A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: How to Use a Hot Glue Gun and NOT GET BURNED

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21 April 2015

How to Use a Hot Glue Gun and NOT GET BURNED

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Have you ever burned your thumb with hot glue?  NO FUN!  Have you been scared of using a hot glue gun for the first time because of the stories of searing thumb pain?  Well, that is understandable, but if you are a crafting newbie, I would like to encourage you to try out hot glue.  It is not nearly as intimidating as you might think!  I am going to walk you through the basics and then hand it over to some of my favorite crafting bloggers for their advice.  First off though, you will need the following:

Supplies:

Now there are lots of different sizes and both low and high temp options, so choose based on what you will be crafting.  Unless you are working with teensy, tiny crafts, I would recommend starting with a medium sized gun like this one. (This particular gun is also a dual temperature gun).  When shopping for hot glue sticks, make sure you are getting either high, low or dual temp sticks based on the type of glue gun you have, and be sure to get the right size!  Those miniature glue guns will not work with standard sized glue sticks and vice versa.

Now before we get started with the nitty gritty, let's talk about WHY hot glue is fabulous, shall we?  First of all, it can attach almost anything to almost anything else.  Wood to metal to paper to cork.  Brilliant.

Hot glue is also magical in that it causes less damage than your average adhesive.  In college, we used to attach photos and such to our cement block walls with hot glue because you could simply pull the whole thing off, hot glue and all, at the end of the year.  Of course, hot glue won't come off paper or drywall without ripping, but you get my point, right?  That same quality applies to those little "accidents" -- the strings of glue that hang off your projects and the "overflow" that sometimes occurs when you use too much?  Those are easy to pull off and away when dry, making projects look seamless.

Just remember...NEVER touch hot glue when it is HOT!  Just don't!

Moving on, I am going to take you through a couple projects that show off the basics of the hot glue gun.  First off? Easter Egg Checkers.  I had to attach the little wooden eggs to the bottlecaps with hot glue, making sure they were attached perfectly straight up and down before the glue dried.

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

See that long string of glue hanging from the tip of the gun?  That is the WRONG way to do it friends!

Beginner's Tip:  DO NOT hold the glue gun super far away from the object you are gluing.
Those strings are easy to remove, but why make more mess than you need to?

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

Getting better...

THERE we go!

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

Put that gun right next to the object and use a small amount of glue. 
 Lay off the trigger,  pull the tip sideways just a bit to "cap" the glue and pull away.

Leave the trigger slightly pushed in and you will end up with:

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

Don't "cap" the glue by sliding it against the object and you'll end up with:

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

Beginner's Tip:  Remember, put that gun right next to the object and use a small amount of glue.  Lay off the trigger,  pull the tip sideways just a bit to "cap" the glue and pull away.


For these clay plant labels, I was attaching baked (hard) clay to a matte finish clay pot, so I used copious amounts of very hot glue to attach them.  I needed quite a bit of glue because the tags were slightly curved to fit the shape of the pot, but needed a really good seal around the edges to hold firm.

Beginner's Tip:  Let the glue gun warm up fully before attempting to use it.  The hotter the glue is, the better the glue will work!


How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

On this calendar project, I was attaching a plastic piece to a mod-podged paper backing. 
 I used a lower temp so everything wouldn't melt.

Beginner's Tip:  Make sure you allow the glue to dry fully before moving the project.  Hot glue dries quickly, but not THAT quickly.  You don't want an ooey, gooey mess on your hands! (see below)


Weather resistant garden calendar - Crafts Unleashed

This tiered aluminum stand required very hot glue and a steady hand.  I had to attach the pans to both wood coins and broken candles, as well as attaching the wooden coins together for the complete bottom tier.  The most difficult part of the project was making sure the glue was hot enough to attach the candles to the metal without completely melting the candles.  I tested the glue gun out on scrap pieces of the candle until it just starting to melt the wax, then worked fast!  In this case, I added more glue than I thought I needed because it was easier to go back and troubleshoot glue strings and overflow than it was to work slowly and risk melting candles.

cake pan tiered display fruit wood amy renea a nest for all seasons title shot

Beginner's Tip:  Evaluate your materials before starting to glue.  
Use the right temperature and when in doubt, TEST!!

cake pan tiered display fruit wood amy renea a nest for all seasons wood stacked post

Now I didn't want you to simply hear my advice on the subject, so I rounded up a few of the best crafters in blogland to give you their best tips and tricks!  Hold onto your hats because they are coming at you fast and furious!  Let's go!

Temperature Woes:

Sharon of Crafts and Coffee says:  "If you're using a glue gun on Styrofoam, be sure it's a low-temp glue gun. You can use a high-temp gun, but it might melt a small portion of the foam." (and she is our resident expert on Styrofoam, so listen up folks!)

Shannon of Madigan Made shared this glue gun fail with the simple advice:  "Heat + candy = melted mess."

Ooey, Gluey Messes:

Sara of Craft Snob says: "Only squeeze half the glue out that you think you need. Less burns, less strings, and more glue for more projects!"

Lisa of Condo Blues says: "Place a piece or scrap of tile under the glue gun to catch glue drips."

Tracie of Cleverly Inspired says: "I usually use my glue gun in the kitchen so I pull out a piece of parchment paper to catch the goo...just toss in the trash when you are done."

Glue Gun Ouchies:

Kimbo of A Girl and a GLUE GUN (!) says: "Put a bowl of ice water nearby to hurry and dip your finger in if you get hot glue on it. it has saved us numerous times!"

Allison of House of Hepworths simply advises: "My tip? Don't burn yourself. It hurts like a beyoch."

After the Glue:

Connie of Measured by the Heart says: "I found out the hard way not to use it for something hanging in the window because the heat from the sun warmed up and melted the hot glue. My project fell apart. So think about where you are going to put your final project before deciding to use hot glue."

Susan of Suzy's Sitcom says:  "Take a blow dryer to your project when you are done, and all the little strings will disappear!"

Products:

Sharon recommends Hot Glue Gun Helpers and Lisa of Condo Blues agrees!  "Wear the Hot Glue Gun Helpers because it is freaking hard to type the next day with a big ol' blister on your pointer fingers. Best 5 bucks I ever spent."

Now it is YOUR turn!  

What are your best tips for using hot glue, keeping mess to a minimum and keeping your fingers burn free?


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