Why is CA Glue A Popular Glue For Woodworking? CA Glue Basics 101

Out of all the glues used in woodworking, CA glue is 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!

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

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 Cyano-acrylate adhesives such as instant glue, power glue, or superglue.

Ca glue is available in thin, medium, and thick. They all have their own applications. Learn which one to use when in my article What Is The Difference Between Thin, Medium, And Thick CA Glue.

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, instant glue is not suitable due to its brittleness.
It is better to use epoxy glue or polyurethane glue for this.

Cyano acrylate glue is easy to apply with a few simple steps. More about this later in this blog post.
When working with this 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 instant 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.

Cyano acrylate adhesives will harden when in contact with moisture. Knowing that moisture is present in almost any material can explain why instant 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 adhesive can glue almost all materials, there are also a few products that cannot be glued with this wonder glue.

If you know that Cyano acrylate 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 instant glue.

  • Plastics
    • Acetal 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 adhesive.
      Because Teflon plastic is chemically resistant, iinstant 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 adhesive 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 adhesives. 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. This 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, instant 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.

Ca glue also has some drawbacks. To get to know this glue better so that you can start using it correctly for your projects, I recommend that you read my article The Pros and Cons of Using CA Glue in Woodworking: A Quick Overview.

Ebook part 1 woodworking basics

When I prefer CA glue while working on my projects.

There is actually one big reason why I prefer Cyano acrylate 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 instant 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 Cyano acrylate glue is hard after a few seconds and I can continue working while the wood glue hardens.

This combination of instant 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.

This is why CA glue is a popular glue for woodworking _ All about CA glue

Pro Tip

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 cyano acrylate 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 this glue from the skin by applying mineral or vegetable oil and massaging it for a few minutes.
These types of oils break down the instant glue (partially) and loosen the glue.
After a few minutes, try to remove the adhesive, but don’t force it to avoid skin damage.

I wrote an in- depth article, stuffed with tips and trick about removing this glue from wood. If you want to learn more, it is highly recommended that you check out my article How To Remove Super Glue From Wood (3 Simple Methods).

What is the purpose of CA glue accelerator?

This is why CA glue is a popular glue for woodworking _ All about CA glue

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 this glue 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.

To learn more about storage, check my in depth article How to Store CA Glue to Extend Its Shelf Life (5 Best Tips) to discover all the secrets.

What are the best CA glues available?

To guide you to choose between the different brands of Cyano acrylate 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 Cyano acrylate 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?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is CA glue and super glue the same?

Yes, CA glue and super glue are essentially the same thing. Widely utilized in many contexts, “super glue” is an effective bonding agent. They both refer to the same fast-acting, high-strength adhesive that bonds various materials.

What is the use of CA glue?

CA glue offers superior bonding capabilities for an array of materials, such as wood, metal, plastic, rubber, ceramics and beyond. It is commonly used in woodworking, model making, crafts, jewelry making, and general repairs due to its quick curing time and strong bond.

Is CA glue the same as epoxy?

No, CA glue is not the same as epoxy. Epoxy is a two-part adhesive composed of a resin and a hardener that must be blended together before application. In contrast, instant glue is a one-component adhesive that cures rapidly when exposed to the humidity in the atmosphere. For more information, go to my article CA Glue vs Epoxy: Which is Better for Woodworking?

How strong is CA glue?

CA glue is known for its high strength. It can create a bond that is often stronger than the materials being joined. The actual strength can vary depending on the specific formulation and the materials being bonded.

Is CA glue permanent?

CA glue is generally considered to be a permanent adhesive. Once hardened, the bond is hard to separate. Nevertheless, be aware that its longevity may diminish with time due to factors like temperature, moisture, and strain.

Do you need an activator for CA glue?

To expedite the curative process, CA glue can have an activator or accelerator added when exposed to ambient moisture. The activator helps the glue bond faster, reducing the time required for the adhesive to set.

Does water activate CA glue?

Yes, water can activate CA glue and cause it to cure. When exposed to moisture, the polymerization process activates, enabling the adhesive to bond and solidify.

Does CA glue melt plastic?

CA glue is generally safe for use on most plastics. Nevertheless, some plastics with low surface energy such as polyethylene and polypropylene may have difficulty building a secure bond with intant glue. To prevent any unwanted results, it is suggested to conduct a test on an inconsequential area before applying the adhesive onto plastic surfaces.

How long does CA glue last?

The shelf life of CA glue can vary depending on the specific brand and formulation. Typically, bottles that have been opened can retain their quality and freshness for extended periods, provided they are kept in optimal conditions like a cool and dry area. However, once opened, the glue may start to thicken and cure more quickly, reducing its usable lifespan.

Does CA glue melt?

CA glue does not melt in the traditional sense. However, prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause it to weaken or degrade over time, reducing its bonding strength. It is best to avoid subjecting instant glue to excessive heat.

Does CA glue break down over time?

CA glue is typically known for its tenacious holding power; however, it can become compromised due to exposure to environmental elements like moisture, temperature shifts and the chemical makeup of other items. These components can weaken the adhesive’s strength and potentially render it completely ineffective.

How long does CA glue take to dry?

CA glue typically dries and forms a bond within seconds to a few minutes, depending on the specific formulation, the materials being bonded, and the environmental conditions. The curing of the adhesive layer can be impacted by variables such as humidity, temperature, and its thickness.

Why does CA glue turn white?

In certain instances, such as when exposed to humidity or when excessive amounts are used, this glue can become discolored or foggy. This white appearance is often referred to as “blushing” and is caused by a reaction with water vapor in the air. It does not typically affect the strength of the bond.

Can you use acetone as a CA glue accelerator?

Acetone is not commonly used as an instant glue accelerator. It can dissolve and weaken some types of CA glue, so it is not recommended to use acetone as an accelerator unless specifically stated by the adhesive manufacturer. It’s best to use dedicated accelerators designed for CA glue to ensure optimal performance. To learn how to make your own Accelerator, check out my article Best DIY Guide To Make Homemade CA Glue Accelerator For Woodworking

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Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration

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