Fast-Setting Glue Guns
Saw Stand Accessories
Fast-Setting Glue Guns
When I was learning woodworking, many years ago, all power
tools had cords, and glue joints were clamped while drying.
Although I'm still a yellow-glue-and-clamps kind of carpenter,
I've tried to keep up with cordless tools and other modern
Two new glue guns recently caught my eye. The Weller Portasol
G200K (Weller Tools, 919/362-1670,
www.coopertools.com) is a cordless,
hot-melt glue gun, similar to the corded variety I've used to
hold tiny pieces of trim for pneumatic nailing. The HiPURformer
Advanced Bonding System (Titebond, 800/669-4583,
www.titebond.com) is a semi-corded,
electric glue gun that preheats in a separate base.
The butane-powered Portasol G200k is a new twist on the
traditional glue gun but uses traditional 1/2-inch glue sticks.
This professional tool has no cord and is shaped a lot like a
cordless drill, with similar dimensions. But, at 1.8 pounds, it
weighs considerably less. Instead of a battery in the grip, the
Portasol has a refillable, butane fuel tank. For testing, I
bought a 320-ml. can of butane (typically used to fill
Shaped like a cordless drill, the
Portasol G200K is a pro-duty, hot-melt glue gun. Powered by
butane, the high-temperature gun can melt the strongest glue
and run up to five hours on a fill-up.
Filling the gun was easy. Depressing an ignition button, after
turning on the gas valve, ignites the gun. A mild roar inside
the gun and a glowing "Ignition View" window confirm that the
gun is working. A thermostatic control cycles the gun off and
on as needed to maintain a 383°F working temperature,
reached in about four minutes. Among glue guns, 383°F is
on the high side of the temperature spectrum, allowing the use
of higher-strength glue sticks.
Various nozzles come with the kit, including a standard
applicator, a needle, a diagonal, and a spreader. The
supplemental nozzles install and remove easily with a 1/2-inch
wrench but, oddly, don't fit properly in the molded case. I
resorted to keeping them in a plastic sandwich bag instead. I
also had trouble stashing the 320-ml. fuel can in the case -- I
had to leave the cap off to make it fit and so had to place it
with its nozzle opposite the hinge to prevent it from leaking,
a dangerous situation. Next time, I'll buy a smaller canister.
The blow-molded case does accommodate about a dozen glue sticks
and holds the gun securely, even with a fresh, full-length glue
The manufacturer claims that this tool will melt glue at a
rate of 3 1/2 pounds per hour and will run up to five hours
without refueling. Although I didn't keep close track, the
claims seem reasonable. The instructions for use caution
against laying the gun on its side during operation; a foldout
stand built into the housing keeps it upright. The stand
operated easily and was reasonably sturdy.
Although its adhesive doesn't provide a permanent,
high-strength bond, this tool reached working temperature
quickly and functioned well at its intended use. Its merit lies
in its portability, but, at $160, portability doesn't come
cheap. Corded guns are comparatively inexpensive. Professional
models with detachable cords sell for about $40 -- I can use my
plug-in model for about five minutes unplugged.
Given the limited use of traditional hot-melt adhesives, I
can't justify the cost; but if portability is more valuable in
your work, you may be able to.
A smaller, more convenient version of industrial hot-melt,
polyurethane glue guns, the HiPURformer brings the virtues of
high-strength hot-melt adhesive to the job site. The gun is
scaled down to a dispenser that weighs less than a pound and,
with a 1.4-ounce cartridge installed, measures 14 inches long,
7 inches tall, and 2 inches wide.
Assembly work is where the HiPURformer
system really shines. The high-strength adhesive sets in as
little as 30 seconds, making clamps unnecessary. The joints are
strong, but the glue is expensive -- $8 for a 1.4-ounce
This gluing system is a collaboration between Steinel, a
German tool manufacturer, and Franklin International, maker of
Titebond wood glues. The whole system comes in a case slightly
larger than an old-style lunchbox.
