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Fossil-Treasures-of-Florida-Newsletter, Issue #0005 -- To Glue or Not to Glue?
November 04, 2009

Fossil Newsletter, Issue #0005 -- To Glue or Not to Glue?

November 4, 2009

In this Issue:

* Mini T-Rex Discovered in China.
* To Glue or Not to Glue?
* What's New at

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Mini T-Rex Discovered in China.

Mini T-Rex started out small, but hasn't changed from 125 Million Years ago. This 7-8 foot ancestral raptor is basically the same design as its giant relative. Click here to read about Mini T-Rex.

Click Here to read about T-Rex.

To Glue or Not to Glue?

I got an e-mail the other day asking “How do I preserve my fossils, especially if they are starting to crack?”

My first advice, over all, is don’t put anything on your fossils, if you can. The best fossils are well preserved and mineralized and do not need glue or a hardener put on them. Over time, some cracks can appear, but not always. Speaking mostly about vertebrate fossils in Florida, some fossil bones or teeth will crack after drying. They may be from a poorly preserved fossil site or they may be modern, either way glues or hardeners may not perform a miracle for your fossils (bad material is bad material, move on).

Having said all that, you just found this great fossil piece, but it is starting to crack and you don’t want it destroyed or coming apart in a million pieces. What do you do?

Before you start gluing anything, please make sure your fossil is clean of dirt and absolutely dry.

If you need to use a glue or hardener, a typical and popular choice is “polyvinyl acetate” (roughly, plastic powder dissolved in acetone). Of course, acetone produces strong vapors and needs to be applied in a well ventilated area. Butvar 76, made by Monsanto, is a good product. By adding more or less acetone, you can change the thickness, or viscosity, of the product. For example, by adding more acetone you will produce a thinner product that can penetrate the bones or teeth more easily. Add less acetone, you get a thicker product to glue your fossils together with. What you want to avoid with this product and others, is to give your fossil a “DIPPED IN PLASTIC LOOK”. A rag with some acetone on it can be used to gently rub off excess glue to reduce the shiny appearance. Fingernail polish remover and acetone are very similar and can be used to remove excessive glue or hardener.

Another glue or hardener is “cyanoacrylates” (super glue). I, currently, use this one the most on my fossils with cracks or gluing pieces back together. You can buy an activating agent, with the glue, that instantly bonds your pieces together in seconds. The glues can be bought in a thin and gel set. I always get both. They also have a starter kit that I would recommend. I have had success with both the “Starbond” and “Paleobond” products – both can be found online.

One of the last types of glues or hardeners is the “cellulose nitrates”. Duco cement and glyptal are typical examples. They are solid products, but tend to yellow over time. Duco cement is good in a pinch, available, economical, and it can be thinned with acetone.

White glues like Elmers are “polyvinyl acetate emulsions” and would be at the bottom of my list of glues. Although, I did use this glue with success to stabilize wet Pleistocene Spruce wood and pine cones.

What's New at

*Take a look at these newly added or updated pages!

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