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Painting rig recommendations

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rojo412, Dec 11, 2017.


  1. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    So I was relatively content with using TruOil as a finish up until recently. But getting it to build is very difficult. No matter what I did, it always looked like a wiped on oil finish.
    I've tried doing the water based floor stuff by hand and it builds better, but really has a lot of drips, streaks, and general imperfections that are kind of a pain to correct.
    So I want to step up my game and get into a spray setup.

    - I'm only planning on using water-based finish products, due to the fume restrictions, as well as the rousing successes I see here on TB.
    - If I can keep things compact, that works well because my work area is pretty loaded as it is. And I see some small setups that people have been very successful with.
    - Cost isn't a huge concern, but I'd really like something that's reliable. I'm sure Harbor Freight has some nice stuff for the money, but if there's something much better for a little more cash that will last much longer, I'd be way into that.
    - I'd prefer it be something that runs 110v, though 220v is possible if that's my only choice.

    From what I've found, either I should be looking into a 20+ gallon compressor and an HVLP gun or some kind of all-in-one turbine setup. So if anyone can help narrow the search, that would be swell. I'm kinda lost...
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
    handofseven likes this.
  2. I’ve got a Makita MAC5200 compressor that I got used and mostly just use for painting. It works pretty well. Been using Harbor Freight guns. Two of the HVLP guns, one for colors and one for clear only, and a small touch up / detail gun. Not opposed to different or nicer guns but these have worked well so far.

    What’s more important than the gallons on the compressor is the SCFM rating. Look at some guns and see what they call for then check compressors. For instance, the HF guns I have call for 6cfm @60psi and the detail gun is 3cfm @50psi. The compressor is rated at 6.5 at 90 so it works but the tank is only about 5.5 gallon. It runs not constantly but some when I’m spraying but spraying a body only takes a few minutes a coat so you might be fine with a compressor that’s rated slightly lower than your gun(s).

    Hope that helps.
     
    jchrisk1 likes this.
  3. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    That's darn good stuff to know, thanks @Matt Liebenau!

    I started looking more into the turbine setups (Fuji, Earlex, Apollo, etc) because they are small and look to be very effective. Seeing the demos on Youtube, they look more than capable enough to do basses (seeing as a lot of demos are on CARS). They are kinda pricey for the good ones ($400-1200), but that's comparable with any compressor setup, honestly.

    On the plus side of a compressor setup, though: I'd have a compressor to do other things. The turbine HVLP setups are good for painting and that's about it.
     
    Matt Liebenau likes this.
  4. I can't comment on what guns to look at, but my buddy does a little painting and a lot of clearcoat on guitars with a kobalt brand compressor(I think it's a 20 gallon, but will reach like 200ish psi). I don't see you needing a 220 volt compressor unless you're painting guitars with a 3/4" drive impact ;)

    Seriously though, after watching him clear four guitars in a with his setup, a decent 110 volt compressor is all you'll need. He uses automotive clearcoat, and lays it on pretty heavy as he is usually doing swirl painted guitars with uneven surfaces. Lots of sanding to get those glass smooth, lots of spraying to have enough clear to not burn through.

    -Jake
     
    rojo412 and Matt Liebenau like this.
  5. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Wondering if going nuts with an airbrush is at all a viable option - at some point if I get off my behind I'll give it a try, but if anyone has given it a shot and succeeded it might inspire my behind-get-offing a bit. I have two rescued airbrushes (probably one very basic and one half decent or more, from what I can find online) and some sort of compressor that should work with them, but have not tied it all together yet.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  6. Check @Gilmourisgod thread on his Hossenfeffer bass build. He had some difficulty with a Harbor Freight turbine setup but has overcome. That one seems unnecessarily difficult if you want to do more than one or two instruments. Other builders seem to have had good luck with the more high end units although who it was escapes me at the moment.
     
    rojo412 likes this.
  7. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    One review put the single-stage basic one up against 3-5 stage better ones and it was night and day.
    Of course, the more research I do, the pricier these turbines seem to get. That kobalt compressor is $180, a good gun and hose would be a lot less than $220.
     
  8. I have no experience with the turbines so all I know is what I’ve seen other people do. I think they’re designed for a different type of finish than the Parks or Varathane water based.

