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Homemade Decal Solvent

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  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Watkinsville, GA
Homemade Decal Solvent
Posted by shall on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 2:45 PM

The latest discussion I could find on this was three years old so I decided rather than replying to it I would start a new topic.

The last couple of days I've been doing a major decaling project with decals maybe six years old that are rather thick.  I first tried using the Strong Version of Daco Products Decal Setting Solution and it didn't perform well.  I tried Micro Sol but it was no better.

In the threads I could find on this topic the question of is solvent white vinegar or not came up several times.  Now when I smell solvent I don't smell vinegar at all.  I DO smell vinegar when I open an old jar of Testors Decal Set, which is used to clean and wet the model surface in preparation for the decal.  When I smell both Micro Sol and the Daco product I get a mild Acetone smell.

So I found some old decals and a painted piece of plastic with both bumps and grooves, put a layer of Pledge on it, let it dry, and then affixed two old decals to the plastic.  One I treated with pure white vinegar and the other I treated with my wifes finger nail polish remover (composed mainly of Acetone).

The vinegar treated decal did NOTHING!  The Acetone treated decal immediately wrinkled up and started to suck down around the bumps and into the grooves.  Now after fifteen minutes the wrinkles are gone, it has sucked completely down, and it looks great.

Now I don't know if finger nail polish remover will work on all decals and it may be too hot for some decals straight out of the bottle, but I'm going to try it on my next decal for the project I'm working on and we'll see what happens IRL.


  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 2:58 PM

Thank you for the information. 

If your Micro Scale stuff doesn't smell of acetic acid, that's a problem.

I've tried vinegar too, usually diluted. It doesn't seem to work well.

As for acetone, well, better test it on something painted with whatever you used on your model first!

My humble advice is to get new bottles of Micro Sol and Micro Set before you go too much further.

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.


  • Member since
    November 2008
  • From: Far Northern CA
Posted by mrmike on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 10:53 PM

A recent post on another forum  advocated using Tamiya X-20 as a solvent for decals. I have yet to try it, but I will. I have a Hasegawa project with decals that just won't settle down with Microsol. First, of course, I'll try it on a "crash test dummy" with same clear coat and scrap decals.


  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 9:15 AM

We seem to be conflating decal solvent and decal setting solutions in this thread.  They are not the same thing.

I know folks who do use vinegar as a setting solution. I have resisted that, as many of the vinegars you buy at grocery stores have various spices in the vinegar, and some of these have solids that participate out of solution as it dries. It can leave a crud behind.  So if you want to try vinegar as a setting solution, do a test on some scrap, not on a good model.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • From: western North Carolina
Posted by kensar on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 10:16 AM

Like Don S said, decal setting solution and decal softening solution are two different things.  I use setting solution (Microsol product with a blue label) under the decal to prevent silvering, and softening solution (the Microsol product with the red label) on the top to soften the decal so it will conform to the surface.  Some decals will not soften using the Microsol?, even after applying heat from a hair dryer.  My last resort in that case is using denatured alcohol on the decal with the hair dryer.  DO NOT get the alcohol on a painted surface or it will eat it up.

Best to practice on test model before doing it on a nice one.

My two cents.




  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, October 12, 2017 9:39 AM

Maybe I should have explained a bit more.  The primary reason for decal setting solution is to decrease the surface tension of the water. If the water does not fully wet the paint, air bubbles will be trapped between the decal and the paint, and the glue will not adhere as well.  Some folks ad a tiny drop of detergent to improve wetting, others use both a drop of detergent and setting solutions.  Also, use soft water if you can.

Decal solvents, on the other hand, actually soften decals, to help them conform to surface contours and fine detail better.  If you are applying decals to a reasonably flat surface with little fine detail, you probably do not need solvent.

Neither setting nor solvent solutions, however, will make decals nestle down into the very small surface roughness of flat paints.  That is why we do a glosscoat (or just use gloss paint) under decals on flat painted surface

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    November 2008
  • From: Central Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Friday, October 13, 2017 9:24 AM

I haven't seen a decal not conquered with Solvaset. I've had some pretty thick decals and Solvaset comes thru every time.




Too many models to build, not enough time in a lifetime!!

  • Member since
    September 2015
  • From: The Redwood Empire
Posted by Aaronw on Saturday, October 14, 2017 9:41 PM

I use Microsol most of the time, but do keep a bottle of Solvaset handy for decals that won't comply.

Sometimes it takes a few applications, but I haven't run across any that didn't eventually get in line with the Solvaset. It is definately a bit hotter than the Microsol and not as easy for me to find so I keep it in reserve for problem decals.

  • Member since
    May 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Sunday, October 15, 2017 9:55 AM

I was also going to mention Solvaset, Ernie beat me too it so mine is a me too post.


  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Sunday, October 15, 2017 12:23 PM

The problem with decal solvents is that they can be hard on the decal and damage it if you use too much, or touch the decal before the solvent has thoroughly evaporated.  It is safer to try setting solution first, then go to solvent only if the setting solution does not do the job. I keep both on my bench.  When I need the solvent I use it, but I save it for times I really need it.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota


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