How To Use A Hot Glue Gun — A Comprehensive Guide

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Over the years, I’ve honed my crafting skills, moving from one tool to another and finding joy in creating and mending. The hot glue gun remains one of my favorites among the myriad of tools I’ve used. Its versatility, ease of use, and immediate results are hard to rival. 

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice, understanding how to use a hot glue gun properly can elevate your crafting experience. Let’s delve into how to master this indispensable tool.

1. Understanding Your Hot Glue Gun

Before we start, it’s essential to understand that there are different types of hot glue guns: low and high. Low-temperature guns are best for delicate materials like fabric, paper, and some plastics, as they heat the glue to approximately 250°F. 

On the other hand, high-temperature guns heat glue to about 380°F, making them suitable for harder materials like wood, metal, and ceramics. Some models offer dual settings, providing flexibility for various projects.

2. Prepping Your Workspace

When I’m in my crafting zone, I like to have everything organized. Here’s how I prepare:

protective gears

Surface Protection

Lay down a silicone mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil on your workspace. Hot glue can get messy, and these surfaces make for easy cleanup.


Work in a well-ventilated area. While the glue isn’t overly toxic, it can emit mild fumes.

Safety Gear

Safety comes first! If I accidentally touch the hot tip, I always keep a bowl of cold water nearby. It can provide instant relief. Also, consider wearing safety glasses to protect your eyes from potential splashes.

3. Inserting the Glue Stick

This step is relatively straightforward, but here’s a trick I’ve learned: if your glue stick is too short for the gun’s pusher to grab, simply attach a new stick to the end of the old one. They will fuse together as the gun heats up.

4. Heating Up Your Gun

Plug your hot glue gun into an outlet. Most models don’t have an on/off switch, so they’ll begin heating as soon as they’re plugged in. A little patience is key here.

hot glue gun on wood

Give your glue gun 5-10 minutes to heat up. You’ll know it’s ready when gently press the trigger, and molten glue oozes out effortlessly.

5. Applying the Glue

Once the gun is heated, gently squeeze the trigger to release the glue. Apply it to one of the surfaces you’re bonding. Here are a couple of pro-tips from my experience:

Thinner is Often Better

You don’t always need a lot of glue. A thin, consistent bead often works best.

Swift Bonding

Hot glue starts to set as soon as it cools, which can be within a few seconds. So, once you apply the glue, quickly stick the materials together.

6. Dealing with 'Glue Strings'

Ah, the inevitable glue strings! As you move your glue gun away from your project, you might notice thin strings trailing behind. These happen to the best of us. My solution? Let your project dry completely, and then use a hairdryer on a low setting to gently remove the hot glue strings.

7. Unplugging and Storage

Glue Gun

Once you’ve finished your project, unplug your hot glue gun and let it cool on a safe surface. I have a dedicated stand for mine, but if you don’t, placing it on the silicone mat or parchment paper works, too. 

Ensure that the nozzle isn’t touching any flammable surfaces. Once completely cooled, store it in a safe, dry place.

8. Safety Considerations

Here are a few safety pointers you should always bear in mind:

Hot Nozzle

Remember, the nozzle is extremely hot! Avoid touching it and keep it away from flammable materials [1].

Stable Positioning

Always place the hot glue gun on a flat surface when not in use to prevent it from tipping over.

Children and Pets

If you have little ones or furry friends around, ensure the glue gun and its cord are out of their reach.


There’s a reason the hot glue gun has earned its place as a crafting staple in my studio. It’s versatile quick, and with the right techniques, it can be the hero of any project. 

Remember to handle it carefully, respect its heat, and prioritize safety. Whether crafting, fixing, or experimenting, this tool can be your best ally. Happy gluing!

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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