Barge Cement

BARGE CEMENT For bonding wood, metal.jpeg My dad used Barge Cement for various things on his boat since I was a child. It is actually a cobbler's glue, but it works with just about anything. It is a bit hard to find and there are inferior products touting the same uses (less toxic), but nothing is as good as Barge. I mainly use it for leather - hems, applique, etc., but I have also used it to glue a flat-bottomed birdhouse onto a flat-cut tree trunk, to tack down wallpaper seams that have lifted, to hold wood seams prior to screws being put in place, to secure a rubber foot to a chair leg, or the chair leg to the seat when wood glue has failed - just about anything you wouldn't use Crazy Glue for. In a pinch, Barge can fill the need of many sewing jobs (not buttons, though). Barge Cement does what you really want rubber cement to do when its hold isn't enough. It takes some dexterity to use, and it is difficult to remove from skin or clothes (there is a Barge Cement Thinner), but it dries quickly and sets up a strong, waterproof bond. Barge Cement typically comes in a tube, like toothpaste. I got really tired of getting to the end of the tube and then having to hunt it down, so I bought a gallon of it (with the thinner) at a great price from Filmtools. Now I cut the empty tub open at the end, fill it, and recrimp it. Otherwise I use old Tupperware to seal and store it, and then apply it with a disposable paint brush. -- Nancy Niche Barge Cement $4 Comment on this at Cool Tools. Or, submit a tool!


  1. This sounds like a good product.

    One of my favorites? Yamabond, which is good for all things gasket-y, especially motorcycle and air-cooled VW engines.

  2. This stuff is so useful that when i was basically living out of my backpack for two and a half years in South America; i carried a tube with me. It will glue anything but greased snot to a doorknob. If you encapsulated the whole mess it would probably do that too. The US Navy uses it on submarines, where the best is just barely good enough and price is no object. The old yellow-tube version kind had acetone in it and might have been a little bit better, but i clean the surfaces with acetone first to make up for that.

  3. This stuff is commonly used in the traditional archery world for gluing down leather or fur arrow rests. In addition to providing a strong bond, its really nice because it won’t damage finished wood surfaces like that of a bow; it just takes a bit of rubbing to get it off.

    I always get mine mail-ordered from archery supply sites, I’ve never actually seen it in a store before.

  4. I like to call it Liquid Duct Tape, it’s that handy and reliable. Mine’s in the yellow tube, looks like they might have switched to blue, or perhaps there’s more than one flavor. I’ve tried similar-looking products to no avail, Barge Cement is #1.

    Don’t get it in your hair.

  5. I don’t get it – it’ll glue anything to anything, but it just takes a bit of rubbing to get it off? Does it not hold up to strain very well then?

  6. Off of a finished wood, metal or glass surface, a bit of rubbing might get it off. But not cloth or skin or something with more texture to it. It’s very viscous and flowing out of the tube, but cures into something more the texture of tough rubber.

  7. In canada you can get this stuff at Mountain Equipment Co-op, I think it was $5 for a tube of the yellow kind. They sell it in the rock climbing section to use for resoling shoes, but it is great for everything!

  8. Really good for huffing too.

    anon@2, really? I have been 10 years in AK and have never heard that. Most people I have ever mentioned it to have never heard of it. Of course, most people don’t repair stuff as much as they used to.

  9. kenahoo,
    Baron’s comment above is right; it comes off smooth, non-porous substances with a bit of elbow grease, but the bond to cloth/leather/etc. is permanent.

    1. Obviously you don’t work on the coast much, those that use it call it that – and having grown up in Alaska on the coast that is what we used (or something like it) and that is what we called it, SE and my Yupik friend’s family. Heck, my friend who is Inupiaq called it bear shit and she worked on her uncle’s fishing boat out of Barrow. Essentially when you are out away from the dock/port you need something that works.

  10. We used Barge a LOT when making our puppets for television. It’s great on reticulated foam rubber – you can zap both sides of a seam with a hair dryer to quickly dry and set the glue before pressing the edges together – and you can use the same technique to loosen a recent seal and realign it. We bought ours from a shoe manufacturing supply store in Toronto – in really huge yellow and red cans.

    Great stuff – but also VERY toxic. Contains toluene which can cause liver cancer. You need to have great ventilation and a respirator if you’re using a lot of it. It doesn’t just get into your system through breathing either. Your skin and even the vapours in contact with your eyes can be very harmful. Long term exposure can really f*ck you up. Great tool but – maker beware.

    We spent years looking for a viable substitute that would work as well on our foam rubber creations but to no avail. Barge is still the best. There’s an alternate brand called Helmefix that’s pretty much the same stuff.

  11. Tain’t what it used to be since they changed the formulation, though still excellent. No more toluene. When dry it now seems less flexible. Always use a respirator and work outdoors or under a ventilation hood if you can, even with the new formulation.

  12. We used it on the set of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to hold together the battered foam rubber monster costumes…it is magical!

  13. My mom uses it to waterproof the cork on her birkenstocks. Works great for keeping the cork in a good condition for a very long time.

  14. This reminds me of a classic Popeye comic…

    Someone invents a super strong glue that could build a boat with… Popeye’s skeptical at first “Thar ain’t no glue strong eno-” but he then tests it and sure enough it’s strong. So he hastily builds a small boat just for the fun of it.

    Then he finds out the glue ain’t waterproof!!! And he’s paddling driftwood (aka his boat) back to give a beatin’ to the person that made the glue…

    Now, I’m sure this glue is OK on the waterproof issue but, is it that strong though…?

    Seriously, besides a quasi troll but nice and funny comment, is there a good, permanent glue that can be used in ongoing water/sea environments? I’m looking into “SeaSteading” (Yes, building a house/farm/tiny town size raft and putting it in the Gyre) and it’d be super easy if there’s a way to “Join” smaller parts, less dependence on a “Giant drydock” somewhere…

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