Shrink wrapping is an effective way of protecting your books, items of food, or latest crafting project — and it’s addictive too! Once you see the professional results of a DIY shrink wrap, you’ll want to wrap everything that isn’t nailed down in your house.

It’s important for me to demonstrate in this How To Use a Heat Gun For Shrink Wrapping step-by-step guide how simple it can be.

Providing you do the prep work, use the correct shrink gun, and follow the safety guidelines, you can shrink wrap almost anything! Just don’t try it on the kitty cat snoozing on the sofa!

Why Shrink Wrap at Home?

If you’ve ever noticed those home-wrapped gift baskets at farmer’s markets or craft shows, you may be wondering why? Sure it looks nice, but what are the other pluses of shrink wrapping?

Here are a few, to give you an idea:

  • Protection — the tight seal created when heat is applied to the heat shrink plastic wrap will fully protect objects of almost any size or shape. The wrap prevents unwanted damage from moisture, dust, or dirt. Some shrink wrap plastics even offer UV protection.
  • Durability — made from sturdy plastic, shrink wrap is difficult to tear or puncture. Unlike many other wrapping materials, it doesn’t lose its strength when exposed to weather extremities. And, once applied to an object it rarely sags or loosens.
  • Tamper proof — as shrink wrap retains its shape after being wrapped, any sign somebody has interfered with the object is visible. Drug companies often use this material to protect the integrity of their supplies, plus, food manufacturers use it for packaging.
  • Cost — when compared to other methods of securely packing objects, shrink wrap is one the most affordable. Heat shrink guns are widely available, as is the wrapping.

You can use shrink wrapping for almost any object, no matter the size. Using a vinyl wrap heat gun, you could even wrap your car with vinyl decals — as I’ve previously covered in one of my other how-to guides.

Hair Dryer vs Heat Gun For Shrink Wrapping

Although many would argue a blow dryer is an effective heat shrink tool, the results aren’t as impressive and it can take much longer than a dedicated heat shrink gun. Plus, the wife doesn’t take kindly to me ‘borrowing’ her new flashy hair dryer for such a purpose.

What’s more, hair dryers possess a lower heat range — typically up to a maximum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to the optimum shrink wrap temperature of 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Failure to hit these temperatures may result in a sagging or loose wrap.

The best heat gun for shrink wrapping should also include a fantail nozzle to ensure you achieve an even heat distribution. For use in the home, I would suggest an electric heat gun, especially a digital model, like the Wagner HT4500, which makes it easier to control the heat gun temperature for shrink wrapping.

What You’ll Need for This Tutorial

Almost time to get wrapping, but let’s make sure you have all the equipment you need first:

  • Digital or electric heat shrink gun.
  • Fantail nozzle.
  • Section of shrinkwrap — sufficient in size to completely wrap your object.
  • Silicone or heatproof mat.
  • Scissors or sharp crafting knife.
  • Tape measure and/or ruler.
  • Cleaning cloths.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Heat-proof gloves.
  • Safety glasses.

How To Use a Heat Gun For Shrink Wrapping — Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Looking similar to a hardcore paper guillotine, manual tile cutters promise affordability combined with precision — making them ideal for the casual to medium intensity DIYer.

The method of address is straightforward. Position your tile in the unit, pull the wheel blade across its runners to score the lacquer, and then use the lever arm to snap the tile along the score mark. Simple.

The downside is their inconsistency and fickleness — usually due to the differing strength of tiles and their veneers — meaning you have to manually apply more or less pressure dependent on the porcelain or ceramic construction.

Success is mainly trial and error — usually error — combined with experience. Too little downforce will lead to an insufficient score, making it virtually impossible to break the tile along the cut mark.

Conversely, too much pressure can create a jagged edge, remove decorative veneer, or crack the tile completely while still in the unit. Trust me, when you use one of these machines, be prepared to sacrifice quite a number of tiles.

Step 2

The ultimate tile cutting unit — powerful, accurate, and protective, but also hard on the wallet.

They appear very similar to a portable table saw, with their integrated guide and electrical spinning circular blade. Place the tile on the saw table, position it in preparation for the cut with the buffer bar, and turn on the machine.

You then gently push the tile through the diamond-tipped blade, while water from an underneath reservoir or external hose pipe cools the material to prevent burning and inhibits airborne dust.

Experienced users can create elaborate curved edges — impossible with a manual unit. Furthermore, these power tools can tackle the densest of mediums, including glass. The downsides are their size, weight, cost, and crucially, risk. A diamond blade rotating at 8000 rpm will make light work of durable glass tiles — it won’t even break a sweat chopping off your fingers.

