A simple mod turns a cheap hot glue gun (messy) into a precision tool (neat) suitable for more professional and intricate modelmaking and prototyping.
Hot glue guns have a bit of a reputation for clumsiness in the maker community. The liberal, messy application of glue in a project tends to be associated with amateurish, quick or kludgey projects (what we in the UK might call bodges), but glue guns are cheap, quick to use, and allow parts to be separated again relatively easily if required. Hot glue can also be useful in sealing against water ingress.
It occurred to me that a cheap glue gun could be easily and rapidly modified to turn it into a precision tool. It's basically just a heating element surrounding a tube through which the glue stick is pushed, and a nozzle. The gun shape is useful in allowing the user to use a trigger action to force the stick through the heater, but not necessary for the actual application of glue, nor desirable for the precision control needed. A pen shape would allow more precise control.
This is still to some large extent work in progress and ultimately, an even better tool will evolve from the simple modded version; I have plenty of ideas for turning this into a real professional product and would appreciate suggestions and ideas from other makers.
Step 1: Prerequisites
- A hot glue gun, preferably one of the smaller types (I've been using a Bostik 'Handy' with 5/16" (7 mm) diameter sticks, but many other types are available).
- Drill, drill bits, screwdrivers, screws, miniature hacksaw, files, etc
- Soldering iron & solder OR solderless mains connectors of some kind
- A metal 'nozzle', such as a ballpoint nib surround, with the end hole smaller diameter than that of the glue gun nozzle
- (Electrical) insulating tape
- Some kind of (thermally) insulating material (I used both a synthetic rubber drinks coaster - not very successfully - and the plastic body of an old soldering iron - much better)
- Non-thermal glue (superglue or similar)
There are many ways the quality of the outcome could be greatly improved by using proper tools and facilities - even taps and dies for thread cutting would make a big difference.