CA glue, it’s an increasingly popular glue among woodworkers.
But why exactly?
You will discover that in this article.
Everything you need to know about this popular glue will be described in this blog in a very concise way, so you will become an expert in minutes.
You will gain insight into what CA glue is, how this glue works so that you can automatically determine which materials it can or cannot be used, and how you can use it in your workshop.
Furthermore, you will discover some must-know interesting facts.
Let’s dive into this article and learn all about this wonder glue!
- What is CA glue?
- What is CA glue used for?
- Why does CA glue stick to almost everything?
- Why CA glue is a popular glue for woodworking
- How to use CA glue
- What is the purpose of CA glue accelerator?
- How to storage CA glue?
- What are the best CA glues available?
What is CA glue?
CA stands for Cyanoacrylates, a family of strong, fast-acting adhesives that have industrial, medical, and household applications.
There are various names for Cyanoacrylate adhesives such as instant glue, power glue, or superglue.
What is CA glue used for?
Cyanoacrylate or CA glue can glue difficult surfaces such as plastics, metals, leather, wood, and more together in a fast and durable way.
CA adhesives are extremely useful when used for stabilizing and bonding hard material.
However, when used for joints that will undergo shear stress, CA glue is not suitable due to its brittleness.
It is better to use epoxy glue or polyurethane glue for this.
Cyanoacrylate glue is easy to apply with a few simple steps. More about this later in this blog post.
When working with ca glue on your projects, you can choose to use an accelerator.
By using an accelerator, the rapid adhesion can be accelerated to an almost immediate adhesion.
Very useful when there is time pressure to finish a project.
Why does CA glue stick to almost everything?
To understand why CA glue sticks to almost everything, you need to know how Cyanoacrylate glue works.
Without giving an all too scientific explanation for this with all kinds of chemical formulas, this can be explained briefly.
Cyanoacrylate adhesives will harden when in contact with moisture. Knowing that moisture is present in almost any material can explain why CA glue reacts well to almost any surface.
There are even CA adhesives that are made for use on difficult surfaces that repel water, for example.
Below I show you a few of these CA adhesives for difficult surfaces.
What cannot be glued with CA glue?
Although CA glue can glue almost all materials, there are also a few products that cannot be glued with this wonder glue.
If you know that Cyanoacrylate glue works well when it comes into contact with materials that have a certain amount of moisture in them, you can exclude materials that cannot contain moisture.
Below is a small list of products and situations where you will not be able to use CA glue.
- PlasticsAcetal plastics, for example Delrin, is a very difficult plastic to glue together. When CA glue is applied to acetal, it will create a kind of casing that is easy to remove.
Polypropylene plastic also does not glue well with CA glue.
Because Teflon plastic is chemically resistant, CA glue cannot be used to glue these plastics.
Polyethylene, which is widely used in packaging, plastic bottles, Geo membranes, etc., has a high density, which means that gluing with CA glue will not work.
- Wet surfaces
- Very smooth surfaces such as glass
- Metal surfaces
- Oily surfaces
- Dirty surfaces
Why CA glue is a popular glue for woodworking
Ok, thanks to the previous chapters you now know what CA glue is, why CA glue sticks to almost any material, and what CA glue is used for. But why is Ca glue so popular with woodworkers nowadays?
To answer that question, I list all the advantages of CA glue. After exploring this list, the answer will automatically become clear to you.
- Ease of use. CA adhesives are ready to use. In contrast with epoxy adhesives, Superglue does not have to be mixed. As a result, you have not used more than necessary, which in itself is another economic advantage.
- Versatility. CA glues can be used on practically all materials. There are only a few materials, as discussed earlier in this blog, that CA glue will not adhere to.
- CA glues have the property to bond extremely quickly.
Depending on the material you want to glue and the environment in which you work bonding usually takes place within a few seconds. When the temperature and humidity in the room you are working in is higher, it will have a positive effect on the speed at which the adhesion takes place.
- Cyanoacrylate glues have a high bonding strength, of course, this varies depending on the material used that you want to glue.
- Economical. Okay, Ca glues aren’t that cheap, but you need very little of them. You only need a single drop of glue per 25 mm². It is recommended to respect the dose and not to use more glue than necessary. More glue can even have the opposite effect and therefore decrease the bonding strength.
When I prefer CA glue while working on my projects.
There is actually one big reason why I prefer Cyanoacrylate glue in some situations, and that is speed.
I think it’s fantastic to glue two materials together and to be able to continue working just a few seconds afterwards, without having to worry about that connection.
Even if I choose to glue something with wood glue, sometimes I will combine it with CA glue.
