Category Archives: Tutorials

High Clarity UV Adhesives for Garden Art

Garden art is best described as turning miscellaneous pieces of glass, ceramic, wine bottles, pressed glass, sea glass and metal into an indoor or outdoor sculpture. The real challenge is in building the sculpture with different pieces that were never designed to go together in the first place.

Some important things to keep in mind while planning and working on your garden art project:

1.  Key design considerations for long lasting sculptures:

  • Avoid tangent and point contact between pieces – make sure there is flat to flat contact between components – the more the better.
  • A roughened surface (abraded or sand blasted) will improve performance of the adhesive bond.
  • Avoid cantilevered designs that put the adhesive joint in cleavage or peel.
  • If the design is outdoors, the glue joints chosen should shed water rather than hold water.

2.  Pay attention to construction techniques:

          • As we mentioned in our most recent blog entry, “Surface Concerns: Anything But Superficial” – cleanliness is really important. Be sure to clean all components with isopropyl alcohol and make sure the surface is dry before applying adhesive.
  • Be sure you don’t move components prior to hard fixturing as this will compromise performance.
  • Wherever possible, apply adhesive in a horizontal position and fixture in the same position.
  • Flatten rounded edges that will receive adhesive – use a belt sander or silicon carbide paper – and always clean after sanding. Dremel® type tools can also be used to roughen surfaces.
  • Attention to detail is important – don’t skip steps in part preparation and fixturing.

3.  Understand how to ensure the fixture is cured:

  • Establish fixture time using the materials you plan to use to build the structure.
  • To determine how long it takes to cure, use the “Rule of 5”: once there is fixture between the pieces, continue to hold the light source on the area for 5 times the amount of time it took you to achieve that initial fixture. Remember, longer is better and won’t affect performance as long as you aren’t using a high powered lamp.
  • For colored glass, make sure the glass doesn’t block the light energy needed to cure the adhesive.
  • Take the time to frequently make sure your light source is properly functioning – establish a benchmark fixture test and use it on a regular basis to validate cure times.

4.  Important safety considerations to remember:

  • Most adhesives are mild skin sensitizers, so be sure to throw away used gloves.
  • Adhesives have an odor, so work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Never look at a UV light source without wearing protective eyewear.

Please feel free to contact us at any point if you have questions about handling these materials and remember:  the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.

Good Gluing!

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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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Minding the gaps: Using glue to fill in for missing glass shards or splinters

We’ve talked in recent posts about using glue to assemble or repair items used outdoors, where water resistance and durability are critical. This post addresses a situation that’s common both indoors and out, but in keeping with our summertime theme imagine this:

You’re gathered with friends for a backyard dinner party, enjoying some wine as you work the barbecue, when your heirloom glass slips off the grill’s side shelf, hits the grass, and snaps at the neck. You collect the two pieces of the glass, but when you fit them together, you see that a few shards are missing, leaving noticeable gaps at the joint.

Don’t worry. This problem can be addressed with some judicious gluing. Grab another glass, enjoy your evening, and make your repair after your guests have gone.

Clean both pieces of glass with isopropyl alcohol and let them dry thoroughly.

Apply a UV-cured adhesive AP-18 and join the pieces at the break. Expose to a UV lamp to cure the bond, without cleaning up any glue that squeezes out of the joint into the areas where shards are missing.

Use a syringe applicator to place more uncured glue in the remaining gaps, overfilling them slightly.

Lay a piece of clear polyethylene or Mylar film over the wet glue, to make its surface flush with surface(s) of the surrounding glass. Hold the film in place and expose to UV-A light to cure. (About 2 minutes using a 40 watt UV-A florescent black light.)

Peel away the plastic film and wet sand the repair with silicone oxide abrasive in successive grades of 800, 1600 and 2400 grit.

A final, wet polish with a cerium oxide pad or slurry will fully restore gloss.

This technique is applicable to a variety of items, not just stemware. And of course, it works indoors and out, winter and summer, a tip for all seasons.

Good Gluing!

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Catching Some Rays: Outdoor assembly and UV-curing with natural sunlight

Summer’s here and the time is right for gluing in the street. Or in the yard, anyway.

It’s the ideal time of year to build or repair glasswork fixtures such as patio lampshades or barware, and decorations such as mosaics, sun catchers, and fountains. As discussed in the previous post, two UV light cured products available from CLK Associates are well-suited for projects that end up out of doors through the four seasons.

