The Glue Vocabulary: Types of Glue for Different Jobs

There are types of glue for different jobs, with dozens of glues to choose from, designed to stick ceramics, fabric, glass, leather, metal, paper, plastic, rubber, Styrofoam, vinyl and wood together.
By Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk
June/July 2003
Add to My MSN

There are many types of glue to choose from for different repair jobs.

Content Tools

Related Content

New Law Sets Formaldehyde Emissions Standards

The Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Act establishes tough formaldehyde emission standards ...

Avoid Food-borne Illness

In today's world of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, you can't be too careful.

Winter in the Beeyard

What needs doin' in the beeyard?

Learning to Make Bacon at The MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Curing your own bacon is so simple that anyone can do it. Here's how to do so, complete with recipe ...

Learn about the different types of glue to use for all sorts of repair jobs.

Is your kitchen counter curling up at the edges? Are you ever going to fix that broken handle on your favorite coffee cup? Are your most comfortable running shoes falling apart? Here's how to pick the right glue for every repair job!

Four thousand years ago, ancient Egyptians made glue by boiling animal hides and used the substance as a binder in paint and for woodworking. This early glue technology didn't change much until the middle of the 20th century, when different organic and synthetic glues began to be developed.

Today, dozens of glues designed to stick virtually anything to anything else are on the market. Favorite "anythings" include ceramics, fabric, glass, leather, metal, paper, plastic, rubber, Styrofoam, vinyl and wood; mix and match as needed. Despite the advances, no miracle glue has yet been invented; what works well with some materials may not work at all with others.

To help you make the right choices, a glue "vocabulary" follows. All types of glue are about the same strength as long as you use them according to the directions. Remember, some are toxic or contain irritants, so try to use the least-toxic glue available for your job.

The Vocabulary of Glue

Open-assembly time: This is the period of time you have between when you spread the glue on the surface and when it starts to set. If you're fixing the handle on a broken mug, you want a glue with a short "open-assembly time" — in other words, a "quick-set" glue. If you're working on a more complex job, such as repairing an antique chair, use a glue with a long open-assembly time so you have time to fit all the pieces together.

Glue cure times The amount of time it takes for the glue to form its maximum bond. This can vary from as few as 24 hours for white or yellow glue to as long as a week or more for some epoxies.

Glue shelf life: Good glues do go bad. "Shelf life" refers to the period of time that glue remains useable. White, yellow and polyurethane glues last for about a year if properly stored in airtight containers. Hot-melt sticks and epoxies remain useable for many years. Improper storage can cause glue to spoil prematurely. (For this reason, buying a larger container isn't always a bargain.) As a rule, if the working properties of a particular glue seem abnormal, don't use it.

Glue pot life: For those glues that require mixing, "pot life" refers to the time you have to apply the glue to your work after you have mixed it. Epoxies have pot lives that vary from five to 30 minutes; if you need more time, lowering the glue's temperature will extend its pot life.

Related Article:
Chart: Choosing the Right Glue

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.