Starter Paint Setup from Harbor Freight...opinions?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Grupple, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. Grupple

    Grupple TDPRI Member

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    So, I'm getting ready to paint my first guitar and figured I'd get started with an entry level spray gun and compressor. I've read a few things about harbor freight stuff before and know the spray guns aren't great, but ... better than an aerosol can? I hope.

    I'm sure I'll find other uses for the compressor, so don't mind spending some $ for one.

    I was thinking of this spray gun:
    https://www.harborfreight.com/20-fl-oz-hvlp-gravity-feed-air-spray-gun-62300.html

    And this compressor (on sale for $159 now):
    https://www.harborfreight.com/21-gal-25-hp-125-psi-cast-iron-vertical-air-compressor-61454.html

    It looks like the CFM rate is fairly well matched. I'd upgrade to a nicer spray gun, but it doesn't look like that compressor would handle the required airflow, for say, this one:
    https://www.harborfreight.com/20-oz-hvlp-gravity-feed-air-spray-gun-with-regulator-62381.html

    Or will this setup leave me feeling sad? ;) Thoughts?

    Thanks!
     
  2. philosofriend

    philosofriend Tele-Holic

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    Lots better than spray cans.
    You might want to start with one of the smaller (4 oz.) guns: "detail air spray gun" / "touch up air spray gun". These lay down finish plenty fast enough for a guitar.

    You are going to need more than a few accessories, like hoses, an oil/water separator, and quick change fittings.

    When you get your setup, practice like crazy, starting by spraying water. Get to know every adjustment and how it changes what is flying out the gun. Practice trying to cover the side of a wastebasket evenly with water without getting any runs.

    Do you have stewmac's book, "Guitar Finishing Step by Step"? It has a million helpful hints. I learned by studying old books about hot rods, and making lots of runs and orange peel. Long story short, most every thing you can change in spraying has to do with aiming for the sweet spot in between orange peel and runs.
     
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  3. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Afflicted

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    You won’t be sad at all. I started with this set up, but I wasn’t smart enough to get the larger air compressor. I am using a smaller 8 gal husky.
    One suggestion I would make is to skip the harbor freight gun and instead look at the top two guns from this screen shot.
    The black one comes with a 1.4 ( same size as the HF purple gun) and a 1.8 needle.
    The 1.4 is good for your color and clear, the 1.8 is big enough to spray metal flake.
    The blue gun is a .5 needle and smaller jar for holding lacquer. This is a great gun for spraying the neck or doing a burst.
    You can also buy replacement parts for both guns, but for under 20$ each you can just toss them after a while.
    I have done a dozen bodies with that 8 gallon compressor and it is still kicking.

    Go for it. ED5B1C32-AE1A-4017-9481-829A7448A9E7.png
     
  4. 1bad914

    1bad914 Tele-Meister

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    I agree with philosofriend. Practice practice practice. Study as much as you can also. A piece of advice, clean your gun very well. I have painted a lot of cars, I spend as much time taking my gun apart and cleaning it as I do laying down paint. Cleaning leads to more consistent results. I agree with the detail gun also. Preparation is the key. I always say the painting is 90% prep, 5% skill and 5% luck.
     
  5. 1bad914

    1bad914 Tele-Meister

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    I have used HF guns and super high end guns. Buy as much compressor as you can afford, you will use it. As far as guns are concerned, I agree with sleazy, there are better guns at a comparable price out there.
     
  6. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    That compressor will keep up with the gun and maintain a good fan pattern in normal air spray configuration - but it will NOT work as an HVLP unit.

    this means you will have poor transfer efficiency - about 40% or less of what you spray will end up on the surface; the rest will bounce or and/or be overspray. Cheap guns like that one - and I bought one because of discussions here to be fair - provide poor control over both material and air supply, using non-precision needles/aircap combination units usually made of fast-wearing brass.

    You need a contained area to spray , good ventilation and - if spraying lacquer - your fans will need to be hard-sired explosion proof units. There's too much free solvent fume movement without fans or a spray booth.

