Blog post updated with links and updated information in May 2012. Based on current learnings from our heroes and what they say holds up.
While it’s tacky to be stuck to one definitive answer about the best adhesive for OWH cards, there are some basic truths to stick to. (Couldn’t resist the puns!) Glue is important.
It doesn’t do much good to create a beautiful card if it won’t last through mailing to the shipper, over to a battlefield, and back home again. And our shippers do find that many cards don’t even last making one leg of the journey—through domestic mail. The card hospital sees many cards with a lost googlie eye, peeling off papers, or cards stuck to the back of the card on top of them.
Recommended for OWH cards
- ATG gun. Shown in the photo here next to a tape runner, for scale. It lays down a line of adhesive—somewhat repositionable if you remove the item quickly and before pressing it down. It takes a little time to get used to the large gun, but once you get the hang of it, you will love it. There are several types – and an inexpensive no-name brand gun here; beware purchasing one at retail, they can be up to $100 in-store! The 36-yard tape rolls are incredibly cheap if you purchase them in enough quantity! Tapes come in 1/2 inch or 1/4 inch rolls; be sure the gun you purchase can handle the size tape you wish.
- Tape runners. There are a few brands of these . . . most stick pretty well. They’re nice and thin, and they lay down a good sticky line of adhesive that’s a perfect width for ribbons. Tombow makes a super runner that we like – pictured at right. Tape runners are a little more expensive than you might like if you go through a quantity of adhesive on a regular basis, but with a 40% off coupon, they’re not too bad! Look online and you can find the refills fairly inexpensively, especially if you can purchase in quantity at a place like Discount Office Supply.
- Liquid glue. Whatever it is, be certain it’s good and tacky! Tombow’s Mono Multi Glue is OWH’s favorite. Liquid glue is never good for sticking any paper to paper, but is great for embellishments that don’t stick to tapes—things like small buttons, bling, googlie eyes, and ribbon that’s too thin for tape runners. Glossy Accents or Diamond Glaze are also great for this— they are completely clear, and have a lot of craft applications as well.
- Glue dots. Use a glue dot smaller than the item you’re securing, or your card will become useless as it sticks to the back of a card in front of it! Be sure you are not using “removable” dots – they don’t stick.
- Dimensional adhesive. We do allow some dimension on cards, but please beware of building “towers” on cards! Watch this video to see more about dimension. Our favorite dimensional adhesive at OWH is made by 3M – and it’s pictured at right in the giant roll, available at a reasonable price here. Foam squares are fine, but please use the thinnest brand you find; some are so tall, and for little good reason aside from making cards so lumpy they won’t make it home from Afghanistan.
Not recommended for OWH cards
- Double stick tape. A little awkward to use, since it sticks to your fingers! It doesn’t hold up all that well, so it’s not recommended for OWH cards. It may work fine for you with your own cards, though!
- Glue sticks. The quality depends on the brand; almost all of the falling-apart cards we receive had been adhered with glue sticks, but we have no way to know what brand the cardmaker used. One use that is perfect for gluesticks is sticking text-weight paper into dark cards as a liner; the light paper is thin enough that the gluestick holds very well.
- Rubber cement. We don’t find it holds up through the rigors of shipping to and from the battlefield.