Tools and Materials for Glue

Glue Class
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Lesson 1: Tools and Materials for Glue
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Introduction: Tools and Materials for Glue

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Welcome to the wonderful world of adhesives. Follow along on a journey of learning about how to stick stuff together without using fasteners, hardware, stitches, etc. No holes allowed! (Well, maybe a few, but we'll get to that later.)

This class is designed so that you may explore the Glue-niverse by type, but without a specific course trajectory. Some lessons will reference one another, and if you follow along sequentially we will move from craft glues to industrial adhesives. Each lesson will go over what different kinds of adhesives are made out of, what they are suited for, common repairs, and a creative project with that glue.

When it comes to fabrication with adhesive and repairs that use glue, I find I get the most satisfaction when I have been efficient and resourceful. Working with adhesives is a chance to channel your inner MacGyver to make your project work for you with what you have.

Here are the tools and supplies I found myself relying on over and over again during this class, a lot of them I had lying around the house, but a few came from specialty stores.

Recommended Adhesives

Tools

Consumables

If a project or repair needs a tool or consumable outside this list, the lesson will suggest which part, material, or adhesive is needed to complete that portion of the class.


What Can't Be an Applicator?

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When it comes to applying glue to your bonding surfaces, there are some amazing tools available to help make the job easier. But which application tool is best to control the flow and spread of each kind of glue? When choosing a glue application tool, there are 3 things to consider - the viscosity of your glue, the quantity that you need to apply to your bonding surfaces, and the open time of the adhesive that you are working with.

For example, if you have a really viscous glue that you need to apply in a very precise line, consider using a syringe with a tip that is the diameter of your desired bead.

On the other hand, if you have a very thin viscosity glue that needs to be applied to a large surface, sometimes using a rag or cloth is best to spread the adhesive around your bonding surfaces.

Another thing to consider is the cure time when choosing an applicator. Perhaps you need to spread a moderately viscous adhesive, like PVA white glue or wood glue, across a large surface before it has time to dry. If you were to use a brush, the glue would begin to set before you could mate your surfaces, but glue rollers like seen in this set, allow you to apply just the right amount rather quickly.

This class will outline dozens of application methods, but there are boundless possibilities when it comes to tools used for applying glue to surfaces.


Clamping and Jigging

Picture of Clamping and Jigging

During the rest of the class, each lesson will go over best practices for ensuring the best bonds for that adhesive, but some adhesives take a while to completely set and you don't want your parts to move around during that time.

In a perfect world, you could apply glue to something, stick it to whatever you need to stick it to, and it would instantly set. You wouldn't have to hold parts in place while the adhesive cured to make sure your components didn't slip around. Alas, not all glues are created equal and some glue-ups will require some clamping and jigging to assure good adhesion.

When do you need a clamp or a jig? Any glue that requires an extended amount of time to cure typically will require some work-holding.

Get creative with what you use to hold your parts together. Woodworkers use ratchet straps to hold planes of wood together while wood glues cure. If your parts need to be propped up in a particular fashion while adhesive sets, try making a custom crutch out of aluminum foil. I've even gone as far as sculpting a shop towel and wrapping it in duct tape to get a form propped up during curing. Use your imagination, be resourceful.

You want your parts to stay still for the entire time the adhesive takes to cure - work with gravity to nest parts in such a way that the part you are trying to attach is pushing down into your adhesive layer.

One of my college art teachers once said that true craftsmanship is in your jig, not in your final piece. That resonates with me every time I begin to bond pieces together.


Cure Box

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This is a trick I learned a long time ago when I was watching a former colleague repair a Gundam figurine they had accidentally broken.

Pretty much every adhesive's cure time is affected by ambient temperature and humidity. While it can be hard to control the temperature, we can definitely make a micro-dry environment for small parts to cure in.

Take a small plastic organizer bin (or a bin the size of the pieces you are trying to glue together), and fill the bottom with rice grains. The dry rice grains will help wick moisture from the air, and expedite your cure.

The rice also works as a nice way to prop pieces together for long cure times. You can posture pieces in the grains of rice and let them set for days at a time.


Some Thoughts on Safety

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Most glues recommend using some sort of PPE, or Personal Protection Equipment while handling. The Materials Safety Datasheet, or MSDS, of any adhesive, will recommend proper PPE for each glue. There is an MSDS sheet for every known material on Earth, even water! If you are uncertain about what kind of PPE to wear when working with an adhesive, refer to the glue manufacture's website - companies are legally obligated to provide the public with this information.

In general, I have found that when working with any adhesive, the best practice is to work in gloves. This prevents any excess adhesive from getting on your skin and makes for wonderfully easy clean up.

Another reason to work in gloves is that in case you do get excess on your skin, you don't have to walk away from your project to clean up before you can keep handling your project, just ditch your gloves and put on a new pair.

When working with any power tools or aerosol sprays, it is recommended that you wear safety glasses. Most power tools have motors capable of sending particulate or even chunks of material flying through the air - keep your eyes particulate free by protecting them with safety glasses.

