How To: Use a Glue Gun
Whether you’re hoping to carry out involved crafts or minor home repairs, get tips on how to effectively and safely use a glue gun.
A glue gun is a household tool that is both easy to use and extremely versatile. A crafter’s best friend, it can be put to work on a surprising number of projects, from elaborate art endeavors to minor repairs. However, this device can be dangerous and messy if not handled properly due to its internal heat source. These simple tips for how to use a glue gun will help make your project a safe and simple one.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Before starting your project, be sure to read the instruction manual for your particular device, as features can vary among glue guns. To set up a work space, clear clutter and protect your surface with a silicone mat, aluminum foil, or other disposable or cleanable drip covering.
STEP 1: Make sure the glue gun nozzle is free of old glue residue.
It’s not uncommon for excess glue to remain on the nozzle from previous use, so users will want to make sure to remove residue before a new project. Aluminum foil is effective as an abrasive cleaner and will work when your device is hot or cool, but will be more effective when it’s warm. To do this, wrap your gun in the foil and then heat it up either by using a blow dryer or by turning it on for a couple of minutes. Make sure to unplug it and put on protective gloves before rubbing the warmed glue off with the foil.
Wiping the nozzle with acetone should also do the trick. To do this, simply pour a bit of the liquid onto a paper towel and rub off the build-up on your cooled-down device. Use a needle or pin to clean out the hole.
STEP 2: Load the glue gun with a hot glue stick.
Before plugging in your glue gun, you’ll want to insert a glue stick. Make sure you have purchased the correct size stick for your device, as width and length will vary depending on your model. Your gun will have a chamber where the stick can be loaded. Insert the glue and then push it towards the tip. Holding down the trigger will cause the stick to move further towards the heat source. Once your glue stick has worn down, insert a new one behind it to continually push the old one forward.
Related: The Right Glue for Every Repair Job
STEP 3: Plug in the glue gun and allow it to warm up.
After inserting the glue, it’s time to plug in your gun. You’ll want to let your device’s internal heating element fully warm up before beginning your project. This should take about two to four minutes for smaller glue guns and five to eight minutes for larger models. Take caution during use, as the tip can be extremely hot, especially on high-temp models. Refrain from putting your gun directly down on your surface and make sure to use the device’s stand, which may come attached or separate.
STEP 4: Begin working.
To start your project, simply hold the gun close to the item and pull the trigger. Having it too far away will produce excess stringy pieces. To further avoid a mess, make sure to use the smallest amount of glue necessary. Once your adhesive is dispensed, lay off the trigger and pull the tip sideways to cut off the flow. Make sure to let it dry fully before moving on, which should take less than 30 seconds.
STEP 5: Allow the glue gun to cool, and store it safely.
Once you have finished your project, turn off and unplug your glue gun. Make sure it is left to cool upright on its stand to avoid messes and safety hazards. The time it takes to cool will vary depending on your device. After it has cooled a bit but is still warm, you can use safety gloves and aluminum foil to wipe off excess glue.
Never try to remove your part-melted glue stick, as it will damage the device. You can extrude melted glue out the nozzle, but leave the remaining intact glue stick in place for its next use. Make sure your glue gun is fully cooled before storing it away in a spot that is out of reach of children.
Related: How to Clamp a Glue Joint
The function of your glue gun will vary slightly depending on your model. Low-temp options will work best with delicate materials such as lace and fabrics, and higher temp versions will suit work with wood, metal, and plastics. Cordless versions will need to be charged before use. However, these tried-and-true tips on how to use a glue gun will be effective for any model. Always remember to take caution while handling your glue gun, use as little glue as needed, and unplug your device once your project is complete or before leaving the room.