ball-jointed dolls & accessories

The Ultimate Guide on Glues


I use so many kinds of glues in my crafts, and I realised that the valuable info is scattered through several articles and videos, so I decided to make a post dedicated solely to a different kinds of glues.


Disclaimer: I use a lot of local glue brands that are hard to impossible to obtain in other parts of the world, so I highly encourage to research your local market for a similar brands. The most important info on any glue is its main working chemical compound.

So, here we go...


HOT Glue is possibly the most favorite glue in various crafts. It requires a glue gun and glue sticks. It's cheap and easy to buy. The main compound is polyamide.



There are fancy glue guns with leak proof systems, support stands and so on. I've bought a local brand Intertool glue guns for 7 and 11 mm sticks, that are pretty cheap, and they have almost no leakage. I have a Dremel glue gun that costs 3 times more than Intertool one and doesn't heat the sticks as good as Intertool so I threw it into the back of my drawer)))


I mostly use 7 mm gun + sticks, the bigger one serves me only in making huge shipping boxes for my furniture.


I love hot glue because it dries very fast and doesn't smell too much. It's great everywhere where you don't want a very thin or very flexible kind of bond. Making a certain parts of shoes (attaching soles, heels and so on), making hats on a hard cardboard base, especially when you need to create an intricate drapes, and so on. I also fix the threads on the backside of my jewelry pieces after I add beads to them.


Hot glue creates a thicker layer, sometimes dries too fast, it's hard to spread it evenly on the surface and press the parts before it's too cool, so it's not universal. There are some lifehacks though:

- if you glued something incorrectly you can reheat the layer of glue pressing a hot tip of the glue gun or heating the area with hardware heating gun, then reposition the layers.

- if the surface is uneven or there are holes you can fill it with hot glue so it fills in the spaces like cement. You can even out the surface of hot glue with a tip of your heating gun or cut out the excess with a knife.


Hot glue can be covered with something or even be painted over with acrylics.


If a drop of hot glue accidentally dropped onto the surface of fabric you can remove it with any alcohol (ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, vodka etc), just try it on a spare piece of fabric prior to soaking your item.


PRECAUTIONS: the gun produces a lot of heat, the tip of the gun is really hot and can burn your skin! Droplets of hot glue on your skin can damage the underlying layers creating a really bad burns and scars. Please be careful!


PVA Glue, white glue and wood glue are mostly the same, with some additives. The main compound is PolyVinylAcetate. I use wood glue kind with a plastifier that dries a few times faster than usual PVA glue and has a thicker structure.



It's great for cellulose, i.e. wood and paper, I use it to assemble my furniture frames. It's also great when you want to make your leather more stiff: apply a generous amount of it to the backside and let it dry. You can add a layer of fabric and soak it with PVA glue so it becomes even stiffer but still can be bent. I do this for armor, also I add a layer of fabric inside of the boots that I make on shoelasts so they hold the shape.


There is also PVA glue stick which is quite unique because it's not liquid and can be spread in a very thin layer. 



When I make my slippers, and there is a sole covered with fabric, I'm able to cover the cardboard base with PVA glue stick and then apply a layer of a thinnest silk fabric, and the glue doesn't come out on the surface!


PRECAUTIONS: almost none, just don't drink or eat it))


CHLOROPRENE based glue, known in my part of world as shoe glue, Nairite or 88 is glue used in a shoemaking industry. Great for leather: creates strong bond when you glue face to backside of leather and even face to face. I often use it for leather appliques or prior to joining several parts with a seam on a sewing machine: it holds the parts in place so they won't move out of place.



Also it's absolutely great for gluing EVA foam (that is used in shoemaking industry too). Thus it's a perfect glue for cosplay. Human cosplayers use mostly hot glue for gluing EVA, but when it goes down to a dollie scale every sticking out droplet is too visible, while Chloroprene glue makes a very thin, neat and clean connection.


Precautions: work in a nicely ventilated area, use gloves if you have a sensitive skin. It's not too toxic actually, there are much more toxic kinds.


POLYURETHANE based glues with solvents addition is a large group of glues that are clear, flexible and very toxic. You won't miss that acetone smell! 



There are different kinds for different purposes, but as many of them as I tried work pretty the same. They glue everything to everything and melt some polymers, so they have to be tried on a piece of stuff prior to gluing the real thing. I try hard to find substitute for those, as I don't want to spend my crafting life on a balcony with a respirator on.


Previously I used it on leather until I discovered chloroprene glue, and I also made wig caps out of it because it dried out in a clear flexible layer and held the hairs perfectly. It can be completely replaced with silicone based glue.


PRECAUTIONS: work in a nicely ventilated area, wear respirator, use gloves or tools to apply those.



CYANOACRYLATE based glue, or instant glue works in places where other glues fail. It creates a strong, clear and non-flexible bond in a matter of seconds. There are two kinds: a plain instant glue and gel



I strongly prefer gel because a plain one is very liquid and hard to apply as it leaks and runs leaving a hardly removable leftovers. While gel has this creamy texture and can be applied in dots.


I use it for installing magnets into my dolls, and also I prefer to use it for gluing metal parts to each other, because even a dedicated polyurethane glues don't work on metal as good as this one. Only soldering is better. (When contacting surfaces are big enough you can use hot glue instead).


PRECAUTIONS: the stuff is extremely poisonous and affects not only your lungs but your eyes as well. It has a very little smell so you won't even know how much you inhaled! Work in a nicely ventilated area, wear respirator and glasses, use gloves or tools to apply it. A thin nozzle of the tube helps a lot in applying.


SILICONE based glues is another big group of various glues used mostly in scrapbooking. 



The glue is preferable because it's non-toxic. It's clear and flexible, creates a thin layer. It works really well on paper so it can replace hot glue and PVA glue. It's absolutely great for making wigs as well, as it's strong, dries clear and isn't stinky at all.


PRECAUTIONS: the same as for PVA, i.e. none.


Important! Don't mix up silicone glue with silicate glue, as these are two very different kinds of glue. Silicate based glue is also used for office, crafts, gluing paper and so on, but it's very liquid and non-flexible after it dries.



And silicate based glue has one treat that can be both its advantage and disadvantage: it creates a chemical bond with glass so if you want to attach anything to the glass that should stay there forever use silicate glue.


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