    FWIW decent good, amateur conventional guns alone run about $150; each air cap/needle set about $35-50. And you need a specific type for each material (primers, finish lacquers etc) if you want a good result.

    Unless you NEED a conventional unit and don't mind all the overspray and lack of precision aerosols are a much better choice IMO.

    IMO the cheap $130 or so self-contained HVLP they and Rockler sell is 50x better for spraying guitar finishes.

    No matter what rout you go you will need full coverage goggles and a NIOSH cartridge-type respirator. Dust masks and other cheap solutions aren't safe. This is THE most important equipment you need.

    And as others have noted - PRACTICE. Don't learn on guitar parts. Apply the WHOLE system on scrap - including buffing - before ever starting on the real thing.
     
  7. Grupple

    Grupple TDPRI Member

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    Looks like I'd need a better compressor to keep up with the CFM requirements of those guns, no?

    Watched a video where a LVLP system was recommended:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0178JOL9Q/?tag=tdpri-20
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C4S99L2/?tag=tdpri-20

    That compressor has a higher CFM rating, but a tank only half the size. However, the LVLP guns don't require as much air, so maybe that's a plus?

    (Thanks for all the tips!)
     
  8. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Afflicted

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    BC61D1F2-6DD4-4FE7-814E-AA4DC8E72854.jpeg You have to also take into consideration how many bodies/necks you plan on doing at a time.
    Are you just doing 1 or 2 a year? Are you starting a mini fender factory in your garage?
    I am using this little guy, it has almost 1/3 the tank of the one you posted.
    Maybe I don’t know enough to know any better, but it is fine for what I use it for.
    Don’t get too caught up in the minutia and get analysis paralysis.
    You need
    a compressor
    Air line- get a decent one that has some length. I started with one of those small curly ones and it was crap. I bought a 25 foot from HF for $20 that is great for my needs
    Water/oil trap-hf again 8-10$
    An air regulator at the gun
    A hand full of male, female and quick connect fixtures.
    A gun for color/clear
    A mini/ jamb gun is also nice for necks/burst but isn’t a must
    Lastly practice with water until you get the hang of the gun.
    Just tape up some news paper and spray that until you can get it evenly wet without runs
    Test out different air pressures to see what works best for you.
    I keep my tank regulator up pretty high 80-100psi and use the regulator at the gun to reduce the psi to about 18-25 psi WHEN THE TRIGGER IS PULLED this is a big difference . Just because the regulator reads 40psi still is different than when you pull the trigger
    And don’t let the first time you spray lacquer be on your project body
    Get a bunch of scrap wood to practice
    You will screw up
    You will get runs
    You will shoot at too much pressure and have orange peel.
    You can do it man
     
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  9. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Afflicted

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    Double post
     
  10. bondoman

    bondoman Tele-Meister

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    The purple HF HVLP guns have a cult following all their own. Basically they're clones of the old Sata Jet NR 90 series. Which in they're day were top of the line not cheap professional spray guns. Actually still have my old NR 92 but more often than not use the purple HF. Although for guitar bodies I prefer the smaller detail HVLP HF gun with a larger cup. The full size guns are a bit overkill. Biggest part is that your compressor is large enough and you use a good air dryer and filter system. The little in line jobs work well but need to be changed often. Moisture is not your friend.
     
  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Read sleazy's post. Then read it again.

    I've been using a 3 hp 8 gal compressor that I bought at a yard sale for 50 bucks. It keeps up with my gun nicely. A decent water trap and regulator. I've got two little jamb guns that I bought at an auto parts store - the main thing I learned is to keep them clean.

    IMG_2056.JPG

    I mostly use the gravity gun, I've added a regulator at the gun since this picture

    IMG_2668.JPG


    I shoot outside on nice days but I also made a "spray booth" from cardboard to catch overspray in the garage

    IMG_0236.JPG

    I've experimented with water born lacquers but have my best luck with nitro. I follow the common finish schedules - 3 coats a day, sand each day, let cure for a couple of weeks, yadda yadda - I know some people feel they are all wrong. I get decent results for an amateur

    IMG_4809.JPG
     
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  12. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Holic

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    What Silverface says about proper eye and breathing protection being the most important equipment is right on.

