CA Glue Flavors

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Forum topic by NCMau posted 04-19-2019 09:54 PM 825 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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51 posts in 492 days

04-19-2019 09:54 PM

Checking the web for CA glue and they come in different flavors, fast, medium and slow. I am thinking that I don’t need all of of them, maybe the medium but I am wide open for suggestions

-- Maury, NC

17 replies so far

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1720 posts in 2471 days

#1 posted 04-19-2019 10:54 PM

Thin glue doesn’t really need an accelerator.
Medium will need a spritz or two to aid in a faster cure.
Thick will need a lot of spritzes to aid in a faster cure.

cough, cough, cough Pardon me. I didn’t really mean to cough cough, cough, cough, while getting on this next subject. When you SMELL the CA, or it burns your eyes, you really need to cough, cough, cough get outside and breath in some fresh air. This crap will kill you if you don’t pay heed to what it’s doing to you. If you see it smoking, blow on it to keep it from being inhaled or getting into your eyes. If you do get more exposure to it, you will be sounding like what I tried to convey between the asterisks. Yes, the asterisks did represent what was happening to me as I was writing this reply. .............. Jerry (in cough, cough, cough, cough Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View NCMau's profile


51 posts in 492 days

#2 posted 04-19-2019 11:07 PM

How long does it take for the medium to set without the accelerator?

-- Maury, NC

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3042 posts in 2235 days

#3 posted 04-20-2019 12:56 AM

Fast, medium, and slow are attributes for CA, and not a very good way to characterize the differences between them IMHO.

Have to realize that CA preferred cure method is by absence of oxygen in very small gap with ‘metallic’ elements present, 2nd best is via a strong acid/base side reaction using a catalyst.

Fast has lowest viscosity. Intended for tight fitting joints, and works best on fine grain woods. Once reaction initializes inside the joint, even areas around the edge exposed to oxygen will cure in relatively short time period (many seconds) If the bond area is not low oxygen or too large, the reaction is much slower. Which is why catalyst are often suggested.

Medium is slightly thicker, thanks to longer polymer chains. Intended for slightly less than perfect joints, and small gaps, or large grain woods. Acts similar to fast cure: IE similar cure speed with same ultra small gap and low oxygen levels. But longer chains have slightly longer cure propagation time, coupled with more oxygen in larger gap results in slower cure.

Slow is thickest viscosity CA. Intended for larger gaps, or porous surfaces that need pores filled. Behaves exact same way as other CA when it cures. The longer polymer simply slow the reaction slightly, and allows for larger gap in bond line. Thicker CA adhesive bond lines are weaker than thin bond lines, as the acrylic polymer structure is not a strong inner bond in shear or tension.

For all CA, the max intended bond line is a couple thousands of inch. As gap increases, it is no longer instant glue, and weak acrylic makes for weak bond. PVA wood glue works same way, strength via a very thin bond line. Hence if you have larger bond line, use epoxy.

Everyone thinks CA is super fast instant cure glue. While this might seem true with CA between your fingers, it is not really true. Fingers have catalyst on them accelerating the reaction, mineral laden alkaline (base) compound called – sweat.

Without a catalyst full cure for CA is many hours, even though it grabs/locks in less than 60 seconds in most cases. Higher viscosity versions indeed have slower cure, but it is 5-30 seconds of difference between retail 3 grades. Catalyst are more often used on medium/slow as people over estimate acceptable bond line gap, or desire instant cure not intended by mfg.
Commercial retail CA catalyst are fast dry solvent with aromatic amine dissolved inside. The amine invokes a rapid base reaction in matrix forcing a cascade cure. The consumer grade spray catalyst are about fastest cure catalyst available, to ensure ‘instant glue’ marketing is true. A highly accelerated CA cure will usually result in weaker bond line. So overuse of spray catalyst is not a good idea.
In industrial use of CA, there are different catalysts used based on materials bonded, desired bond strength and/or cure reaction speed. There are many different CA varieties available in industrial world .vs. the fast, med, slow ‘junk’ sold to consumers.
This post is too long already, sorry.
Follow the link on industrial CA versions to learn more.


-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View SMP's profile


2016 posts in 646 days

#4 posted 04-20-2019 02:36 AM

Personally I keep thin and gel on hand. When i want it to wick into a joint or material, i use thin. If i want to apply it to two parts and then adhere them, i use the gel.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1720 posts in 2471 days

#5 posted 04-20-2019 02:58 AM

When I did the asterisks mentioned above in post #1, it ended up bolding my coughs. Sorry bout that. I didn’t mean to cough that loud.

I’ve found if you use thick CA on two surfaces, you need to clamp the two pieces, or use a lot of accelerator to get it to cure faster, within a minute or less. Heck, thin cures almost instantly, and if you’re not careful, you’ll need something to remove your fingers from what you were gluing.

