Brush Applicator for Cyanoacrylate Glue




Introduction: Brush Applicator for Cyanoacrylate Glue

There are many reasons one might want to brush-on cyanoacrylate (CA). And it is entirely possible to dispense some glue onto a brush or the workpiece and spread it using a stand-alone brush, as one would with paint. But it is more convenient in many cases to have a brush applicator, so i will show you my simple way of creating one. I'm sure you can take the concept and make it your own through customisation.
     The fundamental concept for this instructable is to use heat shrink tubing to clamp the brush's bristles in place, and also clamp this 'casing' or ferrule to a glue dispensor, channeling the glue onto the brush head.
    The glue has to be able to flow through the brush head. For this reason, the applicator might only be useful for thin (non-viscous) CA glues. However using thicker bristles in the brush head may aid movement of thicker glues between the bristles.

Before we get to stepping, here's what you will need (also pictured):
- Cyanoacrylate glue with a nozzle tipped cap or lid.
- Hair of some sort for the bristles
- Heat shrink tubing (a.k.a. “heat shrink”; or just “shrink”) used in electrics and electronics
- scissors
- point heat source such as a cigarette lighter
- sewing thread.

I have an instructable on making (paint)brushes. The following steps are a foreshortened version of the instructions from that source, since the process is the same. You may like to view the full brush instructable though -

Step 1: Prepare the Parts

Select a bunch of hair at least four times as long as you intend the final bristle length to be. The bunch should be about half as much as would fit into the heat shrink tubing you're using, since you're going to double it over. I use my own hair because i have lots of it. But other options such as horse hair will work.

Cut a piece of heat shrink approximately 40 mm (1 1/2 or 2 inches) long. The heat shrink that best suited my glue bottle's tip was "2.5 diameter".

Cut a length (about 200 mm) of thread. Ideally this should be some man made fibre, since CA reacts with cotton exothermically. However cotton can be used.

Step 2: Create a Brush Head

Tie the length of sewing thread around the bunch of hair at the mid point, and pull the hair into the heat shrink ferrule using the thread. Ideally the fit is snug, but not too compact.

Heat the shrink tube -only where it covers the hair. A small flame such as that of a cigarette lighter works for such local heating. You want to apply as little heat as possible, so pass the heat shrink covered region through the tip of the flame a few times, until you notice it change shape. It's not a problem if the tubing shrinks a bit directly behind the hair.
When the heat shrink contracts around the (larger) bend in the hairs it shrinks on either side of the bulge and locks it in place better than otherwise. Because of this you don't need to glue the hairs in place, and there is no glue present to stop the cyanoacrylate from flowing through the bristles of the brush head you've created.

Using a pair of fine scissors, trim the brush head to the length and shape you require. Also trim away any sewing thread.

Step 3: Add the Brush Applicator to the Bottle and Use

You have created a pipeway that will channel the glue from the bottle to the bristles and 'wet' the brush head so that the glue can be 'painted' onto a surface accurately and with consistent thickness.
     For the ideal fit, slide the open end of the heat shrink onto the bottle's tip and heat the area over the tip to shrink it perfectly to the shape of the nozzle. Also, to minimize waste in the applicator, try to minimize any distance between the tip of the bottle's nozzle and the bristles of the brush head.

Invert the bottle and squeeze gently. It may take some time for the brush head to 'wet'. But only do this when you are ready to work with the applicator, since the glue on the brush will begin to set when it is exposed to the air. For this reason these brush applicators are single-use only.
     Squeezing too hard could send the brush applicator shooting off ot the bottle's nozzle (and messing CA glue). You shouldn't need to put THAT much pressure on the bottle. Perhaps even glue the applicator to the nozzle (temporarily).
     The same applicator can be used on syringes when they are the method of dispensing the CA glue. Heat shrink with a diameter of 4 mm should be used for a brush that is meant for use with a syringe.  I have an instructable on using syringes for CA glue storage and dispensing -

Step 4: A Possible Tweak to the Method

It's possible to use an intermediary piece of narrowing tubing to separate the glue bottle's nozzle from the heat shrink brush. This is handy when you don't want to get the little bit of glue on the nozzle itself, for instance when you're gong to need to exchange the brush a few times during use. It can also be used to match a smaller brush to a larger bottle's nozzle. It's not a necessary inclusion. The piece of intermediary pipe with reducing diameter can be made by heating plastic tubing and pulling the ends apart, then cutting to suite.

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    5 Discussions


    5 years ago

    Like ravenking, I wish I had seen this sooner! Better late than never. I have made brushes, but used the wrapping with thread method. Thought I was pretty smart, until I saw this. Like every good ible, it makes you say, why didn't I think of that! I love the simplicity and using what you already have. I am not going to use this for glue. I have an unwanted vine growing in rose bushes my Dad planted. As he is gone, it is so important to me to take care of them. Using your 'brush applicator ' I can target only the leaves of the vine with an herbicide. So, I thank you so much for sharing!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    For a single drop or a few drops use a PLASTIC Q TIP and cut the end off at an angle. Use something you don't care about like a small jar top or ? and put a few drops of glue on it and dip the Q Tip cut end into it. Carefully touch the drop of glue that will be clinging there to your surface. If you find you need more just be careful not to add too much and to not add your bling or whatever you are attaching in advance as this will get the glue on top instead of underneath.

    Make sure you do NOT set the Q Tip down on anything you care about! Have a newspaper or something there to dispose of the used pieces.

    A sewing needle can come in very handy to position tiny things here and to scooch any protruding drips out of the way or off. Needles work better than pins as often the ends of pins are slightly bent and will not make things sit right.

    haha. In this case it's mine. But horse hair should work well since it's larger, and gaps between hairs will also be larger.
    hmm, i've just wondered what would happen if one tried to use the individual filaments cut from a feather. Maybe the microstructure would soak up too much glue...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is a good idea. I wished I knew about this before I glued my crystals on my watch bacause the glue was so watery and sticky it got all over the top of my crystals and made them look like muddy goop. At least I know for next time. Thanks.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You could probably get away with dispensing a little drop, or puddle, or cup of glue and dipping the crystals contact surfaces into that? But then i guess that too would work better with thicker glue than thinner.
    Glad the idea is helpful.