Build your own hot glue gun stand to prove you know more than scalding goop
A project to keep your crafting clean and safe.
The other day my wife was complaining about her glue gun. The built-in stand gets in the way when she’s trying to put small things together and it’s also flimsy, so the gun regularly falls over.
To make her life easier, she asked me to build a better stand that would hold the glue gun upright. But I didn’t stop there—I designed a solution with storage space for extra glue sticks, and an easy-to-clean, removable reservoir that would catch the melted glue that dribbles out of the nozzle.
At its core, this project is easy and perfect for beginner woodworkers. The whole thing is just two pieces of wood (a base and a stand), glued together to make an upside-down T. The vertical section has a slot to hold the gun, and the base features a metallic jar lid as a drip pan and a small box at one end. But if you want to keep it simple, you can focus on the stand and skip these add-ons altogether.
You can easily use scrap wood for this build, so you may not even have to run to the store to get started. It’s projects like this that make my urge to never throw wood away totally worth it.
Warning: DIY projects can be dangerous, even for the most experienced makers. Before proceeding with this or any other project on our site, ensure you have all necessary safety gear and know how to use it properly. At minimum, that may include safety glasses, a face mask, and/or ear protection. If you’re using power tools, you must know how to use them safely and correctly. If you do not, or are otherwise uncomfortable with anything described here, don’t attempt this project.
- Time: 2 to 3 hours
- Material cost: $10 to $20
- Difficulty: Easy, with optional intermediate steps
- ½-inch-by-4-inch-by-3-foot pine board
- Metal jar lid (or a small piece of tile)
- Wood glue
- Spray-on polyurethane
1. Cut the wood to length. The type of wood you use doesn’t matter for this project. Pine is likely the cheapest option, but I used some scraps of mahogany that I had leftover from another build.
The exact dimensions you’ll need will be based on two variables: the size of your glue gun, and whether you want to include the hot glue reservoir and the storage space. My base is 13 inches long, which allows 3 inches behind the gun for the handle to sit on, 6 inches in front of the stand for the nozzle and drip pan, and 4 inches on the far end for the glue box. If you just want to make a barebones version (no drip pan and no box), consider a base 8 to 9 inches long depending on the size of your glue gun.
The height of the vertical stand will also depend on the glue gun that you have. To find this measurement, stand the glue gun up with the bottom of the handle on a flat surface, and measure up from there to the base of the trigger. To that number, add 1 inch for the gun slot, and, if you decide to use a dado to fit the stand on the base (see Step 3), also add an extra 1/4-inch. The final measurement will be the total height of your stand. For example, my glue gun needed to sit at 2 inches, so I cut a piece of wood that was 3 1/4 inches tall.
Once you have the correct dimensions, cut the wood using a miter saw, circular saw, or table saw if you have a crosscut sled.
2. Cut the slot for the glue gun. Draw a line along the center of your stand board. Then, measure the width of the barrel of the glue gun, divide it in half, and add 1/8-inch to the result. Take that number, measure it out from both sides of the line you drew along the center of your stand board, and mark it down—that is the width of the gun slot.
Determine the bottom of the gun slot by making a mark an inch down from the top of the stand board, and along the centerline. Connect this mark to both ends of the slot width to determine the shape of the slot—you can make it a V, a rectangle, or a curve. In my case, the slot was 1 1/4 inches wide, and about 1 inch deep.
Use a jigsaw or a coping saw to cut out the slot. I used my rotary cutter with a sanding disc to clean up and shape the slot, and round the corners. If you don’t have a rotary tool, you can use sandpaper and some elbow grease.
Test-fit the glue gun. If it rests at the angle you’re looking for, you’re all set. If it doesn’t, deepen and widen the cut as needed.
3. (Optional) Cut a dado slot in the baseboard for the stand to fit in. Position the stand perpendicular to the baseboard, and trace the thickness onto it.
Raise the table saw blade to about 1/4 inch, or half the thickness of your baseboard. Using the miter fence, create a dado or groove by running the board over your saw blade inside those lines. This will take multiple passes, moving the board over about 1/8 inch at a time, until you have hogged out the entire dado. You can also use a router and a straight-cutting bit, but I find the table saw easier on small projects. As you get close to your lines, make sure to stop and test-fit the stand often—you’re looking for a tight fit for maximum stability.
- Note: If you don’t have the tools or confidence to cut a dado, you can just glue the stand flat on the base. Still, this groove will make assembly easier, so we highly recommend it.
4. (Optional) Cut an inset hole for the drip pan. One of my wife’s requirements for this project was a removable drip pan or glue-catcher for easier cleaning. You can use just about anything that’s temperature resistant and non-porous, as that will allow you to easily remove dried glue. I used a metal lid from a peanut butter jar, but a lot of projects online use tile, for example.
To keep the glue-catcher in place, you’ll need to create an inset for it. Trace the lid or tile in the center of the board, directly below where the nozzle of your glue gun will hang. Then use a router and a straight-cutting bit set to about 3/8 inch to hog out the material in the hole.
You can build a template for this out of plywood, but I just freehanded the cut. The metal lid or tile will hide the edges of the hole, so you won’t be able to see any small mistakes.
- Note: Just as with the dado, this step isn’t strictly necessary if you’re not set up for it. Instead, you can just glue down a piece of metal or tile.
5. (Optional) Measure and cut the box boards. With the main structure of the stand built, move on to the box. The box is 4 by 2 inches, and a total of 3 inches tall, which is an inch shorter than the glue sticks my wife gets. If your glue sticks are longer, consider making a taller box so they stay in place.
I cut the top of the box at an angle strictly for visual interest. If you want to do that as well, simply cut the front board of the box 2 inches tall instead of 3. Then dry-fit the box and draw the angle from front to back on each of the side pieces. Cut those angles with a hand saw.
Glue the four pieces of the box together and clamp securely. Make sure the bottom of the box is perfectly flush, and check that the box is square as you clamp. You can do this by measuring the diagonals of the rectangle across the bottom—if they are the same length, the box is square; if they aren’t, you’ll need to adjust the box and re-clamp.
When the glue is dry, sand the box with your orbital sander and 80-grit sandpaper to clean up the angles and base, and remove any glue residue. We recommend you do this now, as it’ll be easier than doing it when the full piece is together.
6. Assemble the stand. Spread wood glue inside the dado, making sure to go up the sides of the groove. Then, insert the stand, making sure it remains at about 90 degrees, and clamp securely.
If you built one, glue the box onto the far end of the baseboard, keeping it as flush to the base as you can. Clamp securely and let dry.
Use a wet paper towel or rag to remove the glue squeeze-out. The more glue you clean up now, the less you’ll have to sand off later.
7. Sand, sand, and sand some more. Sanding is crucial to give a woodworking project a good finish. Start by sanding off all the glue residue. You’ll be able to do most of the work with the orbital sander and 80-grit sandpaper, but you’ll have to sand the square corners by hand. Using a sanding block can help sometimes, but I inevitably wind up using a folded piece of sandpaper and my hands to get in there.
Continue to sand all of the seams flush.
Once you remove the glue residue and the whole project is smooth, work through the standard grits over the entire piece: 120, followed by 150, 180, and finally, 220.
8. Apply the finish of your choice. For small projects with lots of nooks and crannies like this one, I use a spray-on polyurethane—it’s easy, fast, offers great protection, and it gets into all of the crevices. Make sure to follow the application instructions on your product of choice.
9. Start gluing. Fill the box with all your extra glue sticks and start crafting, confident that your glue gun isn’t going to fall over anymore.