Surface Concerns: Anything But Superficial

When it comes to bonding with friends and family, sometimes it’s best (or even necessary) to overlook what’s on the surface, and focus on invisible qualities within.

When bonding glass and other materials what’s on the surface is absolutely critical — even if it looks as though there’s nothing there. In particular, invisible oils on materials can hinder glue’s ability to form a strong and lasting attachment between parts in a project.

These oils can come from a variety of sources, but two chief culprits are equipment used in manufacturing processes and human fingers. Anyone who touches a piece of glass, metal, or ceramic (including you) leaves a small amount of oil residue behind. This may be obvious — in the case of smudgy fingerprints, but more often it’s not noticeable. Yet the oil is hiding there, ready to weaken your gluing job.

Ridding your project of these oils is quick and easy, but many artisans are so eager to get gluing that they skip the simple surface-prep process and charge ahead — a decision that can limit the effectiveness of glue joints in their projects.

Don’t let this happen to you.

So what’s the secret to oil-free gluing surfaces? All you need is gloves and an alcohol wipe or two.

First, slip on a pair of disposable nitrile, latex, or polyethylene gloves.* Nitrile and latex generally stretch-fits to your fingers better, for better tactile sense. Polyethylene fits a bit less snugly, but works well for those with latex allergies. Most importantly, all types of gloves prevent your skin oils from transferring to your work materials.

Then, while sporting your gloves, use an isopropyl alcohol wipe to clean all surfaces that you intend to glue. Wipe in one direction and allow the alcohol to evaporate before applying any glue. You’ll have clean, oil-free contact between the glue and your materials, and that’ll mean a strong, durable bond.

Good gluing!

* CLK Associates supplies a complimentary pair of nitrile gloves with each glue shipment. In addition to keeping your project components oil-free, they also prevent possible “sunburn” from exposure to UV curing lights.

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