4 Essential Tools for Shrink Wrapping a Boat
Essential Tool #1: Boat Shrink Wrapping Heat Gun
The heat gun is the most expensive tool needed to shrink wrap a boat. A quality heat gun costs a lot more than a few hundred dollars. However, damage to a boat from using the wrong heat tool will be costlier than the gun itself!
Quality heat guns operate at 3,500°F, the required temperature for proper shrink wrapping. Most cheaper heat guns only reach temperatures of about 1,200°F. Some foolhardy folks online suggest using propane torches instead of investing in a real heat gun. Propane torches are basically flamethrowers not meant for shrink wrapping, and pointing one at your boat's hull is ill-advised! If you think a good heat gun costs too much, consider this: You'll be using it for years to come, so the cost will even out. Get some friends to share the expense to offset the cost.
Essential Tool #2: Strap Tensioning Tool
Without a strap tensioning tool, your boat wrapping project will fall apart. The woven cord straps are what keeps the shrink wrapping in place, therefore the strapping must be tight. Simply tightening the straps by hand will not be enough.
If you rely on hand-pulled straps, it will pull up the strapping instead of remaining anchored when the wrapping film is heated. Improper strapping will also allow the cover to sag (preventing water and snow from running off) or blow around (providing entry points where rain and snow can penetrate).The strap tensioning tool ensures the strapping is tight enough to maintain the cover's shape and form, and to keep the cover in place throughout the winter.
Essential Tool #3: Long-Cuff Leather Safety Gloves
When working with a heat gun producing 3,500°F, the use of safety gloves is common sense. Especially when you consider that you have to pat shrink wrap film that has been heated to melting point. Some people think they can save a few bucks by using everyday work gloves, but we highly advise against this.
Instead, we recommend you use a pair of long cuff, gauntlet-style leather safety gloves when shrink wrapping your boat. The long cuffs provide extra protection for wrists and forearms, which is reassuring when using a heat gun spitting out a 3,500°F flame! Also, these loose fitting gauntlets can fly off in a split second by the flick of an arm if they were to catch fire, which isn't possible with tight-fitting work gloves.
Essential Tool #4: Fire Extinguisher
Do we really need to explain this one? Just in case someone wasn't paying attention: boat shrink wrap film is flammable; your boat is flammable; and the heat gun produces a 3,500°F naked flame!
Flammable materials + naked flame = fire hazard. You must always have a fire extinguisher on hand when wrapping a boat, period. Any type of fire extinguisher will do, and there should be one on your boat anyway. Unless you want your boat to end up like the one pictured above, make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy before shrink wrapping your boat!