How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

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Don’t have a glue gun? In vain – a useful thing! Let’s see what’s inside it, learn how to use this small but very powerful tool, figure out the technical characteristics of different models, decide on the main selection criteria.

There is such a tool that, without exaggeration and any reservations, can be called folk. The glue gun is from that series. There is no need to agitate for it, it does not need obtrusive advertising and cunning marketing tricks, since many masters have long appreciated all its advantages and have prescribed this device in their arsenal. Despite the fact that it is not an essential tool, has a simple design and a relatively low price, the hot glue gun does an excellent job of performing a wide range of tasks, in most cases it cannot be replaced with something else..

Bosch PKP 18E Bosch PKP 18E

With the help of a glue gun, builders fix engineering communications, fill the seams, seal them, and glue them together. This tool was especially fond of designers, florists, as well as craftsmen of the popular “hand-made” trend, who regularly make all kinds of souvenirs, piece items, and decorative elements. Radio amateurs, model constructors, ordinary home craftsmen did not stand aside. Even by itself, a polyurethane melt can be of some decorative value – artists create frame mesh structures from it, draw with an adhesive mass on objects, get an original shot from colored or metallized drops (balls, beads …), form stylized stamps for decorating postcards, invitations tickets and holiday bottles, create three-dimensional pictures.

Hot glue crafts

The main advantages of the glue gun

The glue gun allows you to glue various elements almost instantly, since the heated polymer hardens within just a few minutes (from 1 to 3), after which the seam acquires almost maximum strength. There is no need to wait for hours for setting, as when working with glue such as “Liquid nails”, “Moment”.

The melt interacts well with most materials – wood, plastics, PVC, glass, leather, metal, ceramics, paper, rubber, fabrics … The hot glue gun is not friendly only with some mineral bases, for example, concrete and plaster. Certain difficulties arise when working with polyethylene parts. As with any other glue, when using a heat gun, the surfaces to be treated must be free of dirt, moisture, oil stains..

How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

The connection is very reliable, not inferior in strength to mechanical fastening. It can only be disassembled by heating, and on many surfaces it does not leave marks after removal (useful if you cannot drill / drill / hammer). There is an interesting technology for paintless removal of dents on the car body, when a fungus (piston) is glued to the front surface of a stamped part in the “crater”, and then a special device (minilifter) clings to the piston and pulls out the dent on the metal, then the fungus is removed by heating.

The temperature factor is also a kind of limitation – you should not use a gun in the manufacture of parts that will be exposed to high temperatures. If you need to glue metal elements, you will have to heat them up (for example, with a hairdryer), since due to the high thermal conductivity of the base, the melt cools too quickly and instantly freezes.

The adhesive very well fills voids, seals, impregnates. Unlike most sealants, the melt, even with large layers, solidifies completely, to the entire depth, and in a short time (10-15 min), although not as quickly as small smears (1-3 min).

Dremel Glue Gun 930 Dremel Glue Gun 930

The glue of such a gun is non-toxic even in a hot, flowing state. The only thing to beware of burns and damage to heat-sensitive materials.

The finished seam resists moisture well. Spare rods can be stored for a long time without losing their performance.

The gluing process turns out to be quite economical, since spare wheels are relatively inexpensive (50-75% less than liquid glue of a comparable volume), and the mass is dosed very accurately, with a small amount of waste.

This tool is relatively safe, easy to use and very ergonomic, it is suitable even for children’s applied arts..

The device and principle of operation of the hot glue gun

A hot gun is a hand tool in which polyurethane glue is heated to a fluid state, visually it strongly resembles a well-known type of weapon (hence the common name). The unit is charged from the rear side, the “cartridges” for it are cylindrical rods of various diameters (most often 7 or 11 mm). The spare wheel passes the push rod bushing and enters the tubular rubber receiver, after which we drive the rod into the heating chamber, where the material melts, acquiring adhesive and penetrating ability. The initial heating of the tool lasts 3-5 minutes on average. By pressing the trigger of the spare wheel, acting on the principle of a piston, it creates pressure in the heated tank and pushes the melt through the nozzle onto the surface to be treated.

How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

Heating unit. The heat chamber is located in the barrel – this is a metal reservoir, near which (usually from below) a heating element, a heating element, is located. In some models, several heaters are used, which allows for more uniform, step heating (BOSCH GKP 200 CE). The size of the chamber and the power of the heating element depend on the amount of mass ready for work and the melting rate – in other words, the productivity of the tool. The thermal unit, therefore, can be considered the main one, while it is the most reliable, and its resource is usually enough for the entire service life of the tool.


Feed mechanism.This assembly is an annular pusher (sometimes with an engaging tooth), which is activated by a lever connected to a carousel-type trigger (moves around its axis) or a slide-type (moves along the barrel – STANLEY GR 90C). This is a relatively capricious design, sometimes serious breakdowns occur here, especially if you apply too much effort, wanting to get a lot of glue at the exit. Often, the feed mechanism is too precisely “sharpened” for a specific rod size, and even small deviations in its diameter cause malfunctions (difficult feeding of a large or slipping of a thin spare wheel).

