Paper Mache: Types of Glue – White vs Wood

When I started into paper mache I tried several types of glue but quickly choose traditional white resin glue as my favourite. I surfed for more details but one question intrigued me: white vs wood glue.

Weldbond, Wood and White glues

Weldbond, Wood and White glues

For my work I use three glues.

  1. “White glue” or “hobby and craft” – polyvinyl acetate (PVA)
  2. “Carpenter’s glue” or “wood glue” or “yellow glue” – aliphatic resin emulsion
  3. “Weldbond” – a brand of glue by FT Ross

Other than Weldbond, I tend to use generic or house brands of white and carpenter’s glue. Here are my observations of each as it pertains to paper mache.

First thing I learned is all white glues are not the same. Some are thicker and made to grab and dry faster. For paper mache you want the basic white glue. I buy it in three litre jugs and fill smaller dispensers. In the image above, the left dispenser with the crazy top is white glue, the right is carpenter glue. I found a four pack of these pictured small squeeze bottles in an art store. I drill a hole in the top then make come sort of cap. Then I fill them as needed.

The small bottle of white glue called “Craft Glue” is an example of a thicker, faster drying glue. I found it too thick for most of my work and tough to control the flow of glue when dispersing in a thin line.

Latch Bail Jar

Latch Bail Jar

For paper mache glue I use a latch bail jar. Easy to mix up a new batch (90% white glue, 10% water), quick to open and close. It is important to keep the jar closed when not using it to avoid dried chunks. I usually apply my glue with long flat brushes.

Let’s walk through the three for strengths and weaknesses.

White Glue

  • Easiest to find. Cheap.
  • Mixes with water for paper mache. I run 10-25% water depending on what I am doing. 10% water is my most common recipe.
  • Flexible when dry.
  • NOT SANDABLE. Clogs up the sand paper.
  • Will not chip. Of you have a drip or clump off of the side it is not easy to break off.
  • Softens when exposed to water.

Carpenter’s Glue

  • Easy to find.
  • Use full strength.
  • Sandable when dry.
  • NOT flexible. It cracks when bent.
  • Chips off if you have drips off to the side.
  • Resists water.
  • I use when gluing wood parts together such as a tongue depressor to a dowel. The drips out the side chip off easily and you can sand the edges of the bond.

Weldbond

  • Use full strength.
  • Great for gluing an object to paper mache. Dries fast, strong bond.
  • Closes small gaps nicely.
  • Shrinks when dried.
  • Resists water.

So what’s the best glue for paper mache? For me it is all of them. They each have a purpose.

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