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Old 03/28/2003, 10:45 PM   #1
Zephrant
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Cool DIY- "Pins" method of gluing acrylic.

There are many ways to glue acrylic. This is the method I use when I want strong, clear seams.

Required: Weldon #4 or McBond acrylic solvent, and sewing pins.

The acrylic solvent creates the joint by dissolving a little bit of each piece, then evaporating out and letting the two pieces co-mingle, creating a strong bond. Contrary to popular belief, the joints are not stronger than the sheet. See Here:
Weldon #4 is fine for small tanks and sumps, as well as skimmers and similar. If you are building a large tank, I would consider Weldon #40 though, it is 3.5 times stronger.

This method only works with the water thin solvents, like Weldon #4 or McBond.

The key to good clean joints, is a good edge. This can be made with a jointer, or with a router in a router table. If you cant beg/borrow these tools, you may want to consider using the gap filling Weldon #16 instead (Weaker joints than #4).

The following is the best method that I have determined- Modify as needed to fit the tools you have on hand.

Start by rough cutting the material on a table saw to 1/4" larger than needed. Make another pass though the table saw, taking off a little less than 1/8" on each side. This should leave nice edges on the piece, but it will be about 1/16 oversize.


Left side- Saw cut, right side- Jointed.

Using a jointer, or router and a fence, take off 1/32 on each side leaving a clean, smooth edge.

Lay out the bottom sheet, and brace the vertical sheet above it. Slide in a pin on each end of the sheet, and about every 6" in between. Most pins will be too tight/too loose at this point. Don't worry yet, just get them in place.



For each pin, slide in a wedge of wood under the bottom sheet, to lift it up until the pin is snug. Repeat for all the pins. Check them all again, pushing in each wedge a little until every pin feels the same, neither loose or pinched. Check one more time because if you missed one, that is where the bad joint will appear.

It should look like this:



(cont)



Last edited by Zephrant; 03/28/2003 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 03/28/2003, 10:46 PM   #2
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Now comes the fun part. Put the glue in a squeeze bottle, or a glass syringe available from the plastic shop, or your local addict. (Drug addict, not reef addict. )



Note: I could not get pictures on the above tank without risking a bad joint, so here is a couple of pieces of scrap being glued. Imagine it is a bigger piece, with shims under each pin as above.



The water-thin solvent is placed next to the joint, and it will wick in to the joint filling it completely. With a little practice, you can wick it in without getting any air in with it. If you get a bubble or two, don't worry. Trying to get it out will make it worse. When you get to the next step, most bubbles will squirt out of the joint.



Last step: Let the solvent sit for 30-90 seconds, depending on the temperature. Start pulling the pins out at one end, while bracing the piece with your other hand. Quickly get them all out, and realign the piece as it will shift some when you are yanking the pins. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers if needed, they can get glued down pretty well.



With ALL the pins pulled, realign the sheet in to location and hold it for a minute. If you miss a pin, it will bugger up the joint. After the piece is not going to float away by itself, go around to each wedge and snug it in a touch. If it is not tight, the joint will separate and make bubbles.



Hot tip: Don't over snug the wedges. If you start at one end of a tank and go around snugging up every wedge, you can end up at the start again which has become loose because you lifted the entire tank 1/8" as you went around. Again, practice is key.

Bracing a sump end: Note the corner has been knocked off of these cheap plastic framing squares. I use double-sided masking tape to hold them down.


Don't touch it for 4 hours. Let it dry for 24 hours at room temp. before routing it. In 4 hours, you can flip it over and do the other side though, then let it sit overnight to cure.

Read the IPS web page for your glue. It has good tips (link above) as well as serious health warnings. I always use a respirator, as well as cross ventilation to the outside.

With practice, you get perfect, clear joints.

If you do get a joint with some bubbles in it, install a triangular wedge of acrylic in the joint corner to seal/strengthen it.

HTH-

Zeph



Last edited by Zephrant; 03/28/2003 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 03/28/2003, 11:16 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info!

So when you glue a side to the bottom piece of acrylic, is the pressure from the weight of the acrylic good enough? Or do you have to weigh it down ?


