Attaching your wood shapes to your piece of art is an important step in creating a beautiful and lasting work of art. There are several ways to attach your shapes, such as using glue, double sided tape, or staples. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages that you should consider when deciding how to attach your shapes. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of each attachment method so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.
Glue creates a lasting bond between your laser cut shape and your backboard. The right glue will hold it forever. And while it is a great option, there are some disadvantages.
A strong bond
Some glues allow for repositioning the parts before the glue dries
Glues can take a long time to dry. There is a chance of it not drying before you need need to go to the next step.
It can smudge or smear the finish in certain situations.
It can ooze out and be visible on the edges. Some glues dry clear, some try in shades of yellow.
Types of Glues
We use Titebond II for most of our wood projects. It is a water-resistant glue that starts drying in as little as 10 minutes and a couple of hours to cure enough to start moving to the next phase of your project. It creates a strong bond, many times this bond can be stronger than the wood itself.
You have a few minutes after you place the piece to adjust the placement. If you move a piece and glue is visible, it can be cleaned up with a damp cloth.
We only use this glue if the piece is larger and does not have a lot of smaller details. This glue dries yellow and if it oozes from under your piece, it will be noticeable.
When this happens, you must clean it up quickly. For cleanup, we use find point cotton swabs (https://amzn.to/3ZOPhf9).
Gorilla Glue is another one we use a lot. This glue dries clear (and glossy) and it far less notable than wood glue if it seeps out. Again, cleaning can be done with a damp cloth and fine point cotton swabs. If you are finishing your piece with a glossy coating, most missed seepage is not noticeable unless you really look for it.
The big disadvantage of Gorilla Glue is the long drying time. We have seen pieces still moveable after over an hour. While still wet, this glue makes it very easy to move the piece, and this can be a bad thing too. It is easy to bump a small piece and not realize it has moved.
CA is super glue. Visually, it has many of the same properties as Gorilla Glue, including dry time and clean up. One big advantage about CA glue is you can use spray the area the piece will be going with an activator to quickly dry the glue – and we mean quickly.
Before going all in with CA glue and the activator, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, we spray the activator on our backboard and then press the laser cut shape where it needs to go. We only spray in the area we are going to apply the piece we are working with right then, as the activator evaporates quickly. Test a small area of the backboard first to make sure the activator is not going to cause any discoloration.
Once you are ready to attach the piece, make sure you have it exactly where you want it, because once they touch the bond starts to hard immediately and there is no repositioning the piece.
There are different thicknesses you can buy of CA glue, we use the thick formula because it is not runny.
Another way we attach our laser cut pieces to our boards is with a pneumatic pin nailer. These use very small pin nails which don’t have nail heads.
We use thee 23 Gauge Pin Nailer from Harbor Freight and have had great results with for years (https://www.harborfreight.com/23-gauge-pin-nailer-64143.html). We attach our pieces with their ½” nails.
We use this nailer in combination with Gorilla Glue. We will attach the piece where we want it with the glue, then put a nail or two in to keep the piece in place while the glue dries. This always allows us to not have to wait for the glue to fully dry before moving to the next phase.
The only disadvantage with this method we see is it does leave very small marks on the piece where you can see a sliver of the nail. On darker color, it is not noticeable. If it is noticeable, we will use the fine point cotton swab to dab a bit of paint over them to hide them completely.
A very popular method among crafters is to use 3M’s double sided tape to attach the pieces. These come in sheets and with the help of an X-Acto knife or some fine scissors, you can cut this tape into the shape you need. Simply pull off the backing from one side, attach to your piece, remove the remaining sides backing and place in place.