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Glue & Adhesives

Glue (or adhesives) are designed to stick two things together. Technically speaking, glues are natural and adhesives are synthetic, but for our purposes, we'll call them both "glue." Because there is no "universal" glue that can stick anything to anything in any conditions, there are several "general purpose" glues (they stick a lot of things to a lot of things) and a whole bunch of "special purpose" glues (they stick certain things to certain things). The best first step when picking a glue is to understand

  • what you are sticking to what,
  • under what conditions do you need it to stick
  • how quickly must it reach full strength
  • how strong must the glue be
  • what properties (clear, sandable, etc) must the glue have when it is dry or cured

Common Glues

Use the following as a guide, but read the manufacturer's direction to make sure the glue meets your requirements. Many times, companies will offer variations of a particular glue in order to bind different types of materials.

Type Qualities
White Glue Non-toxic, odorless, nonflammable and dries clear in under an hour. Good for paper, wood, cloth, pottery and more.
Yellow Glue A higher quality derivative of white glue that dries stronger and is more resistant to moisture.
Plastic Cement Used to join polystyrene plastic. Works by dissolving the areas it contacts on the two parts of polystyrene being joined together, and in these dissolved areas the molecules from the two parts mix together.
Instant (Super) Glue Chemical name is ethyl cyanoacrylate and is an extremely fast bonding adhesive. It works best on smaller surfaces, using a very small amount of glue. It bonds instantly with a colorless and transparent bond that is very strong (except for shear forces). Originally for non-porous surfaces, gel versions are now available for porous surfaces.
Pressure Sensitive This term is applied to adhesives that bond on initial contact to most surfaces with only a little pressure and without any drying or curing time. The strength of the bond varies with the formulation. No-lick stamps and envelops, various tapes, and Glue Dots (TM) use pressure sensitive adhesives.
Rubber Cement Literally, rubber dissolved in a solvent. The bond develops as the cement dries.
Epoxy Extremely tough and durable synthetic resin that is comprised of two parts that when mixed together bond a wide variety of materials in relatively harsh conditions. More information on epoxy.

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