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Old 03/28/2003, 11:19 PM   #4
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Yeah thanks for this one too. Do you find the weldon 4 to be that much slower or easier to work with than #3. Just asking cause i've only ever used #3 and #16.

Clinton


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Old 03/29/2003, 05:55 AM   #5
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dattack- no, the use of weights or clamps in not necessary or desired- just the weight of the piece is enough

cheapreef- #4 is suppose to be slower that #3 but I have not used #3

hth


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Old 03/29/2003, 09:06 AM   #6
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Thanks, already read that on the manufactures web page, just wanted to know form first hand experience.

Clinton


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Old 03/29/2003, 09:44 AM   #7
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Zeph,
Great reading and pics! Thanks for taking the time to show us all this very informative thread. I'm sure that many DIY'ers will get a lot of use from your generous input.
Thanks!
Jeff


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Old 03/29/2003, 09:59 PM   #8
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Dattack- I don't normally weight down the end pieces, but when I put a bottom piece on, I place a bucket or two full of sand across the frame to help drive it deeper in to the base piece. Not sure if it makes much of a difference, but that is definitely the joint to make the strongest.

I have not used #3, I find that #4 is plenty fast for me. Putting the bottom on a 8' tank is a 100 yard sprint already, I'm not sure it could be done well with #3.

Your welcome all.

Zeph


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Old 04/01/2003, 05:58 PM   #9
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Great job, Zeph!
I've been putting together a similar thread, but now I dont have to finish it!
A picture here is truly worth a thousand words. We've been trying to explain all this for months, and there you see it.
Did you have fun trying to click the pics and run the glue at the same time? That was tough for me!
Chris


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Old 04/01/2003, 11:47 PM   #10
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Hey Chris- Yep, I only got one shot and the joint was filled. Please throw up your pictures too- More pictures would be great!

Zeph


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Old 04/02/2003, 05:21 PM   #11
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Zeph,
It is through people like you, who are willing to share great ideas and know how that makes reading this board so worth while.The obsession has me in its grip.Can't wait to try it out


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Current Tank Info: 450g AGE,200 gallon sump, Red Dragon Speedy 230w return pump and closed loop,4 way Ocean Motion,PM Balistic Skimmer.3 Sea Swirl returns.AI Hydra 52HD,Apex contoller. Build thread "The after disaster 650g build"
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Old 04/02/2003, 08:49 PM   #12
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Zeph,

Do you use the same method for gluing smaller jobs such as a Beckett skimmer box, 6" riser tube to the top of box or flanges to tube?

Aaron.


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Old 04/02/2003, 09:43 PM   #13
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Fixm- Thanks- It is comments like that, that make it worth my time.

Aajenki- Not usually. Using the pins method on tiny pieces that are not under much stress is a lot of trouble. For the boxes, I often just use Weldon #16 on one piece, then mate them together and put a weight on it. I make sure that the #16 oozes out both sides of the seam, and dries with a full fillet on both sides. Then I flush trim the outside away.

For the tube to box and tube to flange joints, I cut a 1/8" groove in the sheet material that is a snug fit to the tube. I fill it 1/2 full of Weldon #4, and wait about 1 minute. Then I drop the tube in to place, into the softened groove and put a weight on the top of the tube. This makes a very strong joint, that does not ooze out extra so it looks very clean.

Cutting the groove is a pain. I use a fly cutter in the drill press that has been carefully ground to the right size. I also use a vacuum clamp fixture to hold the flanges to the table of the drill press (actually a mill, but it acts like a drill in this case). Without a vacuum pump, you can use any kind of clamps that will work. I have even temporarily put wood screws though the "thumb-screw" holes to hold the flange in place while I cut the grooves (O-ring on one side, and Tube on the other). I cut out the middle of them last, as I need the 1/4" pilot hole in the middle for the fly cutters.

Sound clear?


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Old 04/03/2003, 03:13 AM   #14
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Excellent information Zephrant. Thanks!


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Old 04/03/2003, 04:36 AM   #15
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Zeph, that's great. Thanks mate.

I have tried Weldon 16 a few times but it has not formed a nice fillet either side of the joint. Instead, for me at least, it tends to ooze out and form little bubbles of glue along the seam.