How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

It is worth mentioning separately the thrust guide coupling – it is a tubular receiver located directly in front of the heat chamber. It is he who seals the “reverse direction”, prevents the ingress of melt into the cavity of the gun. In fact, this element turns out to be the weakest – the rubber ages and cracks, with frequent overheating of the melt, material begins to pass through, which stops moving parts, destroys the insulation of the wires and causes a short circuit. Often, the clutch is damaged when trying to spin a charged rod or pull it back, say, for replacement. It is better to cut off the rod and pass the rest of it through the nozzle.

Nozzle (nozzle, nozzle)The thermo gun is used to shape the adhesive mass, to meter the flow and to close the outgoing channel. The nozzle usually contains a shut-off valve (spring-loaded ball, nipple) that prevents unauthorized melt flowing out. It is worth noting that it does not completely overlap the nozzle, this was done intentionally in order to relieve excess pressure when the mass overheats, so you need to put a cardboard under the spout in any case. Direct-flow nozzles are also used, but the loss of material through them is greater.

The nozzles are made of metal (like the heat unit), and are covered with a rubber or silicone casing on top to prevent burns. Many models are equipped with several attachments of different shapes and lengths. They have a thread for connecting to a heat chamber and slots for an open-end wrench, however, they can only be changed in a heated state, otherwise everything is firmly fixed with frozen glue.

How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

At the end of the work, the nozzle must always be cleaned of glue by running it several times over a piece of cardboard.

Thermal gun bodyare made of hard plastics, which allows to reduce heat transfer from the heating chamber, to ensure the product is lightweight – 300 grams for a network gun is considered an average. The handle is often equipped with anti-slip inserts, as a rule, it is empty inside – the wires pass there, and the carousel trigger moves. The most important thing is in the trunk.

An important option of the housing is the presence of a viewing window through which it is possible to monitor the remainder of the rod or the appearance of a leak from the side of the guide sleeve.

Almost all products have a folding stand in the front part of the case, on which you can lean the instrument with the nose down; a special penny is provided at the end of the handle for this purpose. During a break in work, it is not recommended to lay the pistol on its side, since the body (and the inner tube) in this case overheats, and the surface on which the tool was left may also suffer.

Choosing the technical characteristics of the glue gun

The power of a glue gun is the power consumption of its heating element. It is clear that the more watts under the hood, the faster the glue “melts”, but speed is not the main thing for performance. You will also need to take into account the capacity of the melting tank. If the heating element can provide the required operating temperature, and there will be the required amount of glue in the heat chamber, then the issue of its power may not be considered at all. In general, pistols of the “pro” class take 300 or more watts, while products for amateur use are content with a power of 30 to 150 watts..

How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

However, if the maximum power turns out to be insufficient (for our needs), then we will have to make forced pauses to prepare the melt. How to understand if it is enough or not? No way! Do not choose by power, this indicator is “for a passport”. Choose for performance.

Interestingly, some companies offer a tool with an automatically adjustable power. For example, for the initial melting, the device consumes 200 W, then switches to a standard operating power of 40 W, and in standby mode about 14-16 W.

Working temperature of the melt. Not all materials are equally resistant to high temperatures, some are very sensitive. To work with paper, textiles, some types of polymers, low-temperature glue sticks are used, with a melting point of 105 ° C, special guns have been developed for them, operating in this mode, or devices with an adjustable temperature. For example, the Dremel 920 is 105 degrees, and the Dremel 930 is dual-mode (105 and 165 degrees).

Dremel 920Dremel 920

Traditional, average pistols heat the glue up to 170-200 degrees. Interestingly, almost all rods flow at 105 degrees, and the high temperature just speeds up the process..

If you are not going to use a pistol on a regular basis, then it may not make sense to buy an expensive model. We decided to save money – do not purchase a tool with a maximum operating temperature, as due to high internal pressure, issues with durability may arise. Give preference to a unit designed for 165-170 degrees.

Advanced models allow you to regulate the temperature in a wide range, even a special microcircuit can monitor its maintenance.

Pistol speed is not quite the correct term, although it is quite common. It is more correct to speak about productivity, the data on which indicate the mass of the melt emanating from the nozzle per unit of time. In the passport for the product, you can almost always find such information. As a rule, this parameter is in the range of 5-30 grams per minute. For construction work, a lot of glue is needed, so rods with a diameter of 11 millimeters will be most suitable, but they will also need an appropriate performance. Moreover, the flow time of the mass is limited, and relatively large areas have to be coated. For amateur art, where point gluing is relevant, you can pay attention to something simpler, paying several times less. If you look at it, it is productivity that will form the basis for dividing glue guns into “professional / household”.

How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

The power supply of the glue gun is realized in different ways. The most widespread network devices with a fixed wire. A step forward are guns, in which the power cable is detachable, and the operator has the ability to move away from the outlet and work autonomously for 10-15 minutes (Dremel 940). Here the heat chamber acts as a heat accumulator. The logical continuation of this theme is the machines that are in standby mode in a special charger, glass, dock-stand, which also collects drops. For example, Steinel GLUEMATIC 5000 works according to this principle, by the way, the cord can be connected to it directly.

