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Using TearMender Water Based Glue
October 24, 2008

pictureThis is the largely result of compiling several posts worth of info from Jay on the about.com forum with regard to using TearMender (a regular latex/water-based glue found in hardware stores and much less expensive than regular table tennis glues) to glue your rubber to the blade. I have modified it for my own use based on what I have found in my own experience works very well.

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This is what I've found seems to work the best. I shot a little video of myself gluing with Tear Mender (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWVCZG5YyA0). The water based glues are thinner and you don't wan't to use a brush. You use a piece of foam instead.

1) If your regular glue seemed to adhere strongly to the blade, Tear Mender will probably adhere even more strongly. You may want to seal your blade before using Tear Mender!

2) You may want to mask off the edge of your blade and the outer edge of your bottom rubber with 2 inch masking tape before starting. Because you will be applying the sponge to the blade while Tear Mender is still wet, there will be some Tear Mender that will slop over the edges of your blade. The masking tape will make cleanup a breeze and prevent your racket from becoming a mess.

3) Apply a couple of tablespoons worth of glue to the blade and spread it around evenly. I do not apply glue to the sponge/rubber. I have found it is simpler, easier and creates less mess if glue is simply applied to the blade. I use foam weatherstripping as my applicator. I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a 10 foot roll of half-inch foam window/door weatherstripping for three dollars. I cut a 2 inch strip off of the roll, peel the backing off the adhesive that runs along one side of the weatherstripping (where you would apply it to the window or door frame), and fold it back on itself, making a sort of a U-shape where the sides of the U are stuck to each other. It leaves me with a flat rectangular foam surface/square approximately 1/2" wide by 1 inch long that makes a perfect glue applicator. I toss my applicator out after I have finished.

4) You want to apply the rubber to the blade immediately, while the glue is still wet. The water based glues don't tent to "level out" as well as the VOC stuff. So in order to get a nice flat surface to the rubber, you want it to still be fairly wet when you attach it to the blade. If you need the blade "right now" in order to play, then let the the glue dry so it is about half transparent. If you do that the racket should be playable right away, but the rubber surface may be lumpy and uneven. You have been warned. :-)

5) Place the rubber and lightly roller it on. If some glue squeezes out the edges, simply wipe it off with your finger or a paper towel. It will "rub clean" off of your fingers with no problem. If you have a Clicky Press, you can use that, too.

6) I tend to wait overnight until the glue is completely dried before trimming the rubber, but this is probably overkill. Depending on the climate and relative humidity, the glue will probably be dried well enough within an hour or two to cut the rubber safely without having it slide around on the blade face.

Don't like the glue job? Tear it off and do it again. The glue comes off the sponge fairly easily. Remove the rubber as you normally would. To remove the glue from the sponge (it always releases from the sealed wood blade and stays with the sponge) just roll the edge of the glue with your thumb or finger until it starts to roll up on the sponge a bit. Once it rolls up enough, you can pull on it and separate the entire glue layer from the sponge. The trick seems to be to pull the glue directly away from the rubber. The stretching of the glue layer seems to help it separate from the sponge. It's like pulling a piece of balloon rubber off the sponge.

Also, FWIW the glue seems to work fine for gluing pips out OX as well. I've glued DR. Evil with it and it seems to be holding up well. I did clean the backside of the OX rubber with rubbing alcohol first though. Again, I don't let the glue dry at all and put it on quite wet. I then roller out the excess glue. This is a bit messy, but it gives a nice smooth glue job and the mess is pretty easy to clean up. The nice thing about the water based glues is they don't cause the rubber sheet to distort/deform when you put the glue on them. [http://www.youtube.com/v/3t7uYMexfnU]

I noticed that if you apply only a very thin amount of Tear Mender, that it is harder to remove from the sponge since the thin layer of latex tears as you try to pull it off. I solved that on the one piece of rubber by simply putting on another layer of Tear Mender and pulling it off. The older thin bits got pulled off by the newer thick sheet. I'm not sure why that particular layer of glue was thinner. It may have been that I rolled it harder or put it in a Clicky Press afterwards. Frankly, I forget. But either way, it seems like very thin layers will be a bit harder to remove.

BTW, while I have no direct experience with it, I'm betting that European players will find that a product called CopyDex is very much like Tear Mender. In fact, I tried really hard to get some CopyDex before I found TearMender. CopyDex is very popular in the U.K. but does not seem to be imported to the US.

Some other notes:

1) Tear Mender is water based so you might be tempted to thin it at some point (I'm not sure why really. It is already quite runny.) If you do that, make sure you use distilled water. I've read that the calcium in tap water could cause the latext to coagulate.

2) Water based latex products will be ruined if exposed to very low (freezing) temperatures. I understand that freezing cold can cause the latex to coagulate. So folks living in colder climates need to make sure they store it appropriately. Warm temperatures aren't a problem.

3) Tear Mender is a latex product. I guess using it could be a problem if you have latex allergies.