This Simple Cheap Tool Has More Uses Than You Can Imagine

A heat gun can basically do everything but your taxes.

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at a propane heater, a device to keep your butt and your hands warm this coming cold season; a parts washer, an often overlooked tool that comes in handy; and a power inverter, a road trip game changer for keeping your tools and gadgets juiced up. This week’s Cool Tool is a heat gun. It’s a simple tool with more uses around the garage, car and home than you can fathom.

Heat can make so many jobs easier. The application of heat can help free stuck fasteners, soften up plastics, activate or loosen up glue, and so much more. A heat gun can deliver these necessary piping-hot temperatures.

I was reminded that I have one of these at my disposal by a friend with an issue that isn’t even related to cars. See, the display on their iPhone stopped working and they needed it replaced. It’s an easy job, but you aren’t getting that screen off of the phone’s chassis without some heat to soften the adhesive holding it on. That’s when I pulled out the heat gun.

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Image for article titled This Simple Cheap Tool Has More Uses Than You Can Imagine
Photo: Mercedes Streeter

Heat guns have even more uses for cars.

Have you ever reversed into something, causing an unsightly dent in your bumper cover? You can use one to heat up the bumper before using your hand on the other side to pop the dent back out.

And while likely not as good as a torch or the Mini-Ductor, a heat gun can be used to heat up stuck fasteners.

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Heat guns also provide more than enough heat to soften adhesives. This is good for getting rid of old stickers or pulling apart parts that may be adhered like light housings or interior trim. They can even be used with heat-activated glues to assist in leather and vinyl repairs.

Amazingly, this tool can be used to help restore dingy trim, too. Check this out:

I bought this heat gun sometime last year to help someone install a vinyl wrap on their car. The tool in that application can be used in shaping the wrap and removing ripples.

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That project was never started, but the gun has found plenty of use with leather repairs, loosening adhesives and yep, fixing broken phones and tablets.

Image for article titled This Simple Cheap Tool Has More Uses Than You Can Imagine
Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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These tools achieve this utility in a pretty simple manner. They generally consist of a fan and a heating element, with the fan blowing air past the heating element.

Image for article titled This Simple Cheap Tool Has More Uses Than You Can Imagine
Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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And the heat they can produce is tremendous. My heat gun claims to get up to 1148 degrees. I don’t have a thermometer to measure just how much heat makes it to the surface of a project, but it will melt or burn things if I’m not careful.

Image for article titled This Simple Cheap Tool Has More Uses Than You Can Imagine
Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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Heat guns are dirt cheap, too. A generic version like the one I have will run you as low as $22 while a name brand heat guns with different nozzles and other features can run much higher.

I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of what these can do. If you have one, what do you use it for?

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Do you know of a weird or unique tool that wrenchers can benefit from knowing about? Do you want to see us put a type of tool to the test and see how it performs? Shoot me an email or drop it down in the comments!