There are three choices of glue for this tool: two for
woodworking and one multipurpose formula. The "fastest" glue
has a 30-second set time, is thinner than the others, and is
intended for general woodworking. The other woodworking glue
sets in 60 seconds and has a thicker, gap- filling quality. The
multipurpose glue has a 75-second set time and is formulated to
bond melamine, ceramics, metal, most plastics, marble, glass,
and brick. The manufacturer cautions against using it with
copper or copper-based alloys, like brass, however.
The glue is ready for use about 10 to 12 minutes after
plugging in the base station; an indicator lights when the
adhesive is ready. The gun is good for about 15 minutes of
remote use before needing to reheat.
Adhesive shelf life is listed as 12 months when the
polyurethane cartridges are left in their foil wrap, but they
should be used within four weeks after initial use. It's
important to keep the nozzle cap on during heating and after
use. I had good results following this recommendation,
restarting open tubes after a four-week break. But I've heard
complaints that some users have been unable to restart a
cartridge, even the next day. At $8 a cartridge, it isn't hard
to understand why reuse is desirable. I was careful to cap the
tube, disassemble the gun as it cooled, and generally baby the
tool, and I never had a problem.
A socket on the base station acts as a wrench for unscrewing
the cartridge cap (it gets hot). The cap can then be
transferred to a holder in the handle. The wrench worked well,
but the holder seemed a little weak.
I tested the manufacturer's claims of strength and ability to
eliminate clamps on a small drawer divider project, gluing
3/16-inch- and 3/8-inch-thick stock. Clamps would be too
cumbersome for such a project, making it an ideal test of the
adhesive and gun. Initially, I used too much glue and had to
remind myself not to wipe the hot excess away with my finger.
But, for this small project, hand pressure and a square block
for reference were all I needed.
Franklin claims that bonded materials can be machined or
planed after 1 hour; structural joints shouldn't be stressed
for 24 to 48 hours.
The gun is plastic, and at $100, one might expect it to be
sturdier. Most of the time it worked well for me, but I
occasionally had problems. It has to be heated thoroughly for
the plunger to work smoothly and consistently. I once neglected
to disassemble the gun while it cooled, and the plunger stuck
to the cartridge. If you're willing to baby the tool, it should
work for you. If you don't have the patience, you should
probably wait for the next generation.
Ross Welshis a finish carpentry subcontractor in
Two-Way Laserby Gary Katz
With two separately rotating lasers on one tool -- one casting
a level line, and the other casting a plumb line -- the new
Toolz model RT-7690-2 self-leveling laser (Toolz, 800/984-0404,
www.robotoolz.com) is definitely out of the
ordinary. You can operate the laser functions separately or use
them together to cast a crosshair pattern.
Moving the laser and changing the beam
spread are easy with the intelligently designed remote
controldetector. But holding the detector horizontally
for horizontal lines takes some getting used to.
In brightly lit rooms or outdoors, dim laser lines hamper the
potential of rotating lasers. Although most makers provide
red-lens "beam-enhancement" glasses, they don't help much. A
good electronic detector is far more effective, and the RT-7690
includes one of the best remote detectors I've used. The
sensitive detector controls all functions of the tool after the
laser is activated. You can adjust the three rotating speeds,
change the six scan modes (150-degree chalkline, dot, and four
settings in between), and even rotate the dot or scan line to
precisely where you need it, all without assistance. The on/off
switch also acts as a pendulum lock, which protects the
sensitive instrumentation during transport.
Testing the tool against preset benchmarks, I found accuracy
to be within about 3/16 inch at 100 feet and 1/8 inch at 50
feet. Field calibration is easily done with a hex wrench;
calibrating the level-line laser automatically adjusts the
In general, the tool worked well; I was impressed with the
all-in-one remote controllaser detector. But I have a
complaint regarding the laser's out-of-level sensor: When the
laser is tilted to an angle that exceeds its capacity to self
level, it beeps and shuts down. However, if the laser is
accidentally bumped, but the tilt angle doesn't exceed the
tool's self-leveling range, the instrument restarts
automatically. The result may be a laser line that's off by
more than 1/8 inch from the original elevation, wreaking havoc
on your layout.
