Glue Types

Here arc some of the properties of the adhesives you should use in furniture restoration.

These glues should take care of all your needs, so stock up on them. Also keep an eye on the shelves at your home center store, because chemists are working constantly to develop new formulas and techniques.

Polyvinyl Glues The white creamy glues that comc in plastic squeeze bottles (Elmer's is a leading brand name) are polyvinyls. They are inexpensive, set in an hour or so, and work in just about every furniture situation. These are the choice of most furniture workers today for general gluing applications. Polyvinyls dry clear and won't stain any wood. They do have one drawback, and that is that water will soften them after they have set. Since most furniture is kept {or ccrtainly should be kept) in a dry atmosphere, this is not a problem most of the time. But don't use a polyvinyl to glue the sides of a fishtank or to seal the edge of a bathtub.

Resorcinol and Formaldehyde Glues You mix these just before using. The resorcinols come in two parts, a resin and a powder, and the formaldehydes come as powders you mix with water. Both arc good for from two to four hours after mixing, and make very durable joints. The resorcinols are waterproof but the formaldehydes are not. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on drying. Usually the time ranges from 3 to 12 hours


There are literally scores of different types of glues and adhesives available, but relatively few have direct application in furniture work The chart below lists those you can use for furniture. The cardinal rules in making an adhesive do its job are: (1) the surfaces to be glued must be absolutely clean; (2) the adhesive should be applied as directed, and not too heavily; (3) the glued material must be clamped tightly until the glue has dried; (4) the glue must be allowed to dry completely When waiting for glue to dry, remember that humid conditions can more than double the drying time listed on the container. The safest way is to allow the glue to dry overnight every time.

White glue Elmer's and those polyvinyls like it: these glues are the white creamy liquids in plastic bottles. They are good for all furniture work. They can also be used on most porous materials such as cloth, paper, leather, etc A polyvinyl has moderate resistance to moisture and should not be used on anything that will be subjected to excess moisture. (Furniture shouldn't be allowed in such areas either.) The most recent type of this glue is yellow in color, is made especially for woodwork, and is stronger than the white variety. This material dries clear, losing its yellow or white appearance.

These are the traditional furniture glues and have deserved reputations. They are strong, do not slain, and stay somewhat flexible for years — meaning that they won't get brittle and crack. These will soften in water, but aren't much affected by humidity.

Resorcinol A syrup and powder are mixed just before use to make a resorcinol glue. Has great strength and durability, and should be used where moisture could be a problem, since it is absolutely waterproof. It will stain light colored woods, so apply with care. Drying time is long, up to 16 hours.

Epoxy Strongest of all adhesives, it can be used for repairing metal, glass and most plastic furniture. Also good for masonry and ceramics. You mix the resin and the hardener just before use. This is the only adhesive that actually needs no clamping, it sets instead of drying, a chemical action, and will set even under water. Good to know about for special problems.

Contact cement Two types are available, water based and chemical based.

The chemical type must be used in a well-ventilated area; the water-based needs no special precautions. Contact cement comes ready to use as a thick liquid and dries in a few minutes (much like rubber cement). To use, coat both surfaces, allow each to dry, then press together. The bond is instantaneous and permanent You can't take the pieces apart to try again. Chief use in furniture work is in applying veneers, in gluing leather to a table top, and in applying plastic laminates.

Liquid hide and fish glues under clamps. Use both types at temperatures over 70 degrees, F. A small problem: these glues are brown in color and will stain light-colored woods.

Contact Cement This is a stronger version of the familiar rubber cement. Contact cement is used mainly to apply veneers and bond plastic laminates to wood for table and counter tops. The correct way to use a contact cement is to apply a thin coating to both surfaces and to allow both to dry. Then press the surfaces together. Be careful how you do this, since the two surfaces will stick together instantly on contact, and you won't be able to pull them apart with a tractor. Since they can't be adjusted after contact, be sure to align them before you put them together. This is one of those techniques you should practice on old wood before trying it on your project. For specifics on how to align pieces exactly, see Chapter 10.

Che mica I-based contact ccments have a strong odor and must he used in wcll-ventilatcd areas. The water-based types are more expensive, but are safer to use.

The Epoxies No adhesive is tougher than an epoxy. Epoxies come in two parts, a resin and a hardener, which must be mixed just before you use (he glue. By all means, read the label before mixing, because it will tell you the correct proportions of resin and hardener to use. If you mix the wrong proportions, you may end up with a sticky, nondrying mess,

Epoxy cement resists almost everything, from water to gasoline to solvents, once it has set. For this reason, you may not want to use it in regular furniture work. You may never be able to disassemble the piece again. But it can be great for making permanent repairs to metal furniture.

Note thai an epoxy is the only adhesive as strong or stronger than the material it bonds. It is ihe one adhesive you can put beiwecn those two pieces of wood '/*-inch apart and expect a strong joini. For this reason, epoxies sometimes are used as fillers when a large cavity must be filled. The dried epoxy can be machined, sanded and shaped, if necessary. For this reason, too, an epoxy is not applied in a thin coat as other glues are, and il should not be tightly clamped while setting. Clamping may squeeze out too much.

Epoxies must be used in warm temperatures, since the warmer the air around them, the faster they set. Setting time varies considerably from brand to brand, so once again, read the directions before using.

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