Tips and Tricks: Hot Glue Guns

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Tips & Tricks: Hot Glue Guns
This week, my daughter asked if she could use my glue gun by herself for the first time. At 11, I feel she’s certainly old enough and has shown the maturity to use the tool well, and I was excited to see what she would make. I was reminded, though, that even with the ease of use a glue gun offers, there are some precautions to take and some tips that make the process run smoothly. (have you Googled “hot glue gun burns” lately? One word: OUCH.) Here are some of my favorites, do you have any to add? 

  • One of the most obvious safety tips (and yet, I always seem to forget to do this …) is to keep a small bowl of ice water nearby when working with your hot glue gun. If you are unlucky enough to get burned, getting your injury in to cold water and on ice quickly is one of the best ways to assuage pain and minimize damage. Again, checking out pictures of folks’ glue gun burns reminds you very quickly that this is no joke.
  • Use tools for holding on to objects while you are glueing them. If you are working with tiny pieces, a pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers can be very handy for keeping your fingers out of harm’s way.
  • Use something besides your fingers to press your two glued objects together. This is especially true if you are glueing thin materials like fabric or felt. The heat of the glue can seep through and burn your finger tips and you press the objects together using something like a popsicle stick or plastic spoon can help protect your finger tips.
  • Hot glue is notorious for leaving lots of spider web-style strings all over a finished projects. Grab your hairdryer and use a low-eat setting to zap them away.
  • I have a few inexpensive plastic IKEA placemats that I keep on hand specifically to use under my hot glue gun. They can get messed up, and I don’t mind. Most of the glue peels right off when dry, but if it doesn’t I’m not upset to have messed up an inexpensive mat.

 

What are some other tips and tricks you have for using your glue gun?

Rachel Hobson is a freelance craft writer and editor who is obsessed with hand embroidery and all things geektastic and funny. She has a passion for creating community through crafting. She's also a huge space geek, and enjoys living five minutes from Houston's Johnson Space Center where she can get her fill of rockets any time she pleases.

26 Comments

  • Reply August 14, 2012

    Katie

    Great tips and tricks. For the past 2 years I’ve been using Plaid crafts hot glue gun helpers… comes with a silcone mat, finger socks, and spatulas for pressing items on to the hot glue. No more hot glue gun burns for me!

    • Reply August 20, 2012

      Rachel

      Thanks, Katie! I’ve wondered about those! They look darn handy. :)

    • Reply August 20, 2012

      Marie

      I second the Plaid set! Love Love Love the finger tips and the pointy round thing – doesn’t stick to the glue like popsicle sticks do.

  • Reply August 14, 2012

    Tamara

    I set my glue gun on an old Corelle plate. The strings and drips come of pretty easily, any big globs are a bit harder to remove but use needle nose pliers to pop them off. I like using the plate because I know the heat won’t go through it to run my work space.
    I also do a little loop in the air as I pull back and it helps eliminate the strings.

    Tamara

    • Reply August 20, 2012

      Rachel

      Smart tip about the plate, Tamara! And so funny – I meant to include the “little loop” bit in my list. I used it a few times when I did the “Tips” in hot glue for the photo illustration for this post! :)

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  • Reply August 20, 2012

    Sarah

    I know this is a little late, but I would suggest putting that you do not put ice on a burn. It can cause the burn to get frost bite. You need cool water, so cold water with maybe one ice cube just to keep the temperature of the water down. If you do have to use ice, there needs to be something between the ice and the burn. The best thing is to put the burn under cool running water — but make sure the water is not on full blast as the pressure can cause damage as well.

    • Reply August 28, 2012

      Amy

      You will not get frostbite from putting your hand in ice water. Dunk away.

  • Reply August 20, 2012

    Steve

    If you have hot glue where you don’t want hot glue, apply some rubbing alcohol (IPA) with a swab or cotton ball and it will generally pop right off. (Doesn’t work great on really absorbent stuff like felt, but does work on almost everything else, including many fabrics.)

  • Reply August 20, 2012

    Devon Fuentes

    If you don’t have cold water nearby touch the burn on anything metal (like your scissors) for a fast fix. It doesn’t last long but it will help until you can get to the sink.

