How To Mount Patterns For Scroll Or Band Saw – A Safer Alternative To Spray Adhesives

I’m sure you are all familiar with the glue used in schools for kids to paste paper cutouts and some folks use it for scrapbooking but I bet you never thought of it as an invaluable benchtop tool for woodworking. Many of the projects I get involved in require me to attach a template to wood to cut out a part using my bandsaw, it’s the most accurate way to create parts for a project.

In the past I used the spray mount in a can that you’re all familiar with but hated using it and I’ll tell you why. First off it is a toxic chemical mix that is sprayed, not only on the paper you are going to mount but the over spray floats in the surrounding area which attaches itself to all the surfaces it can reach including your skin. You must wear a tight weave respirator to stop the toxic chemicals from entering your nasal passages and lungs. Another thing to contend with is the spray ‘button’ that eventually clogs up to the point that  the only thing that comes out of  it  is a sputter and drip of the adhesive.  And here is more of a deterrent… the stuff is expensive. Does it sound like I dislike this stuff? Oh yeah, that’s for sure.

Well I do believe I’ve found an alternative that’s not only nontoxic, cheaper, but actually works better. Okay, here is what I use for attaching templates to wood. You can find this ‘glue’ or or a similar brand at any of the stores that offer office or school supplies.


A four pack of Elmer’s Glue Sticks can be found on Amazon here

Advantages of using this type of glue instead of spray adhesives:

  1. Totally non-toxic.
  2. Water based glue which has a purple color showing coverage but dries crystal clear.
  3. Easily washes off the wood surface with the benefit of raising the grain for a smoother final sanded finish.
  4. Inexpensive.

Here’s some tips on using this glue in case you are not familiar with it. Cut your pattern pieces close to the lines to be cut so you will be gluing only the areas that need to be mounted. Like this:


You don’t have to cover all of the pattern with glue if there are open areas that don’t need to be glued down. If you are spreading the glue over a larger area you will notice that the glue will dry too quick in areas and loose it’s tackiness. No problem (in fact, let the glue totally dry before applying water… it works better), just finish spreading the glue over all of the areas you need to and let it dry overall. To mount the pattern, lightly spray with water and the glue will “re-activate” its adhesive properties (the “purple” reappearing), then mount the pattern by pressing it down on the wood. Here is what I use to “activate” the dried glue. It’s a fine mist culinary atomizer which works perfectly activating the glue and also use it to remove it from the wood surface. It is refillable and pressure activated with a pump action top. It works great for this situation, a similar one can be had here.


To remove the pattern from the wood surface all that is needed is to spray the paper with water, let it soak a bit then gently peel or scrape it off. That’s it! I believe that if you try this method of attaching your patterns you’ll never go back to that foul canned spray adhesive again.