Those of us that delve into
crafts other than of the woodworking kind will probably be very
familiar with hot melt glue guns. Many woodworkers also may be
familiar with them and use them often. Hot melt glue has a wide
variety of useful applications in many settings, far too
numerous to mention. Hot melt glue is a fairly strong and very
fast setting adhesive, and it's just as useful for many
woodworking tasks as it is for paper, and other crafts.
Hot melt glue guns have been
around for many years, but all of them have been of the corded
variety. Only recently have cordless models emerged on the
market. One such cordless glue gun that has just come to market
is the ColdHeat 'Freestyle' Cordless Glue Gun - from the same
company that produces many popular soldering iron products.
We couldn't resist the temptation
to grab one and try it out. Who doesn't love a cordless tool for
versatility and mobility right?
The ColdHeat Cordless Glue Gun
I'll start by saying that my most common use for hot melt
glue in the workshop is for temporary attachment of templates to
lumber for routing purposes. Hot melt glue can be removed much
easier than other glues once it has dried, making it suitable
for such tasks. Other examples of use in the workshop might
include temporary attachment of draw fronts for positioning
before permanently screwing them together, bonding items for
working on the lathe, or making mockup models or temporary jigs
for sawing applications. The list could be endless. And once you
have one of these glue guns, you will find more and more uses
for it all the time.
It is important to use a good
quality glue stick however. You can even buy glue sticks made
for specific purposes, although these are generally a little
harder to source than your standard 'clear' craft glue sticks
that come with many guns.
With that out of the way, let's now look at the ColdHeat product
Firstly, as mentioned above, it is a cordless glue gun. Yep, no
cords restricting your movement and no need to bring the work
close to an electrical outlet or mess around with extension
cords. Cordless provides freedom to take the glue gun to the
work. It is powered by a removable NiCad battery which attaches
to the base of the glue gun's handle (as shown in the images).
The battery takes around 2-3 hours to fully charge from a
depleted state, and estimated battery life is around 30 minutes
of continuous use (i.e. if you were actively using the glue gun
for 30 continuous minutes). In 'normal' use, where you might use
it here and there and not continuously, this might translate
into 1.5 - 2 hours of use.
Supplied with the gun is a
compatible charger for the battery. There are wired/pinned
versions for several different countries/regions available
(North America, Australia/NZ, Africa, Europe), depending on
your power supply. As I am in Australia, and the tool was
developed and is sold in the USA, I thought I might be out of
luck, but no, a compatible battery pack is available for Aussies
(and other countries) too. Check with ColdHeat direct to see if
they have a compatible power pack for your country if you are
outside the USA or Australia. There is actually a list of
international resellers on their website.
The power pack plugs into the
charging caddy, in which the cordless battery attaches to. On
the front of the caddy is a small green light. During charging,
it will illuminate and flash pulses of green light (looks kind
cool!) until the battery is fully charged, where the light will
then turn a solid green to indicate a fully charged battery.
Once fully charged, the battery is ready for use.
It takes roughly 2 minutes for
the glue gun to reach operational temperature when powering up
from a cold start. This time is greatly reduced if you have been
using the gun (within say the last 30 minutes) and it is still
somewhat warm at the tip. This is faster than my corded Bostik
glue gun which takes about twice that long (4-5 minutes) before
it can be used from a cold start.
On the side of the glue gun body is the power
switch. There are two settings. Both turn the glue gun on, but
each setting also controls a small lamp at the front of the tool
just under the nozzle to illuminate the immediate work area
where you wish to apply glue. It's not powerful enough to light
up a room, but it will allow you to see where you are gluing
that much better. One setting provides a brighter illumination
than the other. It's a neat option to include the light, and it
does come in handy, particularly in poorly lit areas.
The nozzle itself is fairly
standard in shape and design, and it features a rubber
protective cover to help prevent the user burning their fingers
if they accidentally touch it. The nozzle can get extremely hot
with these glue guns so care must be taken. Also up front is a
moveable metal stand assembly with rubber foot. When
extended out, you can safely stand the glue gun upright and it
will be well balanced when not directly in use. This also
ensures the hot nozzle tip does not contact any surface,
preventing surface damage or more serious risks.
The ColdHeat glue gun utilizes
"mini" glue sticks 0.28 - 0.3 inches or 7.2 - 7.5mm in diameter.
These are readily available from many hardware and craft stores,
so sourcing extra glue sticks shouldn't cause any problem.
ColdHeat supply a handful of sticks with the product to get you
going. Depending on how much you use the glue gun, this
collection of sticks could last quite a while, and the good
thing is that hot melt glue sticks don't really "go off" or have
an expiry date, so you can store them for a long time without
having to worry about them going bad.