    I do know that I’d never even really held a spray gun before last year and I have been surprised with how well the paint jobs have turned out with Parks and a gun and compressor. Some learning at first but getting better all the time. Plus you have the compressor for other air tools and things like inflating tires and whatnot.
     
    rojo412 likes this.
  9. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Yeah, I think I'm going the compressor route. It seems to be more economical, certainly more functional, and I'm not taking my painting stuff on the road, so why would I need it portable?!?

    I looked into the Kobalt compressors, but there's a LOT of bad reviews. However, a similar Husky setup gets great reviews and is pretty much the same price.

    How about the gun: what size needle or cap or whatever is recommended for this type of thing?
     
  10. I’ve only used the sizes that came in the spray guns. I think 1.4 (mm?) on the hvlp and .6 on the detail gun. I don’t even know if you can get different needles and tips for them.
     
  11. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    The more I look at the reviews and how-to's, the more I am getting confused. And something tells me that there's no right or wrong (within reason). I think it's about knowing how to set and use the darn thing!

    You can find very similar looking guns from $16-350. Looking at the reviews, they range a ton in the level of customer satisfaction. Some of the reviewers, though, either sound like they didn't know how to set it or had their standards set SKY HIGH, so it's hard to really tell form that what the best way to go would be.

    Honestly, I'd imagine almost any properly functioning gun would be better than a rattle can or wiped-on finish. Am I wrong?
     
  12. I wasn't endorsing Kobalt specifically, just saying what my buddy uses. Any decent compressor that you can set the air outlet pressure on will work as long as it will produce air fast enough to give you a consistent pressure at the gun while you're spraying.

    I've seen some good work with a harbor freight gun. I've seen one person screw up royally with a very expensive gun. I say get one in your price range, and do the test pieces to learn how to set it up. A decent gun will likely have different nozzles available(which could help since it seems that light coats are preferable for WB, at least what I've seen on here).

    One of these days I'll get a new compressor(I would run air tools too, so likely a big one), and an ok spray gun. For now I'm going with tru-oil on stuff, or rattle cans.
     
    rojo412 likes this.
  13. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    I'm recalling some advice to make some test runs spraying water (onto paper, I think?) for a start. Of course the viscosity won't be quite the same as finish, but there's something to be learned about the spray patterns and various setup options. Up to this point I've been brush, wipe, or rattlecan.

    At least with water-base you probably don't need to worry so much about having dry air (that can get expensive fast.)
     
    rojo412 and RBS_Johnson like this.
  14. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I had mixed success with the Harbor Freight HVLP turbine gun, all covered in excruciating detail on my build thread. It took me a long time to learn how to use it effectively, and the results were never as smooth as I'd hoped. I'm still not sure how much of that can be attributed to the gun, the WB laquer itself, my technique, or a combination of all three. I'd call it good enough for occasional paint jobs, it does have the advantage of being stupid easy to use and clean, in part because the only control on the gun is the paint volume. If I had a little more to spend, I think I still would have got a turbine sprayer, just a better one. I like the small footprint and ease of use, particularly with WB finishes. No worries about highly toxic, flammable fumes, no explosion-proof fans, etc. I built a small spray booth for less than $50 in materials, adding in the HF gun itself at $119 and misc bits and pieces like HVAC filters, I still spent less than $200. I don't plan on a lot of spray finishes, so I couldn't justify a more expensive setup. I used the Highline Guitars video series as my guide, he's using an Earlex 5500 HVLP turbine gun, a big step up from my cheap HF gun, but still around $300
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004RGOKR...t=&hvlocphy=9002127&hvtargid=pla-348983363022
     
    rojo412 likes this.
  15. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    It's funny, when I was researching all of this, I found somewhere that was selling these turbine setups for spray tans! It never occurred to me that it'd be the same equipment.

    Essentially, I think I'm sold on the compressor setup. The ability to use other air tools has me pretty excited.
    As for the gun, I guess I'll just find one and use it.

    Hey, I like Kobalt... I have a bunch of their tools. And I was totally stoked on the idea until I read review after review saying that the pressure regulator crapped out. No worries though, Husky has the same prices and gets way better feedback.

