Not So Superglue
January 5, 2011 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Is superglue not as good as it used to be? When I was a teenager in the 70s I used to make models of polyhedra using just toothpicks and superglue. I have been trying to recreate those recently and having no luck. I am holding two toothpick ends together as still as I can for 30-60 seconds and getting nothing.

I thought it was because I had bought an off brand of glue, so I just bought some Instant Krazy Glue Gel, with the same results. Was I just a lot more patient and steady back then?
posted by bitslayer to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The gel takes a long time to dry. Try it with the regular old liquid formula, it's like instabond.
posted by sanka at 6:02 PM on January 5, 2011

I think you want a cyanoacrylate glue. "Jet" glue is what my brother used to use on his model airplanes. I remember he'd touch two pieces of wood together, there'd be almost a kind of "smoke" that would rise up, and a sickly sweet smell, and those two pieces of would would be instantly joined. Not exactly superglue, so maybe not what you were thinking of.

This is the stuff: Jet glues.
posted by smcameron at 6:04 PM on January 5, 2011

Response by poster: This application does require instant bonding. So I bought the wrong glue again? *sigh*
posted by bitslayer at 6:05 PM on January 5, 2011

Response by poster: The product I have "contains ethyl cyanoacrylate." No telling what else. I can't find any other source that says the gel is not as fast setting as the liquid, but that could be my problem. According to this MSDS sheet "both Krazy glue and Super glue are believed to be essentially 100% [ethyl cyanoacrylate]."
posted by bitslayer at 6:30 PM on January 5, 2011

Buy a bottle of this and your toothpicks will cure instantly with the old, familiar, wispy smoke.

I get mine at the local hobby shop.
posted by jz at 6:57 PM on January 5, 2011

When I made models for animation, I had to be able to set super glue in an instant. We used a product called Zap-A-Gap and a spray accelerator called Zip Kicker. It's deadly to work with if you're at all clumsy, but it's sets instantly.
posted by lottie at 7:54 PM on January 5, 2011

Best answer: These CA glues come in a variety of viscosities these days. The thin ones will wick like crazy all over the place, which increases their surface area and makes them cure instantly but also makes it real easy to mess up if you let too much out. The gel ones stay put as a blob which I guess is easier to deal with for some applications but it takes longer to set.

BTW if I recall correctly these things cure by the moisture in the air, so humidity matters.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:45 AM on January 6, 2011

Response by poster: thin ones will wick like crazy all over the place, which increases their surface area and makes them cure instantly

Thanks, that makes sense, I think I understand the difference now.
posted by bitslayer at 6:14 AM on January 6, 2011

Let the glue dry a little bit on the toothpicks before you try assembling them. This is an old woodworker's tip.
posted by JJ86 at 6:14 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

An oldie but a goodie: this TO that
posted by Room 641-A at 7:34 AM on January 6, 2011

BTW, not that it will help you glue anything, but my dog ate a tube of crazy glue one time.

I freaked out and called the vet, who called poison control. I learned from this that the formula of crazy glue was changed to be non-toxic--so although my dog had glued her teeth to her lips, she was fine.
posted by chocolatetiara at 7:35 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cyanoacrylates work best when the things to be joined fit together well -- if there are large gaps, you have to use the thicker varieties, which are slow to set. You can help them along with an accelerant, like the "Zip Kicker" lottie mentioned. (Incidentally, cyanoacrylates are not toxic -- they are used as medical and veterinary adhesives. However they can irritate mucus membranes and eyes because of the free water. You can also become sensitized with repeated exposure.)

For gluing toothpicks together, I find that hot-melt glue is the most convenient.
posted by phliar at 4:07 PM on January 6, 2011

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