Steinel GLUEMATIC 5000Steinel GLUEMATIC 5000

Almost complete freedom of action will give the cordless thermo gun. Steinel Neo 3 has the following characteristics: 45 minutes runs from a single charge of a compact lithium-ion battery, which recovers in an hour and a half, in 15 seconds heats a 7 mm rod to 190 degrees and at the same time weighs only 786 grams (including the battery). The BOSCH PKP 7,2 Li pistol has almost identical performance – only it has a two-hour charger. Interestingly, the price of such (wireless) devices has decreased significantly, it is no longer prohibitive – it is around $ 100.


Select by additional criteria

If you have decided on the appropriate technical characteristics of the glue gun, then it makes sense to look at additional options that make our work more comfortable and productive:

  1. The switchable temperature mode allows you to use the tool for working with materials with special properties, including heat-sensitive ones. If the preset is carried out not only “minimum and maximum”, but in a wide range – before you the most versatile device.
  2. There is an electronic temperature control in automatic mode, which means that you do not have to worry about overheating of the tool, large losses of melt. The machine itself goes into different heating phases – initial melting / working phase / standby mode. Many experienced users have noticed that if there is no smart electronics, then during breaks in work it is better to disconnect the device from the network in order to avoid premature failure of the pistol.
  3. Ready status indication. The LED indicates that the camera has reached the desired temperature, and the user can safely squeeze the trigger without fear for the integrity of the feed mechanism and take-up sleeve.
  4. A pushbutton switch on the body serves for convenient power off during long breaks in operation (especially important in the absence of control electronics).
  5. Illumination of the working area with LED – built-in flashlight. It seems to be a trifle, but in some cases it helps out our brother a lot, especially when we work “on site”, in hard-to-reach places.
  6. Replaceable attachments. Significantly expand the capabilities of the tool, since they allow you to get a different amount of melt at the outlet, change the size of the glue strip, get out with long nozzles into the blind zones.
  7. The presence of a nipple in the nozzle – significantly reduces the number of drops of adhesive emitted in standby mode (Metabo KE 3000).
  8. Sight glass – allows you to control the remainder of the charged rod, helps to monitor the integrity of the take-up sleeve.
  9. Stand leg. It is not always quite stable and practical, it is not always securely fixed in the assembled state. The best glue guns have a very wide footprint that can accommodate the grip hoof and even the trigger (Dremel F0131200KA).
  10. Trigger design. The overwhelming majority of users note that the most convenient option is the rotary trigger mechanism, since it is easier for them to control dosing and less effort needs to be applied. It is quite difficult to work with a pistol without a trigger, where the rod is fed by hand, but such a system is already a rarity. Some models have a screw stop for trigger travel to adjust the maximum dose of material (ELMOS EGG 400).
  11. The function of disconnecting the cord – significantly improves the ergonomics of the product, makes it possible to work in autonomous mode for 10-20 minutes.
  12. The complete set of the device may include a case, a set of rods for various purposes, a heat-resistant mat, easily cleaned from glue..

Metabo KE 3000Metabo KE 3000

A little about glue sticks

A spare part for a glue gun is also called stickers. They differ in diameter (usually 7 and 11 mm), in length, in color, in operating temperature.

With the cross-sectional indicators, everything is more or less clear, it is difficult to get under the re-grading, however, some pistols are very sensitive to the diameter, therefore it is recommended to use only “native” rods. By the way, there are pistols that run on oval rods.

As for the length of the spare tire – there may be options from 4 to 20 cm, this will not affect the workflow in any way, just if you use longer stickers, you will have to change them less often.

How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

The color of the bar may vary for various reasons. First, a colored sticker can be used to mask the seam (for a blue object, take blue glue, for a yellow one – yellow), or for a decorative effect (glitter rods, multicolor). Secondly, tinting manufacturers indicate different purposes of the rods, for example, a transparent sticker is universal, black is for sealing, and yellow is for glass. Note that there are no uniform standards, each company labels rods with different chemical compositions in its own way, so you should carefully study the instructions before buying.

How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

The melting temperature for most stickers is approximately the same and equals 100–105 degrees, do not worry that your thermo gun heats up to two hundred – the glue does not lose its characteristics, it just melts faster. True, there are also high-temperature rods that need 150 ° C and above. Obviously, not every pistol can pull such a spare tire..

How to choose a glue gun: professional advice

The range of glue guns is huge, but we are now well-grounded in theory and can easily make the right choice. As you have noticed, this instrument has a fairly simple design, so even for little money ($ 7-10), you can buy a completely combat-ready device, just not burdened with optional options. This is the rare case when even a purely Chinese product will be worth its money, the main thing is to learn how to correctly use a glue gun. For $ 40-50, you can become the owner of an already branded tool from European manufacturers with advanced capabilities and a good margin of safety.

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