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Repair plastic eyeglass frame with thread and superglue

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Picture of Repair plastic eyeglass frame with thread and superglue
You've got a pair of eyeglasses, plastic frames, broken. You looked on the internet, found a couple places you can send them. Thirty bucks and two weeks later you'll get fixed glasses back in the mail. What if you don't have thirty bucks or two weeks? What if your kid's got class in two days?

Follow along below to see how you can fix the glasses with common household items and materials. The only special tool needed is a small gauge drill bit. I got mine for less than three bucks at a small town hardware store. If you're willing to take a risk and trust your skills with simple hand tools, you could have fixed glasses as soon as tomorrow!
 
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Step 1: Things you'll need

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The next two pictures show the tools and supplies you'll be needing for the repair. Hover your mouse cursor over the yellow boxes to see descriptions of all the supplies.



Step 2: Lecture on gluing technique

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The secret to a good gluing result are The Three 'C's':

Cleaning, Clamping and Curing.

Cleaning: you want the surfaces to be joined to be very clean and dry with a matte texture. The glue needs a solid, clean surface with a little "tooth" to bond to. Sanding lightly with fine sandpaper and washing with a household solvent should do the job. Let the parts dry thoroughly before gluing.

Clamping: You want the parts held steady relative to each other while the glue sets up. If the parts wiggle while they're bonding together, the bond is weakened.

Curing: This means giving the glue time to do its job - form a bond. If you strain the bond before it's fully set up, it will be weaker.

So, clean the joint well, clamp the parts together, let the glue cure and you'll have good results every time.

Step 3: Cleaning

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Give the glue a good surface to bond to by lightly sanding, scraping and washing the break.



Step 4: Making the Clamp

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Your clamp is a piece of stir stick cut down to fit between the two side pieces of your broken glasses. I had to try a couple of times to get the piece short enough.

The first photo shows what you want: The piece of stir stick fits between the two side pieces of your glasses with a little overlap at the break. This will let you clamp the break together firmly.

The third and fourth photos show the piece of stick being wrapped in some wax paper to protect the lenses from being scratched by the stick. You could use the soft cloth to wrap the stick instead. Just make sure you protect the lenses from the stick.

Step 5: Clamping the glasses

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Make sure your rubberbands are free of dirt or grit that might mar your lenses. I rinsed mine in water and let them dry.

This step can be quite fidgety:
Get both sides of the glasses held down to the stick with rubberbands. I doubled over a rubberband and slipped it over one end of the stick, then slid the end of the glasses under the rubberband. Repeat for the other side.

Now fiddle with the glasses and rubberbands until you have the ends of the break held firmly together. Scoot all the pieces around and together, being careful not to mar the lenses, until the pieces are lined up right and held snuggly together. Small voids between the two sides are okay as long as there are some firm points of contact and things are lined up well.

Step 6: Gluing the core joint

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This glue joint is the core of the repair. If you don't make this one good and solid the entire repair is at risk.

The basic steps are as follows:
Photo 1:Apply glue to the break. Make sure there are no air bubbles or gaps in the joint.
Photo 2: Gently, lightly, quickly, roll the side of a cotton swab over the glue to absorb any excess.
Photo 3: Set the clamped and glued glasses somewhere safe to cure for and hour or so.


Step 7: Drill holes for tension band.

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After the core joint has been curing for at least an hour, you're going to be drilling two parallel holes in the frame on either side of the core joint. These holes will be used to wrap a band of thread around the core joint.

The first picture is a preview of two steps ahead showing the band of thread wrapped through the holes you're about to drill. This is to help you visualize the holes you're about to drill.

When drilling, lay the glasses on a soft cloth. Be careful not to scratch the lenses. Be careful not to stress the core joint. Be gentle with the drill and brace things carefully with your fingers. Be careful not to drill a hole in your fingers.

Drill the holes far enough apart that the repair has a pleasing elongated shape. I think the example below has the holes a little too close together and the final result is a little bulbous. Don't make the holes too far apart or the tension band will sag on the bottom.

Step 8: Sew the break shut/Wrap the tension band

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The tension band is just a bunch of thread wound through the holes you just drilled and around the core joint. The purpose of this band is to give strength under tension to the repair.

