View Full Version : Heat Gun question

08-12-2003, 09:11 AM
I'm ready to start stripping the varnish from my
15' 1960 Sorg and was wondering if anyone has any
advice on heat guns? Brands, temps, other things
to consider before I purchase one.

Keith Wilson
08-12-2003, 09:22 AM
I'd go to Home Despot or the equivalent and get the cheapest Chinese heat gun you can find. IMHO, this is one of the rare cases in which it doesn't pay to spend more on a tool. I bought two $20 Chinese Milwaukee brand guns (no connection whatever with the folks who make the really nice power tools, nor with Don's gun above) years and years ago, thinking that they were cheap enough I'd just replace them when they died. They haven't yet.

Remember, heat output of a resistance heater is directly proportional to watts, which is limited by the 110V circuit. There's no significant difference in the heat output of two 110V guns if the current draw is the same. The "real" Milwaukee gun above draws 11.6 amps. Harbor Freight's (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=35776) $15 wonder draws 13 amps.

[ 08-12-2003, 10:30 AM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

Mr. Know It All
08-12-2003, 09:37 AM
I have an old cheap "Wagner" with two heat settings. On a small boat it's all I've ever needed. Buy 2 and get someone to help and it goes faster. :D

Scott Rosen
08-12-2003, 10:53 AM
I have the one shown by Donn. No complaints.

08-12-2003, 01:03 PM
We've just finished scraping off alot of old paint and we used a couple of Black and Decker heatguns. We also tried a cheap generic one. The Black and Deckers worked well, the cheap one didn't. I think the nozzle is the key. The B&D's had a nozzle with several small ports, the cheap gun had one large open nozzle. The heat from this one just took forever to work, perhaps because it wasn't concentrated enough. My point is that if I were to purchase another heat gun, I would chose based on the nozzle size and shape. The ports seem to act as a concentrator for the hot air flow.
As an additional point, look for carbide scrapers. We purchased a mid-sized one from Lee Valley and it is leagues above the standard tool steel scrapers. Alot better handle design as well. They cost alot more than the standard paint store scraper but worth every penny in our opinion.



John Carbone
08-12-2003, 01:08 PM
Will Heat guns remove paint as well ?

08-12-2003, 01:39 PM
Oh yes, they remove it well.

My significant other would kill me if I took away her heat gun. There are tricks to using them - watch the heat,
-small areas at a time,
-keep the gun on all the time but point it away
from the work when scraping,
-don't get it too hot and burn the wood,
-move the gun slowly back and forth,
-on old built up paint, do layers at a time instead of trying to get it all at once,
-Always watch where you rest the gun. I've learned the hard way to put it out of reach while it cools.
They will make scraping paint incredibly easy. Now, I've only had experience with traditional marine enamels and oil based paints so please be sure to try it on whatever paint you use. Also, always be careful of the paint and varnish bits removed. There is probably enough heat coming out of those guns to start a fire if you are not careful. Especially with old very dry paint chips.

We've had our fill of scraping this year but we wouldn't even think of it without the heatguns.



Keith Wilson
08-12-2003, 01:59 PM
Good tips about scraping. A couple more:
- Never turn the gun off while you're working; it takes a couple of seconds to get really hot again.
- Heat one area while scraping another. It's best if you can heat just ahead of where you're scraping and move forward continuously.
- Oil-based standard enamel bubbles up and softens very nicely. Fancier paint isn't so easy. Latex is difficult; it seems to sink into the pores of the wood and doesn't separate cleanly. Varnish is the easiest; it's soft and doesn't need much heat.

The Pro-Prep scraper (see below) is by far the best I've found. There are multiple interchangeable blades for fiddly little shapes, moldings and the like, but the normal wider blade works fine for most boat work.


[ 08-12-2003, 03:03 PM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]