” bottle. Its description says that it’s impregnated with microscopic “rubber” particles. Hmm. Whatever, it works great for me, has a long workbench life, and doesn’t need refrigeration. That’s another bottle that can be tippy though, so I glue a 1½” fender washer on the bottom of that one as well.

Sometimes when working with small details, I will position the part with Walthers Goo, then when the Goo is set, I apply a touch of Gorilla Super Glue with a toothpick to firmly fasten the part.


I use Elmer’s Wood Glue (the yellow carpenter’s kind) for structural benchwork framing and the like. And, it works great for furniture repair.


On my own workbench I do have liquid plastic cement handy, but I really don’t use it very often.


Other Adhesives

My primary use for hot glue is to glue up scenery forms like cardboard strips or metal window screen. It works great for gluing preformed and colored rock molds into place.

By the way, I use double-face adhesive tape for surface areas like sidewalks, road surfaces, structure walls, and signs. The hardware store brands don’t seem to work as well for me as the type that is available at a commercial graphics supply store.

Well, that’s my personal glue story. Let’s hear your story. We are planning an extensive series of how-to videos at our new studio at the Model Railroad Academy where I will show off my tools and techniques, and I’m looking forward to hearing your personal comments for content.

Keep those trains runnin’!

More in this series:

So You Want to Build a Model Railroad Layout?
Choosing Model Railroad Track Configurations
Assigning a Theme for Your Model Railroad Layout
Ideas for Unique Layout Concepts
Tips on Trackwork
Helpful Tips for Model Railroad Wiring
Ideas for Adding Personality to Model Railroad Layouts
Creative Ideas for Model Railroad Structures
Basic Detailing for Model Railroads: A Day in the Southern Pacific

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