Thread a fine needle with a long enough length of thread. About 4 to 6 feet doubled over to 2 to 3 feet should do it. It doesn't hurt to have a little too much thread on your needle when you're done.

Take care while wrapping the tension band to make sure each wrap of thread is snug, but be gentle and don't stress the core joint.

Wrap as many turns of thread through the holes as you can. When the needle won't fit through the hole, then you're done wrapping.


Step 9: Glue the tension band

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Filling the drilled holes with glue is good. Soaking the thread with glue is good. Keeping glue off the rest of the frames is good.

Make sure there are no air bubbles in the thread or holes. Make sure there is no air between the tension band and the core joint -- glue the two layers together.

Get everything soaked and then lightly blot by rolling a swab across the joint.

Let it cure for fifteen minutes, and then trim the threads with a hobby knife.

Step 10: First radial wrap and glue

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After the tension band has cured for fifteen minutes, and you've trimmed the ends, you can begin this step.

Take a length of thread and tape one end to the top of the frame over one lens. Wrap the thread careful and completely across the bridge of the glasses.

Once the first radial wrap is complete, tape the far end down on the frames but DO NOT TRIM.

Soak the wrap in glue.

Blot lightly and let cure for a couple of minutes until no longer tacky.

Step 11: Reverse radial wrap, final glue and trim.

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After a few minutes cure when the glue is no longer tacky, un-tape the far end and start the reverse radial wrap IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. The point is to make the two wraps' threads cross over each other and not line up parallel to each other. The crossing gives the repair stiffness and strength.

Having said that, smooth and tidy is still the order of the day. This is the final wrap of the repair, so make it look nice. This is the most boring part of the repair, but paying attention to detail here will give you a strong and attractive repair.

Soak the final wrap in glue.

Let it cure for a couple of minutes. Trim the ends.

Set the glasses somewhere safe to cure for 24 HOURS. Skimping on cure time can weaken the repair.

Step 12: Enjoy your Bahn-d'Aje (Bandage.)

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You've let the glue cure for 24 hours. The glasses are ready to wear. Enjoy!
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charless161 month ago

If you are doing the nose bridge thing try unwaxed dental floss as thread., it works nicely in other places as well (projects I mean). nice instructable.

Zeillie_1887 months ago
Hey, I understand that this page is old, and if anyone can help I'll appreciate it! I recently broke my glasses the part that goes behind your ears, and I tried superglue but it didn't hold on.. if anyone has any suggestions for me I'll appreciate it VERY much. the part that broke is made from metal if that helps..
Dmitri Monk (author)  Zeillie_1887 months ago

The part that goes from the hinge near the lenses to your ear is called the temple piece. I recently made a temporary fix to the temple piece on my glasses using "heat shrink tubing" - search that term and you'll find lots of suppliers - and a splint made from a plastic fork. Your local electronic parts supplier should have some heat shrink tubing for sale at an affordable price. The plastic fork I picked up at my favorite burrito place while getting lunch!

My temple piece had broken right where the plastic part that curves over my ear joined with the metal bar that goes to the hinge.

I cut a tine off the plastic fork and whittled it down so it was thin enough to fit under the tubing next to the two broken pieces of my temple piece. It was quite fiddly getting the bits all together and lined up nicely. Once it was all together, a little heat and the tubing snugged up, holding it all tight.

I ordered new frames right away, this is only a temporary fix, but it held for a week or so while I was waiting for the new frames.

Good luck!

gluefarm1 year ago

This is a nice and simple . Thanks for sharing....http://gluefarm.in/methods-tips-to-store-super-glue-or-cyanoacrylate-glue.

MauiJim2001 year ago
Hi Dmitri,

I'm going to give this a try today. Wish me luck.

Love the thoroughness of the instructions. After discussing it with you in person, and not having looked at the site, I can see there are a couple of very useful ideas that are super-useful. Namely, multiple wraps of thread and the holes being drilled vertically.

I will be doing an earpiece repair, so the holes will be lateral/horizontal. Also, I will have to create a different kind of clamping template than you illustrated here, one with a right-angle to it, perhaps.

your friend Matty
beatnik2 years ago
OP-
YOU don't even have to read this post just wanted to mainly say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

My broken glasses are almost like new I couldn't be happier I almost wish i didn't purchase new glasses before i did the repair!!! (RX changed though so its a good good situation) This has helped me Much I had used tape for almost five days before i got the balls to try this.

