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What is a heat gun?

It might sounds like some type of futuristic weapon, but a heat gun is actually a power tool that resembles a hair dryer on steroids. Heat guns are useful for all types of home repairs, from softening old paint or putty for removal to shrinking tubes and films, and sometimes (with the right attachment) they're even used for soldering. Heat guns are also great for removing all types of adhesives, including the bumper stickers you're no longer proud of. They weigh just a few pounds and come in both corded and cordless varieties. The price range runs from around $40 to $200, making them fairly affordable tools.

One of the big advantages that heat guns have over other heat-producing tools is that they're flameless. While flames can damage the surface you're trying to heat and even cause a fire, the hot air from a heat gun is a safer source of heat for your home improvement projects. For most heat gun projects, 750 degrees Fahrenheit (399 degrees Celsius) is hot enough to do the trick, and many heat guns allow you to adjust the temperature. Other important features include a stand or legs to rest the gun on when you're not using it, as well as a part that allows you to direct the air flow [source: Capotosto].

For paint-stripping projects, a heat gun allows you to loosen the paint easily. Once it blisters from the heat, it makes the hand scraping part of the task much easier. Similarly, heat guns help you remove glazing putty by softening it before you go at it by hand. If you were to attack it straight with a chisel, you'd risk damaging the surface around the undesired putty. Heat guns can be used to apply veneer tape and plastic laminate to curved edges, and they also allow you to loosen damaged vinyl tiles without harming surrounding ones. Additionally, heat guns are good for defrosting freezers, thawing frozen locks, warming frosted copper pipes and drying damp surfaces.