Modeling aircraft and bridges out of balsa wood is a fun and creative activity. You can spend hours bonding the parts together. That’s why you need to ensure that your hard work is going to last for a long time.
You also want to be as effective as possible, not losing time waiting for the parts to dry. This can be done by using an adequate adhesive that will help you bond the parts swiftly.
In this article, we will show you what’s the best glue for salsa wood modeling. We’ll also give you some pointers on what to look for when choosing the glue, as well as how to actually glue the balsa wood.
Last update on 2023-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- Best Glue For Balsa Wood – Reviews
- Bob Smith Industries BSI-157H Maxi Cure/Insta-Set Combo
- Rockler Cyanoacrylate Quick-Set Medium Adhesive
- FastCap 2P-10 Super Glue + Activator
- Starbond EM-600 Medium Thick, Premium CA – Cyanoacrylate Adhesive
- MITREAPEL Super CA Glue with Spray Adhesive Activator
- Glue Masters Professional Grade Cyanoacrylate Adhesive
- Best Accelerators For Balsa Wood
- Starbond Instant Set Accelerator (Activator) for CA Super Glue
- Stick Fast Aerosol Activator
- What To Look For When Choosing Glue For Balsa Wood
- Safety Tips
Best Glue For Balsa Wood – Reviews
Here is the list of our top 8 types of glue and accelerators for balsa wood. We have chosen the glues based on their viscosity, curing time, and tensile strength.
All the choices reviewed are excellent picks for balsa wood modeling and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Bob Smith Industries BSI-157H Maxi Cure/Insta-Set Combo
When we first found this cyanoacrylate glue and accelerator combo, we immediately knew that this is the real deal. It’s by far the best adhesive for balsa wood that is currently available!
It is so super fast that you will have to leave the parts right after application so that your fingers don’t get stuck to the pieces you’re joining. It sets in only 5 seconds and fully cures in 10-25 seconds! Now, how cool is that!
How does it work, you may ask. Well, it works incredibly easily. All you need to do is apply the accelerator to one part and the super glue to the other. No need for clamping just press the parts together for 5 seconds, and that’s it! The bond will stay rock solid for a long time.
So, what’s the trick? How does this glue cure so fast?
The real hero here is the accelerator. He’s the one that speeds up the whole process. What happens here is that the accelerator allows cyanoacrylates to set and cure quickly by increasing the alkaline state when polymerization happens.
In other words, it speeds up the drying time of the super glue significantly! It will increase your production time speed a lot. Not only that, both the accelerator and the glue dry clear and won’t leave any ugly looking residue and colors on your parts!
This combination here is a real lifesaver for all the balsa wood modelers. It can be a real game-changer and get you into a whole new league of wood modeling. We believe that this is a must for any serious balsa wood modeler and is by far the best glue for balsa wood on the market!
Rockler Cyanoacrylate Quick-Set Medium Adhesive
This medium viscosity cyanoacrylate glue is a great option for both professionals and hobbyists. It creates very strong bonds and sets very fast for a cyanoacrylate glue.
It dries clear and leaves no residue behind whatsoever. It’s very versatile as most CA glues are, but is best suited for metal and wood use. If you got other projects apart from balsa wood modeling that requires some metal parts to be bonded, this glue is the one to go for.
The packaging is solid and doesn’t dry the remaining glue if used properly of course. This is something that many cheaper tubes of glue are guilty of. If you’re not a frequent user of the glue, you will have the option to use it multiple times with no problems.
This adhesive is also well suited for filling cracks and holes because of its thickness. We feel that this glue can be fully utilized with the use of a quality activator. If you need only a small, thin amount of glue for the bond it will set instantly with the help of the activator. And the bond will be super solid, lasting for a long time.
If you however need more time to assemble the parts and don’t want an instant setting, you can apply this glue only as it has a medium-thick viscosity and will give you enough time to position the parts the way you prefer.
Overall, this glue is perfect for balsa wood! In combination with a good accelerator, it can significantly improve your modeling experience. We have reviewed a couple of quality accelerators down below, those work great with this adhesive.
FastCap 2P-10 Super Glue + Activator
Here is another fantastic cyanoacrylate glue and activator combo. This set will work wonders on balsa wood. It’s that good!
The cyanoacrylate glue is not just some crazy glue you bought for home use to bond a broken cup. This glue is thick and strong. It has improved tensile strength over regular super glues and will hold the bond super strong.
The activator is no joke either. It comes in a huge 12-ounce aerosol sprayer bottle that will last for a long time. After application, the bond will cure in only 30 seconds! No need for clamping or waiting for dozens of minutes to continue working.
While it is very effective and useful, this set comes a bit pricey for some. Not everyone is keen on giving away $20 + on adhesive set, and that’s ok. We feel that you get what you pay for and if you frequently use adhesives and need the super strong and quick bond, this is the right set for you!
Starbond EM-600 Medium Thick, Premium CA - Cyanoacrylate Adhesive
This premium cyanoacrylate glue is superb for precise application. It comes with a ton of useful addons that will help you make the bond on the spot you were intending to without making a mess.
