Sticking things on to things
February 3, 2018 5:52 PM   Subscribe

I’m making some wall pieces that feature a variety of wood pieces (mostly wood anyway) attached to a backing board. I could use ideas on how to best attach the pieces - faster.

Round one came out nicely, but screwing each piece on from behind was slow going. I’d like to speed this process up. I’m considering using epoxy glue to fix them, and then screwing them in from behind. Still somewhat laborious, but a bit less unwieldy. I don’t think the epoxy alone will hold permanently. Does anyone have techniques or ideas I should consider?
posted by ecorrocio to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Construction adhesive like this Loctite Power Grab is pretty amazing. If allowed to cure properly, you probably won't need to screw it from behind, although it wouldn't hurt.
posted by The Deej at 6:01 PM on February 3, 2018

I think using adhesive is a great idea to improve workflow and durability!

But I think you want a fairly traditional wood glue, and lots of clamps, and pipeline planning. E.g. Elmer’s wood glue.

Another, faster option that may work is polyeurehane glues like Gorilla. Be aware that it expands and foams as it cures, this can be a utilized but also ruin things. Use sparingly and test any method!

See Wikipedia page for overview of types, also
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:02 PM on February 3, 2018

I think screws are the way to go, and would not bother with glue. There are probably ways to make the process easier, which I can only guess at since you didn’t describe how you’ve been doing it. I’d start by placing the plank across sawhorses so that gravity helps hold the parts in place while you drive screws up from below. That and a few Quick-Grip style clamps in lieu of extra hands should make most of it fairly easy.
posted by jon1270 at 6:24 PM on February 3, 2018

That LocTite Power Grab or their PL Premium is perfect for this. It will stick right away and you will have to use a hammer to break things off. Even then it will break the thing, not the glue bond. That stuff is hardcore and PERMANENT.
posted by sanka at 6:24 PM on February 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm with The Deej and sanka: use construction adhesive. If you can assemble the pieces with the backing lying horizontal, and using weights (water-filled bottles, bags of sand ...) to press the features into the adhesive, it will make a very strong join. It takes a while to cure, so you'd best leave the assembly horizontal overnight.
posted by anadem at 6:25 PM on February 3, 2018

I'd use wood glue, let it dry, then flip it over (on a piece of foam for safety?) and use screws. Wood glue is not toxic and dries in a reasonable period of time. If you need speed, hot glue & gun; solidifies really fast.

I like that piece, nice work.
posted by theora55 at 6:35 PM on February 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

PL Premium is very good. Note that there are two versions: the normal 3X and the fast grab 8X. It is very important to note that the X strength they are talking about is the initial WET strength, not the strength when cured. So basically the 8X is a tackier and thicker liquid when squeezed out of the tube. This sounds good, but a lot of people have issues with 8X being too think. Sometimes the tube will actually burst in the caulking gun. I recommend using the normal 3X.

As PL Premium cures over 24-48 hours, it goes through 3 distinct phases. At first it is a gooey, sticky liquid. Then when partially cured, it is a crumbly dry paste/solid, a bit like dried out toothpaste. Then finally it hardens to a tough, stiff, slightly rubbery mass. Try not to disturb it when it's in the crumbly phase.
posted by ryanrs at 7:36 PM on February 3, 2018

Like theora55 says, glue to hold everything drown and security screws would be best. The board behind will be getting wider and narrower as humidity changes, so the non-wood pieces and those with grain running perpendicular are likely to pop loose eventually. Cross grain gluing is fine for smaller pieces but anything over a few inches wide is problematic over the longer term.

It looks really cool.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:23 PM on February 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wood glue is for bonding wood to wood. It's actually stronger than the wood itself and penetrating. There is no visible residue. It does not fill gaps though. Wood glue needs clamping to set up properly.

Construction adhesive is it's opposite. It's great for bonding heterogeneous materials, nonwoods to wood, it gap fills well and is not penetrating. It leaves visible adhesive. Construction adhesive generally doesn't want clamping but may need support.

Wood glue is easier cleanup, but they're both pretty easy to work with. Wood glue is cheaper.
posted by bonehead at 5:51 AM on February 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I make art, and my "canvasses" are 2 feet by 4 feet hardboard on a wood frame that I build. I initially started using nails and glue, but soon switched to PL Premium. Easier to work with than the nails/glue and stronger. However it does take 24-48 hours to fully cure (speed it up with a light spray of water).
posted by mbarryf at 6:34 AM on February 4, 2018

Most any glue will work file for a flat-to-flat fit. I recommend looking for the words "gap filling".

Gluing a rounded or irregular surface to something flat is harder. Planing a narrow flat to make a gluing surface would make it much more reliable.

With a good glue joint, there is no need for mechanical fasteners.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:39 PM on February 4, 2018

As an aside, I always like doing destructive testing when trying out new adhesives. Nothing improves your confidence in a structural adhesive like whaling on it with a hammer. You learn a lot of things, like how hardware store epoxy is crap and usually acrylic adhesives are a better choice. It'll also cure you of habits like using backup screws once you find glues you trust.
posted by ryanrs at 12:31 AM on February 6, 2018

Screws or brads are sometimes useful as internal clamps just to hold the piece together while the glue dries. Sometimes you don't have the right clamp or a piece is simply impossible to clamp. In many cases a mechanical fastener can do the job of a clamp until the glue cures and becomes a strong bond.

If screws/nails are too much of a time issue, I'd consider using an automatic nailer to replace or supplement clamping. There are some inexpensive ones now that use rechargeable batteries.
posted by bonehead at 6:43 AM on February 6, 2018

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