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Wardancer

LEGO and Super Glue - How to handle a sticky relationship

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LEGO and Super Glue - How to handle a sticky relationship 

Since I have been customizing for a few years now, I thought I might inspire newcomers by writing down a few experiences:

 

1. Use gel, not liquid

When you go out to buy the glue, go with the gel. It is much less likely to flow into places you don't want it.

 

2. Take less glue than you might expect

Using a big amount of glue does not necessarily make a better connection. LEGO does not absorb glue (except fabric capes). Be aware how tiny the space between two parts is when you press them together. Every excessive bit of glue will be pushed outwards and it will leave an ugly, slippery mound of glue that reveals that you are using nonpurist techniques.

 

3. Roughen the surface

Little cuts can create tiny spaces for the glue to flow into and increase sticking power. Don't exaggerate though or the surface will become uneven.

 

4. Stop immediately when your fingers become sticky

You might reach a point where some super glue touches your hands and you are still in the process of customizing, eager to finish the project. If you don't clean your hands immediately, you will most likely leave glue prints on the fig, your table or your eyes. You cannot just wipe super glue off a fig. It leaves a mark, so if you touch a fig with gluey hands, you might mess it up. You think you can go on customizing with two sticky fingers, only by using the other eight? No you will focus on your fig, forget about the finger glue and then you figs will be tainted. 

 

5. If a connection breaks, clean it up before retrying

Sometimes you glue something and it breaks immediately afterwards. Your first impatient impulse might be to add more glue and to try again immediately. This will leave you with a messed up mixture of fresh, semi-fresh and fully hardened glue on a therefore very uneven surface. Instead, let all the glue dry completely. See what you can sand off. Roughen the surface again. Check if your parts still fit. Then try again.

 

6. Be patient and aware that your connection will be less strong than normal LEGO

Your using super glue, so everything should be dry after a few seconds, right? So let us apply some force to see how good the connection really is. Oops, you broke off your part. Do not do that. Let your parts dry for minutes or longer. Then carefully test if they stay on and then let it be.

 

7. Hold both parts together before you glue

Make sure you really know that you have tried if the two parts fit. This sounds obvious, but we are used that in the world of LEGO, everything fits perfectly. Once you start cutting, sanding or carving parts, this is over. Half a millimetre of unevenness might make if impossible for parts to stick together. So make you try without glue first. Is there tension? Where might the glue flow? How will you hold the part while glueing? Where will you put it while it dries?

 

8. The 80/20 or 90/10 rule

This is true for customizing and also life. In the world of LEGO, you are used to perfection. Perfect color matching, parts which are precisely crafted down to 1/5000 mms, perfect clearance. In customizing this is almost impossible. So after you have finished glueing or painting a part you usually assess the result. You might have a result which is maybe 80% or 90% of what you imagined. So the little perfectionist inside us tells us to improve what we just made. Here is my take on that: There is a good chance that trying to turn an 80% resulto into a 100% perfect fig will actually damage the fig or decrease the quality of the outcome. I have experienced countless examples. I broke off good connections and tried to make them even better and in the process messed up the fig. I repainted parts to make them even better and made them worse. So think twice before you go for the last 10-20% of quality. 

 

9. At all cost, avoid the sloppy slippy slide of death

The sloppy slippy slide of death is the moment when you press a gluey part against another part - and then decide to move it around in order to hit the perfect spot. There is VERY limited time and VERY limited room for that. Press the part down where you want it. If you move it sideways glue will smear, parts of the glue will be dry, parts still fluid. The connection will most likely be bad. The sloppy slide of death is a perfect way to ruin beautiful surfaces and complete figs. 

 

 

 

Edited by Wardancer

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Some very good advice there.

On 06/05/2017 at 9:16 AM, Wardancer said:

2. Take less glue than you might expect

Using a big amount of glue does not necessarily make a better connection. LEGO does not absorb glue (except fabric capes).

 

 
 
 

 

To add to that, if you do get superglue absorbed on a cape, it will go stiff. Often you don't want that, although it can be used to an advantage if you want a posed cape.

On 06/05/2017 at 9:16 AM, Wardancer said:

 4. Stop immediately when your fingers become sticky

You might reach a point where some super glue touches your hands and you are still in the process of customizing, eager to finish the project. If you don't clean your hands immediately, you will most likely leave glue prints on the fig, your table or your eyes. You cannot just wipe super glue off a fig. It leaves a mark, so if you touch a fig with gluey hands, you might mess it up. You think you can go on customizing with two sticky fingers, only by using the other eight? No you will focus on your fig, forget about the finger glue and then you figs will be tainted. 

 

 
1

And your skin is likely to become part of the minifigure design! I've done that a few times, holding a couple of parts while they dry only to realise they have bonded to my fingers.

Edited by MAB

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