Could this be due to not enough/too much glue?

Aaron.


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Old 04/03/2003, 09:07 AM   #16
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Zephrant, by now you might have found some of my other posts/threads talking about various things I've built. I do feel like I'm getting more and more successful as I learn more about working with acrylic, but this thread really helped me see it on a far more professional level.

I'm currently using a table saw and router for my work. Is there an inexpensive option rather than buying a jointer? I'm not pleased with what I am able to run on my router table, so instead I secure my piece to a piece of MDF with a good edge, and using a straight router bit with a bearing, I run my edges to get a good surface. Is my next best option to simply sand the edge, and if so, what grit sand paper do you suggest?

I'm currently using a piece of MDF as my surface for gluing my pieces when I build sumps, and use Weld-On #3 with pretty good results. I do see some tiny bubbles, and have found sometimes I can simply lean the piece away from me a few degrees, run my bead of glue and then right the piece to 90 degrees again to give me a mostly bubble free seam.

Great tip on the speed squares! I've been wanting to make a template to hold my two pieces where they butt together at the top temporarily while the glue cures, but haven't made anything yet.

Marc


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Old 04/03/2003, 09:24 PM   #17
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Aaron- It does ooze out each size. I'm not sure why you are getting the bubbles though. What is the temperature and humidity? Lately I have been gluing in a room that is 65 degrees, and pretty dry. I've heard that damp air makes it harder to glue.

Melev- Hey- I learned a ton from Acrylicman (and JabberJaws) from here, just passing on some of their information along with things I stumbled on myself.

I have not been using the Jointer as much anymore- Only for large sheets, and I may stop doing that. It is a cheap jointer (Harbor Freight) and it is pretty hard to get it setup so it is perfect. I normally get triangular pieces out of it when I run a square though it. Makes it a PITA to make a square tank out of them, but I have high hopes of making a pyramid some day, hopefully on purpose.

Great tip on leaning the piece BTW- I've heard that from several people, but I don't use Weldon #3 so have not tried it. I may have to though, as I'm thinking of dropping the #16 as it is not as strong.

My router is on the table saw- (Love the new Dewalt 618PK BTW!) Here is a sneak peak at a future write-up:



Note that the flush trim bit is high enough that the bearing does not touch, and the feather boards are adjusted to hold the work against the table-saw fence. Rough cut the work on the saw first, and take off no more than 1/32 of an inch to true it up.


Zeph


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Old 04/03/2003, 10:14 PM   #18
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Zeph,

I was not clear with my use of words. I actually meant bubbles of glue (not air) as opposed to a bead like you described.

But that brings me to another question.

That last beckett and venturi skimmers I build using only Weldon 3. Once done I felt that the welds we not strong enough so I ran a bead of Weldon 16 around all the accessible joints. I ended up with a nice concave bead around each joint (like you get on a glass tank is you uses silicone and run your finger along the joint).

However, by the time it had dried a bit (say 10-15 minutes) a row of tiny bubbles had formed inside the bead and an all beads???

I showed the local acrylic manufacture but he had never seen it before.

Any ideas?

Temp. would have been around 20-25 degrees C (68-77 degrees F) and not too humid.

Aaron.


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Old 04/03/2003, 10:43 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by aajenki
Zeph,

I was not clear with my use of words. I actually meant bubbles of glue (not air) as opposed to a bead like you described.

But that brings me to another question.

That last beckett and venturi skimmers I build using only Weldon 3. Once done I felt that the welds we not strong enough so I ran a bead of Weldon 16 around all the accessible joints. I ended up with a nice concave bead around each joint (like you get on a glass tank is you uses silicone and run your finger along the joint).

However, by the time it had dried a bit (say 10-15 minutes) a row of tiny bubbles had formed inside the bead and an all beads???

I showed the local acrylic manufacture but he had never seen it before.

Any ideas?

Temp. would have been around 20-25 degrees C (68-77 degrees F) and not too humid.

Aaron.
Last skimmer i built i did the exact same thing. Got the same results as you did, i'm going to say solvent poping. Get it sometimes in painting, when the top skim dries faster than the bottom and forms pockets of solvet.