I don’t know anything about gel…............. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View OnhillWW's profile


235 posts in 1973 days

#6 posted 04-20-2019 03:14 AM

If you are a CA novice it is hard to tell you which to purchase. The Captain gave you good info but let me offer my 2c having used it for decades.
1st – I would go with the thick and thin vs the med. Thin is very useful, allowing you to do things that you simply can not accomplish with Med or thick such as hardening soft spalted or early rot areas of wood. Thick can substitute for medium.
2nd – respect the product, it is easy to glue your hands to an object or to get thin on or in places you don’t want it to be – your eyes. Thin is less viscous than water!
3rd- To get the longest servicable life out of a bottle clean the bottle spout as soon as you’re done using them and cap immediately. I store mine in the refrigerator as it extends the shelf life.
Practice with it to familiarize yourself with its properties. Order from a hobby or woodworker supply source avoid
big box and end of isle or check out line carded products – too costly per unit of volume and lower quality.
purchase mine from Klingspor and Amazon.

And yes the fumes can be a PITA , some people are more sensitive than others but try to use in a ventilated area or with a fan blowing on your work if doing a lot of gluing.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

View therealSteveN's profile


5603 posts in 1315 days

#7 posted 04-20-2019 03:18 AM

I go the other way, and have never bought medium, but use a lot of thin, especially as noted if you have parts you want to seep a thin line of it in, better some than none. The thick I use less often, but sometimes you want to glue something you can hardly reach, much less clamp. finger pressure for a minute holds it so you will need to use force to move it. Capn K is correct, takes a while for full bond, but hey, same same with PVA glue to get to max dry/hold, but we all know except for bends, we can pop the clamps off easily within an hour.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Rich's profile


5544 posts in 1330 days

#8 posted 04-20-2019 04:12 AM

When I did the asterisks mentioned above in post #1, it ended up bolding my coughs. Sorry bout that. I didn t mean to cough that loud.

- Nubsnstubs

Thank God, Jerry. I was worried about you.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3042 posts in 2235 days

#9 posted 04-20-2019 07:32 AM

+1 Thin CA can be dangerous. Regular grades have low PH (acidic) content to help etch surface for strong bond. But it also can burn eye tissue or mucous membranes, or worse – permanently bond the eye/mouth shut. Wear safety glasses with side shields, and wear respirator when using large amounts – be safe!

I keep thin/fast and slow/thick grades on hand.

Use fast to drip down into clamped joints, and for medical skin repairs.

Nice part about fast is you take splinter of wood that popped off an edge, put it back where it belongs, drip a couple drops on the edges; then sand with 150 grit and piece is bonded and edges are filled with hard saw dust to make seamless repair. If the repair chunk is missing parts, use the slow to bond and sand it for gap fill; and 2nd application of thin on top followed with sanding to lock it all into place. See, the saw dust has minerals and tight gap to help it cure quickly. Done correctly there will be sanding dust bonded in bottom with expose wood top that will take some stain/dye. If mess up, the hard or dark bond line and edges won’t take dye/strain evenly, but under clear coat, will never know it happened.

Even though hobby stuff is not certified for medical use, and burns when used; the thin/fast cure is best way to stop bleeding when you slice skin with knife. Not for punctures, or abrasions; only cuts; it works instantly despite some blood when slice is at angle and bonding inner layers of skin together. Back to work without band-aid in minutes. Yes, I am that kind of Klutz….


-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Wildwood's profile


2854 posts in 2875 days

#10 posted 04-20-2019 12:27 PM

What do you need the CA to do?

Filling cracks with addition of saw dust, coffee grounds, Herbal or black tea, metals, stone or other chips.

Finish for small turned items with or without accelerator or BLO.

Gluing: Pen blanks & tubes, waste block use in either chuck or face plates.

Drying times between thin, medium, and thick only seconds faster if use accelerator. Due to people becoming sensitized to the stuff they do make a low odor type. Drying & curing times bantered about but found drying for use in seconds full cure time always been on 24 hours on any product ever bought.

Pro: fast drying times:



Shelf life only one year possibly two if unopened. Have never seen manufacturing or expiration date on any bottle ever bought. Once open storing in freezer may or may not help. Not sure about drying or full cure time for accelerator never bought the stuff.

Poor shear strength even with accelerator.

Gap filling on pen tubes and blanks can be iffy once CA bottle opened.

Cannot tell you which brands not made in China or actually made in US. Lot of marketing hype from different brands so buy smalls bottle size in viscosity you need! Of course with so many brands around to day buy local.

