I have a wide variety of adhesives that I use in my workshop. All of those glues are stored in a very organized manner. So I always know where to find what I need (that's not something I can say for all of my equipment). My issue is that I typically only require two or three adhesives for any given job. So I grab what I need and move them to the workbench. That's where things tend to fall apart. As the workbench gets ever more cluttered, glues get misplaced, knocked over, or left open.
Clearly, I need a method to keep my glues organized while I work. A small glue caddy seemed like the obvious answer. I considered designing and building my own caddy from scratch. But I quickly realized that it didn't make a lot of sense to invest any time in my own design when there are several off-the-shelf kits available for just a few bucks. I really like my articulating airplane stands from Foam-Flite. So I decided to try their Glue Caddy ($10) as well.
Building the Glue Caddy
Foam-Flite's design is made of 1/8"-thick plywood. There are only 10 laser-cut parts. It is definitely a more refined design than I would have come up with. There are slots for up to seven glue bottles in a footprint measuring about 4.5" x 8". As a bonus, there are also four slots for X-Acto knives. I am super-excited about that because I am forever misplacing X-Actos on my workbench!
Foam-Flite has an online assembly manual. Make sure you take a peek at it. The caddy is so simple that I doubt you will need it. Plus, the parts are tabbed so that you can't put anything in the wrong spot. But "RTFM" is always good advice. So RTFM.
If your goal is just to have a glue caddy ASAP, this unit can be thrown together and bonded with super glue in about 15 minutes. Such a caddy would do its intended job just as well as any other. But I was not in a hurry and I wanted the caddy to look its best. So I took my time and beautified it a bit. You'll see.
Assembly begins by removing the parts from their parent sheets. I used an X-Acto knife to carefully cut through the small tabs that held each part. A gentle rocking motion with the blade worked best for me. Once the parts were free, I removed any remaining evidence of the tabs with 220-grit sandpaper.
At this point, you could just glue all of the parts together and be done with it. But, as previously mentioned, I wanted to make my caddy look a little better. So I sanded both faces of all the parts with 220-grit sandpaper. While I was at it, I also sanded a slight bevel on the leading edge of each of the tabs. This helped them slide into their corresponding slots during assembly.
I initially dry-fit all of the parts together to ensure that the tabs and slots aligned correctly. Everything meshed together well with tight, solid joints. It's hard to beat the precise fit of well-designed laser-cut parts.
My next step was to break down the caddy and add a wood stain to the parts. This is totally optional. But it is also a really quick process that I think makes the wood look so much better. I used Olympic Elite stain, but any stain you like should work just fine. I applied the stain and removed excess with a clean cotton cloth. It took me less than 10 minutes to stain all of the parts. I let everything dry overnight before moving on.
At this point, the caddy was ready for permanent assembly. I reassembled all of the components as before. This time around, I applied carpenter's glue to all of the joints. Carpenter's glue may not dry quickly, but it's so easy to work with and creates very strong joints. It's my favorite adhesive for adhering plywood parts.
Even though the caddy parts fit together tightly, I added a collection of clamps, rubber bands and weights to ensure that nothing shifted while the glue was drying. My final beautification step was to apply a coat of clear polyurethane to the completed caddy. Minwax's water-based Polycrylic is my preferred polyurethane. The clear coat gives the wood a smoother, shinier finish and should help to seal the wood from moisture as well.
Using the Glue Caddy
This glue caddy was designed with RC hobbyists in mind, so it is catered to fit adhesives that are commonly used for RC projects. Ovular openings fit most brands of 1-ounce and 2-ounce bottles of cyanoacrylate (CA – aka super glue). The smaller circular cutout fits a spray bottle of CA accelerant. Larger circles on the opposite end are perfect for holding 2-part epoxy. Those of you not into RC will be happy to know that a lot of other common household and craft glues will fit as well.
One clever feature of this caddy is that epoxy bottles can be stored inverted. No more waiting to dispense molasses-like epoxy! As you would expect, X-Acto slots are designed to hold the knives in a blade-down position. Slots in the sub floor of the caddy accommodate standard, triangular blades, and probably many others as well.
As I write this, I've been using the glue caddy for about a week. It works well in its intended job. The caddy is small enough to remain unobtrusive on my workbench, even when filled with glues. I especially like the X-Acto holders … so handy. My only challenge is remembering to use the caddy. It may take me a while to train myself to put my glues and knives back in the caddy rather than some random spot on my workbench. Once I turn that corner, I think my workflow will improve significantly.
Terry is a freelance writer living in Buffalo, NY. Visit his website at TerryDunn.org and follow him on Twitter and Facebook. You can also hear Terry talk about RC hobbies as one of the hosts of the RC Roundtable podcast.