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The versatility of the heat gun is perhaps the best weapon for DIYers.
Your workshop may be full of useful tools, but they are likely to have limited applications.
The drywall lift is a great tool for raising walls panels. But it cannot do any other. Your chainsaw is equally important for cutting timber, but you won't be keeping it in your kitchen cupboard "just in case".
Different heat guns exist.
These machines can be used for DIY and repairs just as well as candle making and surfing.
Let me tell you about the many uses of a heat gun.
What Can You Use a Heat Gun For? 20 Amazing Applications
1. Paint stripping
As far as I can see (and trust me, I’ve looked), there have been no studies conducted on the motivations why people purchase hot air guns.
As an educated guess, however, I would suggest that your heat gun was purchased originally to remove paint. These machines are so associated with this application, that they are often labelled as heat guns on retail websites and paint strippers.
Perhaps with good reason.
These heat air units are great for removing old paint. Heat guns can be used to give your dresser a new lease on life or to redecorate doors and banisters.
The best paint remover units can soften layers of paint, allowing you to use a handheld scraper to remove them. This method is completely chemical-free. You can find my guide on how to use a heat gun for this kind of work here.
Many owners consider this the only use for their heat gun. It is left in its garage, where it remains for most of the year, only to be retrieved once every year.
Paint stripping is only one part of the picture.
2. Remove Stickers, Labels, and Decals
Stickers are wonderful things, in that they, well, stick.
Sometimes they are stuck to things that you would prefer not.
You can give your children a sticker book and have a few glue-backed images placed on the pages. The majority of the images will stick to your walls, furniture, or floor.
If you're like me, then you may have an unhealthy obsession with glass jars. These containers, once filled with peanut butter or jelly, make great workshop receptacles. However, I would like them to be labelled with the actual contents, not Mr. Extra Crunchy Nuts
The problem arises when you attempt to remove the sticker.
The top layer of paper is usually removed by picking off the paper with your fingernail. This leaves behind a plain white backing. If you are persistent, you might be able to remove the label, but you will still have a sticky residue.
The glue will be softened by heating the decal or sticker. Be careful.
Remember to consider the surface where the label was applied. You could damage glass jars or burn wood surfaces if you use too much heat. A heat gun that has at least a dual-temperature feature is ideal. This allows you to select a lower temperature setting, sufficient to loosen adhesives but not damage the base material.
3. Roasting coffee beans
A cup of freshly brewed Joe is the best, especially if you roast your coffee beans. It's not only a great drink, but it also gives off a wonderful aroma in your kitchen.
You won't be able to roast on an industrial scale using a heat gun, but it's great for home use.
It is easy.
Place your coffee beans on a tray or pan that is heat-resistant. Your hot air gun should be set to medium-high heat. Move the tool in a circular motion around the beans while keeping it about an inch from the surface. To ensure that the beans develop a uniform colour, shake them every few minutes or stir them with long-handled spoons.
When you hear the first crackle, it is time to turn off the heat. If you prefer a dark roast, continue to cook for another few minutes.
A quick pro-tip.
This is a great way to get an extra appliance in your home if you have a partner or wife who enjoys coffee but isn't so keen on your power tool-buying addiction.
Give her a heat gun as a gift for her birthday. Explain that it is for roasting coffee. You get credit for being so thoughtful. And when she's gone, you can still use the heat gun for DIY projects.
4. Thawing Frozen Pipes
Should you reside in a climate where every winter your pipes freeze — a heat gun is indispensable for getting the water flowing again.
It is important to keep the hot-air machine moving along the pipe. Don't leave it stationary for too long. Also, avoid heating pipes with solder joints and flammable materials like foam insulation and woodwork. A heat gun with a reflector nozzle such as the DeWalt is best to ensure equal heat distribution.
Although it is obvious, I will not be able to use my heat gun to melt plastic pipes. The heat from the latter will undoubtedly melt any ice, but it can also melt or deform the plastic pipes.
5. Remove Wallpaper
This is one of those heat gun applications that few people consider when decorating.
Do you need to remove paint? Everybody reaches for the hot-air gun. But what if you want to remove wallpaper? The steamer and chemicals are out.
It is unfortunate because a heat gun can be used to remove wall linings without the need for corrosive fluids. The adhesive paste underneath is melted by hot air guns, which gives you the unparalleled pleasure of removing a whole wallpaper sheet.
