Gluing a refrigerator drawer--what glue/epoxy to use and do I need to know what kind of plastic?

The face of an inside drawer in our Samsung refrigerator broke. New drawers are $40, much more than a fancy-shmancy glue (and maybe a new clamp!).

I can take the drawer out to clamp/let the glue set, but do I need to worry about the long-term cold temperature afterwards?

If it makes a difference, the break is on the upper-left side of the face |_|, which means it’ll constantly be under stress of being pulled apart.

I sent an email to Samsung asking what kind of plastic is in there or if they have glue-advice, but don’t quite expect an answer. What do I need to know before heading to Chuck’s Glue Emporium?

As you seem to know, you must have the EXACTLY correct glue or solvent for plastic repair. Close won’t do it. Superglue is not close.

A solvent-based plastic cement formulated for the EXACT plastic - which is probably either styrene (hard and shiny, almost like glass) or ABS (slightly softer and usually a bit duller in finish) - would be best. However, a good clear epoxy formulated for plastic will probably work, especially if you can glue some kind of retaining strip or plate behind the repair.

I have had very good luck with Devcon two-part plastic welder.
It will adhere to almost any plastic except low-surface-energy plastics like Teflon or Polyethylene.

Buy a new drawer.

There are plastic welders available but they’re more expensive than several drawers and the results are hit or miss.

You have clear drawers. Any repair, adhesive or tape, will be visible. OTOH, duct tape comes in several colors.

I have a Samsung fridge that cracked a snap-in shelf unit. I repaired it twice and finally replaced it. A good repair will hold, but is a cosmetic irritation. I suggest looking for the part number on the drawer and searching eBay - I got an exact replacement in perfect condition when all Samsung had was a generic replaces-several-parts one for way too much money.

I would agree with trying a two-part epoxy. You’ll probably want to keep the drawer out of the fridge until it stops off-gassing, though.

without welding (making the broken parts a single piece with solvent or heat) the plastic you would glue a splint on for strength.

This is the stuff.

I will if I have to, but it’s a $40 part, (no luck on ebay or craigs so far), so hopefully we’ll be able to repair it for less than that. Fortunately, the bit that’s broken is close to the wall behind the door, so though we’ll cosmetically careful, it shouldn’t show too much.

It’s hard, very clear plastic, so it sounds like I should look for something that claims to work with styrene. It’s just a drawer, so we’ll be able to keep it out until everything sets (and will make doing a neater job easier).

If it’s styrene, what you want is (1) liquid styrene solvent as is used to build plastic models, and (2) a strip of styrene to glue on as a reinforcement. You will know right away if the styrene solvent is right because it will soften and melt the plastic (as they say, test in an inconspicuous spot). If it just stays liquid or maybe makes the plastic just a tiny bit tacky, it’s not the right stuff. It might “glue” but not with any strength.

A hobby shop that caters to model builders would have both (including flat plastic stock in strips), and might even have an open bottle of goop they’d let you test the plastic with. Or have a selection of glue-solvents to try.

Thanks for the detailed advice. We have a model RC shop in the neighbourhood; I’ll hope they have the experience (and selection) to help.

Er, that is assuming you don’t mean that delightful tube of slightly orange-smelling Testors glue that I built models with as a kid. Even if that’s not what you meant, I’m going to pretend you did and buy my kid his first model next time I’m in town.

What do you mean by a ‘strip of styrene to glue on as a reinforcement’? Where does the strip go? Inside the joint? Along side?

And is there a difference between ‘glue’ and ‘epoxy’?

That’s exactly the kind of shop that’s likely to have three or four plastic-solvent adhesives on hand. Of course, buy the right one from them if they’re helpful.

Sometimes a crack can be solvent-welded well enough to be as strong as the rest of the item. More often, though, it’s good to lay a strip of reinforcing material along the crack and glue/weld it in place to make a much stronger joint. Ask the model shop; they almost certainly have something, maybe even a piece of scrap, that will work once you’ve identified the plastic and correct glue.

Epoxy is a two-part mixture that only sets up when mixed, and then sets hard and fast in anywhere from a couple of minutes to two hours (there are many types). It’s pretty much the toughest and strongest of all adhesives, if you choose the right kind and use it correctly.

Glues, for the most part, are either a liquid polymer that bonds to material and forms a solid to hold it together, or a pure solvent that simply melt-welds the plastic together, or sometimes the solvent in a base of gooey already-melted plastic for easier handling and some “fill” characteristics. (Solvents run into cracks and crevices by capillary and won’t fill across a very wide gap - zero to hair width, mostly. So those with a little filler, like the old airplane glue you used, are more forgiving but messier.)

The orange stuff was the “new stuff” for me, and I hated it. It wasn’t as good as Testors Blue, but it was huffing safe. I had to get my mom to buy me the real stuff. For MODELS. (Then I graduated to Testors Green, which is what you assemble balsa models with…)

Emphasis added. Many common epoxies don’t adhere well to common plastics.

If you have a TAP Plastics shop nearby, take it in and ask - they have several real resins as well as cements.
Most importantly, they should be able to tell you what kind of plastic it is.

Used to be that nothing would adhere to polyethylene - it was the stuff used for the applicators.