    • Reply May 13, 2013

      Alicia DiRago

      Great tip, I’ll have to try that next time. (Because yes, I’m certain I’ll do it again sometime.)

  • Reply August 21, 2012

    Kat

    I just want to say thanks to everyone for the tips! I am a novice crafter and had never even thought of some of those ideas…..genius! Like the alcohol, and the plate, or even using a placemat! I am so excited to try these out, i am plotting my next glue gun craft!

    • Reply May 13, 2013

      Alicia DiRago

      Glad this is helpful Kat! Hope you’ll share what you make with us!

  • I use my non-stick craft sheet or my applique pressing sheet, whichever is handy, to put my glue gun on, never have to worry about the excess glue sticking. In a pinch though I just grab anything from my trash bin that I can just throw away when I am done.

    Also use a low temp glue gun whenever you don’t need the high temp one and especially for kids not being (very) supervised. My mom supplies an engineering camp for kids and they only use the low temp glue guns.

    Has anyone used the glue-gun meltable wax seals? I’ve been meaning to try those but I’m wondering if you need to pretty much have a dedicated glue gun for them since it seems like it would be very hard to get all of the wax out? Glue guns are pretty cheap and with the ubiquitous coupons for the big box stores in the US that’s not a lot of money but it’s just more stuff to store versus the much smaller amount of stuff for traditional wax. I’ve just heard that the glue-gun versions hold up a lot better in the modern mail/postal systems.

  • Reply August 22, 2012

    Miriam

    I use a plate under my glue gun. And yes, I always get burnt especially when I have to pinch something together. Thanks for the extra tips and thanks for sharing

  • Reply February 4, 2013

    bev

    can i use a hot glue gun on felt for a toddler quiet book?

  • Reply June 18, 2013

    Paula Walsh

    excellent tips rachel, it is good to read the interesting and useful guide.

  • Reply July 19, 2013

    J. Cooper

    Just wondering if I am the only one who has issues with lumpy hot glue?? I just glued some trim around a lamp shade, and I am unhappy with the slightly clumpy texture I get. I am pressing immediately to prevent it, and using a thin application… is there a better textured glue to use when doing fabric on fabric?

    • Reply July 21, 2013

      Alicia DiRago

      Hrm, I can’t recall having this problem. Are you using a low temp or hi temp gun? If you use hi temp glue in a low temp gun it might have trouble melting completely and come out lumpy.
      Also, for fabric on fabric, a flue like Fabri-tac is a great option and you won’t have to worry about the lumpiness!

  • […] A great place to learn more about using these products safely can be found in this blog about glue gun tips and tricks. […]

  • Reply May 31, 2014

    donna fong

    I use the glue to attach fresh fruits(tangerines and apples) together in a basket arrangement for gift giving. Are there any glue guns w/ tips that allow me to get in between the fruits so as not to leave a visible telltale sign of the glob of glue. I saw that Aileen makes one but the gun seems very ‘flimsy’ and I want something for long term use, not just a few small projects, I need something very durable. Are there any other ‘industrial’ strength ones that have a variety of tips …I am mainly interested in the very pointy tips and a very flat tip to get in between the fruits. Thanks for any comments!

  • […] A great place to learn more about using these products safely can be found in this blog about glue gun tips and tricks. […]

  • Reply July 18, 2014

    rebecca

    My store specializes in DIY boxes to go and Pinterest parties & we use doTerra oils for all sorts of DIY bath products, but the lavender oil REALLY comes in handy on glue gun burns! Apply 1-2 drops of lavender oil directly to the burn immediately after, and it will not only stop the pain in it’s tracks, but it will also prevent blistering. It’s magic! Visit my store at http://www.foxitup.net if you’d like to order some but you can get it locally as well I’d imagine :)

  • Reply July 22, 2014

    Craft Glue Guns

    Some interesting tips here, I’d certainly never given thought to putting the ice water right next to you while crafting.

    I can vouch for Steve’s tip about the rubbing alcohol, works like a charm in most cases! :)

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