Start your heat gun at the lowest heat setting and gradually increase the heat until the adhesive starts to melt. You can set your paper on fire if you use too high of a temperature. A digital heater is my recommendation. It allows you to control the temperature precisely.
6. How to Remove Floor Vinyl and Linoleum
If you’ve ever tried to lift old floor vinyl before — you know the issues. It either doesn’t want to move at all or it cracks. And — even if you do manage to remove it — you’re left with a mess of adhesive on your base flooring.
The heat gun makes it easy to remove linoleum by softening the glue. It also allows you to remove any sticky residue that could otherwise cause bumps or lumps in the new covering.
This is the same method as when you remove wallpaper. Keep the heat gun moving, and then start at the lowest temperature. Gradually increase it as necessary.
7. Drying wood
All week, you’ve been planning to paint the deck as soon as the weekend arrives.
Then, Friday night brings a downpour, making it impossible to paint.
Your Saturday morning won't be spent in front of the television. Your hot air gun can dry the timbers, allowing you to paint or brush again.
Your heat gun should be set to a low temperature, no higher than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not try to speed up your heat gun to make it faster. You'll end up with piles of charred wood.
8. Melting Wax
Should you accidentally drip wax onto the floor or a desk — simply address it with a short blast of hot air from your heat gun and you can remove it effortlessly.
You can also use the power tool to save money.
You don't have to throw away candle jars with more than an inch of wax in them. Instead, use your heat gun and soften the wax before removing it. Once you have gathered enough wax, you can melt it with your hot air gun and add a wick to make a new candle.
9. Faux-Aging of Wood
Who doesn’t want the kudos of antique furniture in their home? Well, personally, I don’t — I find it weird that people pay a ridiculous amount of money for something that’s been used before, looks ugly, and possibly contains woodworm.
Perhaps thankfully, however, not everyone is exactly like me.
A heat gun can darken the wood furniture, giving it an aged look. To avoid scorching, use the heat gun at a low to the medium power setting. Always keep the machine moving.
This only works with bare wood.
Also, make sure that the furniture you are soon to be antique is made of solid wood and not laminate. Laminates can lift with heat and leave you with an MDF base.
10. Rusted Bolts & Nuts
In DIY, there’s probably nothing more frustrating than trying to remove a rusted bolt.
The oxidation process acts as a kind of natural glue. However, you should be careful not to use too much pressure with your wrench to avoid damaging the bolt's head. This could lead to you needing to remove the problem hardware.
The fear and effort are eliminated by hot air guns
Heat breaks down the rust, making the nut expand. This allows you to remove the bolt and replace it.
11. Wrapping Cars
If you’re fed up with the color of your car — you can change it to something more suited to your personality with a vinyl wrap. It has numerous benefits over a complete respray, in that it:
You don't need to apply a primer coat.
It is quicker to complete.
You can remove the skin with a heat gun.
It doesn't impact resale values (as long as you can take it off).
Car film application requires patience and skill. To help you get started with heat gun use, I have a vinyl wrapping 101 guide.
12. Upcycle Old Silverware
When I moved into my current house, the previous owner had left behind an old wooden box. Inside was mostly trash, old newspapers, and a few rusted hand tools. But, at the bottom of the chest, was a bundle of silverware cutlery.
It was mostly unusable -- it was tarnished and bent and it did not match -- so it had no practical or resale potential. My wife was an artist and said that she would use the silverware to create some new sculptures.
She didn't. To this day, the spoons and forks are still available.
If you are more determined than my better half, however, a heat gun can be used to form this soft metal.
You can heat up silver using your hot air machine. Then, use long-nosed scissors and vice to let your imagination run wild. You can make coat hooks, door handles and jewelry, or any other direction that your creative mind leads you.
If the silverware idea has taken your fancy — then there are a multitude of applications for crafting with a heat gun.
The most popular use of powder embossing is perhaps in art. After applying the powder to paper or card projects, heat it up to warm it up. The powder adheres to your handiwork and creates 3-D relief.
You can also use a heat gun, but not necessarily for:
Acrylic paint drying.
A mini-heat gun is the best tool for crafting applications. These tools allow you to create intricate and precise artwork with greater control than standard-sized DIY machines.
14. Tinting Windows
If you don’t want to be recognized while in your car — say you’re an international drug dealer or having an affair with your wife’s best friend — window tinting is an excellent way to remain incognito.
