Wood Glue for Cosplay: Adhesive Series

Plenty of adhesives in the cosplay market are known for pulling double duty. While some products are intended just for bonding materials together, cosplayers have discovered some creative hacks for other adhesives to make them work in other applications, too. Wood glue is a great example of an adhesive that’s more than just a one-trick pony.

When you’re building with wood glue, you can actually start to lay the foundation for the finishing touches you’ll add later. In this post, we’ll explain the best ways you can use wood glue for cosplay as well as the pros and cons you can expect when you choose this adhesive.

Best Uses for Wood Glue in Cosplay

Wood glue has two main identities in cosplay. On one hand, wood glue is an adhesive (it’s right there in the name). It’s traditional purpose, to dig into the fibers of wood in order to join two pieces together, can still be applicable in cosplay. If you’re making your props or weapons out of wood, wood glue might be your best friend for a seamless bond that doesn’t necessarily require nails and screws (unless that’s part of your design). Wood glue can also simply hold pieces of wood in place while you add nails and screws. Additionally, though it’s not usually the most common choice, wood glue can be used on ceramics, fabric, leather, paper, plastic, stone, and styrofoam.

Alternatively, wood glue can be used as both a sealant and a primer for certain cosplay materials thanks to its thick, smooth texture. First, wood glue is one option for sealing EVA foam before painting. Applied with a brush, wood glue will cover your EVA foam pieces with a layer of sealant that can give your foam armor or weapons a smoother finished. It can also help protect the foam from damage as well as stop the foam from soaking up your paint for an even coat of color.

Additionally, wood glue can also be used to prime Worbla’s Finest Art or other textured thermoplastics to smooth out their pitting before painting. Even when stretched and sculpted, most thermoplastics have some sort of rough texture that’s very noticeable when painted unless a primer is added first. By brushing on several coats of wood glue as a primer can help smooth out the texture of thermoplastic.

The Benefits of Working with Wood Glue

There are plenty advantages of working with wood glue whether you’re adhering or sealing and priming. Here’s what you can expect when you choose wood glue for your cosplay:

  • Wood glue is affordable and readily available at craft stores and general retailers. As opposed to other materials you could prime and seal with, like Plasti-Dip, resin, or Gesso, you can get a lot of wood glue for your dollar, and one bottle should last you a long time.
  • Wood glue is non-toxic and can be used indoors without a respirator or a spray booth, unlike popular alternative Plasti-Dip.
  • It dries relatively quickly, making it easy to apply the recommended 3-5 coats for sealing in succession.
  • It can be sanded down once applied if necessary.
  • No extra priming is necessary before painting foam or Worbla after wood glue is applied.

Wood Glue Challenge

At the same time, there are some drawbacks to choosing wood glue as your sealant or primer. Here are the challenges you might encounter when working with wood glue:

  • Wood glue is not as flexible as other sealants and can be prone to cracking. Using wood glue as a sealant on moving or flexing parts of your cosplay is generally discouraged, though it will do the job if it’s all you have on hand.
  • Wood glue generally needs to be thinned with water while brushing it on EVA or thermoplastic.
  • Heavy layers of wood glue can show brush strokes that don’t self-level.
  • Using wood glue on curved surfaces might cause drips to show in the texture of your sealant. To avoid these drips from your thinned wood glue, you’d need to keep an eye on the surface as it dries and wipe away any drips or pools that form.

Building the Base Layer with Wood Glue

Wood glue is just one option for bonding your cosplay together and sealing and priming your materials before the painting stage. While some cosplayers choose wood glue because of its value for price and ease of use, others opt for something like Plasti-Dip, resin, Gesso, and other products to prep their foam or thermoplastic. Your choice will all depend on what fits best with your process and, in a lot of cases, your budget. If you’re ever in a pinch, keep in mind that wood glue is a viable option for your next build.