The laser base unit requires four D-cell batteries (an AC
adapter is available from the manufacturer); the remote
controldetector uses a 9-volt battery. The RT-7690-2
includes the laser with target-remote, a case, a rod bracket,
and enhancement glasses and sells for about $520 to
Saw Stand Accessoriesby Jeremy Hess
About a year ago, TracRac introduced its TracMaster aluminum
miter saw stand. Since then, the company has developed a couple
of new accessories meant to make the stand more versatile. I
recently had the opportunity to check these items out, testing
their practicality and performance on a couple of remodeling
Sturdy and low-tech, the heavy-duty
aluminum handle locks the router table to a TracMaster
miter-saw stand or to optional aluminum hardware that can be
mounted on a work bench or tailgate.
The aluminum TracMaster router table (TracRac, 800/501-1587,
www.tracrac.com) slides into the stand's
top rail and is secured by a sturdy, cam-type lock with a
heavy-duty handle. Mounting templates for the most popular
routers, plus a generic template for less popular routers, are
included in the package. Other than attaching the mounting
plate to my 2-hp Skil plunge router, no assembly was
The TracRac's wide stance and sturdy
legs give the router table stability. An integral, switched
outlet and 2-inch dust port make dust collection easier.
However, the table's unusually short power cord leaves a
connector or power strip dangling in the air.
Reference lines formed into the aluminum table are a good aid
to fence alignment. In addition to the table's ABS fence, an
aluminum auxiliary fence and various throat plates are included
with the kit, so you can use bits up to 2 3/4 inches wide
without making modifications. Plastic and aluminum seem like
sensible fence materials, considering the stand's portability
and potential exposure to humidity and temperature swings,
which could corrode or distort other materials. The clear
plastic guard covering the bit provides adequate protection but
keeps the line of sight clear and flips out of the way for bit
changes. A front-mounted remote switch makes starting and
stopping the router safe and convenient, eliminating blind
groping for the switch or trigger. An additional outlet is
energized by the power switch, which along with the integral
dust port molded into the fence, allows automatic dust
I tested the table on oak, pine, and poplar, using ogee,
round-over, and beading bits for shaping and straight bits for
dadoes. The fence held securely and TracMaster's wide footprint
provided good stability. The portability of this 20-pound table
gives the TracMaster a big advantage over other router tables.
At $179, it's priced only slightly higher than router tables
with less versatility.
Optional TracMount channels increase the
versatility of the accessories. The top-mounted TracMount
(above) can be mounted on a tailgate or sawhorse and is
included with the vise, or it can be purchased separately for
$34. The side-mounted TracMount ($58) provides a flush surface
that won't interfere with bench-top projects
The TracVise is an excellent job-site vise. Weighing under 10
pounds, the compact aluminum and stainless-steel vise is built
to take the weather. The 5 1/2-inch-capacity, smooth aluminum
jaws prevent marring of soft materials. Integral V-grooves in
the jaws will grip up to 2 1/2-inch-diameter pipe or dowel. At
$179, the vise could cause sticker shock to some, but this is
one well-made tool.
Lightweight and portable, both the router table and the vise
go from workshop to job site with ease and make smart additions
to the existing saw stand. When I tested saw stands (see
Stands," 8/02), I gave the TracRac's stand a lukewarm
review, but these accessories greatly increase its
Although both accessories are obviously targeted to TracMaster
miter-saw stand users, you don't have to own the stand to use
them. Optional TracMount hardware makes them available for
Jeremy Hessis a carpenter with D.E.R. Construction
in Bainbridge, Pa.