Bosch GluePen review in a sentence: not quite proof that (glue) guns should be banned, this scaled-down glue stick is great for hobbies and minor repairs.
Even the very best glue gun may bring back painful memories of Craft, Design & Technology lessons, where accidentally glueing your fingers to a desktop ranked among the more embarrassing moments. However, despite it being quite some time since I was last in such a lesson, hot melt adhesive – HMA, if you like the lingo –remains one of the most versatile ways of bonding things together.
Small, inexpensive and a doddle to use, a glue gun can often be simultaneously found in the toolbox of a professional builder and stuffed into the craft cupboard of an amateur hobbyist, simply because they come in handy for all manner of projects.
The Bosch GluePen is, as the name suggests, more of a pen than a gun. It does away with annoying trailing wires and offers a simple, cordless experience that minimises both mess and opportunities to burn your digits, while maximising ease of use. It’s just a matter of feeding a glue stick into its bottom, depressing a large grip button and watching the magic happen. Calm down at the back.
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Bosch GluePen Review: price and availability
The Bosch Cordless Hot Glue Gun GluePen (to give it its full name) retails at Amazon UK for £28 and is readily available for free next day delivery for Prime customers. You’ll also find it online at B&Q for £32.
In Australia, the GluePen is AU$60 and in America, this Bosch glue mini-gun can only be found on import and hence at a rather high price – $120 on eBay, for instance.
Bosch GluePen Review: build quality
Although extremely simple in its design, the Bosch GluePen feels well built and sits nicely in the hand. There aren't many moving parts, so it’s not like there are flimsy clips or cheap buttons to let the side down.
The main body is fashioned from chunky plastic and comes decked out in the classic Bosch green, which signifies this is a hobbyists' tool, rather than the blue-tinged professional stuff. Even so, it’s got a decent heft to it and feels like it could withstand a few drops on the floor before it gives up the ghost.
The two main controls – the on/off switch and glue trigger – are also large and easy to spot. They too feel solid and the trigger itself has a nice weight to it, making it easy to get a smooth application of glue to the task in hand. The built-in battery lasts for around 30 minutes, or the time it takes to melt through six glue sticks, and is recharged via a standard mini-USB cable, which most people have lying around the house.
A full charge takes a couple of hours but the modern lithium-ion battery holds charge better than old school nickel-cadmium units, meaning you’ll still have plenty of glueing time even if you haven’t shown the GluePen any love for a few months.
Bosch GluePen Review: performance
As previously mentioned, there’s not much to this GluePen, but the most obvious difference between this and its competition is the lack of cord. Instantly, this makes it a lot easier to use and means you can get into more difficult areas, such as glueing pipework or even fiddly electrical stuff. It’s also nice just to slip into a pocket or tool bag and have with you just in case a bit of impromptu glueing or bonding is required.
That said, Bosch has designed its glue sticks specially for this product, because apparently they create less mess than rivals. The downside is that replacements are more expensive than non-branded rivals, with packs of 30 costing around £10, as opposed to 125 units for £6.99 for standard sticks from budget retailers.
To get things started, you’ll need to feed a glue stick into a hole in the rear but it’s very easy to underestimate the force required to click it in place. This generally leads to said glue stick falling out as soon as you move the pen on the first couple of occasions you try it.
It also takes a few pumps of the trigger to get things going, but the heat-up process is incredibly quick. It takes around 15 seconds from hitting the big on/off switch before work can begin and once up to temperature, it will happily munch through glue sticks like they're particularly tasty treats.
An auto off function means the pen shuts down and cools down when left for too long, which will be irritating if you need to pick it up and use it for an important stage of model glueing or a craft project that involves a deft hand. In this instance, you'll have to wait 15 seconds while awkwardly holding a bit of wing or a ship sail in place.
Some customers have reported a quirk where it is impossible to load another glue stick in unless the original stick is finished. The feeding mechanism just doesn’t grab the new stick until it's spent, which can be annoying if you’ve got lots of glueing to do. I can't say I experienced this myself, however.
Overall, the glueing process is clean, as the pen doesn’t leave lots of trails like some rival products do. The nib is also small and precise, meaning it’s possible to place tiny amounts of glue for those really intricate tasks.
The runtime of six glue sticks might not be enough for those hobbyists with larger projects to sort, as waiting for the unit to charge up will be beyond frustrating. Those hot glue enthusiasts should probably look towards a more powerful, corded glue gun instead.
Bosch GluePen Review: what customers say
From Amazon UK
• “I love this glue pen. It was given to me by my Mum two years ago for Xmas and I've used it a fair bit since then. I've used it to make various glue art items, mostly book or journal covers.”
• “For me, the biggest selling point is cold on the shelf, to fully up to temperature in 15 seconds. If I want to glue something, I want to glue it NOW, not in 3 to 5 minutes! It really does get up to temperature that quickly.”
• “Some people complain that glue sticks fall out if you tip it up – you just need to understand the the machine grips the glue stick very near to the nozzle, about by the trigger, so until the last glue stick has been almost completely used up, the new one just rests in the body waiting. There is no need to put the next one in until the last one has virtually run out.”
Bosch GluePen Review: verdict
Small, light and really easy to use, the Bosh GluePen will suit those getting into crafting or those who have only the occasional slice of hot melt adhesive action to carry out. The battery doesn’t last long enough to tackle really big projects, where a corded model would be preferable, but its pocket-friendly size and clean application see it better rivals when it comes to convenience and portability.
It’s advisable to work with the Bosch replacement glue sticks. They may be more expensive, but some users have pointed out that cheaper rivals tend to have a lower melting temperature, which can result in excessive glue dribbling out of the nozzle.
Above all else, it’s not very expensive yet the lack of electrical cord means more freedom to reach awkward areas or get creative in art projects by holding it and using it like a normal pen.