My glasses are old and they broke almost spontaneously. I went to the Doctor to get new ones and they said they broke from deterioration of the plastic from things such as UV rays. Thus so i was afraid that if i did drill into them they would crack but luckily in my favor they did not. As i am waiting for my new glasses to be made It might be up to seven more days and it has been six already 4 of them using tape which drooped and constantly fell apart when cleaning them.

I was ecstatic when i found your `able. I am only going to be using them for 2 weeks at most and my new RX is different so i will keep these but only in case i lose my new ones as if they break i will use this technique again.

Although i did it differently one reason was i could not get my Krazy Glue to adhere to the plastic at all. (although i do know using things like thread can be glued sort of like a poor mans fiberglass). I also, Due to the fear of cracking as i stated before. i did not drill them the way you did I just drilled from front to back with the smallest drill bit i had. Luckily they did not crack then i alternated from wrapping each way always going through the holes when changing directions of wind and always with the tension wind. I then did a radial wind until both holes were covered and then i glued the thread once i felt it was already more stable than the tape. I only glued the front of the threads as i did not want the rough texture to rub my face. i know my fix it not as all as durable as your method but with the brittle glasses i have and since i am only waiting for a replacement its the best thing EVER!!!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t28/duranmr/20121002_123329.jpg
Dmitri Monk (author)  beatnik2 years ago
I'm really glad this 'ible helped you. That's why I did it.
jack0023 years ago
Some things that might improve your 'ible.
1. I'd put some blue painters tape over the lenses on both sides. It wont leave any sticky behind and will protect them.
2. I have a dremel tool with a really small bit, you could use that instead.
3. Use a needle threader to pull the thread thru the holes, I think you could get more thread thru a smaller hole that way.
dcounts13 years ago
Nice instructions my daughter too broke glass of course on Friday afternoon no time to even get to opto to order new ones. Used your method and has so far worked. One note my kids frames where dark brown almost black and I used brownish gold thread to make the repair ( what my wife gave me) when I soaked the thread it became darker and nearly matched the frame. brown frame brown thread red frame red thread. My 2 cents. thanks again big help
Dmitri Monk (author)  dcounts13 years ago
I'm really glad it worked out for you. Excellent point about the color matching.
it did not realy work sorry
Dmitri Monk (author)  Dylan Richards3 years ago
Dylan - Sorrry to hear the technique did not work for you. Do you have any particular feedback on what went wrong? Is there a step you think could have been simplified or clarified?
-D.M.
bobstuart6 years ago
Nail polish remover usually has even more oil in it than hardware-store acetone. Always wipe solvents off to remove oil; never let them dry. Ignoring that advice has caused aircraft crashes.
I agree bobstuart, BUT... if one is very careful to read the label, it is possible to get nail polish remover WITHOUT oil. Of course, the oils are added to replenish the oil in one's skin that is removed by the grease cutting effect of the Acetone in nail polish removers.

I suggest instead of all the work to find an "oil less" nail polish remover that one simply goes to their local hardware, home improvement center, or paint store and buy pure Acetone.

Hardware stores don't sell pure Acetone, despite the label. It is mostly recycled, and not fully purified. As I said, aircraft have probably crashed because of this before the FAA changed their recommended procedures.
But that would have to depend on the solvent being used correct? How can one be sure the material used to wipe the solvent off isn't contaminating the surface? I can only hope the aircraft I ever travel on where not constructed or repaired with supplies obtained in the cosmetics or paint departments at Walmart. :)
Plain paper towels seem to be grease-free. For small jobs, I pleat one into my fingers, and put solvent on the pad near my wrist. I wipe with that, and continue with the drying in one step, with no air in between. On each aircraft part, somebody signs their name to certify that they did it right. It is generally reckoned that the paperwork for an aircraft weighs more than the hardware. Also, there are more inspectors and inspectors of inspectors than workers on critical new lines.
Puzzledd4 years ago
I just found this Instructable - great idea, very thorough instructions and I love the photos - especially the first one (haha) and the last one - the glasses look cool!

