My Old Heat Gun
We all may have different opinions and thought as to what a "real" heat gun is. Just to let you know where I'm coming from, many years ago I had a metal heat gun that I really loved. But through many moves and challenging life situations, that heat gun is not longer with me.
I've just been "limping by" with a hand-held hair dryer, we have two, and this is one of them:
I've been getting by with it, "kind of", but it has been slow. It just doesn't get hot enough to work very fast, and when I am just beginning to get the vinyl hot enough, the hair dryer goes through a "cool off" cycle.
Time to Get New Heat Gun
Well, I have 11 dining chairs to do in a 50 oz vinyl. I finally decided that I should get a real heat gun. Because I really liked the one I used to have, I wanted to get another one just like it. But, after calling around and looking at several different stores, all I could find were the plastic ones like this:
Found Desired Heat Gun!
After doing a lot of looking, I was about to give up and just get the first one that I had look at (because it was only $39.95). However I went to one last store, Home Depot, and they had just what I was looking for, this metal one, for $59.95:
It gets HOT:
Now I'm one happy camper. Now, realistically, I know that probably most of you are probably using the plastic one (similar to the one shown at the top of this message), and they do the job just fine. But I really wanted one like I used to have. It's funny how just little things like this can impact me to much. I feel like it's a "real" heat gun (my perception). To be honest, no matter how good of a job the plastic ones would do, inwardly I wouldn't have been satisfied with any of them. God knew what I really wanted, and allowed me to find it just when I was about to give up. Isn't God good?
Controlling the heat
Now a word about controlling the heat. Some Heat guns have hi and low switches, some have temperature controls, others only have a air flow control. Even with these "temperature controls" the vinyl can still get too hot and get scorched or damaged. So the user needs to learn "heat management" methods.
In using this heat gun (or even the hair dryer) I do what I refer to as “area heating”, rather than “spot heating.” As a comparison, in spot heating, you keep the heat gun focused mostly on or near one spot. With a "hot" gun this could be too damaging to the vinyl and would not allow for stretching of a whole area.
Heat-Distribution Movement Pattern
So, what I do with a "hot" gun is “area heating”, in that I move the heat gun back quickly while going slowly up and down, like this
This movement pattern can vary anywheres from several inches square to a foot square, depending on how hot the gun gets, how thick the vinyl is, how big of an area you are working with. While I am heating the vinyl, I frequently touch the vinyl to check for temperature. I also keep a close watch on it to check for any signs of overheating. With a little practice, and with a big dose of awareness, I rarely damage the vinyl.
Temperature Controlled by Distance
Another note, even with a heat gun that doesn't have a temperature control, the temperature can be controlled by distance. The closer the gun is to the vinyl, the hotter it gets, the further away from the vinyl, the cooler it is. As a matter of practice, I start out a farther distance from the vinyl and gradually come closer until I find the proper distance.
Here is the finished dining chair seat:
And here is a close up of one of the corners.
These chair seats were covered in a stiff 50 oz vinyl (most upholstery vinyl is 28 oz to 32+ oz). The heat gun really helps to be able to stretch the corners around without any folds.