How to Use Super Glue

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Super glue is often a favorite adhesive for modelers.
Super glue is often a favorite adhesive for modelers. (Image: Don Mason/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Super glue -- or, more properly, cyanoacrylate -- creates a fast, permanent bond on just about anything, including your fingers. If you wear protective gloves and shield your eyes, however, it's an unparalleled adhesive for almost any craft project. The list of surfaces it won't join together -- primarily foam or foam rubber, glass, silicone rubber and PTFE plastic -- is significantly shorter than the list of surfaces it will join.

For a Flawless Join

Clean the two surfaces to be joined of any dirt, oil, wax or paint. Wipe the surfaces completely dry and fit them together, without glue, to make sure you're happy with the join; once you apply the super glue, there's no going back.

If the surfaces you're joining are smooth, rough them up slightly with a piece of sandpaper. Then add a drop of super glue to just one of the two surfaces. You need far less super glue than you might think -- Loctite, one of several manufacturers that make super glue, recommends using about one drop per square inch.

Hold the piece together under the glue sets -- usually 15 to 30 seconds -- then let it sit undisturbed for a few minutes to let the seal solidify.

Safety Precautions

Always use super glue in a well-ventilated area, and wearing gloves helps reduce the risk of accidentally gluing your fingers together. Ideally, you should wear eye protection too, or, at the very least, avoid pointing the glue container anywhere even remotely close to your face. Clean the tip of the glue tube with a tissue or toothpick immediately after each use to keep it from getting blocked, and wash your hands thoroughly once you've finished handling the glue.

Using Glue Pens

Super glue comes with brush-on applicators, drip-on applicators or, occasionally, pen applicators that give you the best control for dispensing very small amounts of the adhesive. To use a super glue pen, hold it point-down and press the tip gently against one of the surfaces to be joined. If you don't apply any pressure to the tip, you won't get any glue. If you've never used a glue pen before, it's best to practice on a spare piece of material until you feel confident.

Fixing Mistakes

Every crafter has super-glued her fingers together at least once, even if she's ultra-cautious. Don't panic -- you can remove the glue by soaking the joined area in acetone. If you don't have acetone, use warm, soapy water instead.

If the two surfaces you've accidentally stuck together don't involve skin, you have a few more options for removal: Acetone, boiling water, a branded super glue remover, or careful application of a razor blade. All of these may damage some surfaces, especially plastic; so, if at all possible, test your removal method of choice in an inconspicuous area or on a separate piece of the same material.

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