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Glues Buying Guides

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Getting started

Glue makers have enlisted snarling rhinos, glaring gorillas, and sumo wrestlers to tout their promises of "incredible strength," "truly all-purpose," and "Glues whatever. Bonds forever." But those claims didn't stick in our lab tests.

Most of the multipurpose adhesives, superglues, epoxy, and wood glues that we tested were adequately strong for their intended purpose. But no single adhesive worked for everything--and a few barely worked at all.

Convenience comes in a tube

Many glues are now sold in single-use sizes, and manufacturers sell packs with two, four, and even up to a dozen tubes. That means dried-up, half-used tubes of superglue are a thing of the past. "The tubes got smaller because people complained they'd go back to reuse the glue and it was too hard and crusty," saidys David Nick, a consultant to the adhesives industry. None of the tested glues had an expiration date, so if you have a lot of repairs or projects, buy multipacks to save money.

One type can pose health issues

Polyurethane glues can cause skin irritations and respiratory problems, and subsequent exposure to them could cause stronger reactions.

Of less concern but more common are fingers stuck together with superglue. "Soak your glued fingers in warm, soapy water," Dr. says James S. Taylor, M.D., a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said. Then ; gently separate the skin with a soft spatula. If water doesn't work, use acetone or nail-polish remover. Taylor cautions that both of those materials could irritate your skin.

No matter which adhesive you use, carefully follow the directions and safety information on the package. And wear thick rubber or vinyl gloves and work in a well-ventilated location or outdoors.

Doing it right

Don't make the mistake of using the wrong glue for the job. If you're working with an item for the outdoors, for example, choose a water-resistant glue. And although some multipurpose glues do well with wood, we recommend that you use a wood glue for wood projects. Types will tell you which glues are right for which materials and tasks.

Pay attention to color

The Devcon High Strength Epoxy, $4.25, for exampleinstance, dries black. If there's a chance that the glue will be seen after it has dried, use one that is colorless after drying.

Use the right amount

Remember this mantra of proper gluing: Less is more. Use the minimal amount of adhesive needed to get the job done.

To control how much you apply, squirt some onto a piece of aluminum foil or the product's plastic packaging. Use a toothpick or a wood or plastic coffee stirrer to apply the glue. (Some two-part epoxies come with a plastic paddle for mixing.) Immediately wipe up any excess glue that comes out of the joint as you work.

Make it last

Extend the shelf life of a glue by squeezing excess air out of the tube, cleaning up adhesive around the opening, and replacing the cap tightly. Store the unused portion in a cool, dry place that's out of the sunlight.

Be patient

Despite what might be indicated on the package or label, avoid putting a heavy load on a glued joint until the adhesive has set for a full 24 hours.

Visit for our latest information on Glues

Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Getting started

1. Getting started

2. Types

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