-- Bill

View mike02719's profile


244 posts in 4527 days

#11 posted 04-20-2019 01:37 PM

Thanks for asking this question. I learned more from these posts than from all written directions that I have seen. I have found a big difference in various brands, and they react differently to the use of accelerator. I buy medium and thin from Rockler. Thick seems to be all the same so the cheapest available. Apply and let it cure for a time gets me away from the fumes and reaches full strength. One more use for CA is those painful cracks you get on the fingertips in cold weather. Please be cautious, these are dangerous products.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

View ibewjon's profile


1549 posts in 3534 days

#12 posted 04-20-2019 02:10 PM

The glue sold by craft supplies USA from Utah was definitely made in USA, at least till 5 years ago. I did electrical service calls at the factory south of Chicago. I no longer work for the contractor, so I can not say for sure today. And if anyone thinks the fumes in the shop are bad, working around factory quantities of CA can be painful. My first time at the plant, I thought my eyes were going to glue shut from the fumes. I wish I could just pick it up at the factory, it’s cheaper that way.

View NCMau's profile


51 posts in 492 days

#13 posted 04-20-2019 02:21 PM

Thanks everyone for the extensive product explanations and its safety aspects…(yes Jerry, point is will taken).
I guess right now is up to me to experiment. I am going to order a small 2oz kit of all three flavors and check them out.

-- Maury, NC

View GaryCN's profile


475 posts in 4675 days

#14 posted 04-20-2019 03:41 PM

Always get the Debonder for the glue, I have used FastCap 2P-10

-- Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3042 posts in 2235 days

#15 posted 04-20-2019 05:48 PM

Summary of CA brands sold at retail:

Since shipping bulk ‘ready to use’ CA has extreme maritime restrictions/requirements (don’t want fish/coral glued together right?), it is generally made in country sold. Henkel/Loctite owns the lions share of world wide volume capacity. Henkel has mfg partnerships with non-US adhesive producers, where you will see CA from locally produced brand names on shelf right next Henkel companies brand names. 3M is next largest producer by volume, and also has mfg partnerships for production around world using local brands. There are a couple smaller mfg in US, most notable is Aron Alpha, who owns the ‘Krazy Glue’ brand name and is actually owned by Toagosei from Japan who was in top 5 for world wide production capacity.

The largest producer of ounce containing bottle retail packaged CA found in hobby industry retail stores is Bob Smith Industries , who does OEM packaging for anyone that asks. Most of time they use the same packaging (bottles), but not always. So if you see CA at Rockler and it is same bottle and similar looking label as Hobby Lobby, you can assume it comes from same place in California. The CA bulk market is extremely competitive since the original cyanoacrylate patents are expired. Same CA composition behaves same from different mfg, you will be unable to tell which CA mfg made the adhesive in your bottle from BSI.

The next most common CA you see in ounce bottle sizes either comes from Aron Apha, or repackaging house Satellite City, who sells the ‘Hot Stuff’ brand. They also offer OEM repackaging, so if you find 1 oz bottle that looks like ‘Hot Stuff’ or one of Aron signature square bottles, it came from Satellite City, or Aron Alpha.

The market for the smaller less than 1/4 oz size ‘squeeze tube’ dispensers is a total mess. Loctite had 3 different brand names that they use for smaller single/dual use applicators sold in stores; Loctite, Devcon, Permatex; and that was before Henkel bought them and added another couple dozen international brands. 3M and Aron Alpha also produce a couple different brand names for different markets as well. Then you have hundreds of store exclusive brands, and OEM brands all made by same repacking factory, coming from same drums, provided by one of the producers mentioned above in your country.

All that said:
Only couple of things to know when buying CA:

- buy on price.
Most times you can get BSI packaged 1 oz bottle for same price as < 1/4 oz tube from big box store. So if you will be using CA extensively, find a source for larger bottles that sells enough to keep fresh rotated stock on hand. Large hobby shops sell more CA to model air plane folks than wood working stores sell to us, so don’t forget to stop by local hobby shop.

- Buy fresh, CA has 1 year shelf life in bottle.
You can extend shelf life by many years with frozen storage, but once bottle is opened 5 year old CA will only last a couple months before begins gelling up. Moisture accelerates the gelling process in bottle. So never open bottle, use it, and insert it back to freezer as condensation in the bottle will gel the bottle shortly after unfreeze the next time. Folks in low humidity environment have more flexibility with CA storage and longer storage life after opening than folks in humid climate, as long as CA is kept cool.

- Don’t use CA that has gelled and is thicker than when 1st bought/opened.
As CA cross-links in bottle and gels, the reactive sites required for strong bond are reduced, and bond strengh drops off dramatically. It’s not worth risking your expensive project attempting to use old CA that can be replaced for less $10.

Hope that helps.

PS – Have been out of direct work with adhesives industry a few years now that I am retired. So the above may not be 100% accurate in 2019. It was accurate about 5 years ago. :)

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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