The neat little additions we are talking about are:
- A clog-free stopper
- 2 application caps
- Micro-tips for precise application
The micro tips will provide you with a super accurate application. They are great for things like filling small cracks or making a mess-free bond.
A clog-free stopper is a very useful supply that ensures the durability of the glue inside the bottle.
The glue itself is of professional quality. It’s used by many professionals in the woodworking industry. It will work great with balsa wood as well.
The medium-thick viscosity is great for balsa wood bonding when you need more time, especially for precise bonds where you would use the additions that come with the glue.
Again, if needed, an accelerator will work great with this glue for all the parts that don’t require too much assembly time.
MITREAPEL Super CA Glue with Spray Adhesive Activator
Need a fast and extra strong bond for your balsa wood parts assembly? Pick this adhesive and activator set, and you won’t be disappointed.
Mitreapel has made a great combination of a very thick, sturdy super glue and a precise and fast-curing accelerator. The glue itself is pretty fast-curring as it is fully hardened in only 2 minutes.
But if you need the bond to cure in the least amount of time, combine it with the activator and it will dry in 10 seconds!
The glue and the activator will create water-proof bonds, so you should have no problems using it on boat balsa wood models.
This set is very versatile as well, it can be used on a wide variety of materials and surfaces. People have used the set on leather, ceramics, metal, and rubber without any issues.
All in all, this is a professional-grade adhesive set that will make your balsa wood models super strong. Go for it and see it for yourself.
Glue Masters Professional Grade Cyanoacrylate Adhesive
This Glue Masters Cyanoacrylate adhesive is ideal for use on balsa wood. It’s a super thick viscosity glue that has a very high tensile strength.
It is available in thin and medium-thick options as well, depending on your type of project. This is one of the fastest setting cyanoacrylate glues with thick viscosity that we’ve seen. It will set in 60 seconds only! That’s incredibly swift!
Its water resistance is excellent. It can be used for many projects where the joined parts come into contact with the water.
The bottle of this glue is very well made. It won’t jam or clog and will allow you to use the entire bottle, even after several months!
Even if you don’t spend the whole bottle on your modeling project, you’ll most likely spend it on other repairs. This adhesive is so versatile it can fix anything from shoes to glass and jewelry. It’s an incredibly handy little tool to have around the house.
To sum it up, you can’t go wrong with this adhesive. You’ll likely find yourself ordering more since it’s very handy for other projects apart from balsa wood modeling. It’s in our top 3 for the best glue for balsa wood.
Best Accelerators For Balsa Wood
Since the accelerators are so cool and useful, we thought that we should create a separate section just for them. Here are two great accelerators or activators for cyanoacrylate glue that will make your balsa wood modeling as easy as pie.
Starbond Instant Set Accelerator (Activator) for CA Super Glue
If you already got some super glue or have your favorite brand that you specifically want to use for balsa wood modeling, then getting an activator or accelerator only might be a good idea.
This accelerator is designed for use on thicker viscosity cyanoacrylate glues that have a longer setting and curing time. It will considerably reduce the drying time and will make your modeling much more efficient.
If you’re attempting to bond larger or sensitive parts that require a high volume of superglue, this accelerator will make the curing time minimal.
One issue that fast drying superglues have is that they dry an ugly white color on the composite surface. This accelerator doesn’t, and that’s why it is a great choice for bonds where aesthetics are of importance.
This is the kind of activator that professionals use. We’ve seen many carpenters commend its quality and reliability. It’s an excellent product, highly recommended for any type of balsa wood modeling.
Stick Fast Aerosol Activator
This US-made aerosol activator is an excellent and versatile tool that will make your bonds cure in no time!
Its magic is that it works on all types of materials. Stone, metal, glass, and of course balsa wood. It also works on all types of superglues no matter how thick and strong.
This activator has a great system for an application that eliminates the possibility of over-application of the activator. They achieved this by using a fine mist type of application.
The application itself is rather simple. You need to put the superglue on the bonding surface and after that, spray the activator on it.
One thing we don’t like about this accelerator is that it sometimes leaves a white residue after curing. That means that this activator is not the best for 3D printing, where the aesthetics are crucial.
Still, we feel it’s very good for balsa wood modeling and that’s why we recommend it.
What To Look For When Choosing Glue For Balsa Wood
There are several important factors to consider when selecting the right glue for balsa wood. We will go through them in this section.
Type Of Glue
The type of glue that you use for bonding your balsa wood models is crucial. If you don’t choose an appropriate glue you can end up spending 5 times more time bonding the parts and risk your model’s longevity as well.
If you read our review part of this article, you will know by now that in our opinion the best glue for balsa wood is cyanoacrylate in combination with a solid accelerator or activator.
Cyanoacrylate-based glues are known to work phenomenally on wood. They are the best available adhesive for balsa wood specifically.
