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There are some tools that you only use on special occasions. For example, you’re probably not going to need your roofing nailer on a day to day basis and there’s not much point in keeping your drywall lift handy in the garage just in case.
That said, there is one tool that you will keep finding new and innovative uses for. What is this magical tool? A heat gun.
We know what you’re thinking. What can I possibly do with a heat gun other than strip paint or shrink plastic? Well, here are 20 handy ideas to get you started.
1. Roast Coffee Beans
Believe it or not, a heat gun is a perfect tool for roasting coffee beans. Place the raw beans in a roasting pan or shallow metal bowl and hold the heat gun about an inch away from the surface of the beans. Move it in circles over the surface, stirring the beans occasionally making sure to keep the color as even as you can. Once you get the first crack, remove the heat or keep going for a few minutes if you want a darker roast. Cool and viola! Home roasted whole coffee beans.
2. Loosening Rusty Screws and Bolts
Few things are as difficult to undo as a rusted screw or bolt. Whether you’ve come across one on an old piece of furniture or while trying to do car or motorcycle repairs, all you need to do is get your heat gun. By heating up the bolt, you’ll cause it to expand making it so much easier to remove.
3. Remove Dents in Your Car
If you have a dent without a crease that’s a few inches long, you can use a heat gun along with a can of air to fix it yourself. Heat both the dent and the area a few inches around the perimeter. Make sure to keep moving the heat gun around so you don’t damage the paint and avoid any rubber or plastic pieces of trim. Once the area is heated, blast it with the air in a can. Compressed air is really cold and when it makes contact with the hot metal, a layer of ice should form. When it melts, the dent should pop out. We’re not sure how it works – somehow the expansion and contraction of the metal helps it pop back into place.
4. Remove Labels and Stickers
Whether you’re looking for glass jars to organize the nuts and bolts in your workshop or working on a craft project, using a heat gun to remove stickers and labels from glass jars is easy as pie. Just pass the heat over the glass to loosen the glue and peel.
5. Emboss Paper Projects
All you have to do it go to a craft store and pick up some embossing powder and an embossing ink pad. Use a rubber stamp to create an image with the ink then sprinkle it with embossing powder. Clear off the excess then use your heat gun. You’ll get beautiful raised, metallic details that add a lot of personality to homemade greeting cards and gift bags.
6. Shrink Wrap
Heat guns are by far the easiest way to use shrink wrap. Whether you’re wrapping up food, protecting books during a move, or sealing up merchandise, a heat gun gets the job done quickly.
7. Repurpose Old Silverware
You can actually do a lot with old silverware. Use the heat gun to bend the middle into whatever shape you need for your project. Rings and bracelets made of old spoons are pretty popular. You can also make wall hooks for an interesting way to hang up pictures or even to use as a coat hook.
8. Removing Old Flooring
If you have to remove any old vinyl flooring or anything that’s held in place with glue, a heat gun will make the job so much easier. By heating up the tile, the glue underneath loosens and it easily pulls up fro the floor. It’s so much easier than trying to pry it up with a scraper and there’s less chance of damaging the subflooring.
9. Thaw Frozen Pipes
If you live in a climate where your pipes freeze regularly, you can use a heat gun to thaw them. Be very careful to avoid any insulation, wood, or anything else that’s flammable. You also don’t want to keep the heat gun aimed at the same spot for too long and you certainly don’t want to prop up the heat gun and walk away while it’s on. The best way to do it is to move the heat gun slowly and steadily over the same length of the pipe. Remember, this is for metal pipes only. A heat gun should never be used to thaw PVC pipes because it will melt it.
10. In the Kitchen
There are a lot of ways to use a heat gun in the kitchen. Use it to melt sugar or chocolate to take your baking up a notch. You can also toast marshmallows, sear meat, crisp skin, or toast breadcrumbs.
11. Remove Old Wallpaper
Removing wallpaper is one of the most annoying, painstaking, and time-consuming jobs. If you’ve come across some that are particularly difficult to remove, a heat gun can do the trick. You can’t use a high setting because it could cause a fire. An easy way to approach it is to start on the lowest setting. Increase slowly until you get results.
12. Drying Wet Wood
If you have to paint or file wood that’s somehow gotten wet or damp, a heat gun is the fastest, easiest way to dry it. Use a low setting around 200 degrees F and slowly move it back and forth with the grain of the wood. If you get too close or let the gun get too hot, you could singe the wood, so be careful.
13. Removing a Bumper Sticker
Did you slap a bumper sticker on your car to make a statement that maybe you don’t want to make anymore? Don’t worry, a heat gun will help you get that right off.
14. Melt Wax
If you accidentally got candle wax on your floor or table, a quick blast from a heat gun softens it so you can peel it off. You can also use a heat gun to melt the wax that’s left in the bottom of old glass candle jars. Just pour the melted wax into a different glass container with a wick and you can make a new candle.
15. Insulate Windows
If you feel cold drafts creeping in during the winter, you can use a heat gun to easy apply vinyl sheeting that will keep the cold out and might even save you money on your heating bill.
16. Restore Foggy Headlights
Foggy headlights are really annoying and can be surprisingly difficult to fix. A quick pass of a heat gun, though, and it’s all taken care of. Just slowly pass a heat gun over the headlight and it clears up right before your eyes.
17. Wax a Surfboard, Snowboard, or Skis
A heat gun is the easiest way to quickly warm up the wax so you can prepare your equipment for the season.
18. Aging Wood
People pay a lot of money to get the look of old, antique wood. All you have to do move your heat gun over the wood, keeping in the direction of the grain, moving slowing and evenly.
19. Stretch Your Belt
Have you gained a little weight and are finding that your belts are just a little too snug? Use your heat gun to apply even heat and pull. You’ll get a little more wiggle room without having to add another hole or buy a new one.
20. Stripping Paint
If you’re into refinishing furniture, you probably already know that there’s no better way to remove old paint than with a heat gun. Gently rub or scrape the paint in the same area where you’re applying heat. It should peel or chip right off.
21. Waxing Cloth
You can apply wax to your jackets, canvas shoes, and bags to make them waterproof. Just used the heat gun to heat the wax and to make sure the application is smooth and even. This is a really good thing to do with bookbags or anything that you’ll be using a lot in the outdoors.
To Do the Best Job, You Need the Best Heat Gun
If you’re planning to tackle any of these projects or want to come up with some of your own, take a look at our picks for the best heat guns available. If you have the right tool, your work will be that much easier.