GLUE GUIDE

What is the best glue to use for building balsa wood model airplanes?

There is no simple answer to this question as each has features that make it best for each application.

The most popular glue in use today is Cyanoacrylates also known as CA.

When I first started building with my Dad in the 70’s we used old fashion Elmer’s White Glue and epoxy and it worked great.  As I got older and wanted to decrease my build time I started using CA glues and epoxy where needed. CA worked great for me except for the smell, burning eyes, glued fingers and the messy clean up.

I think everyone needs to try a variety of different glues for different applications and you may find that there is no such thing as one glue that will work best.  You may find yourself using different glues on the same plane and you will come up with your reason for why you chose that glue.

I currently tack with CA, glue with wood glues (Titebond), and use high stress areas with 6 minute and 30 minute epoxy.

Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue Titebond III 

Product Features

  • Passes ANSI/HPVA Type I water-resistance
  • Waterproof formula that cleans up with water
  • Superior strength – Strong initial tack
  • Designed for interior and exterior applications
  • Longer open assembly time
  • Lower application temperature
  • Unaffected by finishes
  • FDA approved for indirect food contact

 

Physical Properties

Color: Tan

Dried Film: Light brown

Viscosity: 4,200 cps

Storage life: 24 months in tightly closed containers below 75°F.

Application Temperature Above 47°F.

Open assembly time 10 minutes (70°F./50%RH)

Total assembly time 20-25minutes (70°F./50%RH)

Required clamping pressure Enough to bring joints tightly together (generally, 100-150 psi for softwoods, 125-175 psi for medium woods and 175-250 psi for hardwoods)

Cleanup Damp cloth while glue is wet. Scrape off and sand dried excess.


Titebond II Wood Glue

Titebond II

Product Features

  • First one-part wood glue to pass ANSI Type II water-resistance
  • Designed for exterior use
  • Excellent sandability
  • Unaffected by finishes
  • FDA approved for indirect food contact
  • Ideal for radio frequency (R-F) and hot press gluing systems
  • Easy cleanup with water

Physical Properties

Color: Honey cream
Dried Film: Translucent,
Viscosity : 4,000 cps
Storage life : 24 months in tightly closed containers at 75°F.
Application Temperature Above 55°F.
Open assembly time 5 minutes (70°F./50%RH)
Total assembly time 10-15 minutes (70°F./50%RH)
Required clamping pressure Enough to bring joints tightly together (generally, 100-150 psi for softwoods, 125-175 psi for medium woods and 175-250 psi for hardwoods)
Cleanup  Damp cloth while glue is wet. Scrape off and sand dried excess.

 

Titebond Original Wood Glue

Titebond Original

Product Features

  • Fast set – Shortens clamp time
  • Bonds stronger than wood
  • Solvent-resistant
  • Excellent sandability
  • Unaffected by finishes
  • Easy cleanup with water

Physical Properties

Type: Aliphatic resin emulsion

Dried Film: Translucent
Viscosity: 3,200 cps pH : 4.0
Storage life : 24 months in tightly closed containers at 75°F.
Application Temperature: Above 50°F.
Open assembly time 5 minutes (70°F./50%RH)
Total assembly time 10-15 minutes (70°F./50%RH)
Required clamping pressure Enough to bring joints tightly together (generally, 100-150 psi for softwoods, 125-175 psi for medium woods and 175-250 psi for hardwoods)
Method of Application Plastic bottles for fine applications; glue may also be spread with a roller spreader or brush
Cleanup Damp cloth while glue is wet. Scrape off and sand dried excess.

 

CA Thin

ca-glue

CA Thin is used for the initial assembly and tack gluing. Thin CA is water-thin instant type glue that requires a joint with no gap and will cure within seconds after applying. Thin CA is usually wicked into the joint by applying a few drops on the part, holding the parts momentarily while the glue penetrates and bonds the parts together.

THIN CA glue with a viscosity (3cps) similar to water and no surface tension. When you have parts that fit exactly together, first get them in position, then run this instant glue along the crack, and it will wick right in.

 

CA Medium or gap filling

It cures slower than thin CA Thin, allowing you to adjust the parts before bonding.  Because it cures slower than thin CA, it will penetrate the wood creating a stronger bond.

Curing time is about 20 – 30 seconds.

Medium or gap filling has a viscosity 200-300 cps. This glue is perfect for gluing pieces which have small gaps between poorly matched parts.

 

CA Thick

Thick CA is used when extra time is needed to align your parts. CA-Think is great as a gap filler. Curing time is about 1 – 2 minutes.

Thick has a viscosity (1150-1500) similar to honey. This ultra gap-filling super glue works great when you use it to bond both porous and non-porous parts, and it can fill large gaps. It is best used to glue parts that are missing pieces or don’t fit very well together.

accelerator-insta-set

 

Accelerator

Accelerator is a liquid chemical in a spray bottle to speed up the cure time of all CA glues. The CA glue will instantly harden.  A drawback to accelerator is that the CA cures before it penetrates the wood. It should not be used with thin CA as it cures almost instantly and needs to penetrate into the tight joints.

 

5-Minute epoxy

5-min-epoxy

5-Minute epoxy should be used for small gluing operations where exact alignment is not needed. Working time before it’s starts to set is about 4 minutes, handling time is about 15 minutes, and fully cured takes about 1 hour.

30-Minute epoxy

30-minute epoxyis used for extra strength conditions because it can soak into the wood longer. When you have parts that need to be aligned or checked before it hardens. Working time about 25 minutes and handling time about 2 hours. To be fully cured it takes about 10 hours..


Elmer’s Carpenter’s Interior Wood Glue

Interior Glue

CURE RATE & DRYING TIME:  Set time: 20-30 minutes.  For firmest bond, let dry overnight.
CLEAN UP & REMOVAL RECOMMENDATIONS:  Clean-up by wiping with a warm, damp, clean cloth before glue dries.  After glue has dried, scrape & sand to remove excess glue.
 Stainable: No
Viscosity: Not available
Appearance: Yellow liquid
Color: yellow

 

Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue Max

Glue Max

Carpenter’s Wood Glue Max contains real wood fibers for superior staining, painting, and sanding. The wood will break before the bond does. This is very easy to clean up with water.

Instructions states that you should apply glue liberally to one of the surfaces.  Join mated surfaces snugly and clamp for 1 hour. You are then instructed to let the glue dry for 24 hours before sanding, staining or painting.

Viscosity: 10000 – 14000 cP
Appearance: Beige liquid
Color: beige

 

Elmer’s  Glue-All  Glue All

You are then instructed to let the glue dry for 24 hours before sanding, staining or painting.

Viscosity: Not available
Appearance: White liquid
Color: white

 

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