A UV lamp is your best option, but if you don’t have one, you can also use natural sunlight to cure these products. Sunlight’s lower UV intensity means curing takes longer – sometimes several hours – but it can yield a bond just as strong and durable as one formed with a UV lamp.

If curing with natural sunlight, take care that all parts are immobilized to ensure that glued parts don’t slide or shift as the glue cures. Creative use of clamps, clothespins, and elastic bands can help with this. Some of this fixturing material may prevent light from getting to the total glue line – once you have a hard fixture remove the fixture aids and let the sun finish its work.

NOTE:  these adhesives will also bond well to wood and paper so if the fixturing materials come into contact with adhesive that extrudes from the glue joint it may want to stay attached to the glass.

Once the adhesive has set you can clean up any adhesive that is outside the joint with a razor blade and isopropyl alcohol as sunlight isn’t strong enough to fully cure the surface of the adhesive fillet outside the joint.

Best practice is to apply and build your work away from direct sunlight. If you have to work in direct sunlight, install an umbrella to shade the work area until you are ready to let the sun begin curing the product.

For repair or prototyping a concept the sun is fine: However, if you plan on building items for resale, it is recommended that you make the investment in a black light that will allow you to better control the curing process.

Good Gluing!

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Getting Stuck in the Great Outdoors

We get a lot of questions from customers and other artisans, seeking advice on adhesives for use on glass projects made for use outdoors. (One of our top suppliers, Dymax Corp., gets questions about that, too — and they often send those calls our way.) In the course of addressing all those inquiries, we’ve gained a lot of hands-on experience with assembly and repair of garden art, light shades and fixtures, and other outdoor decorations. This is the season for outdoor projects, and the popularity of the topic inspired this post.

As with any glass assembly (or repair) project requiring adhesives, the most important consideration is the nature of the materials you want to stick together. The chief goal is to choose an adhesive that forms a strong, long-lasting bond between those materials. In an outdoor application, of course, it’s also important to find adhesives that are water-resistant.

Today we’ll look at two scenarios. Both involve bonding pieces of transparent glass to other materials, and both use adhesives that can be cured rapidly using long-wavelength (365 nanometer) UV light sources. (Moderately priced UV lights are available from CLK and other vendors; most grow-light style bulbs will work, as well.)

If you’re gluing transparent glass to transparent glass, Both Dymax Light Weld® 425 and Dymax Light Weld® 429 will provide very good results. By allowing you to shine the UV light through the glass to cure the glue “inside” the joint, these adhesives can form bonds stronger than the glass pieces themselves. Light Weld® 429 forms clear, see-through bonds, and is virtually invisible when applied carefully. Light Weld® 425 forms a somewhat stronger bond, and cures to an inconspicuous “water white” color.

If you’re attaching transparent glass to metal Dymax Light Weld® 429 is your best all-around choice for outdoor applications. It forms durable, water resistant bonds when cured using 365 nanometer UV light. One notable exception: If your glass-metal bonds need to withstand the rigors of dishwashing — as in the case of pitchers, mugs, or other glassware — not just the natural elements, you should use Dymax Light Weld® 425.

If you’re working with opaque glass or other non-transparent materials, you’ll probably want to find an alternative to light-cured adhesives. That’ll be the topic for a future blog post. Stay tuned.

Good Gluing!

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Assembly techniques for consideration when using adhesives.

Regardless of the adhesive chosen there are some basic steps in project design, part preparation, and adhesive application and cure to insure a long lived project.

Overview – Adhesives are another tool available to help make the assembly of materials easier.  However, to get the maximum benefit from their use you must play to their strengths.  For the following discussion the adhesive is assumed to be OK.
The adhesive is only as good as what it is stuck to.   Surface cleanliness is a must.

Make sure you have a simple test to insure the adhesive is working properly

Make sure the components are the same each time – substituting materials or a change in supplier needs to be re-evaluated – do not assume they are the same.

Hand fixturing induces lots of variability in the ultimate performance – simple fixturing and clamping will eliminate a major variation in performance.

Once the adhesive has been applied, the parts assembled and fixtured don’t handle or try to readjust things – most adhesives, regardless of how quick they set (with the exception of uv cure materials) continue to develop strength for several days – this includes super glues, 5 minute epoxies, etc.  Make sure you do not compromise performance if you need to handle parts soon after assembly.

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