Tool Tuesday – Getting Hot with Heat Guns

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Thanks to guest blogger Stuart from ToolGuyd,  who will be responding to your tool questions on Tuesdays in response to your feedback from last week’s post: Tamdoll's red tool box
Last week we announced that there will be a new series of crafting tool posts on Tuesdays. We received quite a few great comments to that post, including one from Thea, who asks: "what's the difference between a heat gun and a hair dryer?"
The main difference between a heat gun and a hair dryer is that a heat gun is much, much more powerful. A heat gun will typically feature a heating element and a fan to provide a uniform stream of super-heated air. Heat guns can be used for a variety of tasks around the home, and have many crafting applications, including:
Paint removal
Applying heat shrink tubing or film
Softening adhesives & removing stickers
Softening certain plastics prior to bending or forming
Melting embossing powder
A hair dryer can sometimes be used in lieu of a heat gun, but this generally isn't recommended.Heat Gun vs Hair Dryer
In addition to electric heat guns, many crafters use small butane powered torches for heating applications. These micro-torches sometimes feature shields and attachments that make them more useful for heating and soldering applications.
Heat guns and micro-torches are not exactly interchangeable, but you can sometimes improvise if only one of these two tools are available.
There are also specialized heat guns available for project-specific applications, such as embossing. An embossing heat gun will typically be much smaller than a general purpose heat gun, and often features a more focused and lower temperature heat source. Amongst other things, these heat guns are used to melt embossing powders, and so they are designed to move less air to avoid blowing powder all over the place.
Embossing Heat Gun
A micro-torch can do the same job as a dedicated embossing craft heat gun, but if you use it often, you will need to refuel it periodically. On the other hand, a micro-torch is more versatile than an embossing heat gun and can be used for a much wider range of applications.
Generally speaking, if you rarely use a heat gun, you may be able to get away with using a micro-torch, crafting heater, or even an ordinary butane lighter, but such improvisations will often result in lower performance and poorer results.
General purpose heat guns can be found in the paint department at hardware stores, with better ones featuring multiple heat settings and attachments. Industrial models usually come with integrated bases that allow for hands-free operation.
Micro-torches will sometimes include heat gun, soldering tip, or hot-knife attachments, and standalone their well defined blue flames allow for precise heating.

Specialty heat guns can be found at craft stores and many online merchants:
(affiliate links)
Please be sure to follow proper safety protocol when using these and other such heating tools. It is also wise to only consider heat guns and other high temperature tools from established manufacturers and brands. This isn't the type of tool to cheap out on with generic non-branded import models.
 ToolGuyd

As crafters, we all might use heating tools in different ways. What types of heat guns have you used for your projects, and in what way?

2 comments:

  1. I love the idea of using a "gun" but the only heat I use is from the iron.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! So much information. Thanks Tamdoll and ToolGuyd!

    ReplyDelete

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