The 10 Best Glue Guns
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in October of 2016. These hot glue guns can bond a variety of materials, including ceramics, paper, glass, and fabrics of all kinds. They are the perfect handy tool both for arts and crafts and for numerous simple repairs around the home, workshop, or office. Just remember that they do get quite hot, so keep your hands away from the tips and, if any kids are helping, you’ll need to supervise them closely. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 28, 2019:
For most casual users, the Cobiz Dual, the Chandler Tool Full Size, and the CCbetter Mini are simple, useful, affordable choices, with the former two being for larger jobs and the latter working well for smaller applications. We've also selected the AdTech Mini Hi-Temp for those who are truly pressed for space; a lo-temp version is offered, too, which is great for users who have kids or teens who may want to help (with close supervision, of course). As for beefier, more expensive choices, the Surebonder PRO2-220 remains a top pick, and we've opted to add the Ryobi 18V One+ and the AdTech 0189 Industrial. These are robust tools that work well for heavy-duty crafting and/or repair needs. Plus, the Ryobi model is a cordless glue gun that works with the rest of the One+ system, so it represents a strong investment for those who are building a tool kit for arts, crafts, and home repair. Thanks to these great heavy-duty choices, we have opted to remove the Anyyion Industrial and the BSTPower 100 Watt, which don't represent quite the same level of value for the cost.
Black & Decker Cordless You can beef up your crafting or home repair with the Black & Decker Cordless, which is part of the brand’s 20 Volt Max system. This model gives you super-quick heating, becoming ready to use in just 90 seconds. And with no cord to hold you back, you can work anywhere. blackanddecker.com
Surebonder Spray-500 Because it can dispense in either a spray or in solid beads, the Surebonder Spray-500 is a go-to for heavy-duty installation needs, from insulation to upholstery and more. You won't have to hope that it is heated fully thanks to the useful ready indicator light. surebonder.com
Stick To Your Guns
Professional guns use powerful heating elements to reach temperatures over 400 degrees.
Glue guns have come a long way since their inception in the 1950s. They offer a safe and precise alternative to manually applying thermoplastic adhesives, and they come with a range of advanced features to suit every need. As you contemplate the models on our list, consider the attributes that will best assist your individual needs.
Those with children around will need to take special care to ensure their safety. When purchasing a gun that you’ll use together, the more user-friendly, the better. Look for models with insulated tips and protective caps to minimize burns, and an ergonomic handle and trigger design so it feels at home in your hands. A large power switch with an indicator light will help you know when it's no longer conducting heat, and an automatic shutoff function is handy if junior is the forgetful type. Of course, always supervise your little one when he’s helping you craft, and keep hot tools safely away from curious pets.
If you’re less into scrapbooking and more of a MacGyver, you’ll want to procure something that can hold up to woodworking and electrical projects. Professional guns use powerful heating elements to reach temperatures over 400 degrees. For comparison, a standard mini option will clock in at around 25 watts, whereas an industrial-strength device may use closer to 300. An adjustable temperature control functionality is helpful if you find yourself tackling everything from tough jobs that require high heat to the delicate projects that don’t.
Teachers or artists will require something precise. Your gun will need to warm quickly and be able to accommodate a large number of glue sticks in quick succession. You might consider a selection with a copper tip, which conducts heat well and dispenses glue evenly without too much effort on your part. Certain models even boast a guidance light, which is a game-changer if you work with small, temperamental objects.
The Birth Of The Glue Gun
Humans have been working with adhesives in one form or another since antiquity. For hundreds of years we used everything from animal hides and egg whites to beeswax, but we didn’t really start innovating synthetic concoctions until the Industrial Revolution hit. From then on, rapid technological advancements helped paved the way for the invention of thermosetting resins such as Bakelite, and thermoplastic polymers like glue sticks.
Throughout the rest of the decade, companies improved on their designs.
There are differing accounts as to who was the first to invent the hot glue gun, but we can trace its origin to the 1940s. One widely-lauded pioneer in the field was George Schultz, a former engineering student. The story goes that Schultz paid a visit to his father-in-law’s shoe factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and couldn’t help but notice the burns its employees had sustained while working with scalding adhesives out of a pot. Struck with a bright idea, he soon went to work on the Polygun, one of the first industrial hot glue guns. He went on to sell his device to 3M a few decades later for millions of dollars.
The 1970s seemed to be a golden era for glue guns, with patent after patent being filed by various inventors. Carl Weller of Cooper Industries created what may have been the first device that used thermoplastic sticks in 1971. It had an elongated tube-shaped melting chamber made specifically to accommodate adhesive rods.
Throughout the rest of the decade, companies improved on their designs. They added features like standby switches and innovative precision tips. Now, thanks to years of tinkering, we have a litany of options to suit every project imaginable.
Clever Ways To Use Your Glue Gun
A glue gun is a supremely handy device to have in your home or workshop. Even if you’re not a crafting enthusiast, you’d be surprised at how often you’ll end up running to your tool drawer to pull it out.
Have you ever attempted to hang Christmas lights on brick or any other unforgiving surface? If so, you’ve likely encountered the frustrations of double-sided tape and unattractive adhesive hooks. Instead, try using daubs of hot glue to affix your decorations — when all is said and done, you’ll be able to peel it off your lights and the surface they were stuck to, so you won’t have residual gunk or damage. This also holds true for posters and other lightweight items you’d like to display.
Those with hardwood floors know the heart-dropping sensation that occurs when you turn the corner in slippery socks and nearly take a tumble.
Those with hardwood floors know the heart-dropping sensation that occurs when you turn the corner in slippery socks and nearly take a tumble. Use your gun to create gripper dots, zigzagged lines, or even your name over the sole of your socks (you can pull them over a spatula to help reinforce them). They’ll give you better footing and the adhesive should hold up to gentle machine washing, so it will last until you decide to remove it. This is an especially helpful trick for parents with energetic kids that zoom around with reckless abandon.
If you travel often, there are a handful of uses you may appreciate. If you need a protective cap for your toothbrush, wrap the head in parchment paper so that it’s completely covered, then coat it in hot glue and let it dry. Once it’s firm, you can slide the paper out easily. You can also apply a strip of adhesive over the top of your razor to prevent it from scraping your other toiletries. And for those who have ever lost an earring back, a simple drop of dried glue will do the job just as well.
If your gun is on its last leg and you don’t mind potentially ruining it, consider using crayons in lieu of glue sticks. Wax has a lower melting point and should pass through with ease. However, it may leave some streaks behind on your subsequent sticks. You can spend a fun-filled afternoon with the kids or solo creating melted crayon art in all the colors of the rainbow. You’ll most likely be able to continue using your gun as usual afterward, but we wouldn’t recommend risking any expensive tools for this endeavor, just in case.