Super Glue is ‘Super’

Ethyl cyanoacrylate or ‘super glue’ is a very useful glue to have around the shop. It works by forming a polymer or ‘chain of molecules’ with another molecule of ethyl cyanoacrylate.

The Nu- in the drawing above stands for ‘Nucleophile’ and it is what starts the chain reaction; it is normally water. In super glue accelerators, the Nu can be the nitrogen atom of an amine which is a much stronger nucleophile than water.  Usually, commercial accelerators are dialkyl substituted anilines in the form R-NR’R”.  Using too much accelerator will make shorter polymers and potentially a weaker bond. Use sparingly!

Ethyl cyanoacrylate comes in handy for me most often when fixing small imperfections in wood (cracks, knots, etc.) by applying a dilute (thin) solution of ethyl cyanoacrylate in the crack and applying a small amount of sawdust. After it’s sanded you can barely see the crack when done carefully. For this I usually buy a thin solution already pre-made from ‘INSERT FAVORITE SUPPLY WOODWORKING STORE’ and use as is.


One Response to “Super Glue is ‘Super’”

  1. Steve Collins says:

    Thanks for the chemistry lesson, Brian. Will keeping these glues in the refrigerator extend the life of them?

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