The Right Stuff – Choosing the Best Adhesive

White glue, yellow glue, tacky glue, hot glue, Super Glue, epoxy, Gorilla Glue; the list goes on and on. With the wide variety of adhesives available today, it’s no wonder there is confusion as to what is the best adhesive for pinewood derby cars. So today we will take a look at the most common glue types on the market and indicate how they work with pinewood derby cars.
White Glue – This is a generic term for glues such as Elmer’s Glue-All, School Glue, etc. This type of glue can be used on wood, paper, cloth, etc. White glue is water soluble, so it isn’t intended for use when the end product will be exposed to water.
For pinewood derby cars, white glue works fine for gluing wood to wood (such as adding wood accessories) and for repairing chips or cracks in the wood. It can also be used for holding the axles in place. White glue doesn’t work well on metal, so don’t use it to glue metal accessories or weight to the car.
Yellow Glue (Carpenter’s Glue) – Yellow glue is essentially a
formulation of white glue that has a higher tack (dries quicker, less clamping time), and is more durable in wet conditions. For pinewood derby cars, it has the same uses as white glue, except that it does hold metal to wood better than white glue.
Tacky Glue – This is a variety of yellow or white glue with a high tack, sold for use with crafts. It has the same uses as white or yellow glue. PineCar offers a version of tacky glue named Formula Glue.
Hot Glue – Hot glue comes in sticks which feed into a glue gun. The melted glue can then be used to attach a variety of items. One benefit of hot glue is the very fast dry time (but you have to work fast). A downside is the filaments of glue that are left behind – they can be easily removed, but are an annoyance. Also, a hot glue gun and children don’t readily mix, as you can get a nasty burn from the glue or the tip of the gun.
I don’t recommend hot glue for attaching wood to wood, but it does work well for gluing weight into pockets or holes.
Epoxy – My favorite glue, epoxy, is a two-part glue that will glue most anything. There are a wide variety of epoxy adhesives available, some intended for metal, some for glass/plastic, and others for general use. I like a general use epoxy with a five minute set time
Epoxy can be used for attaching metal accessories to the car and, since it does not shrink when dry, it works well for gluing weight into holes or pockets. It can also be used for gluing wood to wood, but I recommend yellow, white, or tacky glue for that use.
Super Glue – Super Glue is a brand name for cyanoacrylate (CA) adhesive. This glue is very strong, especially when gluing non-porous materials that contain traces of water. It also works well on human skin. Unfortunately, super glue has a low shearing strength and does not work particularly well on wood. So I don’t recommend it for pinewood derby use, except when a quick repair is needed at a race.
Gorilla Glue – Gorilla Glue is a brand name for a polyurethane adhesive. While setting, it expands to fill gaps, and tends to work well when attaching wood to wood. However, for fine hobby work the expansion during setting can cause significant issues, so I don’t recommend this glue for pinewood derby use.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 9, Issue 10

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