Using a Heat Gun

Heat guns are a great way to remove old paint, varnish, and other finishes. They are especially good at taking off multiple layers of paint – all at once! As you use the heat gun, the paint softens and bubbles up, making it easy to remove it with a metal scraper. As you might guess, you'll need to keep your wits about you with a heat gun. You don't want to point it at anything other than the work surface, and you'll need to protect yourself by wearing long sleeves, safety glasses, and a respirator designed for use with a heat gun. Keep a fire extinguisher handy – just in case.

 
With the heat gun running, point the nozzle at the work surface, keeping it about 2 inches away. Move the gun back and forth across the surface until the paint begins to bubble and blister. Stop if the finish begins to smoke!
 
Hold the putty knife at about a 30-degree angle and use it like a plow to push the paint away. Avoid gouging the wood. Dump the softened paint sludge into an old coffee can as you work. Special paint scrapers with angled blades work better than most ordinary scrapers.
 
You'll want to go back over detailed areas with the heat gun, using a contoured scraper to get into narrow crevices.
 
Any stubborn flecks that remain can usually be removed by using just the scraper. Again, be careful not to damage the work surface. When the paint is all gone, wash the surface with denatured alcohol or mineral spirits.
 

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