View Full Version : Favorite electric heat gun?
12-03-2001, 10:47 PM
After 20 some years my heat gun has died for the last time, so shopping we shall go. Are there any stand outs you love, or ones that have disappointed? Thanks guys.
12-04-2001, 05:43 AM
I like my Milwaukee with the variable temperature control.
12-04-2001, 08:12 AM
I have a dual setting Milwaukee heat gun that works like a champ.
12-04-2001, 08:19 AM
How well does the heat gun work on varnish, can it burn the wood ?
12-04-2001, 08:34 AM
All heat guns, unless made for 220volts, are limited to 1500 to 1600 watts, so they put out the same amount of heat. If you hold it in one place too long, especially with a small tip, they will most certainly burn the wood.
The Milwaukee is a good choice.
12-04-2001, 12:29 PM
The heat gun works great on varnish. It'll lift 15 coats no problem. If you set the temperature high and leave the nozzle pointed at the same spot for too long, it will scorch the surface of the wood. On teak at least, those scorches come right off with the finish sanding. I might be more of a problem with a lighter colored wood like oak or cherry. The trick is to keep the gun moving and don't let is stay on a spot once the finish has lifted.
12-04-2001, 12:48 PM
Twenty-five years ago, before heat guns came into common use, we used a heavy weight model that looked like an old fashioned hair dryer. It was made for use on shrinking electrical insulating sleeves and shrink wrapping and they were hard to come by. Had to order them from commercial electrical supply houses. They had a flat metal plate about 4" square on the back, so you could lay them down running with the nozzle pointing up, or at some angle. That was a nice feature. Their big drawback was that they weighed a lot, being all metal. While the Milwaukee only has a funky hunk of bent wire for a "stand" which gets in the way a lot, it is a lot better machine because it is so light. A lot of stripping and your arm was history with the old one.
12-04-2001, 01:33 PM
I'm another one to vote for the Milwaukee.
And I've got the perfect solution to Bob's sore arm problem: A head mounted heat gun! Wouldn't that be bitchin'! http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif
12-04-2001, 05:31 PM
Sounds like Milwaukee wins. I think the gun I've had is what Bob describes- it's all metal with a cast body in two halves, metal snout and wood handle. I'm going to miss the adjustable foot though, its been nice being able to set it up to blow on whatever needs a little heat to speed cures, etc. Less weight will go over well though.
Last week I went shoping online for a Milwaukee heat gun, they sell a bunch of different models now. At least some are made in China and some looked pretty crappy, though others look durable.
I ended up buying a two setting model #8975, slightly used for $25.
Point is, deciding on Milauwkee is not the end of your search.
12-04-2001, 05:57 PM
I've had 2 of the older Milwaukee heat guns, those with a black plastic handle. On both, the handle busted when dropped a few times (I know none of you guys ever do that, of course).
I bought a Makita which has about the same output and control, and can be stood upright on its base. Although plastic, it's more rugged than the old Milwaukees. I don't know what newer Milwaukees are like, as my previous experience soured me on them.
12-05-2001, 11:44 AM
I've just bought a Steinel-made in the Czech Republic. I hope to bend some 1 inch thick teak pleaks with it instead of using a steam box. Has anybody used a heat gun for this task? Maybe wrapping the plank in an old wet towel while playing the gun over it would help as well.
12-05-2001, 12:27 PM
There was an article in WB magazine within the past year or so (?) which talked about using dry heat for bending wood. If I remember correctly (I don't have the article handy), the author thought dry heat worked just as well as wet heat, except the danger of overheating was much greater.
12-05-2001, 01:02 PM
Wood can be simplistically described as a bunch of tubes (xylem) glued together with lignin. The purpose of steaming is mostly to heat the lignin in the wood to the point of elasticity, allowing it to be bent without breaking. This can obviously be done by heating alone, but by using a heat gun you run the risk of too localized and uneven heating. This is especially true with thicker stock, and 1 inch certainly qualifies as "thick". The rule of thumb for steaming is "an inch an hour". Wood is a poor conductor of heat - the rule of thumb allows for thorough and even heating to the core of the plank.
Using steam also lets you heat enough, but not too much. Your steam is obviously not going to exceed 212 degrees F at atmospheric pressure inside your plywood/PVC/whatever steambox: It's self-regulating.
So to summarize: To use a heat gun effectively for bending planks, you have to heat a wide area evenly, for a long time, and without putting undue heat on the plank. I can't see how this can be successful, even if you use the boiling-water-on-wrapped-towels.
Just my $.02, of course. My opinion may be worth exactly what you paid for it!
Example: The Shakers bent thin stock for their oval boxes by holding against a hot pipe and bending around it. This is similar to the luthiers' method, IIRC.
12-05-2001, 04:54 PM
The gondola builders in Venice bend wood by heating it over a fire, sort of like toasting marshmallows. Actually, that was probably the only bit of nearly useful trivia to ever come out of those stupid GONDOLA ARTICLES! LOL
12-06-2001, 05:55 AM
I originally bought a Wagner at Lowe's. Figured I would burn it out before I got the Simmons Sea-Skiff stripped of 30 years worth of paint, so ordered a $20 backup from Harbor Freight. Both were made in China and appeared identical. The Wagner lasted through the Simmons job, and I sold the Harbor Freight tool to Mike Hubbard down the creek for my cost. He is tickled with it.
12-06-2001, 01:03 PM
Okay, using a heat gun to bend a plank was maybe a dumb idea. Fire it will be! Thanks guys for setting me straight .
12-06-2001, 04:41 PM
Before heat guns became readily available we used white-gasoline blow-torches for removing finishes. You had to have a deft touch to toe the narrow line between enough heat to soften the finish and setting fire to the boat. With a flame spreader on the torch it was faster than a heat gun, but the latter is much lighter and safer and the risk of charring the wood is much less. Heat guns are all pretty much the same, but one with variable adjustment of the heat is good. I use a Milwaukee.
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