Cyanoacrylate Glue – Tips and Tricks for Using Super Glues


One of the most common adhesives in a woodturners studio is Cyanoacrylate glue, or as it is more commonly called, super glue, or “CA” glue. Super glue can be a valuable addition to the collection of adhesives in your woodturning workshop. Here are a few storage and usage tips for cyanoacrylate glue that will help you get the most out of this versatile adhesive product.

Storing Cyanoacrylate Glues

Most cyanoacrylate glues have an average shelf life of about 6 – 12 months once opened. Unopened bottles can be stored in the freezer for an extended period of time. However, once a bottle has been opened and exposed to atmospheric moisture, different storage procedures are required to prevent premature curing in the bottle.

  • Unopened Containers: Unopened bottles should be stored in the freezer for the longest shelf life. Before using, allow the bottle to equalize with the room temperature by allowing the bottle to sit overnight on the bench before using it.
  • Opened Containers: Do not store opened bottles without their caps, unless you live in areas that routinely have very low humidity levels year round. Exposure to high humidity can cause premature curing of the cyanoacrylate adhesive in the bottle.
  • If you purchase your cyanoacrylates in bulk containers and transfer them into smaller applicator bottles for use, insure that these bottles are manufactured from polyethylene for best results.
  • Do not store opened cyanoacrylate adhesive containers near your manual pump accelerator bottle. During the summer months, high heat can cause accelerator vapors to leave the pump spray unit, causing premature curing of any nearby uncapped bottles.
  • Do not store opened bottles in the freezer. When removed, condensation may develop inside the bottle causing premature curing of the adhesive.
  • For best long term storage results, store opened cyanoacrylate adhesive bottles in a jar with a tight fitting lid and a desiccant pack to absorb any moisture inside the jar. When stored this way, you can usually get every drop out of the bottle and eliminate waste.

Preventing Tip Clogging

It’s a common fact that cyanoacrylate adhesives tend to clog the tips of their applicator bottles if stored improperly. To prevent tip clogging, wipe any residual cyanoacrylate from the outside of the applicator tip and allow the remaining adhesive to return to the bottle before replacing the cap. Do not touch the tip of the bottle onto a surface that has been sprayed with active accelerator, or the accelerator will cure the cyanoacrylate inside the nozzle. If you prefer, you can purchase spare tips at most woodturning suppliers, so you can always have a few clean tips on hand and just swap them out when necessary.

Using Cyanoacrylate Glue To Fill Deep Voids

I regularly inlay crushed stone and other materials into many of my woodturnings. These are secured with either cyanoacrylates or epoxy, depending on the fill used. If you are going to use cyanoacrylates with deep voids, or as a binder for inlay work with crushed stone, you must allow sufficient time for a full thickness cure before sanding the filled area. How long this takes is variable, but it may require up to 24 – 36 hours or longer, depending on the depth of the filled area.

While you can use an accelerator to help speed the overall curing time, nothing can replace time. It’s best to let the adhesive cure without any accelerator on deep voids, as over use of the accelerator can result in blooming and frosting. In severe cases, bubbles can form under the cured skin, ruining the look of your inlay.

If possible, use no accelerator and let the piece cure naturally before you begin sanding the area. Not only will your deep filled area look better, it will sand easier when allowed to fully cure before sanding. There is just no substitute for time here. If you try to rush the cure on a deep fill, you may end up damaging the turning, requiring an extensive repair.

In addition, sanding before the filled area has fully cured can present a safety hazard, as the deeper layers of the void may still be liquid, even when the top is rock hard. By sanding too soon, you risk exposing the lower liquid layers which may spray out onto your body, causing injury.

Using Accelerators

If you’ve worked with cyanoacrylate adhesive products before you may have occasionally noticed a white haze, or frosting on the cured surface. This phenomenon is called blooming, or frosting. High ambient humidity levels, or improper use of accelerators can cause violent curing reactions, resulting in frosting or blooming when cured.

To Eliminate Blooming And Frosting

  • Use low odor or low bloom products. These are specifically formulated to reduce blooming and frosting. The manufacturer will state on the label if the cyanoacrylate adhesive is a low bloom version.
  • Reduce the ambient studio humidity before use. Dehumidifiers should be set to the range of 40 – 50% for optimal results. If you do not have a dehumidifier, choose low humidity days for your cyanoacrylate inlay work.
  • Add cross-ventilation to your workspace to dissipate curing vapors, before they can resettle onto previously filled areas.
  • Reduce the amount of accelerator used, or eliminate it entirely.