Sticky solutions

Putting paper down on board
Build better projects by mastering the use of spray adhesives and double-faced tape.

Frustrated by patterns you can't remove? Overwhelmed by the assortment of double-faced tapes and spray adhesives at the home center? Ease your mind with these helpful tips.

Spray adhesive: Perfect for patterns

When choosing a spray adhesive to apply paper patterns, you want one with a gentle hold -- just enough to keep the pattern in place while cutting. Look for words like "temporary" and "repositionable" on the can, and avoid those with words like "permanent" or "high-strength." A good spray adhesive shouldn't make the paper pattern soggy, and should allow you to reposition it on the workpiece if necessary. In the WOOD? shop, we prefer using 3M's Spray Mount Artist's Adhesive for those same reasons.

To properly use spray adhesive, begin by spraying the back of your pattern, as shown top right. Let it sit for 15-30 seconds. Unlike most gluing tasks in woodworking, you're not racing a setup time; in fact, applying the pattern immediately after spraying will often, depending on the adhesive used, create an even stickier bond.

If you rush the job and the pattern bonds a little too well, no worries. After machining the workpiece, simply apply mineral spirits to a rag and rub it on the pattern to dissolve the adhesive (below right).

Spraying a piece of paper
Apply a light, even coat when spraying an adhesive, and protect your hand and tabletop from overspray.

Wiping paper with mineral spirits
Mineral spirits break down the glue bond so you can cleanly remove the pattern. Plus, it doesn't affect how the surface accepts oil-based finish.

Double-faced tape: Two types, two strengths

Double-faced tape comes in two types suitable for woodworking: cloth-backed and paper-backed. As with spray adhesives, you choose the type of tape that gives just enough grip for the task at hand. See the chart (bottom) to learn the best uses for each kind.

Before applying either, first wipe clean the surfaces to be attached. Dust and oily films will prevent the tape from taking a firm hold.

After making a cut or completing an operation, you may find that the pieces you taped together won't separate (which can happen if you leave pieces taped together too long). Don't force them apart and risk damaging the wood grain. Instead, drizzle mineral spirits into the joint between the two pieces and give it a few seconds to soak in and weaken the adhesive.

More Resources:
For free plans to build a self-contained spray-adhesive drawer, visit: woodmagazine.com/spraydrawer.

For a small fee, download the plan for this wall-hung tape dispenser at: woodmagazine.com/tapedispenser.

Pulling up a little piece of paper on wood
Apply cloth-backed tape sparingly-- putting it on the full length of a piece may make it impossible to separate the pieces without damaging them.

Pulling up paper on wood on metal surface
Better suited to adhering pieces not subject to much shear force (like this miter-gauge extension), paper-backed tape allows for some repositioning.

DoubleFace tape chart

Putting paper down on board
Read more about

Tip of the Day

Tune-up tip for perfect planing

DustCollection

Your benchtop planer takes a beating in normal use. Give it routine maintenance like the tip below... read more