|Use glue or self-drilling
screws for a home cockpit?
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Glue It or Screw It ?
We build a lot of flight simulator stuff from plastic PVC pipe. In our videos we show two different
methods of attaching these pipes together securely.
One method is inexpensive construction glue
Another method is self-drilling screws
Which way is better? Well, it depends on the situation, it depends on what you're building, so here
are 6 different ways to compare the two methods. You can consider these, then determine what
works best for you.
The first thing you might consider is cost.
The glue we use is Liquid Nails, it's less than $2 for a tube and you can get a lot done with just one
tube. The self-drilling screws cost about $5 for a box of 50....but you might run out of screws and
have to buy more.
For example, look at this prototype Easy Helicopter Collective, we used a lot of screws just on this
one part. If you run out and buy another box, then you're spending $10 on screws instead of $5.
Maybe that's not a big deal for you, just something to keep in mind.
So if you're concerned about cost, score 1 for glue.
Another factor is time.
It takes about the same amount of time to apply glue as it does to drill the screws. For example,
lets apply glue to all three sides of this T-shaped connector and attach some pipes.
Now let's try attaching 3 pipes to this T-shaped connector with self-drilling screws.
The big difference is that the glue needs to dry overnight. Maybe you just don't want to wait that
long. Score 1 for screws.
Does either method require a special skill? Is one method easier than the other?
I really don't think so. I think these two methods compare equally.
So let's score 1 for both.
4. Clean up
The glue can get messy if you're not careful, you need to have paper towels handy and don't get
any on your clothes. The self-drilling screws are the easy winner here.
The only residue from the screws are these little plastic shavings.
Point for the screws.
In many of our videos we show you how to glue the parts together, then look at the frame or
measure it to make sure the frame is square and even.
Then nudge or tap the framework into place.
This doesn't work if the frame is assembled with screws. You would have to remove some of the
screws, then adjust the framework, then re-attach the screws.
Glue gets the point this time.
Are you making a prototype of some sort? You might assemble and disassemble a frame many
times if you're experimenting with a new design.
Simply dry-fitting the parts together may not be enough to hold your experiment together, especially
if you place a monitor or controls on your prototype. The self-drilling screws can be used and
You can see I've used these same connectors many many times for various prototypes.
Self-drilling screws are reusable.
Now I did not compare the costs of a caulking gun or a drill. I'm assuming you have these already.
So let's take another look at our scorecard. The screws got a slightly higher score, so why don't we
use them more in the DIY flight sim videos?
We use glue to assemble the frames of the various cockpit enclosures because we're using glue
to attach the foam body panels also....so you'll be waiting overnight for the glue to dry anyway.
In other cases, we're just trying to save you a few dollars.
And in other cases, we actually use both.
You can build a home cockpit with supplies from a hardware store like Lowe's or Home Depot.