When you think of technology, you don’t normally think about arts and crafts. Technology is for video gamers, cryptocurrency miners and fans of fancy audio equipment. Arts and crafts are the realm of old-school, hands-on creativity. But in fact, technology has been a part of arts and crafts from the beginning. For instance, synthetic pigments allow mass-produced colors for watercolors and oil paints. Instead of raw Siena coming from clay in Siena, Italy, it’s now more widely available to artists everywhere. Now, there are a handful of artists who make their own pigments, but they’re a rare exception. The point is that technology is part and parcel of modern arts and crafts.
We’ve reviewed a handful of arts and crafts products, such as high-quality edible ink printers for cakes. Today, we’ll review three of the best cordless hot glue guns that money can buy. We’ll start by looking at the Surebonder CL-800F. This is a well-engineered standalone gun with a separate heating stand. Next, we’ll review the Ryobi P305 One+. This is a larger, battery-powered gun that’s part of the Ryobi One+ tool series. Finally, we’ll examine the MONVICT Full Size Hot Glue Gun. This is a powerful standalone gun that plugs in for preheating. Which choice is right for you? Let’s see how they all stack up!
Hot Glue Gun Features to Look For
Before we look at any particular models, let’s talk about what makes a hot glue gun worth buying. They can look similar on the outside, and it can be tough to tell what’s what if you’re not already an expert. Here are a few things to look out for.
The first thing to consider is the size. Some glue guns are full-sized, around the size of a power drill. Others are smaller, with a miniature form factor. The important thing to note is that one is not necessarily better than the other. A full-sized glue gun will tend to provide faster heating and more power. This means you don’t have to wait as long for the glue to start melting. You’ll also typically be able to use larger-diameter glue sticks, which means a faster flow rate. That said, mini glue guns have their place. They’re great for reaching into small spaces. They’re also better-sized for children to use – with supervision, of course.
Manual Feed vs Trigger Feed
Another consideration is how the glue gun feeds. All glue guns load from the back, and the glue feeds forward into a hot tip, where it melts. However, some glue guns feed manually, while others feed by pulling the trigger. With a manual feed, you dispense glue simply by pushing on the back of the stick. This requires two hands for operation, but also offers better control. You can also feed glue much faster than you can with a trigger feed glue gun.
That said, trigger feed guns have their own advantages when compared to a manual feed. You can dispense smaller amounts of glue, for one thing. You can also operate the glue gun one-handed, leaving your other hand free to hold whatever you’re gluing. That said, dispensing larger quantities of glue is more difficult. All of the glue guns we’re looking at today have a trigger feed.
Wattage and Power
The wattage of your glue gun determines how quickly it can heat up, and how hot it can ultimately get. Most glue guns will go from room temperature to full temperature in about three to five minutes. However, this can vary depending on the wattage and design. Wattages can range from 60 watts for very small mini glue guns, up to 120 watts for larger guns. For safety reasons, it’s wise to look for a glue gun with a power switch, instead of just a plug. This way, you can shut the gun off easily if you need to step away for a few minutes.
Glue gun nozzles need to withstand constant fluctuations in temperature. This means a lot of expansion and contraction, which puts a lot of strain on the metal. Eventually, they’re going to wear out, lose their shape, and even begin to leak. A metal with good thermal characteristics can help to slow this process. Whenever possible, look for a gun with a copper nozzle instead of simple steel. Another thing to look for is whether or not the nozzle can be replaced. If you’re using your glue gun every day, it will eventually wear out. At that point, it’s much cheaper to replace a nozzle than it is to replace the entire gun.
Glue guns need a lot of power to stay hot. For a corded model, look for a long cord that will give you plenty of reach. For a cordless model, look for a reliable battery. Keep in mind that many cordless models work by pre-heating the gun so it can be used without power. This only works as long as the nozzle remains hot, at which point it will need to be returned to its base. Look for a nozzle that retains plenty of heat. Once again, copper is an excellent material. And if your cordless glue gun is battery-powered, look for a powerful battery. Even a modestly-powerful glue gun can burn through a large battery in a few minutes.
The last thing to look for is a way to keep the glue gun safe while you’re using it. The tip gets very hot – hot enough to pose a fire risk – so a glue gun needs to have a stand. This will keep the tip off of your work surface while you’re not actively using the gun. Many glue guns use a simple metal kickstand towards the front, which elevates the tip a couple of centimeters. There are other alternatives as well. Just make sure your glue gun isn’t going to fall over and start anything on fire.
