Burnt fingers and sticky messes will be a thing of the past with this list of the best pro tips for crafting with a hot glue gun!
Did you know that the hot glue gun was invented in 1954 by George Schultz? It was called the Polygun. I had no idea it was invented that early. I also learned that the technology was purchased by 3M in 1973 (and they are still the adhesives market leader). Who knew crafting with hot glue guns was going to be so interesting?
Honestly, hot glue guns are beloved by crafters for many things. Crafters around the world reach for their glue guns all the time. I’d wager to guess it’s one of the most used crafting tools out there. Probably right up there with scissors.
Why are the advantages of hot glue guns?
- They are FAST, that glue solidifies in seconds which makes crafting a lot easier and faster and you don’t have to hold things in place for very long.
- They can stick almost anything together. Seriously.
- The glue sticks are cheap and the glue gun itself is a one time cost. That’s much better than buying bottles and bottles of glue over a lifetime.
- Hot glue has a long shelf life, it’s not going to dry out like regular glue.
- Hot glue creates a fairly strong hold on many materials
- Compared to many other adhesives, hot glue is relatively non-toxic and can be disposed of easily.
What are the disadvantages of hot glue guns?
- The strings. Obviously. No one likes hot glue strings.
- They can be a fire hazard.
- You can burn yourself. We’ve ALL done it, right?
- It can be difficult to apply hot glue in a detailed way, it’s best for broader or hidden applications.
- It’s not great for environments that are not temperature controlled. Ask me what happened to a project I made using hot glue and then stored in my hot attic over the summer…I think you can guess.
- Hot glue many not stick well to very smooth surfaces like glass, ceramic or metal.
What are the different kinds of glue guns?
- Low temperature glue guns heat up to 250 degrees Farenheit or less, these are good for crafting with kids.
- High temperature glue guns go up to 380 degrees Farenheit and that makes for a stronger more durable hold.
- Dual temperate hot glue guns have a little switch to allow you to use either temperature.
How do I know which hot glue gun to get?
This is a question where personal preference comes into play. I have small hands and because of that I always use a small hot glue gun for crafting. The big ones are too big for me to hold AND they put out too much glue for smaller craft projects.
I usually like to stick to the well known name brands for tools and electronics like this. This is a great mini dual temp glue gun. And here is the full size dual temp hot glue gun. (I honestly, don’t see any reason to buy a single temperature hot glue gun. I guess unless you know you will exclusively be using it around children and will never ever want high temperature. But keep in mind, even low temperature is still pretty hot!)
I also would LOVE to have a cordless hot glue gun, but there don’t seem to be a ton of options for cordless hot glue guns out there yet. There’s this cordless hot glue gun that uses an 18V tool batter, of course, but that seems like overkill for a craft project. And as far as I can find, no one makes a cordless mini hot glue gun.
Hey tool companies, someone invent a really good cordless mini hot glue gun for us!
But really, you came here today for some tips and tricks for crafting with hot glue guns and I will not disappoint you! Are you ready?
The Best Pro Tips and Tricks for Crafting with a Hot Glue Gun
- Get the right kind of glue stick. Did you know there are low temperature melt glue sticks and high temperature ones? That’s right, they’re not all the same!
- Don’t forget to protect your workspace, hot glue guns can drip when they’re heating up.
- Wait until your glue gun is all the way hot. I know, we all want to try it before it’s ready. It really needs 5-10 minutes. Rushing will only result in disaster.
- Use the hot glue gun’s stand rather than laying the hot glue gun down on its side on the table.
- Don’t leave your hot glue gun unattended and plugged in. In architecture school we were all sitting in our studio one day and one of my classmate’s hot glue guns sparked and burst into flames. She wasn’t even touching it at the time. Like all electrical tools, pay attention!
- Keep a small bowl or glass filled with ice water next to you in case you do burn your fingertips. (Don’t put the bowl of water next to the electricity…)
- Make a longer glue stick by hot gluing the end of one glue stick the the beginning of the other one. I know…DUH, how did we not know this one before?! Then you can avoid that awkward section where one glue stick is almost gone and the next one isn’t quite getting grabbed by the trigger.
- If you need to press down on an area you’ve just glued, press with a silicone spatula so you don’t burn yourself. This works especially well when hot gluing something like burlap.
- Work quickly so the glue doesn’t have time to cool off before you put the surfaces together.
- Consider silicone gloves to protect your hands.
- Did you know you can get colored and glitter hot glue sticks? Hot cool is that?! Keep in mind the colored or glitter hot glue sticks may leave residue in your glue gun so be prepared to either run a clear stick of glue through until it’s clean, or get a second hot glue gun to use only with colored hot glue stick.
Ok, but there’s still one question about crafting with hot glue guns that I haven’t answered. It’s a question I know we’re all thinking…what about the strings?
How to Get Rid of Hot Gun Strings
- Make sure the glue gun is FULLY heated up. High temperature glue guns should leave fewer strings.
- As you pull the glue gun away from the surface, twist your twist to sort of cut the tail as best you can.
- After your project is completed, blast it with a hair dryer for a few seconds, that should get rid of the strings!
If you liked this, you may also like some of my other posts…
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