    We get issued with one pair of eyes and one set of lungs. A couple of lung-fulls of spraymist may be all it takes to put yourself in a world of hurt.

    Work safely, it's very much your own responsibility; there probably won't be anyone tapping on your shoulder telling you to put your eye or breathing protection on ;).




    Best Regards,
    Geo.
     
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  13. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    That purple gun is gaining some status.
    I know some guys use them as being disposable because they are so cheap but mine is 3+ years old and still my favorite.
     
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  14. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Clean the famous purple HF sprayer before first use. There are a couple youtube videos for it.

    Water based finishes have a lot of benefits. no nitro fire fumes or catalyst lung risk. there is a thread here or on strat talk about Varathane floor finish. take a look for it.

    .
     
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  15. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Meister

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    If you're not ready to jump into a 220v 65 gallon compressor, I'd be looking at LVLP guns. Check out Homestead Finishing, $200 should get you started. Working with cheap guns can be very inconsistent and frustrating. Stripping, sanding, and respraying a botched top coat can be very costly, especially if you've sunbursted. A good cartridge face mask is < $50.
     
  16. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

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    A guitar body is so small it doesn't take much compressor for a gravity feed gun.

    I have used the best of high dollar guns over the years when my employer supplied them and the cheapest. For several years I have grabbed the HF guns when they are down to $10 and usually have a couple in boxes on the shelf. I just chuck them when they start acting up. I periodically get one that shoots poorly right off but most of the time it just needs adjustment. Learning how to adjust is essential on using any gun effectively!

    To be honest, part of why I like them is I hate daily thorough cleaning and will leave finish in for days sometimes with cheap ones out of convenience.

    Enjoy the fun!

    Eric

    Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk
     
  17. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    they are physical copies - NOT clones.

    There are huge differences in the manufacturing tolerances and quality of the needles/aircap assemblies.

    nickel plated steel wears much more slowly and evenly than the cheap plated (if plated - some aren't) brass brass Harbor Freight units.

    There are significant reasons for the difference in price. In almost 4 decades in the coatings industry I've run at least a hundred tests on budget guns like the Harbor freight units.

    If you like them, great. IMO they are inaccurate and not very durable, and make it much more difficult to get 1) good results, and 2) repeatable good results.

    With inexpensive HVLP units available there the just seem to be no practical reasons to use a conventional spray unit with inherent poor transfer efficiency and high amount of overspray. Especially for someone who first wants to transition away from aerosols. It's the least efficient, messiest and most wasteful spray system and considered obsolete technology by most professionals.
     
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  18. bondoman

    bondoman Tele-Meister

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    I agree 100% Not exactly the most efficient way to paint a guitar body by far. However you can control the material being used. One can only guess the contents of some of the rattle cans on the market unless you pay top dollar from specialty vendors. Here in CA. most of what you get off the shelf will be some VOC compliant beyond belief crap that may never dry. Also cost factors in. How many of these guitars do you plan to do? if just one or two then a spray rig makes no sense. If many then you can justify the cost of the rig and save money on materials down the line. Also if doing multi stage, metallic or candy jobs then a spray rig will produce better results. Although wouldn't suggest a HF gun for said project and you'd better know what your doing. Professional results are best achieved by professionals using professional tools. Really want someone painting your BMW or hot rod with a rattle can? I wouldn't think so. Last I checked the needle and tip on my Sata are Stainless and a rebuild kit cost 3 times what a brand new HF gun costs. I've painted thousands of vehicles over the years. Cars, bikes, trucks you name it. Most of it custom work although retired from the industry some time ago. Hey I even have a few of those old conventional pot guns laying around if you want to start a paint gun museum. Might bring back memories for those old lacquer shooters. Provided any are still alive.
     
  19. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Respectfully, that's simply not true when it comes to lacquer.

    Lacquer here is the same lacquer as in the rest of the country (I worked for one of the primary manufacturers in the early 200's and others earlier and keep in contact, plus I was on the Air Quality Management District's manufacturer's committee) - many names are just "labelers"). There are VERY few independent lacquer makers because it's a dangerous, highly-regulated operation everywhere.

