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NH's Famous Glue Trick

"Okay, I can't stand it any longer!! What is your FAMOUS GLUE TRICK, NH?"

Sometimes, you have a situation where you can't nail or screw easily because of vibration or movement, the fragility of the objects you are working with, aesthetic considerations, or tight working conditions that make clamping impossible.

The trick I have found to be helpful... THE FAMOUS ONE...  is to use a combination of adhesives with different setting characteristics. Say you want to attach a piece of 1" pine to a piece of 1/4" plywood and you can't screw through the plywood into the pine (the ideal scenario) because the plywood is finished and exposed. You want a strong bond, but at the same time you want to continue working and not have to wait 24 or more hours for the glue to dry.

Apply your primary adhesive (wood glue, in our example), leaving conspicuous gaps in it for a secondary adhesive. The primary adhesive is your powerhouse, intended to do the hard work over the long haul. Your secondary adhesive is the speedster... a fast setting glue that gives short term strength so you can finish your work.

Primary adhesives: Silicone and latex adhesive caulks,
construction adhesive, GOOP, assorted wood glues.

Secondary adhesives: Hot melt glue, two-part fast set epoxy,
tapes (masking tape, duct tape), mechanical fasteners

Notice that there are a few items in the "secondary adhesive" box that are not adhesives.  In some circumstances certain adhesive tapes can act as a secondary adhesive.  Masking tape, duct tape, metal tapes, and even fiberglass reinforced strapping tape can make excellent temporary fasteners while your primary adhesive dries!

Notice the thickness of your two adhesives when pairing them. Some combinations are better than others! Hot melt adhesive, for example, tends to set up thicker than wood glue, so they do not make a good combination. However, you can pair adhesive caulks or construction adhesive with hot melt glue successfully. Similarly, two-part epoxy sets up very thin, so it can be used in combination with wood glues. Secondary adhesives can work well alone in some situations. It is your job to decide how critical the repair is and choose the strength of the adhesive accordingly.

The FAMOUS GLUE TRICK can also be used when screwing items together.

In this case, the quick setting secondary adhesive holds the items together so that you can fasten them without needing octopus arms. This is especially useful where clamps are unsuitable due to space considerations. Also...

  • Be sure to predrill so that the screw passing through the first item doesn't push the second item away and break the glue bond.
  • Be careful that the screw you choose isn't too long or it may make an exit hole in the face of your beautiful cabinet!!

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