Clinton


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Old 04/04/2003, 02:15 AM   #20
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Question router setup

Zeph

How is that router mounted to your table saw? I've been looking at router tables and all seem to small to do most jobs. Using the rip fence of the table saw looks like a great idea. Could you explain how you did that?


Thanks

Rad


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Old 04/04/2003, 11:44 PM   #21
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Aaron- That makes it clearer. I think what is happening is that the Weldon #16 is skinning over, then you are adding some weight. The extra weight forces some glue out, but it can only escape at the weak points of the "skin", so looks like bubbles. Try adding the weight earlier, or pressing down more when you assemble.

Weldon #16 is at least 70% solvent. When you try to fillet with it, it has to shrink to about 1/3 its size. If the surface skins over first (as it normally does) then the inner portion shrinks away from it, making bubbles. The only solution is to not try to fillet with Weldon #16 unless it is extremely thin.

Rad- That right hand table is part of a "Router table kit" that came with the Craftsman saw. It is also available separately. It does work well for most cases. Having that big fence is great. There is a cheapo kit that is supposed to go on the fence to turn it in to a split fence as needed, but it is a royal PITA to adjust, so I never use it. In this case, I did not need anything other than a straight fence.


Well you guys convinced me to try Weldon #3 tonight. I picked up a few cans when I was at the candy store today. I made up a pair of 10"x6" overflow boxes with it, and it seamed to work well. Very fast. I'll see tomorrow if the joints are strong enough, but for this use, it should be fine.


Zeph


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Old 04/05/2003, 01:18 AM   #22
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I think that #16 has to go on very thin to avoid those bubbles. I've even worked it as it was hardening, using a pin to poke the bubble and press the airbubble out of the seam, which is pretty annoying.

#3 goes a VERY long way. I buy a small can, and can build several sumps from it. I'd bought a small squeeze bottle with a needle applicator, and find that one bottle filled is enough for each project. I think I've built about 7 sumps now and have used less than 2 cans.


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Old 04/08/2003, 01:09 AM   #23
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too much solvent

hey zeph,

i am ready to glue my pieces but decided to do some practice runs with scrap acrylic. i'm working with WO #4. i am able to get seams with very little to no bubbles. however, i seem to be using too much solvent. they ooze out of the sides when the pins are pulled and pressure applied. how can i avoid this? i tried using less solvent but i don't get full coverage in the seams. how can you tell if you have enough solvent in one spot and needle applicator should be moved?

the method i use (which is obviously incorrect) is to apply enough solvent so the routed edge gets "wet". that is when i start moving the applicator needle. the result is too much solvent.

i've read and heard about the term "filet" in acrylic. what is it referring to?

thanks.


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Old 04/08/2003, 11:39 PM   #24
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Yep, this method does have some "ooze". When you pull the pins, some goop should squirt out on all sides. It will dry clear, and will be hard to see if done well.

It sounds like you are doing it right- Fill the gap completely, and let sit for one minute, then pull the pins. If the acrylic has softened so much that the pins are glued in, you waited too long. Keep a set of needle-nose pliers handy so you can get a grip on the pins to pull them.

If you use smaller pins, you get less of an ooze. I have been considering going to a fine copper wire instead of pins, but have not bothered to try yet.

A fillet is what you see in the corners of a glass tank. The goop that is smoothed out to each pane, but fills the crack with a 1/4 round bead.

In acrylic work, it is not nearly as big, but it refers to a small amount of dissolved acrylic that hardens outside the joint, adjacent to the two panels. Having the fillet means that you softened the material enough before you pulled the pins, so that the panel seated in well, and pushed out a little bit of the dissolved acrylic.

Zeph


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Old 04/09/2003, 12:05 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Zephrant
If you use smaller pins, you get less of an ooze. I have been considering going to a fine copper wire instead of pins, but have not bothered to try yet.
Zeph
I've been using aluminium foil folded over 3 times and about 1/8" wide, seems to work very well. I get little oozing from this method, still get some just not as much as the pins. Just thought i'd share that.

Clinton


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