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Posted by on Mar 23, 2010 in Cardmaking 101, Stars and Stamps, Tutorial | 26 comments

Tutorial: Adhesives

Tutorial: Adhesives

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.


  1. This was a great and very informative post! Thanks for all the useful information and tips!

  2. I use gluesticks for most of my cardmaking… but the ONLY kind that I've found reliably strong enough to last is Elmer's extra-strength craft-bond gluesticks. It's great for glueing paper and cardstock. Cheaper gluesticks just don't bond well enough. For decorative elements I use Scotch quick-dry adhesive, or gluedots if it's something that can't get wet.
    One of these days I'll get an ATG…

  3. love my ATG gun – best purchase I ever made – i buy enough adhesive for the entire year –


  4. This is great info! I had hoped none of the cards I sent last time had to go to the card hospital. I wonder about the longevity of Beacon's 3in1 glue. I use that on most of my cards and haven't had a problem. It's relatively inexpensive, clear, and gives you time to adjust your project before it dries. Would love to know your thoughts on this as far as OWH cards go.

  5. This is a great review. I am a Tombow user, but I've found that for cards I like Close to My Heart's Bonding Memories Broad Glue Pen. It goes a long way but really holds well.

  6. Sticky strip!

    That ATG gun looks hardcore.

  7. Mono Multi is a liquid glue that can be permanent or repositional. It works well with card stock as a dot in each corner usually holds. It's cheaper than most other adhesives too if you are on a budget and a bottle will last a good long time.

  8. There's another liquid adhesive out there that many scrapbookers and cardmakers swear like-it's called Zip Dry. I work for the company that makes it-Beacon Adhesives, but I would never vouch for it if I truly didn't believe in it. It never ever wrinkles paper-even tissue and vellum, and excess wipes away without leaving residue. I love OWH-my daughter's bf is in the Stan and just received his box of cards. Thanks to all for your good deeds and supporting our troops!

  9. I am a ZIP DRY nut! I use it all the time. I also use Tombow tape runners for my ribbons or Close to My Heart's Liquid Glass. The Liquid Glass is great for buttons or anything else that needs to stay secure. It is also great for adding glossy dimension to stamped art or accenting part of decorated papers.

  10. I love my ATG gun! And double sided foam tape on sale for embellisments.

  11. It is a little more work to use, but for longevity I swear by a double sided tape that has multiple names… Terrific Tape, Scor-Tape, Sookwang – take your pick, it's all the same product! You can order it in multiple widths and it sticks like nobody's business. Check out the Products page at for details.
    That totally sounded like a sales pitch. I don't sell the stuff, I swear!

  12. Thank goodness you addressed this issue…I am a newbie to cardmaking and spent quite a lot trying to find a good sticky glue that my papers would peel right up when dry. I finally settled on Beacon 3 in 1 for chunky embellishments and ribbons…it also works for papers and ive had no warping so far. For less mess though i also use adtech glue runner "permanent" found at walmart for about 2.50 per pkg of 2 refills. I sometimes use the permanent sticky tape on the edges and put the beacons down the center strip so that when i am applying my matte i can reposition until i get it just right then press down the sides. I have yet to find any brand of glue stick i completely trust for a trip to A stan! Happy Scrap' n!

  13. I have a roll of Scor-Tape, 1" wide, and I put a piece of it on the middle of everything I attach to the card… mostly it's just other layers of paper. Then I use my tape runner as always…on the sides, top and bottom. I hope that the Scor-Tape will keep the layers together no matter what.

  14. Squares, I'm a photo squares girl. Are they OK? I sure hope so bc I use them all the time! ;

  15. If they stick well, probably, stamper in training. Without having tried them I cant be positive, but if they stay put and hold everything down, you're probably fine 🙂

  16. Any word on how Xyron "stickers" hold up?

  17. This is going to be a problem for me right now I’m saving to buy an ATG gun 🙁

  18. EQ, be sure not to buy one at retail, they’re up to 100 as the note in the post says. You can get one right now at The Tape Depot for only $25 (for anyone reading this in years to come, don’t hold me to that!)
    Here’s the link –

    You can still use tape runners etc – but in the long run the ATG and buying refills in bulk will be much less expensive for you once the initial investment is made 🙂

  19. I have been using a low temp hot glue gun to attach paper, embelishments, tags, etc. Has anyone else tried this and does it hold up to the rigers of mailing? So far it looks good and isn’t wrinkle,just have to spend some time pulling the glue webs off he cards.

    Also, the link to cheap envelopes on the site, are the cheapest ones good enough to hold up to the mailing with cards having embelishments or foam tape? I want to order some,but am not sure of the quality. Also, even when you get 10% off and no small order fee charged what is the shipping? It looked like to me you have to place the order before you can see what the shipping will be. Has anyone ordered from this company and did you have any problems?

    • Hi twogolf! I would stay away from adhesives that require heat – that would generally mean they could melt in 135 degree temps in the Middle East, and then the cards would fall apart. 🙁

      The envelopes linked are just great. Though you do have to go through the order process to get the final price, but you could email them first and ask.

      • Thanks so much for the info. I was staying away from glue sticks because I thought they would not hold up. Any suggestions on what adhesive to use?

  20. ….,

  21. Would appreciate an answer to “merry blissmas”‘ question, as I use Xyron whenever possible.

  22. I swear by double sided tape. Duck brand is very good and can be purchased in bulk fairly inexpensively. Office max double stick is also inexpensive (compared to Scotch brand) and can be purchased in bulk forom

  23. Have you seen the new dispenser that Scotch has made for its double sided tape? I wonder if the extra pressure you would apply when using the dispenser might make the adhesive stick better to card paper than what you’ve seen in the past. My experience has been that you have to use your fingers to push down on the paper to make both sides of the adhesive stick well, but once you do, it works well. Maybe not good enough for OWH cards, though.

    Scotch once made a smaller dispenser for ATG tape, back in the 90s, that I still miss. I find the ATG dispensers to be so large for my small hands that I sometimes make quite a mess with them! I’m hoping the double sided tape dispenser is a sign that they might bring back the smaller ATG dispenser, even if the cost/sq.ft. is more.


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