Although just using CA adhesives can be a good strategy for balsa wood, there is quite a significant time loss while waiting for the bonded parts to cure. That’s where the accelerator comes into play.
The accelerator speeds up the curing time of a cyanoacrylate glue by 5-10 times. That means that in most cases, you will have a steady bond within only 10 seconds, even when there are thick layers of glue on the composite surface.
Using a high-grade CA adhesive with a proper activator will make your modeling much more effective. You will wait less, do more, and have super strong bonds.
The viscosity is the measure of how much resistance to flow has a fluid. The more viscosity, the thicker, more resistant to flowing that fluid has.
You can pick high viscosity glue for the parts that need more time for positioning. That way, the glue will not set as quickly and you can just spray it with the activator once you’re done with the assembly.
Another reason to go for the medium or high viscosity glues is for filling cracks and holes. The higher viscosity is great for that as it gives you more control over the adhesive, making it easier to fit it in the gaps.
Low viscosity glues tend to set and cure a bit quicker than the higher viscosity glues. They are good for your standard parts where not much positioning is needed, and you just want them to dry as soon as possible. They are also a bit more affordable than the higher viscosity adhesives.
The curing time of the adhesive you use will indicate how fast can you work and how long brakes do you need when you bond the parts.
Like we mentioned earlier, the activator will reduce the curing time by a massive margin. It is by far the single biggest booster of curing speed.
If you need more time for positioning the parts, go for a thicker viscosity glue as we mentioned above.
If you don’t have a reason to wait for the curing, pick up an accelerator and save yourself a lot of time.
The strength of the glue is an important factor to consider as well. You will probably achieve optimal results by using regular super glue like Loctite or Gorilla.
Last update on 2023-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
But since we are using an accelerator, we got to make sure that we have the strongest available cyanoacrylate glue for the job. The accelerator will dry the glue very fast and sometimes those bonds need a bit more time for curing than the 10 seconds advertised.
In those instances, having glue with a weaker structural strength can make the bonded parts break. When using strong, fast setting glues as we reviewed, we can ensure that the bond is strong enough even if not cured completely.
That’s why you should never cheap out on the glue, even if the accelerator is high-grade.
The weight of your construction is also a factor to consider. Adding too much unnecessary glue to the joints can put quite a weight on your model.
This excessive weight can lead to the premature collapsing of your model.
We recommend that you do a few trials to figure out the optimal amount of glue you’ll need. Once you figure out the amount you can save some glue and save your construction from collapsing. And nobody wants any of that.
We will now give you a few important tips to ensure your safety while working with the glue and the accelerator.
- Consider using protective equipment such as gloves and eye goggles. The gloves will keep your hands clean and prevent any infections that might occur and the goggles will prevent your hand from touching your eyes which happens frequently.
- If possible, work in a large, well-ventilated area. The chemicals in the adhesives are certainly no joke. There are quite a few people that have allergic reactions to those chemicals when they directly inhale them for extended periods. If your room has a window, open it and get some air circulating as well.
- Read the instructions thoroughly. They exist for a reason and are meant to be read. Be sure to check out important pages like “how to use” or “safety precautions”.
- If you get a bad reaction while working with the glue, it’s best to get some fresh air until you feel better. If you continuously feel sick while working with the glue, it’s best to visit a doctor.
- Don’t ruin your clothes while working with the glue. We always recommend wearing work clothes or old clothes that won’t be missed. You definitely don’t want your new clothes to become old.
- Thick, Heavy-Duty Resilience – Crafted with Compound of vinyl-based Hybrid, these versatile gloves are stronger than latex while still giving you the dexterity and control you need for needles or equipment. They are powder-free, ambidextrous and offer a stretchy & comfy fit for both men and women.
Last update on 2023-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use PVA glue on balsa wood?
Yes of course, but it will probably be a waste of time. The bond itself will be strong, but the problem here is that you will need to clamp the parts and wait for 30 minutes for the adhesive to set. It can take up to 24 hours for the PVA glue to fully cure!
On the other hand, the cyanoacrylate glue and accelerator combo will take only 10 seconds to cure! There is no comparison, CA glue and accelerator are the winners!
Can you use Gorilla Glue on models?
Sure you can! The gorilla glue is known for its great bonds on wood. The gorilla company was actually made to produce only wood glue but later on expanded to other adhesives.
Just make sure to get the stronger CA gorilla glue and use an accelerator to make the most out of your glue!
What is Balsa cement?
Balsa cement is the type of glue made specifically for balsa wood modeling. It dries fast and should fully cure in 1 hour.
Although this sounds pretty fast, it’s really nothing compared to super glue and a proper accelerator. Those two will cure in 10-25 seconds and are the best adhesive option for balsa modeling!
That’s about it for everything you need to know on best glues for balsa wood. It really isn’t that complicated.
All you got to remember is to pick a quality superglue and pair it with a high-grade accelerator. That way, you will save yourself a ton of time and you will have a much better modeling experience. Not to mention stronger bonds.
Now that you know all the facts and the best adhesives, go for it and start making beautiful balsa models.