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Air Compressor/Gun/Finishin Help needed

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DougP, Jun 25, 2007.

  1. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    i beseech thee oh great finishing experts to bestow your blessings of knowledge on this unwary fool.

    let me preface this with: i have no knowledge of using compressors or using finishes that require spraying guns.

    i have bought a Kobalt 26 gallon, 1.5 HP compressor to learn on. it came with some basic tools that i am sure are adequate but not great. that's fine, i'll learn what works and what is important before i blow a lot of money.

    on top of using it to inflate tires, blow out the shop, and doing some light grinding i'd like to use this to lay down some finishes on bass/guitar bodies and necks. will this compressor handle an application of this sort?

    The spray gun that was included is a "latex" gun. will this work for spraying laquers and polys?

    right now, i dont even know what questions to ask. i was going to buy some laquer from stew mac and just play around with scrap wood.

    are there any video tutorials that i can check out? i've found a couple of articles on finewoodworking.com that are helping a bit.

    thanks a bunch,
  2. First, I am not a finishing expert. I struggled most of last year learning my new finishing equipment (a 2hp 33gal with a mini hvlp from CA tech) and it was traumatic to say the least. You must understand that it's not the gun that makes a particular finish adequate for it, it's the tip and needle size. Larger sized are for thicker materials and vice versa. I am now using a Devilbiss mini HVLP with a 1mm tip/needle kit to spray shellac, filler, lacquer and poly and it works great. It also looks like you haven't used spraying equipment before, so you have to test on paper or masonite (the shiny side) before each finishing session to set the optimal fan size, pressure and material flow.

    I bought all my guns and accessories from www.spraygunworld.com and they also have a nice tutorial section, but my experience has been that none of this, although informative, is enough without actual trial and error. The first gun I got was what they call a 'mini jet' but it's actually the CA Technologies Techline Jr. which is sort of a copy of a SATA but the kit costs about $140 and includes 3 tip/needle sizes, the gun, a case and a couple of different cups. It's quite a nice gun and recommend it when budget is an issue (http://www.spraygunworld.com/products/CAT/CATMiniJet.htm)

    Good luck and do not be deterred by less than satisfactory results the first few times!
  3. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    ^^Spot on.

    There is nothing that can substitute for hands on experience. Even if your understanding of the process is perfect there are so many variables to be considered that it almost nullifies any prior reading you have done. Temperature, humidity, and (it feels like sometimes) the phases of the moon have to be taken into consideration and each of them can change on an hourly basis. This is not to say that you should not read up because all of the mechanics of the job are in the manuals.

    The best advice anyone can give is:

    Go ye forth and shoot for only therein shall ye shall learneth.
  4. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    if it sounds like my compressor and gun can handle this then i will give it a go. i may have to change the tip and needle sizes some but otherwise the other equipment is fine (for learning on). am i correct in this assumption?

    i'll be spending some time on practicing with scrap wood and i am sure that i will learn soon enough that my gun isnt great but atleast i can work on technique and recognizing good spray consistency, right?
  5. Your compressor should handle most conventional or mini-hvlp guns. I am not familiar with your gun, but if it says 'latex' it's probably got too big of a tip/needle installed and may be difficult to find a replacement since most are specific to the gun. I would suggest that you get even the mini-hvlps from harbor freight or grizzly that are cheap, but work well for learning. My theory is to always buy the best I can from the start, but hey! that's just me!
  6. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Practice on scrap. That is the mantra. Actually, practice a lot on scrap. Stop by building sites and pickup plywood cutoffs and anything else you can and shoot as much as you can afford. Then practice rubbing out. When you are happy with getting even scratch patterns it is time to practice buffing. Expect to have some failures along the way. Better that happens on scrap than on a guitar body. The process is a little bit time consuming but if you are willing to do the homework you can become proficient in a short period of time. Go for it.
  7. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    thats my theory too but up to this point i havent known which direction to run. i'll mess around with this gun just to get in some practice and see what it can do. i was checking out the site that you had linked above. i'll definitely get a new gun if necessary i just want to make sure i am getting what i need.
  8. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    oh, how are the water-based finished offered by stew mac? or perhaps the behlen stringed instrument lacquer?

    and thanks for the help and info
  9. What Wilser said. Sounds like your compressor is fine, but most likely the gun will have too large a nozzle for clear coats etc.

