Both a wire brush and a needle gun provide very effective ways of removing rust, old paint and scale from metal. Both have their own unique uses and a range of advantages and disadvantages. Much depends on how often you’re likely to need to strip metal before repainting it. Read on to learn more about these two types of common workshop tools and how they are used.
The term 'needle gun' is a slight misnomer because the needles aren’t actually needles at all. Tey are more like minute chisels. They hit against the metal at a very high speed of up to 5,000 times each minute. Because of this, they’re very fast and efficient although it’s advisable to just clean a small area at a time to be accurate in your work.
One of the advantages of a needle gun is that each tip adjusts to the level of the material. If you have a surface that’s irregular, a needle gun is going to clear it just as easily as if it was flat. To use a needle gun effectively, you need to hold it at an angle of 90 degrees to the surface you want to clear. Usually, you will only have to pass the needle gun over the area 2 or 3 times to clear it down to bare metal.
Before you use a needle gun on metal, you should clean off all the grease, dirt and any chemicals that might be on it. This will help the needle gun perform more efficiently. The power level and speed of operation can be varied, depending on what you’re removing from the metal. You can also buy models which have different numbers of needles. Depending on what you have available for running a tool, you can buy an electric needle gun or a needle gun that runs on compressed air.
The biggest disadvantage of a needle gun is that it’s a separate tool and not one that can fit into your drill. You’d need to be using it quite regularly in order to justify the expense of buying a needle gun.
A wire brush attaches to your drill. The bristles are made of stiff wire and as the drill spins, these bristles clean rust and paint off of metallic objects. Although a wire brush works fairly quickly, it’s not as efficient as a needle gun and won’t clean an area as quickly.
A wire brush will work on surfaces that aren’t flat and can be best when you have to clean areas of intricate metal work. This is because a wire brush can be forced into nooks and crannies that a needle gun wouldn’t be able reach. The size of the wheel also makes it more flexible for small areas. Depending on what you’re stripping, a wire brush can be an excellent complement to a needle gun. The two together will strip anything metallic.
One problem is that wires brushes wear out very quickly, so if you have a large area to clean, you’ll need a number of them. The good news is that they’re cheap to buy and fit easily into your drill so you don’t need any other special equipment.