    And most major population regions...and most states with extensive "nature" areas - have close to the same regulations - but those affect "paint" and industrial coatings more than lacquers. Lacquer MATERIALS didn't significantly change (and the changes were in the 80's!) - application methods and required transfer efficiency did, hence the development of HVLP spray.

    The lacquer resin didn't change - the solvents and solvent content did, but not in a way that affects periodic applicators - jut production facilities.

    So the actual lacquer film of all but a few (Deft for sure is different; Colortone may be - I still need to test some) is virtually the same as on your '57 Strat. Dry time only changed if a company WANTED it to change - not via legal mandate.

    Behlens, Rust-Oleum and Mohawk are all made on the same line - RPM's lacquer line - and filled in their explosion-proof Aerosol fill area. If you can find a professional (contractor-type) paint store that stocks Mohawk they can order any of the hundreds of toners and clears, plus paste wood filler, primers and sealers. All with improved fan-type tips (even touch up pens in many toner colors and clear).

    I think aerosols - no matter what area of the country - are a far better choice for inexperienced or sporadic finishers than a big compressor and a messy conventional gun. 2nd on the list, as previously mentioned - one of the under-$150 HVLP turbine and gun sets. Those do a better job than aerosols with practice (the constantly running "bleeder" air - nor used in pro units takes some getting used to). They also allow you to use less-expensive bulk lacquer and do your own tinting.

    You can also find compact professional-grade Capspray/Wagner, Earlex and other units used for under $500. Add $90 or so for a lacquer needle/air cap set (not usually included) and you have what many, many pros use every day.
     
  20. alathIN

    alathIN Tele-Holic

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    I have not painted with any of the low pressure systems - learned in my dad's race shop way back when and never learned the new gear. So some of this may not apply.
    But - at least for the old style sprayers - tank capacity helps a TON. When you have everything dialed in and laying down just the way you want it, the last thing you want is any sudden changes in your air supply. I recently inherited an 80 gallon tank which I never thought I would need - but with that size, when the pressure drops enough for the compressor to flip on, you do not see any change in the spray pattern.

    I have painted guitars with smaller compressors - and I would deliberately bleed air off and make the compressor come on to get to full capacity before starting in on a surface. It's fine for the air flow to change after you finish a surface - but not right in the middle.

    I have used top level DeVilbiss etc sprayers and cheap ones. The good ones do a noticeably better job - however I personally feel this difference is not critical for lacquer. For one thing, I've always found lacquer easier to work with than other finishes (acrylic enamel is the most difficult in my experience). Also, since I am planning to sand and buff lacquer anyway, I am not overly stressed about small imperfections that are going to disappear later. Yes, I probably wind up shooting more coats to get it thick enough to sand flat - and yes that probably increases the cure time - but I'm not a factory where these things add up to huge money over 10,000 units.

    I also agree about a touchup or detail gun. The small gun on the left in Freeman Keller's picture is what I have been using, and that bottle is plenty to shoot two coats of lacquer on a guitar.

    And another vote for the correct kind of respirator.
    When I was a kid there was this amazing race car painter, must have been in his 70s because he had painted some of the Indy roadsters. Used to come do the pinstriping, numbers, and lettering on dad's cars. Did it all freehand - brilliantly talented guy. But when he started they did not use respirators, and, not coincidentally, by the time I knew him he was known as Crazy George. Don't be Crazy George.
     
  21. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

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    With the exception of the last gun in your post I have all of that. I've made some outstanding finishes using that set up. But . . .
    I've had noting but issues with the compressor often needing replacement parts. I started using the purple gun with a pancake compressor no bigger than the one in Freemans post. I still use that set up when the big black one is acting up. Ultimately I wish I had one of those devices Silverface describes. It maybe a birthday present to my self next year.

    As to the Aerosol can and is this set up better, it isn't. If you learn to paint with Aerosols and stick to the instructions the quality is about the same. The difference is truly in the look, IMHO Aerosol clear has a different quality of finish when fully cured than mixing up your own to shoot via a HPLV or similar.
     
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