    There's definitely a bunch of guys demonstrating with water. That seems like a very easy way to learn some of the basics and not lose finish.

    I think Friday is the day I'm gonna pull the trigger on all of this :rolleyes:. I've started the paint booth build-up with a bunch of spare panels I had and will be setting up a ventilation system once I get the required supplies.
    This is something that I'm really looking forward to doing. It's hard to find a painter in these parts and sending something out gets REAL expensive, real fast. Essentially, I can start finishing with all of this stuff and still be under what a single pro job would cost.

    Wish me luck!
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
  16. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Okay, so I bought everything... 30 gal compressor, 2 gun kit (hvlp and std), connectors, hose, etc...
    I have an exhaust fan going in the paint cave, but will be making an exhaust shroud that will pull air faster than the external unit. I think that will suffice.

    Before throwing out all the packaging, I hooked it all up and things are looking functional. So that is sweet.

    IMG_4232.JPG

    My questions are the following and as usual, all help is very much appreciated.

    1) The pressure valve
    The gun says it's rated at 40PSI. I'm assuming that the valve on the gun, with the trigger depressed, should be adjusted so that it reads 40 PSI or less, depending on the finish, yes?

    IMG_4233.JPG

    2) The pattern and flow
    The top knob is the pattern, the middle is the paint flow. Is there a particular level of each of these which I should start at as a beginner? Or should I experiment and see how things go for my own tastes?
    I was just spraying water through it for experimentation and was getting a 3-4" oval pattern with the water. But I don't know if I'm looking for the finish to almost mist out or if it should be more of a stream. I know if it's dripping, that's too much.

    3) Cleaning the unit
    It came with the tools, filters, etc. And I'm planning on using WB products at first. So for cleaning, is alcohol and/or water fine? Or should I clean it with something stronger no matter what the finish?

    I'm very excited to get the time to start doing this. The thought of spraying a finish just made me much happier than the thought of sanding off wiping streaks.

    THANKS!
     
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  17. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Sweet!! You went whole hog. I just used water for WB finishes cleanup. HF sells a little spraygun cleaning kit, some of it useless, but it has a few different brushes that came in handy, and a little wire poker for needle valves.
    19 Pc Spray Gun Cleaning Brush Kit

    Edit: practice till you are sick of it on scrap, pretty steep learning curve!
     
    rojo412 likes this.
  18. On my HVLP guns 15 to maybe 22 psi depending on which gun and how I mixed the finish. That was Bruce’s settings and I’m using his recipie for the paint as well, 3oz Parks, 2 tablespoons water and 1/2 tablespoon of Floetrol. I usually double that and go 6oz Parks, a “light” 4 tablespoons of water (I seem to be having better luck spraying it a little thicker so closer to 3 1/2 tbs water), and, again, 1 “light” tablespoon of Floetrol.

    Mix the water and Floetrol and any color. Pour in the Parks stir for 30 seconds or so. Let it sit for 20 - 30 minutes then spray. I usually do 5-6 coats about half an hour apart. You can kinda see when the grey or cloudy appearance of the Parks starts to go away. Next day, level sand and do it again as needed.

    In my touch up gun (not HVLP) 22 - 25psi seems to work pretty well.

    Also, I usually close the fan control and maybe crack it open just slightly.

    Cleanup is dish soap and hot water. Disassemble the gun, clean everything then reassemble and spray some hot water through it. Then, disassemble again and let it all dry.

    Your stuff may work better at different pressures so experiment and see. One thing that took me a little bit is to make sure you press the trigger all the way every time. I’d get weird stuff happening in the finish and realized that sometimes I was only partially squeezing the trigger.

    Long but I hope it helps.
     
    rojo412 likes this.
  19. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Cool, thanks!

    The gun kit came with brushes and picks, so that was good. I will clean it fully before the first test runs.

    As for finish, I'm using Basic Coatings Easystreet Gloss. A couple flooring friends recommended it highly. I'll experiment with it and see how it stacks up through the gun, but it cures fast and is designed to be walked on and stay tough, so I'm stoked for a bass with that.

    I tried it by hand with the satin on one bass I built and it seems really good so far.
     
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  20. Looking forward to seeing the results.
     
    rojo412 likes this.

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