Well my birthday came and my wife gave me a Husky compressor from home
depot (she told me she picked the largest one she could get into her car).
Now what to do?
I've been eying the paint guns and turbine compressors at both woodcraft
and rocklers but when I queried if the paint guns would work with my new
compressor I was told they would not.
For spraying I'm wanting end up with a really smooth surface. All the
finishing work I've done before has been hand padding shellac. Is there
a gun that will give me the same results but faster?
What is the actual size of the compressor (in gallons), and what is the
maximum psi? The size largely determines what tools can be used. I have a
small PC 25 gal portable compressor. I've had it for about 3 years and have
sprayed many projects with it. It's never "run out" of air b/c it recovers
quickly. I also use it for brad, finish and framing nailers quite often
(but those tools don't require a lot of air), and also for dusting things
off. The tools that eat up the air are sanders, sand blaster machines, etc.
I don't think mine could handle those tools, although I've never actually
I don't see why you couldn't get paint guns for yours. That sounds odd. I
think the fittings are universal. That would be a pretty strange compressor
that couldn't support a basic thing like a paint gun.
There are many guns on the market. I started out with a siphon feed gun
(cup on the bottom), but eventually moved to an HVLP spray gun. I like this
one much better b/c it requires much less psi, so there's a lot less
overspray. Clean it is easier too. You can get beautiful finishes with a
spray gun, but it's all in how you thin the paint, the spray technique, etc.
It takes practice, but it sure beats the cans of spray paint!
Good luck with your new tool!
Firstly, find out what you have. Mainly the CFM spec at both 90 and 40 psi,
and the tank size and pressure (gal at psi). Second, think about how large an
item you want to finish. There are guns that work well with smaller
compressors for end tables and such. But larger projects may need a bigger gun
that requires more of a compressor. You're also talking about shellac, but
calling them paint guns, while I suspect it's not paint you want to spray, but
shellac and other clear finishes. Make a clear distinction here, as paint
spraying is rather different. When you put these together, I'd suggest you
throw them into the forum at
where you can get more specific advice, and see a variety of quality finishing
Actually, HVLP guns consume a lot of air (High Volume Low Velocity) and the
type of guns used in body shops typically require an industrial-sized
compressor. Also, the type of feed doesn't affect the air volume needed to
atomize the finish. Many manufacturers offer the same model in gravity feed,
siphon feed, and pressure feed, and the air consumption is the same for all
A gravity feed gun requires much less air compared to a regular gun of the
same make. They are also much easier to clean as there is only about an
inch of "stuff" between where the paint enters the gun, and the nozzle. The
cup on the bottom holds more material, and you can set down the gun without
using a stand.
I like my Harbor Freight hvlp gun. If you want a better one (but one that
is still reasonably priced), have a look at the Devilbiss Finishline series
HVLP = high volume low pressure.
Gravity feed guns do not use much less air, as someone else has suggested.
You'll find that guns which come in gravity, siphon, and pressure feed
versions have the same air consumption specs
Between the gravity feed and the siphon feed, it's mainly a matter of
preference. The gravity feed guns have the cup on top, are easier to clean,
and are more convenient for spraying small amounts of finish. The siphon
feed guns have the cup on the bottom. Some people prefer the feel of a lower
center of gravity.
The pressure feed guns are typically fed from a remote, pressurized pot, but
you can also get pressurized gravity feed and pressurized siphon feed. The
pressurized feed remote pot guns are more compact and are easier to work
with in confined spaces such as cabinet interiors, and you can easily spray
upside down or sideways without any problems. Because you're dealing with
larger containers and lengths of hose, remote pots aren't very convenient
for small jobs or frequent finish changes, but are great for production line
work. Another important advantage with pressure feed guns is the ability to
spray thicker paints and finishes. With a pressure pot and a large tip you
can even spray thick latex paints.