Fumes can also cause problems when working with certain kinds of glues that have solvent bases, or come in an aerosol container. A mask or respirator can protect you from the inhaling the fumes and the particulate from getting on your sensitive face tissue.

Working in a well-ventilated area can also minimize exposure to fumes and expedite cure times.


Glue Glossary... Gluosarry?

Picture of Glue Glossary... Gluosarry?

Before really cementing down an understanding of adhesives, there are a few vocabulary terms that will come up over and over again in this class, as well as on the backs of glue bottles.

________

When an adhesive states its Open Time, this duration refers to how long you have to spread the glue and allow it to soak in before assembling and clamping. Depending on the glue manufacturer open time can also refer to the amount of time that a glue has before it is unable to bond to the surface it is mating. Some kinds of glue this out as Working Time instead. Working time is the amount of time from when the adhesive has been applied, to the time it will no longer join to another surface. There is no consistent language between manufacturers.

Example: Say you're working with an adhesive that has a 10 second open time, and a 30 second working time. If you're gluing two pieces together, apply the glue to one piece then wait at least 10 seconds before joining the second piece. You then have 30 seconds to properly secure and jig your pieces in place before it begins to lose its tack and begin to cure. (see below)

Tack indicates the degree of adhesive stickiness once it has been applied to a surface. Tack can also refer to the strength of a bond between surfaces that the adhesive has been applied to. A high tack glue can grab on to a mated surface quickly and easily while a low tack surface may require extended clamping or jigging to hold a part in place after bonded surfaces are mated.

Closed time indicates how long mated surfaces need to be left in a clamp, jig or held in place.

Set Time or Cure Time refers to how long it takes for a bond to cure to full strength. Some glues have set time of 20 minutes, but some industrial or construction grade adhesives never really cure completely. Instead, they rely on a layer of very high-tack pressure-sensitive adhesive, like contact cement, to keep parts nested in place permanently.

Tooth - Surfaces need to have some 'tooth' to 'bite' your adhesive. Smooth surfaces like glass or glazed ceramic have almost no tooth, so they need to be roughed up so that the adhesive can penetrate the surface to form a bond. Occasionally, like with fabrics, surfaces have too much tooth - and you need to select a more viscous adhesive that won't penetrate too deeply into the surface.


About Your Instructor

My name is Audrey Love, and I'm pretty sure I can make anything. :D

I have been tinkering and crafting my whole life, and I was lucky enough to turn this curious passion for making into a career. I started visiting Instructables.com when I was working on my Digital Media BFA at the University of Nevada, Reno. Thanks to articles authored by Instructables community members, I learned how to read circuit diagrams, solder, and cast resin for the first time. I combined these skills to complete my thesis project, then was lucky enough to stumble into an internship at Instructables HQ after graduating college.

When I'm not working on super sweet DIY projects for Instructables, I work to expand my conceptual art portfolio, build custom electronics for musical performance, and map interesting litter I find in urban areas.


Quiz

Complete this quiz to finish the lesson.

{
    "id": "quiz-1",
    "question": "Where can you find an MSDS for any adhesive", 
    "answers":[
        {
            "title": "At the place you purchase your adhesive",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "Adhesive manufacturers makes them available on their website",
            "correct": true
        },
       {
            "title": "On the back of the adhsive container",
            "correct": false
        }

    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect"
}
{
    "id": "quiz-2",
    "question": "How does a cure box influence cure time?",
    "answers":[
        {
            "title": "It creates a warmer environment to expidite dry time",
            "correct": false
        },
       {
            "title": "Creates a dryer environment to expidite dry time",
            "correct": true
        }

    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect"
}
{
    "id": "quiz-3",
    "question": "What is Tack?",
    "answers":[
        {
            "title": "The viscosity of a glue",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "The stickiness of glue",
            "correct": true
        },
        {
            "title": "The amount of time you have to apply a glue",
            "correct": false
        }
   
    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect"
}

What We'll Be Making in This Class...

Before I began developing this class, I blasted an open call for broken things so that I may tackle a broad set of repairs, and demonstrate the capabilities of adhesives available in hobby & hardware stores. Each lesson goes over some of the most common craft and DIY glues used, then includes a creative project for each glue to really get you comfortable with applying all kinds of adhesives.

We will cover:

There are infinite options when selecting adhesives but these adhesives come up again and again and are the foundation for many other different kinds of adhesives available for repair and construction.


Let's Begin.

I chose to teach this class on glue because in all my experiences as a crafter, designer, fabricator, and artist - I have used a lot of glue. And I've glued a lot of stuff poorly - then had to actually turn the glue bottle around, read the directions, and start over. ;)

Folks have a lot of opinions on glue, and trust me, I want to hear them! I feel like I could go on forever and ever about the possibilities of each adhesive in this class, but instead, I'll do my best to impart the right amount of knowledge for each glue, and encourage further exploration beyond these basics. Stick with me for the next many lessons, and you'll be a glue pro!

CLASS PROJECT

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