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What works best for securing dirt or coffee grounds to plywood for authentic scenery. Clear guess not the best results?
 

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What does "clear guess not the best results" mean? You can use anything sticky... even latex paint. Paint your terrain brown, and sprinkle the dirt / coffee grounds in it while it is still wet. I personally use artists matte medium (diluted 1:4 with distilled water) as an adhesive. I "paint" an area with a thin layer of the full strength stuff, sprinkle on some ground cover, and let it dry. This gives the terrain some tooth to hold more ground cover. Then I go back an apply the ground cover in the desired thickness, then mist it with diluted isopropyl alcohol (70% store strength, diluted 50% with distilled water), followed by a heavy mist of dilute matte medium until it is saturated. While you can use any spray bottle for this, I prefer those used by hair stylists -- it has a small pressure cylinder that you pressurize by pumping, but it then gives a very heavy and even spray independent of the pumping motion, so it's less likely to blow your ground cover around.

You can also use any brand of white glue, Mod Podge, or wood glue in exactly the same way. Spray adhesives also work, as does cheap, unscented hairspray. There are so many ways to do this -- and certainly not one way that is better than all others. You have to experiment and find one that works best for you.
 

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Thank you so much for your excellent ideas. I meant to say white glue didnt work too well. I'll give it a try and see what happens.
 

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What works best for securing dirt or coffee grounds to plywood for authentic scenery. Clear guess not the best results?
Elmer's Glue-All white glue, or Mod Podge Matte Medium (NOT Gloss), would work just fine. Mix approx. 15% glue with 85% tap water, with a few drops of dishwashing detergent, in a quart spray bottle for applying. Carefully mist it on over your dirt. You can simply lay old newspapers down to protect areas or items that you don't want sprayed. These glues are white when wet, but will dry clear and flat.

Elmer's can be softened quite easily with water after it's dry, which means you can wet it down and scrape it off later on down the road if you want to make changes. Mod Podge is much more water resistant when dry, so it's considerably more permanent, but some folks claim rubbing alcohol will soften it up nicely. I've never tried softening it up afterwards, however.
 

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I used yellow wood glue diluted with 2X times as much water and thoroughly mixied, then brushed on first.
 

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Thank you so much for your excellent ideas. I meant to say white glue didnt work too well. I'll give it a try and see what happens.
No, full strength anything doesn't work to well. Except to establish a base coat, as I indicated. To Mixed Freight's point: mediums (Mod Podge, Liquitex, etc.) are what artists use to adjust the consistency of acrylic pigments. They come in several "flavors": gloss, satin, and matte, typically. Matte simply means "flat" or not glossy. They're meant to be resistant to wear, fading, and discoloration, as well as somewhat flexible. They are more expensive than glue, but they last longer. And the dilute alcohol mixture will soften them and allow them to be scraped off.

Incidentally, the gloss stuff is a great way to make water features, and the related product, gloss gel, is great for making waves, ripples, rapids, etc.
 

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And you could spray over it if it didn't stick as much as like with the spray bottle/glue mixture technique.
 

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I used yellow wood glue diluted with 2X times as much water and thoroughly mixied, then brushed on first.
I also use aliphatic resin (yellow carpenter's glue) for 90% of all my roadbed and scenery, including ballast and dirt. I'll spray it diluted, or use it full strength, depending on the application. It doesn't show up anywhere as shiny stuff in the scenery, or in the ballast.
 

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So far I have not personally found the elmers to dry shiny when sprayed from a diluted mixture. i guess on top of a either wood or a foam panel -- i've put down the layer of paint, a light brown acrylic usually. and then when wet i put down the ground cover. after this dries i hit all again with more ground cover and the spray until its covered like i want it to be. works for me. i did try a model specific brand of spray glue and while it worked it didn't seem to be any dramatic improvement. the biggest issue with the spray bottles is they clog up. I finally caved and bought a wood land scenics way-over-priced spray bottle one time out of frustration with the my home brew spray bottle approaches -- and low and behold its improvement over them. It still pays to clean it pretty good to flush the tubing if you hit bottom with it... otherwise i think the longer it sits, it will inevitably clog and while these clogs can be flushed out eventually with hot water ... it's a huge pain to do it per use.
 

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You might consider covering your plywood with a foam before beginning your
scenery operations. It provides a smooth surface that can accept most any
adhesive. You can easily penetrate it to set fence posts etc.

I used the 1/4" paper covered foam from Walmart, Michael's or
Hobby Lobby. It comes in various colors but black and white are easiest
to adapt to scenery. I used the black for base of my yards...the white for
lawns, fields and the like,

If you plan rivers, lakes, or ditches, the thicker foam available at
home centers and lumber yards make it easy to do your
excavations.

Don
 

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Mix it 50/50 with water and "paint" it on. Undiluted won't work, too thick.
White glue, maybe. Matte medium is not -- it's MEANT to be brushed.
 
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