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Great Glue Gun Tips And Tricks

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Hot glue gun

Ask any serious crafter what tool he or she can’t live without and you are sure to hear about their favorite glue gun. This comes as no surprise. Give an artisan a tool that can join any two materials together and it’s love at first dab.

If you are just getting started with glue guns or always looking to improve your glue-game, this post will get you up and running with tips and tricks that the pro’s use every day. Let’s dive right in.

Should you be using hot glue?

Before you fire up the glue gun and start sticking things together, double check to see if your materials would call for high temperature glue, low temperature glue or a whole different kind of glue all together. Visit www.thistothat.com, enter your materials into the calculator, and click “Let’s Glue!” to see what kind of glue you should be using.

Watch that temperature

Glue guns come in a few different varieties. The main difference is whether they are made for high, medium or low temperature. Why would you need different temperatures? There are a few main reasons.

  • High heat glue guns will make a more permanent bond. Take this into consideration when considering the type of project you are about to tackle. Do you need to remove those photographs from the wall at a later date? Lower temperature glue works best for this. Choose a high temperature glue when you want to stick it permanently.
  • Some crafting materials will be ruined by scorching hot glue. A perfect example of this is Styrofoam. If you try to glue Styrofoam with a high heat gun, you get melted foam.
  • Lower temperature glue is repositionable for a longer period of time, while high heat glue adheres to a surface much quicker. If you try to move a dab of high heat glue, all you get is glue smeared across your project.
  • Where will your finished project be on display? If you are hanging a window decoration with low temperature glue, the inconsiderate sun may melt your hard work without so much as a shred of remorse. Match the glue to the environment.

Just like there are glue guns for different temperatures, glue sticks also come specially made for specific temperature ranges. For the best results, match the glue and gun temperature.

Keep a bowl of ice cold water nearby

Fingertip covers by Mod Podge

Keep a bowl of cold water nearby just in case you burn a finger. In this case, the cold water reduces the burning and cursing all in one move.

There is another reason to keep cold water handy. We all know that puddle of glue is hot, REALLY hot, but we can’t seem to resist the urge to tidy it up with a finger. Simply dip your finger in cold water BEFORE using it as a molten glue manipulator. You’re welcome.

Along with that ice water, equip yourself with a set of silicone fingertips from Mod Podge and your fingers will thank you. These protective tips cover the end of your fingers and allow you to stick those digits where they don’t belong while suffering no consequences.

Wait for it

Don’t succumb to the temptation to start gluing 90 seconds after you plug in your gun. WAIT a full ten minutes to be sure your glue gun reaches the temperature it was designed to work at.

Is your glue stick reluctant to feed into the gun? This means the gun is not hot enough. Wait a bit longer and try again.

Think about your work surface

Glue gun in binder clip stand

Before you create your masterpiece, save yourself some headaches and cleanup by thinking about your work space.

  • Purchase a single floor tile from the hardware store and use it as a work surface. Hot glue doesn’t stick to tiles very well. This gives you a firm, flat base to work on and you won’t have to pry your work free from the tile when you are done.
  • If you’d like a work surface that affords you a quick and easy cleanup, try using parchment paper. When you are done crafting, crumple the paper up and toss the mess into the trash.
  • Are you wondering where that silly little wire stand went for your glue gun? Grab a stationery binder clip and place the tip of the gun in one of the rounded wire ends. These make a perfect stand.
  • An empty jar will not only hold your glue gun but will also catch any dribbles of molten glue that drip from the tip while sitting on the table.
  • A culinary spoon stand also doubles as a glue gun stand if you can’t find an empty jar around the house.

Get up close and personal

Get the glue gun tip REALLY close to whatever you are working on. In a lot of cases, you can touch the tip of the gun to your work. This gives you more working time with the glue and produces less of those “strings” that seem to stretch out from your puddle of glue.

Another trick for reducing glue strings is to nudge the tip of your gun to the side before lifting it up. Just a small sideways movement is enough.

Scan for glue hairs afterwards

Glue-hairs are going to happen. It’s just a fact of life. After you have completed your gluing, turn on a hair dryer and gently wave it over your project. This will eliminate those pesky hairs in one slick move.

Let’s keep it clean people

Have you tried using tissue paper to clean the tip of your glue gun yet? This only results in so much fuzz and tissue attached to the tip that someone might think you were gluing field mice together.

There is a better way.

Crumple up a bit of aluminum foil, press it over the hot tip of your gun and scrub in a twisting motion. Be sure you don’t burn your fingers!

Cleaning a glue gun with foil

Treat yourself to a fine tip gun

Crafting guru Cindy Lindsay from “The Passion Effect” suggests keeping a fine tip gun handy for delicate work. While a fine tip is not suitable for most of the crafting you will do, it does allow you to make art rather than messes out of the intricate work.

Stack your sticks

Yes, I made that rhyme up all by myself!

If you are getting to the end of one glue stick but the next one won’t stay lodged in the back of the glue gun, try using the glue gun to join the two sticks together. That’s what it’s there for, right?

Go beyond sticking things together

While gluing things together is truly a noble use for a glue gun, keep in mind that they can do more than just that.

Have you ever tried peeling the paper off a crayon and sticking it into your glue gun? If kids can put crayon tips in their ears and feed crayons to the hamster, then adults should be able to put crayons where they don’t belong as well! Try this with a glue gun from the dollar store and start painting in any color you please!

Get out that floor tile or silicone mat and extrude your own art made completely from hot glue. Let the glue cool and lift it from the mat. While spray paint works well on these shapes, you might try painting them with nail polish.

Glue gun creation on a silicone mat

Hot glue actually makes a good material for injecting into small molds. Once cool, it’s easy to remove from the molds and is also easy to paint.

Silicone molds for making hot glue shapes

Has someone misplaced the drain plug for the sink or bathtub again? Simply inject hot glue into a small balloon, tie the end off and press it down into the drain. It creates a perfect drain plug in a pinch.

DIY bathtub drain plug

A few swirls of hot glue applied to the bottom of house slippers will prevent slips and falls.

Non-slip addition to kids slippers

I could go on and on with all kinds of great uses for hot glue, but I think you get the idea. Google “hot glue uses” and peruse through thousands of ideas! You’ll be gluing and creating with the best of them!

Improvised hot glue gun


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