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Can I use a Hot Glue Gun
for making bellows??

Hello John,

I will be sending a check out to you next week along with a print out of the materials and costs you suggest. Is there a special glue that I need to buy, or can I use a hot glue gun? (something I already have)




Well, the proper glue for all bellows work is hot 'hide glue'. It's cheap and easy to use but requires a double-boiler to make up each batch.

The glue starts as glue crystals. It's mixed 1:1 with hot water (exactly 145 degrees) until completely dissolved. Then it's applied with an appropriately sized brush while still hot. There is a fancy, rather expensive temperature controlled hot glue pot for $140.00, but a small double-boiler works fine. The trick is not to overheat the glue. That will break down the proteins and reduce the quality of the glue. It's $0.50 for two cups, more than you'll need. Much like hot glue, hide glue doesn't require clamps. It sets up in a minute and is workable in about ten minutes. It does need 12-24 hours to harden.

Now, I won't say a 'hot glue' gun won't work. There are certain jobs in bellows building where the glue gun works better. But there are precautions and techniques required to insure a good job the first time, since you rarely get two chances with hot glue. The primary problem is getting a good bond between the cloth and the glue. The glue bonds fine to the wood. Speedy glue application, quick compression of the glue bead and a certainty that the bead has been spread evenly across the width and length of the wood are the keys to a solid air-tight bond. An iron can also be used (sparingly) to reheat and spread the bead if it sets to fast to get a good 'Squeeze'. The bond is easily tested by trying to pull the cloth away from the wood after it has cooled. A medium setting/dry will be hot enough. Cotton is too high.

Last word of advice, then I'll be off. I can't over emphasize the importance of real-time testing of any procedure before you tackle the job for real.

Awaiting your order,

John A. Tuttle

For All Your Hot Melt Glue Needs, Go To: GLU-STIX

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This page was last revised February 11, 2013 by John A. Tuttle, who Assumes No Liability
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