Step 3

  1. Accurately measure the area in which the tile needs to fit — remember the crucial adage of measure twice, cut once.
  2. Using the carpenter’s pencil and the straight edge, draw a light line upon the glazed tile face where you wish to make the cut — in order to make the tile fit into the measured space.
  3. Position your manual tile cutter on a workbench or table — orientate it so that you will be pushing the rail blade away from your body to make the score.
  4. Most manual cutters include molded holes to allow anchoring to your desk. If you don’t wish to permanently locate your tool, use a couple of clamps instead.
  5. Check that the blade runs smoothly along the guide rails — if required, add a little lubricant.
  6. Safety equipment isn’t as crucial compared to using a wet saw. However, you may wish to wear a dust mask to shield yourself against the minimal airborne particles created when you split the tile.

Heat Guns for Shrink Wrapping — The Final Wrap Up!

Whether you’re wanting to shrink wrap your latest crafting project or simply protect some of your lesser-used tools — a heat gun is ideal for shrink wrapping.

Hopefully, with this step-by-step guide, you’ll find it just as easy to attain those pro-looking results you’ve seen at the weekend markets and in local stores. These shrink wraps can go a long way in protecting and securing almost any object.

If you’ve enjoyed this guide on How To Use a Heat Gun For Shrink Wrapping. Feel free to share it with your heat gun-owning buddies — go forth and wrap!

How To Use a Heat Gun For Shrink Wrapping FAQs

Q: Can I Use a Heat Gun on Shrink Wrap?

Most definitely. If you want to know what else you can do with this versatile tool, check out this guide on Heat Gun Uses.

Q: What Kind of Heat Gun Do You Need for Shrink Wrap?

For home applications, a standard heat gun like you may already have in your tool kit will suffice. You just need to ensure it has an adjustable temperature, a variable fan speed and a fantail nozzle for those more awkward shapes to wrap.

To find out more, read this guide on the best heat guns.

Q: What Temperature Is Needed for Shrink Wrap?

The optimum temperature for shrink wrap is between 160 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit — depending on the material type. Above this temperature, the shrink wrap will melt, and at 650 degrees Fahrenheit, it will ignite.

Shrink wrap films that require lower temperatures, like polyolefin, only require temperatures from 160 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This material is suitable for edible products where you don’t want to apply too much heat.

Q: Can You Shrink Wrap at Home?

Of course. Take a look at what you’ll need and follow our step-by-step instructions.

Basic safety procedures should be followed as with any power tool operation. In addition to the standard eye protection and safety fire-retardant clothing, you should always work in a well-ventilated area as some shrink wrap films can give off fumes as they wrap.

Q: Can You Shrink Wrap With Cling Film?

No. Shrink wrap isn’t domestic cling film or stretch wrap. Shrink wrap uses a film that’s either made from PVC, polyethylene, or polyolefin, which is designed to “wrap” at higher temperatures.

Domestic cling film will simply melt when exposed to the heat from a heat gun and stick to the object or cling to it. Always ensure any film you buy for shrink wrapping is designed for that purpose and can withstand the higher temperatures needed.

Q: Can You Use a Hair Dryer for Shrink Wrapping?

Yes, in theory. However, a heat gun is more powerful and can reach over 300 degrees Fahrenheit if required (depending on the model). A hair dryer isn’t built for those kinds of temperatures.

For smaller objects with thinner shrink wrap, a hair dryer would do the job, but the seal may not cling to the object as well, and will take longer to wrap.

Q: What if I Get Wrinkles on the Surface of My Shrink Wrap

To avoid wrinkles, increase the temperature and apply more heat to the shrink wrap. If your gun has a fan speed control, slow down the speed at which the heat is applied.

Q: What if I Get Wrinkles on the Surface of My Shrink Wrap

To avoid wrinkles, increase the temperature and apply more heat to the shrink wrap. If your gun has a fan speed control, slow down the speed at which the heat is applied.

Q: Can You Use a Heat Gun for Shrink Wrapping Food?

Yes. However, be mindful of the type of shrink wrap material you choose.

  • PVC — although popular for most other shrink wrap projects, can often release harmful fumes when heat is applied, which will taint the food.
  • Polyolefin — is FDA approved for food products and considered a suitable replacement for PVC.
  • If you want to be eco-friendly and go down the recyclable route, polythene is a more heavy-duty shrink-wrap material that’s also safe for food use.
Q: Is Shrink Wrap Waterproof?

Yes. Unless the surface has been punctured, shrink wrap should protect the wrapped object from any moisture damage. That said, if the shrink-wrapped object is placed in hot water, it may cause the wrap to melt or puncture.