What Glue do you use and why?

I have only used Barge’s Contact cement. I use it for every leather project, whether holsters, sheaths, journal covers, or coasters. The advantage to it is once your project is glued, it is glued. It seems the leather will give way before the glue.

I have seen different types of glues and tapes used, but have not ventured out. What do you use and why?

In God’s Grace,

Pastor Bob

“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” - Romans 5:8

1 Like

I know we talk about Leatherworking here, but I thought this was a really good question. As I began writing my reply, I realized that we use a wide array of adhesives depending on what materials we are working with. As crafters, we can go from working with leather or fabric to various “poly” materials, plastics, acrylics, closed-cell foams, aluminum, steel, etc. I ended up listing a few adhesives I keep on hand for some of my various hobbies.

As a standard go-to for leather, I use S-18 Contact Cement. At times, I may use a few different adhesives (depending on the project). I buy my S-18 in quarts and use those to refill my pint-size can where I mix the glue with cement thinner because it tends to thicken up and congeal over time.

Double-sided Tape is good for temporarily holding layers together that need to be stitched but are not stress seams. It eliminates all that cement/glue drying time and lets me keep working by just holding the leather seam in place long enough to get sewn. I rarely use the DST, but I make sure to keep a roll or two on hand for when I need it.

Aleene’s No-Sew Fabric Glue is essentially super-glue for cloth. The fibers of the material will give long before the glue ever does. I love using this stuff on fabrics like silk, satin, cotton, wool, felt, etc., when I am trying to fix something too difficult to try stitching. My nephew’s shoe liners had come out of his slip-on shoes he played in, so I glued them back inside, and he was on cloud nine to have his shoes back and not be fighting with the liners bunching up under his feet while he is out running around.

Super Glue/Crazy Glue is absolutely mandatory in any workspace of mine; I keep a bottle of Gorilla Super Glue handy because:

  1. It’s Super Glue!
  2. The bottle it came in is, functionally, the most well-thought-out design I have ever seen for a squeeze bottle.

I have a variety of adhesives on hand that I use in various applications. Fiebing’s Leather Cement was probably the first bottle of glue I purchased when I began Leatherworking. I have since added Aleene’s Leather and Suede Adhesive Glue to my stable of adhesives. The most recent addition to my lineup for leather was Renia Aquilim 315. I have not had an opportunity to open it up and start using it yet, but I am looking forward to it. I have only heard good things about this water-based, odorless, white cement. R.A. 315 may become my new go-to cement if it is as good and as easy to use as everyone says it is.

Woodworking is a whole other beast, and there are various wood glues from different manufacturers that I have used over the years. Thanks to Woodworker and YouTuber, Tom Fidgen, eventually, I plan to order and try Hot Hide Glue when I get back to making furniture.

I have a couple of models sitting here on a shelf in their boxes because I have no place to assemble them right now. One of the glues I bought is specially made by “Tamiya”; It is an extremely thin, quick-setting, clear cement formulated for gluing acrylics. I have been chomping at the bit to start assembling a few things. Eventually, I hope to have enough workspace to build all those things I really want to make.

Great question, Bob, and great elaboration, Josh. I agree on the varied glues for different needs, and even within leatherworking I sometimes use non-“leather” glues.

Aleen’s is great for fabrics.

Barge is my preference for bonding leather “permanently”, which it can almost always do if applied properly.

If I’m going to sew leather, I’ll usually use a lighter glue to hold it together, such as a Tandy Eco Flo, before stitching. Barge could work, though for some reason when I know I’m stitching I’ll tend to yield to the stitch to hold the material primarily, and let the glue play 2nd strong and just maintain the positioning and light hold.

And super glue for small, hard to reach places where maybe full barge could not be appplied properly. With gorilla glue, I learned the hard way to be very aware of which ones expand when they dry :). And I’ll usually make sure to use a non-expanding one on and matrials that need no expanding, which is, um most haha :slight_smile:

I used to use Barge’s as my primary permanent bonding glue. But even with ventilation, I really hate the fumes from the glue and mineral spirits for cleanup and worry that it’ll affect my lungs (I scuba). So I switched to Aquilim 315, which is water-based. Cleanup is just soap and water.

When I started leatherworking nine years ago, I used Elmer’s rubber cement for temporary bonds before stitching. However, I eventually found that unnecessary, because:

  • If I have to reposition the piece, I might expose glue,

  • I want a strong glue to prevent gaps between stitches and keep my burnished edge sandwiches looking smooth.

I usually position the piece and use a scratch awl to mark where I want to permanently place it, then glue it with the Aquilim. After about 20 minutes, I punch my holes and stitch.

Well, that’s the way I do things. In this craft, there’s nine ways to skin a cat (and make him into a wallet).

1 Like

I do prefer the Eco-Weld water based contact adhesive.

It does not smell so bad - does not contain toluene - is super easy to clean up - and have a much longer shelf life than the solvent based adhesives.


Good to know. I may switch after my Barge’s supply runs down. Thanks for the alternative!

And a nice way to use the Eco-Weld water based contact adhesive, is to pour it into a Babe-Bot [you can buy them at Menards]. It makes it super easy to apply tiny amounts or enough for large surfaces. The combination is an absolute game changer!

That’s good info. I have never seen one of those before. Do you still have to brush the adhesive once poured out? Does the seal on the container keep it from drying out?

The BabeBot leaves a very thin line if you want to. However you squirt out the adhesive from the BabeBot, it is then easy to flatten with even a cut credit card.
The seal on those little guys definitely keeps the glue from drying out - because it is water based, it also does not dry out every time you open the container. I have at one time filled my babebot full of the Eco-Flow contact cement and it took me four months to use all the glue up - to the last few drops!!

1 Like

Good to know. Am currently moving my shop and will have to look that up when i have everything unpacked. thanks!