Regarding the Devilbiss Finishline, have a look at the specs at Highland
"one a conventional suction-feed type with quart cup, the other a 32-oz.
gravity-feed type. The latter features excellent balance and lower air
supply demand; a good choice for use with marginal compressors."
I have this one:
and normally use it with a 60 gallon compressor. But I've used it a few
times with a 6 gallon portable compressor (Hitachi 1.5hp, oil lubed) and it
worked fine for small projects. I wouldn't recommend always using it with a
small compressor though.
One thing you can't easily do with a gravity gun is spray upwards (for
example spraying the bottom of the top board of a bookshelf). Devilbiss
makes a disposable liner (like those reuseable baby bottles with the
disposable bags) which they claim will allow you to spray upward, but I've
never tried it.
Another option for small compressors is the Critter sprayer. It also has
the advantage of easy cleanup.
The gun you choose will be largely dependant on the CFM capacity of your
compressor. Many HVLP spray guns need 10 or more CFM at 40psi, while some of
the newer gun designs can work with less, maybe 5-7 CFM. If you're going to
be finishing smaller items, a touch-up gun may be all you need. They have a
smaller spray pattern than regular guns, but also they use a lot less air
(2-3 CFM), making them useable with many of the smaller compressors.
Another factor you need to consider is the size of the nozzle that comes
with the gun. For spraying thinner coatings you need a smaller tip. The
better makes of spray guns will have a range of nozzle sizes available. If
you're not sure of what you'll need, the advice of a knowledgeable person is
invaluable. Someone else recommended homesteadfinishing.com and I second
that. Give them a call, tell them what finish you'll be spraying and the
capacity of your compressor and they'll recommend a model of gun and the
appropriate tip size.
If you're going to be doing a fair amount of finishing, that is, spraying
for a half hour or more at a time, you need to consider the duty cycle of
your compressor. Most portable compressors have a duty cycle of 50%, rated
per hour of usage. That is, no more than a half hour's use every hour. If
you run more than this over an extended period of time you'll likely damage
or burn out the compressor. If your spray gun needs 6 CFM you'll need 12 CFM
at the compressor for extended use.
If you're going to be spraying the odd box or two then perhaps a touch-up
gun is really all you need.
<< Is there a gun that will give me the same results but faster? >>
A popular brand in body shops is the Astro line. I've used Astro tools for
years in automotive work and even the guys that come around in the big tool
trucks (think M*, M#, and S$) to the shop used to have Astro products in
addition to the factory stuff. So I bought the Astro HVLP DX7 with a 1.7 mm
nozzle to start with, about $98 with shipping. Added a 1.9 nozzle for even
heavier finishes ($38). Beautifully made tools, and Taiwanese not mainland
China if that matters. Uses 10 CFM@ 41PSI, or about 1.5-2 HP compressor. Do a
Google search for Astro tools for more detail.
Harbor Freight always has similar things, but in this case I went wirh
something I could be sure of and get parts for in the future. Hope this helps.
I recently bought a low-end (Porter-Cable PSH-1) HVLP conversion gun
and am pleased with it so far. I am sure that sometime in the distant
future I'll probably buy something more high-end, but for now I'm
satisfied. So far I have done more painting than fine finishing.
Not mentioned in the other posts is that the gravity feed conversion
gun allows the use of higher viscosity materials than is possible with
a similarly sized suction gun. If you have occasion to spray latex,
this could be important. The ease of cleanup, mentioned by others, is
a big plus. Less than 10 minutes at the worst.
A negative for gravity guns is the paint cup location which can be
awkward for working in close quarters, such as cabinet interiors.
william kossack writes:
>Well my birthday came and my wife gave me a Husky compressor from home
>depot (she told me she picked the largest one she could get into her car).
I don't want to burst your bubble, but if you can get the compressor in a
car, it's probably not big enough to do spray painting.
Good spray guns need about 15 SCFM.
It takes at least a 5HP, two stage compressor with at least a 60, better yet
an 80 gal receiver to deliver that amount of air.
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