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Amazing adhesives.

Are you searching for that one allpurpose, fix-anything glue? Forget it; the range of jobs calling for a dab of sticky stuff is so vast that no single glue could possibly do it all.

And even if there were such a glue, you'd be lucky to find it. Go to a hardware store or home improvement center: you'll find dozens of formulas, an inordinate number of which claim they can bond anything to anything.

So how do you know which glue to use? To help, we describe 10 glue types and their uses in our listings here and on pages 110 and 112. In addition, we touch on specialty adhesives and tell you the closest thing out there to an all-purpose glue.

Specialty glues: sometimes they're the perfect choice

There might not be a perfect glue for all jobs, but sometimes there's the right glue for a specific job.

For example, plastic adhesives bond specific types of plastic, using a solvent to melt and fuse the pieces together. Get the formula labeled for each specific plastic, such as PVC cement for PVC pipe.

Vinyl resins bridge slits and tears in vinyl and fabric upholstery, rainwear, luggage, and pool toys. Water-base versions work on fabrics, so long as joints aren't seriously stressed. Glues flex when dry, and stand up to washing and drying.

Specialty epoxies and cements include epoxy steel and bars and plastic metal. They adhere to the aluminum, steel, or other material to which they are applied, filling gaps and drying to the same rockhard consistency. Once dry, they can be filed sanded painted drilled or tapped Glues for repairing glass and china

bond clear, bridging gaps and filling chips, even on windshields. Sunlight cures some of these adhesives, so what you're repairing must be transparent, For other types, follow the guidelines for household cement (see listing below). Before applying, check heat and water ratings (they should be on the label). It's no fun when a repaired plate, after a few trips through the dishwasher, goes to pieces again.

Silicone: a possible all-purpose?

The silicone glues we use today often function like sticky caulk, filling gaps and drying to a rubbery, flexible bead. Silicone formulas are some of the few adhesives you can apply at low temperatures (even below freezing); they stay strong and flexible at temperature extremes.

Silicone joints flex when dry, which may be-or may not be what you need. They weather well, don't shrink, and resist water, oils, oxidation, and damage ftom ultraviolet rays. Silicones stand up to vibrations and are also flame retardant (many other glues are highly flammable). Most will work on kitchen repairs; make sure you choose one that's safe to use around food. Some contain fungicides to prevent mold when used on surfaces that tend to get wet, such as bathroom tile.

The more chemists work with this already useful glue, the more they realize its potential as an all-purpose adhesive. Still in its "Model T phase," as one chemist told us, this glue may some day become the dominant glue type on the market.

A little basic terminology

Here's a quick glossary of terms you'll find either in our listings or on adhesivecontainer labels.

We all say that glue dries, but the correct word is to cure. Each glue does this in one of three ways: by evaporation, as with solvent- or water-base glues; by cooling, as with thermoplastic glues; or by polymerization-chemically changing from liquid to solid-as with epoxies and some of the other specialty glues.

Green strength is a glue's ability to grab while wet. Green time means the time between application and solidification, when you can still reposition pieces.

Some glues add tackifiers to make them sticky when wet. However, don't be overreliant on these ingredients; a glue's initial holding power doesn't guarantee a lasting bond. Use a clamp (see information in box at right).

Fixturing time is how long you have to wait before handling pieces.

Pot life is the amount of time a two-part adhesive, such as epoxy or resorcinol, remains usable after mixing.

Some application tips

Clean all surfaces before you start. If you don't, the glue will fasten to dirt, grease, or dust more than to the surface you're trying to glue; joints may fail.

Follow the safety recommendations on labels, especially for solvent-base glues; proper ventilation will save you, at the very least, a nasty headache.

Mix two-part adhesives carefully and thoroughly. With all adhesives, use the amount specified; too little or too much may ruin the bond.

Almost all glues do better when applied at room temperature; most don't do well in the cold. As one epoxy label states, "Like peanut butter, this glue mixes and spreads easier at 80 [degrees] than at 40 [degrees]. You can speed most cures with heat, usually with either sunlight or a heat lamp, but don't overdo it; some solvent and polymer adhesives can actually burst into flame if overheated.