That will give me the benefit I have not to wait until the wood glue has hardened.
This is how I do it: When I apply the wood glue I will not totally cover the surface but leave small spaces at strategic points.
That gives me the opportunity to use CA glue on those points.
When the parts are joined together, the Cyanoacrylate glue is hard after a few seconds and I can continue working while the wood glue hardens.
This combination of CA glue and wood glue gives me the speed to continue working and the strong connection through the wood glue.
Even when I have to glue very small parts, I will rather reach for Cyanoacrylate glue instead of wood glue.
Don’t just use any wood glue for your projects!
To find out which different types exist and for which applications wood glue serve, check out my blog Understanding Wood Glue + 8 awesome tricks you should know.
Here you will discover everything you need to know about wood glue.
How to use CA glue
Just like with any other glue, you have to make sure that the two parts you want to glue are clean and dry. Due to the dirt or dust still present, the adhesive will not be able to bond fully.
When you have completed the preparations, you can now glue. You can do this in 3 easy steps:
- First, spray the accelerator on one of the parts. Make sure you don’t use too much of the accelerator. In some cases, this can leave traces on your workpiece.
- Now apply the Super Glue to the second part. Here too you have to respect the recommended dose.
- Now join the two parts together and press the parts firmly together for a few seconds.
What is the Average cure time of ca glue?
For a fixation, it is sufficient to press the parts together for between 4 and 90 seconds. However, full curing is only achieved between 8 and 24 hours.
Both fixation and full curing depend on the moisture-absorbing properties of the materials used and the gluing conditions, which you could read earlier in this blog.
How to remove ca glue from surfaces?
There are two ways to remove residues, mechanical or chemical.
Mechanical can be done by sanding away the adhesive residue or by cutting it away with a knife.
You can chemically remove cyanoacrylate with a special cyanoacrylate remover or strong solvents, such as acetone.
Always test beforehand, because these solvents can eat away the base material in addition to the adhesive.
If so, you can soak the part in soap and water for several hours. This will soften the glue and make it easier to remove.
How to remove CA glue from skin?
You can remove CA glues from the skin by applying mineral or vegetable oil and massaging it for a few minutes.
These types of oils break down the CA glue (partially) and loosen the glue.
After a few minutes, try to remove the adhesive, but don’t force it to avoid skin damage.
What is the purpose of CA glue accelerator?
In this blog, I have already talked about an accelerator a few times.
By using the accelerator, the bonding can take place earlier, and you can proceed even faster to the next step in your construction process.
But there is something I have personally experienced when using an accelerator.
I noticed that it is not a good idea to think that you will use one bottle of accelerator per bottle of superglue.
When working with superglue and an accelerator, the accelerator is empty much faster than the bottle of glue.
So, my tip is to provide several bottles of accelerator per bottle of glue. According to my findings, the ratio should be about 3 to 1. It means you will have to purchase 3 units of accelerator per bottle of superglue purchased.
A while ago I saw a recipe with which you could make your own accelerator.
To be honest, it doesn’t seem that reliable to me and I haven’t tested it myself yet, but I’ll give you the recipe anyway.
To make your own accelerator, you need baking soda and purified water. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into 1/4 cup of purified water and spray as you would with the accelerator.
Have you tried this yet?
Let me know how this worked for you in a comment below.
How to storage CA glue?
To store CA glue, always make sure that the cap is firmly on the bottle so that the glue is airtight.
The ideal temperature to store this adhesive is room temperature.
This way you can store CA glues for up to 10 weeks or longer in the most favorable conditions.
Unopened, you can keep this glue for up to 12 months.
However, if an unopened bottle is kept in a refrigerator, this period can be extended considerably.
Once opened, it is better not to keep the glue in the refrigerator.
The moisture content will condense, and the adhesive will harden prematurely.
You can keep opened CA glue longer in an airtight container, which you apply with silica gel that keeps the internal moisture under control.
What are the best CA glues available?
To guide you to choose between the different brands of Cyanoacrylate glue that are offered, I present the best ones below.
I personally tested it and was very satisfied with the result.
As I said before, I have already found that the accelerator runs out before the glue. So you will have to buy extra accelerators (ratio of about 3 accelerators to 1 bottle of glue).
Below are the respective accelerators of the proposed Cyanoacrylate adhesives suggested above.
To go even deeper, I wrote a separate article with a detailed answer to whether Ca glue is safe to use when it comes into contact with food. So if you are planning to use Ca glue to make a cutting board, or any other item that comes into direct or indirect contact with food, be sure to read my article, “Is superglue food safe?”
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Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration