Most do-it-yourself types and woodworkers look at glue guns as something for their wives to use for crafts projects. Nevertheless, all one has to do is look at how many ways hot melt glue is used in industry to realize how versatile it is. We find glue used for everything including electronics assembly, packaging, and furniture manufacturing.
Hot melt glue has one major advantage over just about any other type of adhesive you can use and that’s its quick set-up time. Clamping of items glued together with hot melt glue is measured in seconds, not hours. The parts can literally be put together by hand and held for a few seconds while the adhesive sets up. Since hot melt glues are actually solid adhesives that are melted, they come out of the gun as a thick gel. This makes it possible to use the glue as a filler, when connected rough or uneven surfaces together. Unlike some adhesives, hot melt glue doesn't lose strength by being applied heavily.
The gun provides the ability to apply the adhesive exactly where needed, in the exact quantity desired. This helps eliminate problems with damaged finishes, a common problem if adhesives get into the wood grain before the finish is applied. In situations where too much adhesive is applied, the excess adhesive can be cut off with a sharp knife. Parts connected together with hot melt glues can be machined.
There are many different types of commercially available adhesives for use with glue guns. Typically, the only glues found in retail outlet are semi-transparent glue sticks used for crafts projects. In addition, there are glue sticks which have been developed for use on just about any type of substrate. If you’re considering using your glue gun with any of these types of glue sticks, you will want one that takes full-sized sticks as they don't come in the mini size.
Heat guns vary considerably, ranging in price up to a couple of thousand dollars but most of us have only seen the low-cost consumer units. These are great for crafts projects, but may not be enough for heavy-duty applications. If you are working on a project where a lot of adhesive would be needed, you would be better served by buying one of the lower-cost industrial units, rather than a consumer unit. The higher heat output of these units allows them to melt much more adhesive, an essential when trying to glue large surfaces together.
When looking at a glue gun, you want to match the model to your intended use. For those who need a lot of glue volume, the higher wattage units are much better. If you are using it for craft projects, where you may be gluing multiple parts together, a dual temperature unit would allow you to use a higher temperature glue for the first glue joints and a lower temperature glue for later joints.
Trigger design on these guns is rather important, as the pressure you apply to the trigger is what pushes the glue through the heating element and out of the gun. A larger and wider trigger reduces fatigue from using the gun, especially when using it for longer periods of time.
Some guns come with a built-in stand. While not absolutely necessary, these are a great convenience. For units that do not come with a stand, it is common to just lay them down on the work surface.
If you're looking for the best of the best, this glue gun is it. While a bit more than most people need, this cordless unit is a redesign of the typical glue gun, working off of a unique adhesive system. Read Full Review
This unit may be a little more than most people want, but it’s the best there is. The gun is cordless, allowing you about 20 minutes of work time between charges and there are also four separate adhesives made for it, allowing you to pick the right adhesive for the application. Unfortunately, the adhesives are not standard hot melt glue sticks, but specialty adhesives made by Titebond, the same company that makes the excellent wood glue. A ball check valve in the tip keeps the gun operating dripless, eliminating a problem common to using hot melt glues. This glue gun comes in a convenient carry case with as assortment of adhesives and a stand/charger.
If you have to do a lot of gluing, this is the glue gun for you. Relatively inexpensive, for an industrial unit, this gun will put out six pounds of glue per hour. Read Full Review
This unit from Ellsworth Adhesives is a true professional glue gun, with a 220 watt heating element that allows it to put out as much as six pounds of adhesive per hour. That's using standard 1/2 inch diameter glue sticks, from 4 inches to 15 inches in length. If you need to do a lot of gluing, this unit will provide that capability at a very reasonable price. The temperature is adjustable from 155.5 to 215.5 degrees Centigrade (312 to 420 degrees F). A four finger trigger reduces fatigue and a built-in stand is provided for convenience.
An excellent gun for the price you’re paying. While still considered an industrial gun, the pricing makes this very reachable as a consumer product. The 80 watt heating element will put out more than double the amount of glue that a consumer grade unit does. Read Full Review
If the first two units on the list are a little too rich for your blood, take a look at this model from Surebonder. While still considered a professional gun, it is priced along the lines of top-end consumer guns. With 80 watts of heating power, this gun will still melt through a lot of glue, although not as much as the Bostik unit. It is dual-range, with preset temperatures of 250 and 380 degrees F. This gun uses 7/16 inch glue sticks, which are available in 4 inch and 10 inch versions. Interchangeable nozzles help you customize the gun to your specific needs, specifically how much glue comes out of the nozzle when you pull the four-finger ergonomic trigger. A removable wire stand is included.
The 60 watt heater on this gun still puts out double the amount of glue that most commercial units does. Dual heat ranges allow you to use it with high temperature or low temperate adhesives. Read Full Review
This consumer gun from Adhesive Technologies sports a 60 watt heater, outputting two pounds of adhesive per hour. That's still double what most consumer grade glue guns can put out, the equivalents of 82 glue sticks. This is a single (high) temperature gun, running at 380 degrees F. The tip is insulated to protect you from accidental burns. An integral on-off switch allows you to turn it off, without having to unplug it. An indicator light provides you with a clear indication of whether the unit is on or not. This glue gun comes with two stands, a flip-up small stand at the tip, like the other guns we've looked at, as well as a larger stand attached to the base of the handle. The trigger can accommodate four fingers for most people.
The Arrow glue gun is a great gun for home crafts and repair. A switch on the handle allows you to easily switch between the two heat ranges. Read Full Review
For those who need a glue gun for hobby and craft use, Arrow produces a very nice gun. A switch on the handle allows choosing high or low heat. The two-finger trigger is sufficient for crafts projects and small repairs while a flip-down stand allows you to set the unit upright on the workbench when not in use. A plastic covered nozzle helps prevent burns and is designed to be non-drip.