Above all, be patient; let glues cure completely. If possible, clamp the joint tightly throughout the drying process (again, see box at right)..

Future stick

Look into glues' crystal ball, and you'll find new types for less-than-ideal situations: cool temperatures; jagged, chipped joints; dirty surfaces. You'll be seeing more water-base products, too, without solvent-base glues' problems of toxic fumes, flammability, and atmospheric pollution.

Industrial adhesives are becoming so advanced that they're replacing welding and mechanical fastening; latest developments, such as glue films and ultrathin, two-sided tapes, should reach consumers within a few years. You may even start finding adhesives in your hardware store's freezer section: chemists have already developed frozen glues that start to cure when they reach room temperature.

10 basic types and what they'll glue for you

Good old white: inexpensive and versatile This familiar household glue works on porous surfaces-wood, paper, cork, and unglazed ceramic. Why porous? The glue's water base works by carrying the adhesive into the material to be glued; that water needs something to soak into and a place to evaporate.

White glue is inexpensive, has a nontoxic water base, is easy to apply, sets up quickly, is longlasting-if it doesn't get wet, During curing, clamp or weight for a more complete bond. Don't use white glue for outdoor jobs exposed to rain or snow; joints may dissolve. Also, white glue bleeds through thin paper, causing it to wrinkle.

School glue is a special formulation of white glue designed to set up more slowly. It doesn't wrinkle paper as much, and it washes out of fabrics, even if it has dried on.

Wood glue: white glue with a colorful twist Basically a variation on white glue, this adhesive may be tinted yellow or tan to blend better with the wood when dry. However, it doesn't take stain. Pieces can be repositioned slightly before setting; clamp at least a day to cure. This glue fills gaps well, Since it has a higher heat rating than white glue when dry, wood glue won't gum up your sandpaper while you're smoothing the work. Powdered plastic resin also works on wood. It costs less, but you have to mix it first with water. This adhesive makes a strong bond that sands easily, but it doesn't fill gaps as well. Old-fashioned glue made ftom animal hoofs, hides, and other parts sets slowly, giving you plenty of time to position your pieces. Clamp for a secure bond. If you mess up, take heart: joints can be steamed apart.

Epoxy: strong, weatherproof, gap-bridging Probably the strongest of the household adhesives, epoxy works on most materials, fills gaps, and resists water But it's a hassle, especially if you're doing a large job: you have to mix two gooey components to make the actual glue. (One new packaging design has a convenient disposable tip that automatically does the mixing for you with dual syringe-type containers.) Most brands have little grab, or tack, so it's very important to clamp or weight during cure time. Quick-cure types set tight in about 5 minutes and cure in a day, but those bonds tend to be brittle. (Some brands include additives which lessen cracking and brittleness.) Longcure types make stronger bonds and tend to crack less. If air temperature is below 50[degrees], use quick-cure types.

Cyanocrylate: a little dab'll do it For quick repair, you can't beat a one-drop "super glue." It bonds instantly but should cure for about a day. Drawbacks? Pieces to be joined must match perfectly, since the film can bridge a gap of only .003 to .06 inch, depending on the formulation. Also, the thin, water-like glue can be hard to manage. (New, thicker, gelled types are easier to apply.)

Cyanoacrylate bonds skin to skin instantly, but if your fingers accidentally stick together, don't panic: just roll a small nail between the affected fingers as you daub the bond with nail polish remover. Don't let children use this glue unless supervised.

This adhesive hardens if exposed to even the slightest amount of air After use, make sure the glue vial is tightly closed or the unused portion will harden into a crystalline glob.

Household cement: a catch-all category This is the closest thing there is to an allaround glue. Specialty glues will usually do any given job better, but they'll also probably cost a lot more.

