Gluing plastic to anything can be difficult as its smooth, nonporous surface doesn't easily bond with adhesives. Different adhesive formulas employ different capabilities that are not interchangeable for individual applications. Choosing the right adhesive is more important than the process of gluing wood to plastic.
Super-hold glue is one of the fastest and strongest ways to bond plastic to wood. Also known as a cyanoacrylate glue, a little goes a long way. It's a good choice for bonding plastic to wood.
Work fast with super-hold glue. Do some test fitting of the pieces before adding the glue; they should fit together tight. Shape or sand the pieces to get a good surface contact area. A surface that's too smooth or too rough can reduce the effectiveness of the bond.
- Sets up in five to 60 seconds. Cures hard in about two hours.
- Available in different thicknesses for different applications.
- May appear foggy on clear plastic when dry.
- Instantly glues skin to skin.
- Cleans up with acetone (fingernail polish remover)
Hot glue is applied with a glue gun. It's one of the best all-purpose adhesives for wood and plastic when surfaces are uneven or inconsistent. Hot glue guns require glue sticks. As the gun heats, it melts the stick. Pull the trigger to apply the glue through a small nozzle. Different types of glue sticks melt at different temperatures and are used for various applications. High-temperature glue sticks are the most appropriate for most plastics.
Get your pieces ready ahead of time and make sure they fit where you need them to. Apply the glue in dots or lines for large pieces. Work fast as the glue hardens quickly as it cools.
- Sets up fast.
- Thick consistency with strong initial tack.
- Not as strong as super-hold glue.
- Applicator gun allows for embossing, beading or embellishment.
Contact cement is commonly used in industrial applications. It's typically used to permanently bond plastic sheet laminates to particle board or plywood such as in the construction of counter tops. Use it for large projects by applying equal portions to both surfaces with a paintbrush or roller.
Always test-fit pieces before adding glue. After the cement is applied to both pieces and the pieces contact each other, repositioning is not possible. Place dowels or sticks across the surface of larger flat pieces after the cement dries to the touch. Place the plastic on top of the dowels to temporarily keep the cemented surfaces from bonding. After positioning, pull out the dowels, allowing the plastic to gently settle down on the cemented surface below. Use a rubber mallet or roller to apply pressure to complete the bonding.
- Bonds instantly.
- Remains sticky.
- Emits flammable vapors -- use in well-ventilated areas only.
- Clean up with lacquer thinner.
- One of the strongest of all the adhesives.
- Best for large projects.
Epoxy is an especially useful adhesive for the bonding of smaller plastic pieces to wood, glass, metal and other materials used in crafting and other applications. Mix equal parts resin and hardener together in small quantities according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Dries hard, almost glassy.
- Survives extreme temperature fluctuations.
- Costly when purchased in large quantities.
- Fills gaps in uneven porous surfaces.
- Polyurethane formula available for high-moisture applications.
After mixing the two components, apply it somewhat sparingly to both pieces. You're working with smaller quantities that dry slower than other adhesives, so you have a few minutes to position them as needed. It's not always necessary, but adding pressure or clamps increases the bond strength. Allow it to dry overnight.
- Rough up the surfaces to be bonded with sandpaper to allow the adhesive to grab and grip.
- Apply adhesives evenly. Wipe up excess immediately.
- Clean tips and applicators after every application.
- Replace lids and caps to prevent spillage and to keep the adhesives from drying out.
- Clean surfaces and allow them to dry before application.
Adhesives are not created equal. Variations within each category often differ by manufacturer. Read labels for precautions on recommended handling procedures, toxicity, proper ventilation, and application in differing environments and temperatures.
Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.