by Michael Smolek
Ever build a model that has the seams showing after gluing the two halves of it together? This usually results in the model with a less than desired look.
The key to a tight seam is in the preparation of the pieces before gluing them together. Be sure to dry fit your parts. Use rubber bands to hold it together temporarily and then look carefully along the seams. If you see a high spot that fits poorly, mark it in pencil. Take the pieces apart and then sand the area as needed to get a good fit. Use a full sheet of wet/dry paper face up on a flat surface using circular motions.
Be careful not to sand off too much. Note that too much sanding will remove your locating pins. Be mindful of this when you glue it together. Some modelers won’t want to do this, especially if they’re new to the hobby.
I always put install styrene strips, laying across the seam inside the model wherever I can fit them in. It gives the model more strength so the seams are less likely to crack later when I’m handling it. It also gives more gluing area that is often helpful. The low spots that remain (and create gaps) are more difficult, and may need filling, but usually these can be taken care of with dry fitting and sanding also. Use a good quality liquid cement. You may find you need to clamp some pieces while drying (especially warped pieces).
You can use rubber bands again, but be careful if you choose to do this because the glue in the seam can easily wick up under the rubber band and ruin the surface of the model! I usually just hold the pieces in my hands until it sets, unless the fit is critical (eg, wing dihedral)in which case I may build a jig to hold everything in place.
If you do get gaps in seams, use filler sparingly. I use CA glue or epoxy, but it also depends on the finish I’m applying (some metal paints don’t adhere well) If the gap is bad, build up the filler in stages — take your time and you should get better at this over time. We’ve all been there ourselves, and we’ve found tricks that work for us. You will too.