The ultimate guide to using a glue gun

Posted: 18th Mar 2019

Did you know March is National Craft Month?

It gives you the perfect excuse to finally try making that item you've been thinking about for a while (and if you're in need of some inspiration, we have just the selection here). However, if you're a beginner, it can seem daunting. A stand out piece of equipment that you'll likely use is the glue gun - it's the ultimate utility tool, working just as well for small repairs, home improvements, upcycling or creative projects.

This tutorial from Dremel explains exactly how to use one, and will have you crafting in next to no time!

1. Prepare

As well as the obvious (the glue gun itself), you'll need a glue pad and sticks. Prior to using it, make sure it's free of cracks and chips, and look for any rips in the cord. You should also ensure it's unplugged and check the nozzle for signs of old residue, as this helps the newly melted glue to come out. If you clear any off, use a dry cloth to help (but never use water on a glue gun!).

2. The glue for you

The type of glue you needdepends on the project - it could be multi-purpose, coloured or wood glue. You also need to remember that glue guns have different temperature settings.

A word to the wise - never pull a half-used stick out of the glue gun while it's still hot. Otherwise you risk spilling hot glue all over yourself.

3. Glue at the right temperature

If you're using coloured sticks, they require a lower temperature (105 degrees Celsius) in comparison to neutral glue, as it makes sure it stays nice and bright. It takes around five minutes to warm up, and as the nozzle is hot, be sure you don't lean it against material or touch it without wearing heat-resistant gloves.

4. Glue test

As the nozzle points downwards, gently apply pressure and test it on some scrap material, to see if it's ready. You'll know it is by whether or not the glue turns to liquid when you pull the trigger. Make sure the nozzle is at a safe distance from any material - if it's very hot, it could leave burn marks.

5. Take care

When you're using a glue gun, protect your work surfaces by using a cutting mat or, if it's a smaller project, a glue pad. You can also rest your glue gun on the stand when you're not working with it. However, make sure you never put it on its side, as the glue could drip, or the nozzle could leave burn marks.

6. Gluing glass, plastic, metal, leather, wood and other materials

Make sure you have a dry, grease-free surface. If it's oily and smooth, it's not going to bond together as easily. If you're working with glass, try rubbing it with either glass cleaner or alcohol, or alternatively, try water and soap. When you're working with wood, try lightly sanding the area to be glued, and then clean it.

Once you've applied the glue, press the surfaces together until the glue sets. When you're using the larger materials, you may need a clamp, while for the smaller ones, it's likely that a rubber band will suffice. Give it 24 hours so the glue can properly harden too.

7. Glue gun repairs

A glue gun also helps with small repair jobs. It works very well on interior wood and plastics, along with repairing carpets and flooring too.

If you're looking into fixing skirting boards, try hot glue - this helps you achieve a smooth, nail-free fix. It can also be used on small joints, trim and mounting too.

8. Household hacks

There are many things you can do with a hot melt glue gun. Try using it as a nonslip household hack, for instance - all you need to do is apply hot glue to the bottom of your socks, slippers, rugs or the sides of clothes hangers. Then, once it's dried, you can wave slipping goodbye!

9. Creative mould

Are you keen to get creative with hot glue? Well, here's a fun project for you. Get your hands on some silicone moulds, and then fill them with coloured hot glue, before attaching them to photo frames, hairpins or earrings - it's up to you.

Simply put the hot glue into the mould by directing it into the corners first, before filling the centre.

10. Removing the glue

When you've finished, unplug the gun before cleaning it. You can then make sure the glue on the nozzle doesn't set by wiping it off quickly with a dry cloth - just be sure to wear heat-resistant gloves, as chances are the nozzle will be warm.

If any excess glue has set on the material and overlaps, simply give it a trim with scissors. You can briefly heat the glue up with a hair dryer to melt it, before wiping it away with a cloth.