Archive-quality glue for fixing boxes

I just noticed this glue locally and thought it was worth mentioning. It is acid-free archival quality stuff that doesn’t wrinkle when it cures. It would probably be good for fixing end-flaps, paper labels, or other torn pieces of rare cardboard cartridge boxes that are worth fixing as collectibles. I am getting some locally at a Jo-Ann fabrics so I will post later about results. I assume places like AC Moore and other art supply places will sell it as well:

While we are on the topic, would someone care to hold forth on what the best way is to re-attach separated flaps, end covers, etc. to dilapidated cartridge boxes and box rehabilitation in general? I have an accumulation of same, many with the separated pieces still present. I don’t think re-attaching would make them any less valuable, but I’d like to do it the “Right” way if there is such a thing. Scotch tape is probably not the best way, but I have used that in the past.

I know there are paper conservators out there who are capable of going amazing things, but the boxes I have aren’t worth that expense.

There is a linen or cloth based tape that is acid free that art conservators use to mount and repair tears in paper, fabrics, etc. Most good art supply shops should know of it. A good framing shop that does archival mounting will probably be able to help.

If it is just one end flap on a box that is detached, then I have actually glued the point where it hinges on, and held it firm in the closed position for several minutes after applying glue. You can still open it and bend it back and forth, but it is touchy and will tear if used much. I do this when the other end flap is in solid condition, and this way the repaired end never has to be opened again since the other one is good.

For the worst boxes, I created a template (cut from a modern 9x19 ammobox) with the edges about 1cm high. The box to be repaired is then fitted inside, with some pieces of cardboard filling if required. The template will help to keep the box ends up in the right position. I then apply a good quality paper glue with a toothpick, being careful not to glue the box and template together.

For attaching flaps or small repairs I use plastic clips to keep things in place until the glue has hardened enough. The boxes remain fragile, but at least they look like boxes again.

If you have really bad boxes, consider ‘mounting’ them around a piece of styrofoam or a wood block that has the size and shape of the box. Rice paper is also wonderful stuff. Will provide strength where needed and provided the right glue is used, it will be almost invisible.

A google search using ; archival tape, will find a large selection of acid free tapes some made for hinging purposes most around $15 or so USD. I have a friend that owns several framing shops and they use a tape by “Lineco”. Linen based and can be used for hinge purposes. Amazon has a large number of suitable tapes from various manufacturers listed.

They have the linen tape at Hobby Lobby for $12.99/roll. Seems a bit expensive for probably a foot or so that I will actually use, but I am thinking on it, vs. doing something else.

Often, the reason boxes are falling apart is because of the acid in the paper itself. There is a spray that museums, etc use to prevent this decay, but if it is pretty advanced then there is no hope for the box. If acid paper is the reason for the box beginning to fall apart, best to stop the process before you try tape or glue to put it back together.



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There are several types of treatment chemicals available for neutralizing acid in paper. One is at

It may be available at local scrapbook stores, etc. No idea of cost. I remember reading that professional restorers also use some sort of liquid dipping solution for acid neutralization, but I don’t know about that. For storing valuable comic books, baseball cards, etc., the recommendation is to keep them inside archival plastic envelopes or sleeves made for that purpose. I have many old “Golden Age” comic books (Action Comics #1, unfortunately, is not among them), and store them in such envelopes. I think the purpose is to keep them separated to prevent a chain decomposition reaction. I don’t know how that would work with ammunition boxes, but I have many of my better ones wrapped up in Saran wrap.

So that brings up another topic - What is the best way to protectively store paper ammunition boxes and other cartridge-related paper ephemera (catalogs, advertisements, etc.) ?

Just to add another glue type, here is one called “memory mount” from Crafter’s Pick (scroll partway down):

I guess I’m just an old-fashioned dinosauer, but I use good old Elmer’s. Not the politically correct washable, safe, non-toxic stuff, but the original multi-purpose Glue-All.

I save scraps of wrapping paper in different colors and thicknesses to make repairs to boxes. I also make a wooden block that corresponds to the inside dimensions of the box I am repairing. This acts as a mold to keep everything straight and true and is removed before the last piece is repaired. I cut pieces of the appropriate paper to make a “hinge” for loose flaps, or simply to reinforce weak areas. All of the repairs are done to the inside of the box. I make a pencil note to one of the inside repairs noting the date the box was repaired. Using these methods I have reconstructed boxes that were nothing more than a pile of loose pieces.

I remove labels by steaming or soaking, iron them flat, and make repairs or reinforcements on the back. They are then glued back on the box in the exact position they were originally.

Most taped repairs can be removed with solvents such as acetone or lacquer thinner if you are patient. Those same solvents can be used to remove many hand written inked notations, a soft art-gum eraser for the penciled ones. A box of different colored soft chalk, blended with a Q-Tip can hide a lot of blemishes.

Hurrying is your biggest enemy. Plan ahead, otherwise it’s easy to glue yourself into a corner. I make only one or two repairs at a time, letting the glue dry overnight. On a really bad box it may take a week or more to complete. The hot, dry Arizona sunshine helps.