Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Glue: The only fastener REAL carpenters use

Usually I post about what I have made or current projects, but today I think I will talk about one of the major non-wood products I use.  Glue is a very important part of a project because I rarely used mechanical fasteners on toys because they inevitably loosen or come off.  There are several different kinds of glue.  I will go over the glues that I use:
Wood glue:  There are many different types of wood glue and for the most part the general wood glue will work.  There are water proof and stainable wood glues also.  I have never used the stainable one but I can't imagine that it is very "stainable".  The problem with glue is that it does not finish well. The good thing about the basic wood glue is that it is nontoxic.  I was asked once what the difference between Elmer's wood glue and the glue used in schools.  The answer is a little bit of dye.  This glue has about a 5 minute open time and will set in about 15 minutes.  After about an hour it will have reached 90% of its strength.  The cool thing is the glue bond is stronger than the wood itself.
Spray adhesive:  I use this to attach my patterns for scroll saw work.  The important things to remember about spray adhesive is that it is flammable, fumes are not healthy and to read the directions.  Most spray adhesives must be sprayed to both sides and let dry for the bond to be permanent.  I don't like my patterns to to be permanently adhered to the wood so I only spray one side.
Epoxy:  This is used to adhere non wood parts to wood parts.  It is usually in two parts and once mixed it will dry and can not be used again.  The microwave trick will not work on epoxy.  I don't use epoxy a lot because I don't like it and it is relatively expensive.
A little note on a couple of other glues:  Super glue is great for a quick bond but it is very easy to destroy a project because there is not a lot of open time.  Meaning once the two pieces touch they better be in the right place.  Gorilla glue is another super strength glue that cures with moisture.  Don't let it touch your skin.

Here are a couple of tricks that I have learned:
When you are ready to glue up a project, dry fit it together first.  It is never fun to have glue on all the parts and realize you forgot to cut a part or a groove is too small.  It is also a good time to find out how many and what size clamps are required.
Clean up the excess glue with a wet towel before it dries.  I don't care if the glue says it is stainable.  It will not stain the same as wood.  Cleaning up excess glue makes sanding a lot easier.
Since I work with a lot of small parts this next trick has come in handy several times.  Put a little bit of glue on the parts and gently rub the other part on it spreading the glue evenly over both surfaces.  After a little while the parts will become harder to move around.  slide the pieces in there correct location to each other and let dry, no clamps needed.  This only works with small parts so don't try it while building a cabinet.
Glue is a fantastic fastener, however if you need to use a nail or a screw sometimes to hold things together while glue dries use it.  The title is in reference to what some one told me when they saw I was using nails.

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