Thread Zapper: What’s it, Uses, Helpful Tips, Plus Guide!

Wondering how to get a perfect finishing for the ends of threads you use for your leather work threads stitching, beadwork or jewelry threads, etc, then the thread zapper, also known as the thread burner will make these activities absolutely easy and make it professional looking.

What is a Thread Zapper?

The thread zapper or thread burner is a hand held device that has a little filament coil that heats up when triggered and is used to cut or burn out the ends of threads and cords. The thread zapper can be used on synthetic cords and threads such as nylon, silk, waxed threads, etc.

The thread zapper is designed for threads and it’s basic function is to burn threads. It’s a great device for finishing off the edges of threads and cords.

A thread zapper depending on the brand you get will have variations with how long it takes for its coils to heat up. But generally, you can expect an ideal thread zapper to take up to 2-5seconds before reaching its maximum temperature after its been triggered. When triggered, you will see the tip will start to glow and turn red hot.

No matter the kind of brand you choose, the thread burner will perform just about the same function. The differences will be with the overall ergonomic design and the functionality of how fast or slow a specific brand heats up and cools when compared to another.

Uses of the Thread Zapper

  • The thread zapper is the best alternative compared to using a cigarette lighter or a match stick for threads. You will be able to use the thread zapper to burn the finest threads very neatly, more securely, and safely.
  • You can also use the thread zapper to make nice clean cuts on threads.
  • The thread zapper can be used to cut and burn threads from really tight corners during leather stitching, bead weaving, bead embroidery, etc.
  • The thread zapper can be used to cauterize or scorch the thread ends to prevent the it from unwinding, unravelling, or fraying.
  • Depending on the type of thread you use, the thread zapper can be used to join two ends of threads nicely for the joined threads to look and feel as one.
  • Away from your craft projects, you can use the thread zapper at home like burning threads from clothes, shoes, etc.
  • Last but not least, you can use the thread burner to seal off thread ends. The thread zapper can be used to create a mushroom head on the thread and this causes it not to untie or unwind.

You can watch a video on how to use the thread burner to seal off the end of a thread

How do You Use a Thread Zapper?

For you to use a thread zapper, all it takes is to pull on the thread you would like to burn off, trigger the thread zapper to heat up and bring the thread zapper to it as close as possible and the thread will snap off neatly.

Or you can simply bring the heated coil of the thread zapper close to the ends of the thread and the heat from the thread burner will cause the thread to ball up hiding it very nicely.

Watch a Video on how the thread zapper is used

What is a Thread Zapper NOT Good for?

Generally, the thread zapper will burn depending on the kind of thread you use and as the name implies, the thread zapper are designed for threads.

While they can burn through all sorts of cords like hemp cords and paracords, etc, it will, however, mess up the tips or filament coils on your thread zapper.

Also, be mindful of the size of cords or threads you burn. While there are heavy duty thread zappers for thicker threads and cords, regular thread zappers will do just fine with thick size threads, but you wouldn’t want to keep this up to avoid wearing out your zapper tips.

Expected Downside to Using a Thread Zapper

  • The thread zapper runs out batteries rather quickly since majority of the ones on the market aren’t rechargeable. But you can put rechargeable batteries in it so that you will be able to have an extensive use for this tool.
  • The coil tips of the thread zapper are bendy especially if you use them for cords and as a result can easily break off and you will have to buy new replacement tips.
  • Also, after a while of its usage, the coil tips of the thread zapper becomes unpleasantly sticky and messy and makes it hard to use. With this you can get a new replaceable tip.
  • The thread zapper doesn’t come with a battery and so you’re required to get some double “AA” batteries. Generally, some will take two batteries while others will take just one battery.
  • Based on the type of thread you use, the thread zapper will give off a bit of stench.
  • The thread burner will leave burn residue on your threads obviously except for black threads for which it won’t be visible.
  • The tip of the thread zapper gets really hot and can burn your fingers. If you use synthetic threads, instead of cutting it off, it tends to melt it a bit and that can cause really painful burns.

Tips for Getting A Thread Zapper

The thread zapper is a really simple inexpensive device to buy. Here are a few things to help point you into the right direction.

  • Budget: The smallest and most economical thread zapper is the Thread zap II which will trim, burn, and melt the ends of the thread all in one motion.
  • Safety: while most of the thread zappers will have a cap to secure it’s tip (of which can easily be misplaced), others like this Ultra thread zapper is retractable and are super safe to use. So if you’re big on having safety tools, then this is something you should be on the look out for.
  • Size of threads or Cords you use: If the threads are relatively thick then you might want to consider a heavy-duty thread zapper. The heavier-duty thread cauterizes heavier threads in one motion.
  • Maximum Temperature: The rate at which the thread zapper gets to its highest temperature will depend on the type of brand you choose.
  • Ergonomic Design: The thread zapper comes with different over all design built to give you the most comfortable grip. While some of the thread zappers have nice protective covers, if you’re a bit careless like I am and feel you might misplace the cover, you would want a thread zapper with a retractable tip.

The cover of the thread zapper is to protect the tip when not in use and also to prevent the zapper from turning on accidentally.

Best Practices for Using A Thread Zapper

  • You will get the best out of your thread zapper if you only burn small amounts of threads at a time.
  • Use the thread zapper to burn or cut individual threads per time. Don’t run it through a bunch of threads all at once.
  • Always ensure you keep a good distance between your fingers and the thread or cord you’re burning.
  • Your first line of safety is to remove the filament tips with a grab plier and battery(s) before storing for travel.
  • Replace the batteries often with new ones or rechargeable batteries often to maintain consistent cuts and burn.
  • The thread zapper usually leaves burn residue resulting in a black discoloration on light colored threads. So you always need to be mindful of this and remember to go for dark colored threads especially if you intend finishing it off with a thread zapper.
  • Ensure you’re not forcing the filament edge on the thread zapper when cutting or burning to avoid damaging it.
  • Ensure the thread zapper is kept away from children.
  • Be careful not to melt or burn your project.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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