    I'm also into my first year of real spray gun finishing, but after spraying about 10 bd ft of plywood I've done 2 instruments and have been pretty happy. FWIW on the scrap I also went through the finish sanding, sealing & levelling steps before spraying, I wanted to know exactly what I was dealing with.

    I went with this pair of guns from Grizzly, I liked the idea of metal cups because its easer to soak them in thinner to clean them. So far I've used only the large one for clear.

  10. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    Harbor Freight has these HVLP detail guns on an in-store special right now for $25

    http://www.harborfreight.com Item# 46719

    I picked up a pair of them tonight - one for colors, and one dedicated to only shooting clear.

    a good friend who teaches at an auto repair academy (teaching auto painting for 30+ years) notes that these guns will hold their own against other guns until you get into the $450 range. he owns many of these, and buys them in quantity for the school where they're a real hit with the students.

    all the best,

  11. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    rodent, i'll check one of those out; cant beat that price.

    Erik, did you ever finish any projects with that waterfall bubinga? i'm going to get started soon on a guitar using the top i got from you. i'd be interested in pics if you took any. :)

    Thanks again
  12. I also really like the regulator located right at the gun handle on these.

    The waterfall bubinga...yeah, it is destined to be a top on the Red Bass, a 5 or 6 made from all red woods (except no redwood). Got 4 other projects to finish first though.
  13. Rayle_Trail


    Jun 14, 2004
    Wow its so funny how quickly the topic of spraying becomes uninteresting when your day job is a sprayer/polisher in a furniture company.
    BTW airless systems FTW. :)
  14. I got one of those devilbiss digital regulators for my new SRi and those ball filter thingies in addition to the water/oil trap on the line. Clean air is a must.
  15. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    :) i remember when using my new planer was an exciting event (that was last week). tools and techniques lose their mystery after you handle them for awhile.

    i used to think that truss rods were forces of magic until i installed my first one. after that its, "meh, whatever" :D
  16. oh yea? try the time I almost glued up a fingerboard and forgot to put the truss rod in! Just as I was tightening the clamps!!!!!! Thank god it was right next to the second clamp when I thought "what the heck are YOU doing out here?!!?!?!?"
  17. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    I have no experience whatsoever with spray finishes or air compressors, but my neighbor does, and after being in his shop about a hundred times, I've learned a few things...

    Air compressors are annoyingly loud, so see if you can put it in a closet near your shop. Then, use PVC piping to attach the compressor to the outside wall of the closet you put it in. Because compressed air is colder, condensation forms, so if you don't want water coming out of your hose, use PVC pipe to make loops going UP. This way the water falls down and much less blows through your equipment. If you want, and have enough pipe and room in your shop, connect other pipes to the top of the loop you made, and connect others to that pipe. That way you can bring a pipe with compressed air to your finishing area, one to your bench so you can blow off dirt/wood chips, and where ever else you would like to have compressed air. There are alot of PVC fittings that work well with this, make sure that wherever you bring the PVC pipe (at the end of the line) you have a drop down for a blower/spray gun, and an on off valve (as well as an ending to the pipe, but I figured you knew). To connect the pipes together, there is a certain purple cement that actually melts the PVC, this way the PVC bonds to PVC, not glue, so the bond is much greater.

    Not sure if you wanted to know any of that information, but maybe it'll help you out, or someone else reading this.

  18. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001

    this is definitely good to know for future reference. i am only renting where i am now but next year i hope to have my own garage that i can do anything with. then i'll have a seperate closet for the compressor and a permanent spray booth. at this point though i've gotta deal with a rental house and do my best not to tear it up. :D
  19. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    that's something i would do at about my 10-11 build once i felt comfortable. right now, i am still at the stage of going slowly and carefully. :)
  20. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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