Thanks for the idea- I was about to throw out my broken headphones but now I realise I can repair them!
maxwell5 years ago
Worked like a charm, now i don't have to wear my contacts full time during the wait for my new glasses. Awesome!
pudmuddle6 years ago
The krazy glue is cyanoacrylate. I would not use 100% cotton, since cyanoacrylates react (sometimes violently) with cotton. See MSDS or wikipedia information on ethyl cyanoacrylate.
+1 on not using cotton, can catch fire, make nasty smoke.
ambersteele6 years ago
Where were you when I broke my frames last year?! This is brilliant! Very nice job. =)
Dmitri Monk (author)  ambersteele6 years ago
I was the same place I am now, but the Instructable wasn't written yet. Oh, that was a rhetorical question? sorry...
; D
BBBBoy6 years ago
Hello -- Have a pair of new plastic eyeglass frames with a clean break right through the part that surrounds the right eye -- about a 1/4 inch up (i.e. on the top, toward the right temple) from the bridge. On metal frames (mine, remember, are plastic), this is called the "eye wire". The lens are not in the frames. The frames are Persol, model 2737-S. (You can Google.) Can you/one repair this (permanently)? If so, would you/one make this repair with glue alone, or with a pin or thread too? If the latter, then please remember, 1) the plastic here is pretty thin, and 2) obviously the lens is "seated" inside this part. I look forward to your reply. Any help or advice is much appreciated Thanks very much,
Dmitri Monk (author)  BBBBoy6 years ago
These seem like expensive sunglasses. I would recommend against repairing them at home unless you're totally okay with a hideous result. There are places that do this sort or repair for money that have a much better looking outcome. (You can Google.) My technique is intended for emergency situations where function rules over appearance. Having said that, you could fix these at home. Clean the break. Put the lens(es) back in and clamp the break shut with rubber bands. Glue your core joint. Let cure. Now, drill two holes for the tension band, but drill them back to front rather than top to bottom. Wrap the tension band and glue. Let cure for 24 hours, trim. You're done. Radial wraps will not work for this location. Again, this technique will look crappy. Use it at your own risk.
Thanks. That helps. Can you give me the names/urls of some of the repair places you mentioned. I can't really find any that I am sure about from Googling. Also, if I do use just glue alone, do you think JB Weld is the glue to use? (It seems, according to some in cyberspace, the only glue that will hold permanently with plastic eyeglass frames. Thanks again.
Dmitri Monk (author)  BBBBoy6 years ago
I would rather not give a referral for a variety of reasons. I can recommend that you google "eyeglass repair". You might find something that way. Caveat emptor. I have never used the brand of glue you ask about, so I can not comment on it. The thread in the technique I show is critical. Cyanoacrylates in the place shown would fail without the thread. Good luck!
sharkh2o6 years ago
Looks like a solid fix, but maybe clear fishing line instead of thread would be less noticeable.
but the thread soaks up the glue and gets hardened fishing line isnt obzorbns t so it would be as solid
Dmitri Monk (author)  pineapplenewton6 years ago
pineapplenewton is right, but if you feel like experimenting, why not try a very fine mono-filament? If I did use a mono-filament, I would not blot up excess glue quite as enthusiastically, for just the reason pineapplenewton gives. Careful color matching of thread and glasses will minimize the dork factor of this repair. Testing a piece of thread with super glue for color changes before starting the repair helps get a good match. I failed to do this before fixing my daughter's glasses. I chose to use silk because of the strength to weight ratio and I thought it would be cool to mix modern and ancient materials. Unfortunately, silk darkens when soaked in super glue. Polyester does not change color much when soaked in superglue... Please see bruc3ef's comment and my reply for the dangers of high dork factor repairs.
if one was seriously concerned about colour matching, what about some sort of paint-on enamel? or would that degrade the bond? ~adamvan2000
Heh heh heh....you said "dork factor." LOL<br/><br/>Great 'Ible!! I have about 3 pairs of older glasses I need to try this on. (Drat that toddler curiosity!!! "Daddy, what's this?" *CRACK* "Aw, nuts." LOL)<br/>
good point
kenbob6 years ago
Excellent instructable and photos. I love the idea of fixing things. It is way more efficient than recycling, and you always learn something. Generally something about what you are fixing, and something about yourself :)
ernestoaug6 years ago
que bosta!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11
Sugira algo melhor então!?
passa na minha ótica que eu te ensino!!!!!!!!!!
Moro em Amsterdan, onde fica sua óptica?
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