The Best Hot Glue Guns for Crafts and DIY Projects
Hot glue guns are valuable tools for crafters, hobbyists, and DIYers. Stick to our guide below for advice on choosing among the many options available today.
An eminently versatile and often overlooked tool, hot glue guns are handy for everything from kids’ crafts to fabric-based interior design projects like creating homemade lampshades and headboards. Unlike with other types of glue that require a significant amount of time to bond (sometimes hours), a hot glue gun dispenses a melted adhesive that bonds as it cools—usually in less than a minute.
Whether you’re looking to buy your first glue gun or upgrade to a new and better model, continue now for our tips on choosing the best hot glue gun for your project needs, as well as our roundup of top tool picks.
- BEST ALL AROUND: Chandler Tool Hot Glue Gun
- BEST VALUE: ccbetter Upgraded Mini Hot Melt Glue Gun
- UPGRADE PICK: Ryobi Glue Gun
- ALSO CONSIDER: G LAXIA Heavy Duty Hot Glue Gun
Types of Hot Glue Guns
Glue guns come in three main types—low temperature, high temperature, and dual-temperature—each with its own best uses.
- Low temperature: A low-temperature glue gun heats glue to around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Though the glue gun still gets very hot at the tip, it’s safer to use and less likely to cause accidental burns than a high-temperature tool. Low-temperature glue guns often are the tool of choice for child-friendly crafts, but children still should have adult supervision when using any glue gun. Low-temperature glue guns are designed for use only with low-temperature glue sticks, which are made with a silicone base that melts easily under lower temperatures. This type of glue gun is suitable for light-duty projects, such as making paper chains and scrapbooking.
- High temperature: Reaching temperatures of approximately 380 degrees Fahrenheit, high-temperature glue guns can melt many different types of glue sticks, including sticks that contain thermoplastic compounds, polymers, and acrylic ingredients that create a strong bond on plastic, wood, and even metal. The downside is that the super-hot glue is more likely to burn or blister skin if touched while still hot. For this reason, high-temperature glue guns are better suited to adult crafters and hobbyists.
- Dual-temperature: Most glue guns have a single temperature, but a few have adjustable controls that allow the user to switch between high and low temperature as needed. For a wide variety of craft projects, your best choice might be a gun with an adjustable temperature.
Key Shopping Considerations
All glue guns dispense melted glue, but depending on the type of crafts you create, one model might be better suited to your use than another. Evaluating features such as how hot the glue gun gets and how much glue it dispenses will help you determine the right one for your crafting needs.
The Wattage Factor
When it comes to glue guns, power and heat go hand in hand. More wattage means a hotter glue gun, faster heating, and the ability to stay hot longer while you’re working. A rating of 10 to 20 watts is common for low-temperature glue guns. High-temp guns start at 20 watts of heating power and can go as high as 100 watts or more. If a project requires a lot of glue, such as creating a heavy wreath from pine cones, you’ll have less downtime if you use a high-temperature gun with 60 watts or more. You can still create the wreath with a low-temperature gun, but you might have to wait a minute or so after attaching each cone to allow the gun to heat up again.
Glue guns come in full size or mini size, and their size relates to the type of glue stick they take. A mini glue gun takes narrow “mini” sticks that are just 0.27 inches in diameter, and full-size glue guns take larger sticks that are 0.44 inches in diameter. Full-size guns dispense a larger volume of hot glue with each squeeze, while mini guns dispense a smaller amount, making them great for wrapping gifts and making delicate craft objects such as Christmas ornaments.
You won’t find a lot of fancy bells and whistles on most glue guns; their design is pretty straightforward, but you can find a few options that might make crafting easier.
- Off/On switch: most glue guns are on by default when they’re plugged in, but a few feature Off/On switches that allow you to turn it off while the gun is plugged in.
- Stand: Many guns feature a flip-down tripod that balances the glue gun when you set it down, but some come with a separate stand where you can rest the gun until you need it next. Still others feature an upright design that can stand on their own base.
- Sleeved tip: The safest glue guns feature a heat-resistant sleeve that covers most of the metal dispensing tip. That way, you’re less likely to burn your fingers.
Corded vs. Cordless
For years, the only type of glue gun on the market had to be plugged into a wall outlet, but the new kids on the block are cordless models operating on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or disposable butane cartridges. Cordless models make it possible to reach spots where an outlet isn’t available, such as gluing down that loose shingle on the garden shed. A single butane cartridge or a fully charged 18-volt battery will power a glue gun for approximately two to three hours.
1. BEST ALL AROUND: Chandler Tool Hot Glue Gun
If you need a glue gun for a variety of crafts and household repairs, the Chandler Tool Hot Glue Gun is a worthy choice. With 60 watts of heating power, the Chandler glue gun will melt a variety of full-size glue sticks. It features a unique no-drip tip designed to reduce those annoying strings and drips of glue that can get on surfaces when you set the gun down. The glue gun also features a built-in base instead of a flip-down tripod, so it remains in an upright position on the table with less chance of tipping over and comes with a sleeved tip for safety.
2. BEST VALUE: ccbetter Upgraded Mini Hot Melt Glue Gun
You don’t have to spend a lot to get a good glue gun. The ccbetter Upgraded Mini Hot Melt Glue Gun is great for small projects and quick home repairs. At 20 watts, it works with either low-temperature or high-temperature mini silicone glue sticks and features a flip-down tripod stand for stabilization. A protective sleeve encases most of the heating tip, exposing less metal while making the TopElek safer and easier to use.
3. UPGRADE PICK: Ryobi Glue Gun
When you need to dispense hot glue in spots you can’t reach with a corded glue gun, consider going cordless with the sleeved-tip Ryobi Glue Gun. This full-size, high-temperature glue gun features an 18-volt lithium-ion battery that will produce as much heat as a 100-watt corded glue gun, enough to melt several types of glue sticks so you can use it as effectively in the workshop as you can for home crafting projects. The Ryobi includes a battery charger and is designed to stand upright on its own base when not in use.
4. ALSO CONSIDER: G LAXIA Heavy Duty Hot Glue Gun
With 100 watts of heating power, the G LAXIA Heavy Duty Hot Glue Gun is powerful enough to melt all types of full-size glue sticks and can be used to bond ceramics, glass, wood, and other materials (depending on the type of glue sticks you purchase). The G LAXIA heats up quickly and features a built-in fuse that shuts the gun down if it starts to overheat. It features a flip-down tripod stand and a full-hand trigger grip for easy dispensing. This high-temperature glue gun is every bit as handy in the workshop as it is in the hobby room.