Naturally, as the nozzle end of
the glue gun heats up to high temperature, it melts the solid
glue stick at the tip to a liquid form, then using the glue gun
trigger it forces the liquid glue out of the nozzle and onto
whatever surface you are applying it too. As the glue is
expelled from the nozzle and cools down, it starts to return to
its solid state. This can happen quite quickly, anywhere from
15-30 seconds depending on glue temperature and environmental
conditions, so you have to work fast to attach whatever you are
attaching to it each fairly quickly. The upside is that there is
little downtime waiting for glue to dry, plus, because the glue
returns to a solid state again, it can be easily removed by
scraping it off if needed. This is why it is great for template
work in woodworking. It will not affect the surface when it
comes to finishing later on either (although you may want to
lightly sand the surface to remove any "stickiness" left behind
from the glue). The glue dries clear as well, making it suitable
for more permanent fixing applications too.
The trigger itself is comfortable to use, and
their is a rubberized grip on the rear of the handle for added
comfort and slip resistance, although the glue gun is so light
their is probably no need for slip resistance. On top of the
unit is a clear plastic viewing window which allows you to check
how much of the current glue stick has been advanced toward to
the nozzle. Once advanced beyond where you can no longer see it,
simply insert the next glue stick into the rear opening and
advance it forward to touch the back end of the glue stick
already in the gun for an uninterrupted glue supply. While at
the back end of the gun you will notice two LED lamps. The first
amber lamp will illuminate to indicate the gun is in power save
mode. If you happen to leave the gun on and don't use it for a
specified amount of time (around 8 minutes), the glue gun enters
Power Save mode where the heating element automatically shuts
down to preserve and extend battery life. The work light still
remains illuminated (it uses very little power in the overall
scheme of things) but glue will not flow easily again until the
heating element once kicks back to life. To do this, you simply
pick up or move the gun and it will kick back in. The circuit
board within the handle manages all these cool functions and
The red LED light indicates low battery levels, or a depleted
battery level. It will appear as a solid light if battery level
is low, and when battery level is very low it will begin
flashing, indicating to the user that the gun should be turned
off and the battery recharged. Both are useful inclusions to
show current glue gun state and battery levels.
The glue gun comes with a small
printed instruction sheet to get you going. It's all pretty easy
to use and operate, so you shouldn't have any problems should
you decide to grab one for yourself.
After testing the ColdHeat Cordless Glue Gun in the shop for
the last 4 weeks or so, I must say I am quite pleased with its
performance. It works as well as any corded glue gun, in some
cases, even better, and its ease of portability is great, plus
there are no cords to fumble around with or get in the way. If
there is one recommendation I would make, and this is for those
who tens to use the glue gun quite a lot in their shop, I would
suggest investing in a second battery. I believe ColdHeat will
soon make additional battery packs available for sale. Having a
second battery on hand will eliminate any down time as you can
be using one battery while the other is on charge. If you only
use the gun occasionally, then the supplied battery pack will
probably be sufficient, as you might only need to add a couple
dabs of glue here or there, or in a single workshop session.
Corded glue guns are relatively inexpensive, but
pay quite a bit for a good quality unit. I was surprised
that the ColdHeat version, being cordless and perhaps costing more to
manufacture (including battery, power pack and extra electronics
etc), retails at only US$29.95 as an introductory price (regular
price will be US$39.95). At the special introductory price, the
glue gun is very enticing indeed. It's worth it for the fact
that it is cordless alone.
I'll expect we will see more
cordless glue guns coming onto the market in the near future,
but ColdHeat have produced a nice little unit here that is well
worth considering if you want to ditch the cord on your current
hot melt glue gun.
information, or to contact ColdHeat direct (for
availability/compatibility in your country etc), their website
can be found at
Glue Gun Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior
written permission prohibited
Battery in charging caddy, with power pack shown.
Battery connected to glue gun. Large ergonomic squeeze
trigger makes using the glue gun comfortable.
Front project light intensity setting switch - high (left),
The business end of the tool, Note the project light
below the glue nozzle, as well as the flip out stand.
The glue gun uses "mini" glue
sticks (up to .3 inches or 7.5mm
The handy clear viewing window up top allows you to
check how much of the glue stick remains.
Two LED lamps at the rear of the head of the gun
indicate Power Save mode (amber) and Low Battery warning (red).
Applying hot melt glue to a strip of MDF to make a
temporary shop jig for a woodworking application.
The hot melt glue gun is an ideal crafting tool too.