We’ve all used glue, from arts and crafts to shoe repair and carpentry. We’ve all need to stick something to something else at some point. It seems simple enough, apply and press. Yet there is a daunting number of glues to chose from. And lots to learn about the process.

Things to consider when choosing and using glue

Materials

Different materials react differently to different adhesives. Some combinations just don’t work. Sometimes solvents in the glue can eat away or melt the material you’re trying to bond, sometimes that’s the point. Be sure to read the packaging before you start or better still before you purchase.

To give you a head start, Kate Pruitt at Design Sponge has this handy chart. The rest of the article has lots of useful information about different types of glue and when and where to use them.

If you are gluing two completely different types of materials together if gets even more complicated. Thankfully there’s a chart for this over at Makezine. Patex also offers a glue finder which lets you choose your materials out of a series of drop down lists and then suggests products based on your choices. Obviously it only suggests Patex products but may other brands have similar products. Between these two you should have a good of idea which ones to start looking at.

Weight

Another thing to consider when choosing glue is how much weight the bond needs to support. Either from the weight to the pieces or from additional weight or force. Some glues will work fine for light or decorative bonds but are not durable for heavy or high handling bonds.

Exposure

While we’re thinking about the use of the end product, we also need to think about the bonds exposure to the elements. Specifically, heat, UV and water. Each glue handles these things a little differently some may need one or more of them to cure. Some can handle one and not the other or any single one and but not the combination. Make sure you read all the information on the package and do a little research before you buy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Drying Time, Setting Time and Curing Time

    • Drying time is usually the time it takes for the adhesive to stop being liquid and the bond to begin to form. In some cases this needs to happen before the two surfaces are joined, sometimes it just means that the pieces are still adjustable. Occasionally it’s the same as setting time, it all depends on the particular glue.
    • Setting time is  how long it takes for the bond to be stable, usually how long it needs to be clamped, supported, or heated. Once the glue is set it is usually okay to move or handle the object but the bond has not yet reached its full strength.
    • Curing time is how long it takes the bond to reach full strength and permanence. This can vary depending on heat, humidity and density of the glue.

These times and terms can vary from adhesive to adhesive and brand to brand. Drying and setting are sometimes be used interchangeably. Be sure to read the glue’s packaging and support materials carefully and follow those instructions closely for best results. Both Pratley and Bostik offer downloadable instruction sheets for their products while Pattex offers detailed online information and instructions.

Preparing your project and workspace

Preparation is important with all adhesives. Clean the bond surfaces of dust, dirt and oils and, in some cases, you may need to roughen them as well.. Also, make sure that the bond is adequately supported while the glue is setting. Sometimes this just means holding the pieces in place for a few minutes but more often this involves clamps, vices weight. Check your support documentation beforehand so that you are ready when applying the glue. It’s a good idea to test your clue on scraps where possible to check that you like the appearance and the bond strength is sufficient.

Most glues are toxic in some form and so it’s always best to make sure that you have adequate ventilation when working with them, for some you may need a mask or respirator.

Summation

Be sure to do your research before selecting a glue for your project. Read the support materials fully before you start and follow the instructions closely. Make sure that you have your bond surfaces prepared, your work area properly ventilated and your work surface protected and any clamps or weights that you may need readily at hand. Give your project adequate time and the correct environment to set and cure properly. Wherever you can test your adhesives on scraps ahead of time so that you know how the glue behaves ahead of time.

There many great craft and DIY projects you can do or make easier with the correct glue if you take the time to do a little research and reading.

Pop into Rex Hardware and have a look at our glue selection or check out our other DIY project ideas
Photo by Erika Pugliese

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