Household cement usually comes in a squeeze tube. Have it on hand for quick, light-duty repairs, since it goes on fairly easily and sets fast. However, for a lasting bond, clamp and allow a day to reach full cure. Some types form a more flexible joint than others when dry; check the label.

Solvent-base types are flammable, toxic, and usually require mineral thinner, nail polish remover, or acetone for cleanup. Easier-to-use and easier-to-clean-up alternatives that are water base, silicone, or other less dangerous amalgams are entering this all-purpose fix-it market.

Craft glue: squirt it, smear it, spray it on Most types of craft glue are variations of white glue and household cement. Different types are formulated to do specific craft jobs. Some are extra thick for bonding odd-size objects, as shown at left. Others are made specifically for use on foil or fabric. Lip balm-like glue sticks bond paper to paper.

Solvent-base rubber cement is made to bond paper. You can adjust pieces if only one surface is coated. For a permanent bond, coat both surfaces, dry till tacky, then join.

Spray adhesive is aerosol rubber cement; the type for mounting photographs makes a particularly strong bond to hold down dog-eared corners. However, spray adhesive can be hard to control not a good choice for bonding small pieces. Before spraying, it's a good idea to cover any nearby objects that might get glue on them.

Waterproof glue: the choice for outside projects Once cured, all the adhesives in this category work well, even when exposed to the elements. Use epoxies and silicones on nonwood items. For automotive repairs, try a specialty adhesive. Check the label; some have formulas that restick pieces of trim and repair windshield dings. Follow directions for application, and allow a day to cure.

If you plan to build patio furniture out of wood, take a tip from the shipwright and use a resorcinol glue. This is the one truly waterproof wood glue, and it will continue to hold your project together after screws or nails have rusted out.

You mix a powder catalyst into a liquid resin to form the reddish brown working glue. Resorcinol is also routinely used for sporting equipment and butcher-block counters.

Contact cement: it held our model up This is the Narcissus of glues, attracted only to itself. When wet, the noxious stuff clings to any surface, When dry, it sticks to itself with a tenacious grip. That's why it joins almost all surfaces, such as our model's soles to wood (page 108). Contact cement is most often used to install plastic laminate.

To use, coat the two surfaces you want to join, let dry until no longer sticky, then join. Be precise; the glue bonds to itself instantly, so you can't make any adjustments.

Solvent-base contact cement dries fastest, but it's flammable and toxic. A new formula uses a less flammable solvent; it costs a little more, but it's safer. Another new type uses a nontoxic water base, but it takes up to an hour to dry, depending on weather, and the bond isn't as strong.

Construction adhesive: for big jobs Stick with this type of glue for floors and stairs that don't squeak and paneling that doesn't pop nails. Its quick, aggressive grab will hold big paneling and plywood sheets in place while you nail them down. Most types stay slightly flexible when dry.

Construction professionals use a whole range of such adhesives. For example, specific types of floor covering-tile, carpet, linoleum, wood often have their own glue formulas. Some are waterproof; check labels before you choose. (These are sometimes called "weatherproof exterior adhesives.") Most construction glues have a solvent base and are quite toxic, but since most come in tubes applied with a caulking gun, your exposure is safely limited. These work with or replace nails, screws, and the like, reducing the concentration of stress.

Thermoplastic: melt it, then use it fast This nontoxic, moisture-resistant glue is a refined form of one of the earliest adhesives ever used: hot wax. Thermoplastic glue comes in solid cartridges, with formulations ranging from clear craft glues to tinted woodworking mixes. Most cardboard boxes are fixed with this glue. The cartridges, applied with a hot gun, become viscous at 200[degrees] to 300 [degrees]. Be ready to work fast; the adhesive flows out fast, then hardens to the half-cure point in less than a minute. Allow a day for a full cure. Thermoplastic glue makes an awkward choice for small pieces: it's too sticky when wet and hardens too fast. This glue also tends to leave gossamer strings of dried glue dangling about your project. Thermoplastic joints can be fairly brittle.

Some applicator guns have multiple tips, allowing you to adjust the flow somewhat.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1988
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