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micro applicators


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Ive had a small pack of micro applicators for a while (like $3-6/25 (or worse for 10!) at hobby shops, etc) and used a couple of times for trying small painting, but was not impressed with them for that.


recently found them on ebay as dental applicators (search dental applicator or micro applicator) very cheap (like $1-3/100 if you lurk auctions or around $3-5/100 from Amazon, aliexpress or ebay stores). so i picked up a 100 of the large tip and started to mess around with them to see what else they might be good for. 








There are several head sizes and types so look carefully. I’ve found 5 or 6 different head styles/sizes over the years. They come in different colored handles which sometimes represent different head style/sizes and sometimes not, just pretty colors with all the same head style/type.


search terms are “dental applicators” and “micro applicators”, but search both as they don’t bring up exactly the same products most places. Micro applicator searches tend to bring up some cheaper more universal ones and dental applicators tends to bring up ones with different head styles/sizes selection but can be a bit more expense.


They turn out to be wonderful for CA glue. the little brush ball is nice material that seems to hold up sitting in CA glue for a long time. it spreads it really nicely while holding a pretty good drop. ive used split end tooth picks, needle (thread end both closed and clipped open), and even small brushes (the 3 for a $1 nail brushes), but none of them works as well as these little guys do. best applicator for CA glue i've found yet.


I just put a few drops of CA glue in a small tattoo ink cup and then cover with a piece of scotch tape with an 1/8" hole punched into it. this way you can stand the applicator up in the little bit of glue in the bottom, but the glue wont dry up for hours of sitting there.


also tried it with both light oil and grease for lubing engine works and these work well as well there.


the regular applicator did not work any better than toothpicks for thick white glue on paper and chipboard. probably something to do with the cohesion to the applicator/toothpick and the paper. i have some smaller applicators coming (they come in regular, fine and super fine) to see how they work.


on regular plastic model cements they worked better than toothpicks or needle applicators on plastic.


you can also bend the little neck easily to angle it if you like. 


so great little items to have around for a couple of cents each!





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ok i got some of the fine and ultra fine tipped applicators yesterday. well there aint a lot of difference as to the tips. from the pictures it looked like a lot more, but in hand less than 2x difference. mainly the ball of fuzz is a bit heavier as you get bigger, but not that much difference in area of the end of the applicator.


they come in 4 colors and you would expect that they would color code them, but no you can get different sizes in all the colors. so dont judge on the color of the applicator for size!


not a lot of difference in use either, so any should work fine. these are the best things ive found to do CA with in small amounts. works well with plastic model cement too. toothpick is just as good for white (pva) glue.





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Very nice.  I've seen these sorts of things sold in hobby stores in 10-packs for a lot more.


I've always used wooden toothpicks myself (the conical style with a sharp point, not the flat ones), but I've been thinking of giving them a try.  You think these are better for CA than toothpicks, why?

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the little swab keeps i nice drop of glue, lots more than even a split end conical toothpick does and it transfers much more controllably and uniformly to the piece you are applying it to. basically like a trying to paint with a brush vs a stick. plus its just bigger. i have huge hands and can hold tiny stuff well, but it just gets tedious with tiny tooth picks, more effort to hold them, these are easy to grab and manipulate in my big mitts w/ less thought i think. still light enough to do delicate work with. 


makes total sense as these were designed to dab tiny bits of cement on braces and cleaners into little cavity holes, etc for dentists, so perfect for our use.


PVA glue on the other hand behaves very differently on a toothpick than CA glue does. ive found that tooth picks work as good or better than these applicators do in getting an even spread along a thin edge -- usually the thing being done using PVA on cardstock models.


also oils and greases are much more controllable on these applicators than on toothpicks for getting into gears and bearings.


ill pop a few in the mail to you to play with.





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I actually have some I picked up at the hobby store a few weeks ago, I just hadn't done any model work since then to see how they behaved (and most of my work is plastic cement, not CA). But if you have a couple of ultra-fine ones, I'd be interested in seeing how they compare.


My usual problem is wanting less on the applicator, not more, for very fine details with minimum overcoating.  I've found the non-split conical wood toothpicks very good for that, but I have been meaning to evaluate these.


I've got a very-fine-detail scratchbuild project planned, which will include a mix of brass wire and plastic, and have been thinking about how to do the minimum amount of CA for that.

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plastic glues behave better with toothpicks than CA does as it sticks to the toothpick well but still makes a nice drop reservoir. even thicker ca glues tend to not like the wood.


i tried a really quick dip and paint in plastic solvent glue and it appeared to get a good amount in the ball and transferred to plastic well w/o wicking too badly. thats the only rub working with the thin solvent glues is getting them applied and them quickly wicking onto the plastic and going everywhere!


it is a good biz, buy something at 100 for $1 (sure less even at big quantities) and pack into packages at 10 for $3-4. thats why i wasnt thinking glue with the pack i picked up a few years back.


btw the "microbrush" ones i have from the hobby shop have a lot more "brush" fuzz on them than the dental ones do. ill go back and try using those with CA glue. ive seen dental ones that look to have about the same heads as the hobby shop ones (probably the ones they are buying in bulk and repackaging!).





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I buy the 100 pack dental applicator packs off eBay and I am using them all time when gluing Greenmax sidewalks , figures and trees in place on the layout. Won't want to be without them. It is also much cheaper than paying the inflated markup at a LHS for this type of item.



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Yeah these have been my goto for the last decade! I updated the initial post a bit.


i got upset a number of years back when these were being sold at the train show for like $4 for 10! So I made up a bunch of packs of 50 with 5 different head shapes/sizes and gave them to our club members and sold about 30 packs for $1 at the show one time, folks gobbled them up.


now even cheaper on ebay, Amazon, and aliexpress. Every few months I run across a 100 on auction and pick it up for a buck or less. They also make convenient little handles for things.





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