If neither of these scenarios describes your lifestyle, darkening the automotive glass can have the following benefits:
Reduce the chance of your car's interior fading.
Blocking dangerous UV rays.
This will reduce the chance of glass breaking in an accident.
Protect your valuables.
An automotive heat gun will give you the best results. It is more likely to create a bubble-free coating and prevent any damage to your car's glass.
15. Shrink Wrapping
Applying shrink wrap with a heat gun is an excellent method of protecting books, food, and mail items. You could use a hairdryer (many people do), but they lack sufficient power and heat concentration to provide a tight seal.
The shrink wrap heat gun doesn't have to be a custom-built unit. Most general-purpose hot-air units can handle this application. To ensure uniform heat distribution, I recommend that a gun include a fantail nozzle.
Shrink wrapping can be addictive and satisfying, but that's not the only problem. It means that everything in your home that isn't moving could be covered with film.
16. Repairing electrical items
Most modern-day electrical appliances contain at least one circuit board. The issue is, should any part of their circuitry fail — such as a blown capacitor or burnt out resistor — the machine fails to work.
You can use heat guns to remove and replace the problem part.
A hot air unit that has a concentrator (sometimes referred to as a reducer) and a nozzle is required, such as the Weber HT4500. This allows you to focus heat on a specific component, and not the whole circuit board.
If you are only doing occasional electrical work, a general DIY heat gun is okay. If you are a serious circuit board repairer, builder or salvager, however, you will need a tool that is specifically designed for your job.
Many purpose-built electric heat guns are available, some of which form part of a rework area that also includes a soldering station. These machines can deliver the exact temperatures needed for circuit board work and provide a concentrated heat focus. They also have many safety features that are vital for electrical projects.
Perhaps some of the most surprising heat gun applications are for sport.
The hot air machine isn't only for the DIY-er. If you enjoy winter and outdoor activities, you will need one.
These are most useful when softening wax prior to applying it to skis or snowboards. This allows for a smooth and even application by gently warming the material.
In such situations, I recommend using a cordless heating gun. This allows you to cover your entire equipment without moving it and protects the cable from getting covered in wax.
You can also use a hot-air gun to mould hockey boots, straighten rackets and warm squash balls.
18. Baking and cooking
Kitchen heat gun projects are not usually recommended by the manufacturer.
Specific product regulations must be followed for appliances that may come in contact with food. These requirements are not applicable to hot air guns, which are intended for DIY use.
There's nothing better than being a rebel. Although hairpins weren't made for removing wax from the ears, you have done it.
However, I don't recommend sticking anything into your ears. I do suggest that you use your heat gun in the kitchen. Except that your nozzle drips paint flakes from your weekend's stripping project.
Heat guns are used in culinary applications such as searing meats, melting chocolate, toasting marshmallows and crisping skin.
19. Freezing Freezers
Ice build-up inside your freezer ruins its efficiency and overworks the compressor — which can eventually lead to failure.
If you notice any frozen water, it is time to defrost.
It's also time-consuming. If you don't have a second freezer, your frozen food might thaw and make it unusable.
The heat gun can quickly melt the ice and allow you to quickly return your steaks to the oven before they become unusable. The hot air machine should be kept moving and focused on one place.
Also, be sure to set the temperature to a low setting. Too high of a temperature difference can cause cracking in the fragile insulation material.
20. Leather stretching
Have too many cold ones made it a struggle to close your belt?
You can gently stretch the leather by heating it with a heat gun on a low setting. This will allow you to wear the same belt over and over again without the need to add an eyelet.
This means you don't need to buy a leather punch, but it also gives you the satisfaction of still using the same belt hole you used ten years ago.
You should remember that leather can only stretch so far before it cracks. If you have put on a lot of weight, you will need to purchase a new belt.
Although heat guns can be a wonderful tool, they are not miracle workers.
So, to recap, what do you use a heat gun for?
Anything that requires heat to be concentrated.
Unfortunately, the heat gun is often overlooked.
Your Auntie Mavis is a woman you barely think about, but only contact once a calendar year. It sits in your garage, unappreciated, and appears when you need some paint stripping (not Auntie Mavis).
This tool should be used often, however.
It can be used as a label remover and bean roaster, car wrapper or electronic repairer. It also functions as a shrink wrapper, pipe thawer and window tinter.
This article only scratches the surface of all of the incredible power tools available to you. Let your imagination run wild and come up with your own heat gun applications.
To purchase a high quailty heat gun, click here