$20Wagner power stripper
Heat Guns Do A Lot More Than Remove Paint
Electric heat guns, most often used by professional mechanics, are becoming increasingly popular with do-it-yourselfers. Black & Decker and Wagner Spray Tech make improved versions
The Wagner ``Power Stripper`` costs about $60 and comes with two accessory nozzles: a fan-shaped flare and a round concentrator that confines the blast of hot air to a smaller cone for higher heat. The Power Stripper also has two heat settings: low, which generates about 600 degrees, and high, which generates up to 1,100 degrees.
The Black & Decker ``Heat `N Strip`` costs about $40 without accessories; nozzles and a scraper kit are available at extra cost. It has only one heat setting that generates up to about 830 degrees.
Although electric heat guns are most often advertised for removing paint, they have many other uses around the home and workshop:
-- To soften putty and caulking around windows and doors so the compound will be easier to scrape out, especially when a broken pane of glass must be replaced.
-- To heat floor tiles and adhesive for easier removal.
-- To speed the curing of epoxy compounds and the setting of fiber glass and resin patching materials.
-- To heat rigid acrylic plastic sheets (Plexiglas or Lucite) so they can be formed into curved shapes.
-- To speed the drying of patching plaster on walls or ceilings.
-- To thaw frozen pipes; but be careful on soldered joints because the gun can melt the solder if held in place too long. Never use a heat gun on plastic pipe.
-- To warm plastic laminates before applying them over curved surfaces;
heat makes them easier to bend.
When used for their most common chore--removing paint--electric heat guns are far safer than a torch because there is less chance of starting a fire.
A heat gun removes paint economically, quickly and with considerably less mess than a chemical remover. The gun can be used with indoor or outdoor paints, and will work on either latex or oil-base paints.
The nozzle gets very hot when in use. Do not touch it or put it down on anything that could be damaged by heat. Do not store a heat gun while it is hot. If it has more than one heat setting, let it run for a minute or two on the lowest setting before shutting it off. This helps prolong the life of the heating element.
The wide-flare nozzle is for most paint-removing jobs.
You will want to experiment to determine which nozzle is best for the job at hand. If you decide to change nozzles later, be sure to let the tool cool for at least five minutes before removing the hot nozzle (each one is pressed onto the it and removed by prying it off).
Give the tool 45 seconds to warm up fully when you first turn it on. Hold the nozzle an inch or two away from the surface, moving it slowly back and forth over a small area until the paint begins to blister. Start scraping with a stiff putty knife or similar scraping tool as soon as the paint bubbles and gets soft.
If you allow the softened paint to cool, it will harden again. With some paints, if you continue to heat them after they have started to blister and scorch, they may catch fire and get even harder. Oil-base paints will usually bubble up freely, but some latex paints may not--they will just soften and finally char.
A little practice will soon indicate the proper timing for easiest scraping. Used properly, the scraper should lift off a swath of paint the full width of the scraper with each stroke, and you should be able to keep the nozzle of the heat gun moving slowly ahead of the scraper with a steady back- and-forth motion that will spread the heat evenly in front of the scraper. Heat only a few square inches at a time, and remember to scrape the softened paint off immediately. Do not hold the nozzle in one place too long; this will char the paint and wood.
The blast of air coming from the nozzle is very hot, so avoid directing it onto the handle of the scraper or near your fingers. Play safe by wearing heavy work gloves, and clean the blade of the scraper frequently. Also, remove paint that has stuck to the nozzle of the heat gun. Build-ups of softened paint on the scraper can create a fire hazard. Paint left on the nozzle of the gun will clog it, creating a fire hazard and lessening its