When I wrote my recent post about favourite tools I left one out because I didn’t want people to buy this tool and start using it without due consideration and practice.
I’m talking about my heat gun, one of the most used of all tools for me. No pen is ever taken apart without dry heat and none is reassembled without it either. That’s why it’s many months, probably years, since I’ve broken a pen. Having said that I’ll be sure to break one now!
Mine is a generic Taiwanese 300 watt heat gun. The temperature is not variable, just ouchy hot! It may be the most helpful of my tools but it would also be the most dangerous to pens in the wrong hands. Its main use is section removal but it can help with many other tasks. It removes bite marks in hard rubber in a trice. It can also destroy any pen equally quickly.
I’ve been using this heat gun as my main means of freeing up difficult pen parts for a long time but I do remember plastic suddenly and catastrophically warping. The best way to set celluloid on fire is with a naked flame but a heat gun can do it too. A split second too long and you instantly have a firework spreading liquid plastic everywhere. You don’t want that, I promise you.
Clever people will tell you at what temperature shellac softens and various plastics will sustain damage. That knowledge is completely irrelevant in the real world. Instead, it takes lots of practice on cheap pens and sacrificial broken parts to work out how long to deploy your heat gun and at what distance. I’m not going to try to tell you because your heat gun will be different from mine. All I can advise is to constantly rotate the pen as you apply heat.
There are some who fear the heat gun but are happy to use a hair dryer. Well I have news for you! A hair dryer is just another heat gun. Some of them get pretty hot too and can damage pens if used unwisely. However you apply heat, you will damage pens as you learn. Just make sure you don’t do your learning on that precious rarity.
Some people loosen things by soaking them. Some people will do anything.