Adhesive Choice for Gluing Up a Curved Handrail

Rigid glues with a reasonable open time are the best option. October 2, 2007

What type of glue should I use to laminate bendable handrail? I don't think I'll have enough time with yellow glue.

Forum Responses
(Adhesive Forum)
From contributor H:
You do have enough time with yellow glue. You need to be prepared and have enough extra hands around. Pre-bend the rail dry and let it set for a day. Then take it down and glue it up. It will be easier to put back because it has been already stressed in that direction. You can also get yellow glue with extended open time. But I have found that that extended open time isn't all that much extended. One problem a lot of guys have had with gluing rail is they don't put enough glue on. They don't like cleaning up the excess.
Better to clean and scrape the excess than to have a problem. If there is time enough to do it twice... there is time enough to do it right.

From contributor B:
Many use plastic resin glue for laminating because there is less glue "creep" than when using yellow glues.

From contributor A:
When I have to glue a rail like this, we clean a spot on the floor and lay out all the strips, pour the glue into a roller tray and apply the glue with a paint roller. Flip all the strips but the first and last and do the other side. Stack all the strips and get all the extra hands that you can to clamp the rail. Get it clamped up as fast as you can and then you will have plenty of time to reposition clamps and clean up.

From contributor S:
I wouldn't recommend using yellow glue for this application. Yellow glue is a semi-rigid glue, meaning that when you remove the clamps, the glue will shift slightly and your joints will creep and your radius won't hold its true form. Using a rigid glue will reduce the spring back of the rail and will hold the radius much closer to what you are bending it to. I use National Casein powdered resin glue. It comes in powder form and it is mixed with water. You have about an hour clamping time and it takes about 8 hours at 70 degrees to cure. Mix what you will use because what you mix will get hard. National Casein is in N.J.

From contributor C:
I wouldn't recommend yellow glue either. West Systems Epoxy is the best product I have found. It is incredibly strong, forms a rigid glue time and has plenty of open time.

From contributor A:
I had read somewhere that some type of additive helps reduce creep or stabilizes the glue joint when it is under great stress, such as when gluing up tight radius hand rails. I am referring to when you use West System epoxy. I have had great results with this type of glue for over fifteen years and have never had any issues of failure. I am hoping to learn something new. I can see where an additive might cause an abrasive action and inhibit glued parts from sliding from each other. I have also heard that a few grains of coarse sand will inhibit movement of yellow glued components.