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Contact Cement

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by D'Snowth, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Exactly how long does it take this stuff to dry before you can start putting foam pieces together? Seems like everybody always say let it dry for "a few minutes," but how long is "a few minutes"? I imagine results wouldn't be satisfactory if you let it dry too soon or even too long.
     
  2. muppetperson

    muppetperson Well-Known Member

    I think it is no longer than 10 minutes. Best is the touch dry method. Touch it, and as soon as it isn't tacky, put the surfaces together.
     
  3. Mavway02

    Mavway02 New Member

    Honestly, most people use way too much! You need a lot less contact cement than you think. If you have to wait for more than 3 minutes, then you have too much on your foam. The best method of applying the contact cement is to first apply it on to a piece of scrap foam, then just dob it on the surface of the foam pattern
     
  4. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    In THE MUPPETS ON PUPPETS, Don Sahlin says if you ever make mistakes with contact cement, you can use a hair dryer to undo your mistake. But, isn't contact cement flammable? Seems to me that would be a fire hazard.
     
  5. Bear Man

    Bear Man Active Member

    I think Barge Cement specifically is made flexible/soft again on the introduction of heat. I wouldn't suggest trialling that idea on other content cements for the exact reason you state.
     
  6. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Generally speaking, hair dryers are usually not hot enough to ignite contact cement, especially on a low setting. Never use a heat gun or open flame (like a lighter) though...the fumes are extremely flammable. I've never ignited them myself, but I've worked with several people who have seen it happen. It's a pretty frightening to see apparently.

    For the same reason, you should never use household fans, a stove's fume hood or a bathroom fan to vent contact cement...only a proper spray booth. Sparks from regular fan motors can ignite contact cement fumes. In the shop where I work we actually have to keep the contact cement drum in the spray booth grounded in order to further reduce the risk of fire/explosion.

    When in doubt, always read your MSDS sheet (the safety information that comes with all contact cement) and the follow all of the recommendations. Many glue companies have a product safety officer who you can call or email for help too.
     
  7. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Oddly enough, apparently contact isn't strong enough for permanent bonds like the bottle says, because I found when I made a mistake, I was easily able to just pull it apart with no effort and without doing any damage.
     
  8. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Are you sure you're using contact cement, not rubber cement? Rubber cement is a different adhesive that is not as strong and usually sold in bottles. Contact cement usually comes in a paint can. When it is properly applied it should create a permanent bond.

    Drying times for contact cement vary a lot depending on factors like humidity and temperature. Also, it often will not dry properly below 10°C (50°F) or in extreme heat. You need to let the contact cement dry until it becomes sticky, but not wet (this usually takes 10-15 minutes at room temperature, but it really can vary a lot). Certain materials can require two coats of contact cement to bond properly.

    Make sure the brand of contact cement you're using is intended for foam rubber. There are different kinds of contact cement for different applications.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016
  9. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I'm using Dap Weldwood brand contact cement, but it's in a 3 oz bottle with a brush as opposed to a can: I couldn't see myself dishing out $10.00 for a can when I didn't think I'd even need to use that much, seeing as how according to this thread, a little bit of contact goes a long way. . . . though now I'm pretty much out of the stuff after completing one puppet and putting together two other torsos.
     
  10. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Huh. That is weird. Is it possible that the contact cement was too dry? Did you glue both sides of the foam?
     
  11. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Actually, it was the mouthplate I pulled off the foam, but yes, both the foam and the mouthplace were glued - the bottle said to wait at least fifteen minutes and that's about how long I waited. Much later, I ended up figuring out how to achieve something I asked about in another thread (the slight inward curvation of the foam where it meets the mouthplate), and as I said, I easily popped the mouthplate off the foam and no damage was done to either the foam or the moutplate.

    But other than that, I love using this stuff over hot glue: not as messy (still a little messy, even when you scrape excess off the brush before using it) and applying and waiting for it to try before gluing the foam together sure beats the heck out of applying hot glue then pinching the foam together for several minutes for it to bond. However, even with a respirator on, the odor is really strong, lol.
     
  12. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    What is the mouth plate made from? The issue could be that the contact cement sticks to the foam, but not the mouth plate. A lot of non-porous and smooth surfaces have to be sanded to get contact cement to properly adhere to them.

    You shouldn't be able to smell it with a respirator on. If you can smell it, you are inhaling harmful vapor.
     
  13. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    The mouthplate itself is cardboard and lined with cotton fabric (that was one of the mistakes I learned from early on: if you use cardboard for mouthplates, cover it with something or else the sweat from your hand will eat away at the mouthplate).

    And, well, admittedly, I am using a cheap respirator:
    [​IMG]
    Don't really have the funds to invest in ones like pros use.
     
  14. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Double check in case I'm wrong, but I don't think that those N95 respirators provide any protection against chemical exposure. Even if they do, they cannot be reused. They are disposable and have to be thrown away as soon as the respirator is removed from your face.

    I use a 3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator (their "6000 Series") and that's the most common one I see used in puppet building/props/costuming. You should be able to buy one for $15-20 in the US. The cartridges usually cost around $15-20 in addition to that. How often they need to be replaced depends on how often you use them. I use mine almost daily and have to replace the cartridges every 1-2 months. If you don't do a lot of work with your mask you can probably get away with replacing your cartridges less often.

    Different types of cartridges are used for different types of protection. For protection while working with most contact cement you usually need to use an organic vapor cartridge. For my work I use a multi-gas/vapor cartridge because I'm sometimes at risk of exposure to additional types of gases. You have to read the MSDS sheet for the glue you are use to determine what type of protection you need to use (always read the MSDS sheet before you use something!).

    3M has a really helpful guide to respirators on their site - https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/565214O/3m-cartridge-filter-guide-and-brochure.pdf

    They also have a technical helpline in North America and are happy to answer safety questions from customers at 1-800-328-1667.
     
  15. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Hmm. So all this time, I might as well have not have even been wearing that thing because it was doing me no good then . . . I could barely breath with it on anyway, and it just kept fogging up my glasses.

    I'll try to see if I can find some relatively inexpensive items at Walmart or something, because I know at hardware stores, the respirators alone can run upward of $30 or more.
     
  16. muppetperson

    muppetperson Well-Known Member

    Try experimenting with a hanky or simular material wrapped around your nose and face. If you can still smell the vapors, then abandon it.
     
  17. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I hate to sound rude, but that's a really terrible idea. Do not do that. Fabric will not protect you any kind of chemical vapor. You cannot determine how much you're being exposed to based on smell anyway (don't take my word for it, read the EPA guidelines for toluene from the U.S. government for yourself).

    A reusable respirator and organic vapor cartridge should cost less than $30 US. Seriously, that's what you need. Safety shortcuts are never a good idea.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  18. Bear Man

    Bear Man Active Member

    I can attest to that - the contact tenement I use (Selley's Kwik Grip here in Australia) will permanently bond foam to foam, but if I'm trying to adhere it to gasket rubber or even the smooth side of leather, I need to roughen up the other material with some sand paper.
     
  19. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I had a similar experience with hot glue when using a gasket rubber mouthplate: the glue wouldn't adhere at all, it just peeled right off - but that was before anyone told me that it's best to roughen the surface (or someone even suggested soaking it in rubbing alcohol) before gluing.
     
  20. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well Walmart doesn't carry them in store, and the cheapest at the hardware store was, indeed, $33, so I guess I'm gonna have to order online again, I get so sick of having to do this.
     

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