The Surebonder CL-800F is a small glue gun that’s designed for easy one-handed use. It has a small form-factor, so it’s suitable for small hands. Keep in mind that this small profile limits the amount of glue you can use. You’ll be limited to shorter 4-inch or medium 10-inch glue sticks only. The design of the gun itself is fairly standard, with a black body and high-visibility green highlights. Sticks feed through a hole in the back, and there’s a pistol grip underneath for ease of operation. The tip is steel, which isn’t ideal for heat retention or durability. On the other hand, it keeps the price very reasonable.
The CL-800F has a single setting, and draws 60 watts of power. This means it takes a few minutes to get up to temperature, as long as five to seven minutes. That said, the tip has a maximum temperature of 380 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it gets hot, it’s very hot. You don’t have to worry about glue only melting partially, or taking forever to melt. At full temperature, the glue will flow smoothly and easily, without any difficulties. Not only that, but there’s an on/off switch, as well as a 30-minute auto shutoff. You can power down when you step away. And if you forget, the Surebonder glue gun will take care of it for you.
This glue gun comes with a sturdy base, which heats the gun when it’s plugged in and powered on. It’s very stable, so you don’t have to worry about it tipping over easily. It also includes a plastic pad that rests under the tip. If the glue dribbles a bit, it will end up on a piece of cheap plastic, not on your working surface. Once the glue gun is removed from the base, it will stay hot enough to use for about three minutes. After that, it will need to be reheated for a bit. This makes it a good choice for kids. If they set the glue gun down by mistake, it will cool off rather than start a fire.
Ryobi P305 One+
The Ryobi P305 One+ looks more like a power drill than anything you’d use for arts and crafts. That’s because it’s made by Ryobi, and it’s part of their One+ tool line. In fact, it’s powered by a Ryobi One+ battery. This is great if you already own any One+ tools, since you already have everything you need to get started. If you don’t, you’ll need to buy a separate battery, which puts the price a bit high for a standalone glue gun. The 1.5Ah battery and charger will get you 90 minutes of use, while the larger 4Ah battery kit will double that.
The housing is made from Ryobi’s signature neon green polymer, and is difficult to lose track of. It also sports a grey, rubberized grip in keeping with Ryobi’s other tools. Even with sweaty hands, you won’t have trouble hanging on securely. There’s no kickstand included, which would normally be a safety concern. However, even the smaller 1.5Ah battery is heavier than the rest of the tool. With a battery inserted, the P305 One+ is bottom-heavy enough to be stable on its own.
Like the Surebonder, the Ryobi glue gun draws relatively little power, only 60 watts. It gets very hot, but it takes as long as seven minutes to get there. That said, once it gets hot, it stays hot. There’s no auto-shutoff. This is great if you’re working on an involved project and don’t want to keep fiddling with your gun. On the other hand, if you tend to be forgetful, you may want a gun with an automatic shutoff option. The kit includes a set of three multipurpose glue sticks, which won’t get you very far. Still, it’s enough to get through a couple projects before investing in more glue.
MONVICT Full Size Hot Glue Gun
The MONVICT Full Size Hot Glue Gun is a plug-in model that also functions wirelessly. The cord disconnects easily at the base, so plugging and unplugging it is simple. Not only that, but it has a copper tip instead of steel. This allows you to use it for up to 25 minutes after getting it all the way up to temperature. Not only that, but it gets hot very quickly. With the 80 and 120-watt power modes, it will heat up in about 3 minutes or 1 minute respectively. So even when you do need to stop and reheat it, you won’t have to stop for long.
The MONVICT kit comes with 12 glue sticks, enough for several projects. If you’re buying a glue gun just to do a few specific tasks, you won’t need to invest in any more sticks. You also get three silicone finger protectors in different sizes. These can be used to smooth out glue beads without burning your fingers. The only thing we didn’t like about the design is that there’s no stand. It will technically stand up on its own, but it can fall over easily if bumped.
As you can see, each of these glue guns has its own benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a quick summary of what we’ve learned. The Surebonder CL-800F is an easy-to-use mini glue gun with a separate stand. It has a handful of safety features, including auto-shutoff, that make it great for kids. That said, it doesn’t have a battery, and it can’t be used with the cord plugged in. This means it can only be actively used for a few minutes at a time.
The Ryobi P305 One+ is the best choice if you want a truly wireless glue gun. Even with the smallest One+ battery, you can use it for three full hours without getting near a power outlet. On the downside, the batteries and charger kits are a bit pricey. If you don’t already own any One+ tools, you’ll be spending a fair chunk of change for just a glue gun.
The MONVICT Full Size Hot Glue Gun is a rugged gun with a durable copper tip. This tip will stay hot for up to 25 minutes after unplugging the gun, so wireless use is easy. It can also be used with the wire connected, so you get the best of both worlds. It gets hot quickly, and has dual 80 and 120-watt heating modes. That said, it doesn’t have a very stable base. Be careful about leaving it unattended.