Finishing #3: Spray Guns and Fans

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Blog entry by Scott Parsons posted 02-13-2009 02:58 AM 1524 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Backpeddle and Onward Part 3 of Finishing series no next part

Well, I was considering what to put down in digital ink next and decided on a few different things.

I wanted to talk about the guns that I use first.
I have six guns in use at any given time. Sometimes I have multiple projects all with unique colours.

I have one good quality gun. It’s a Devilbiss with a 1 litre cup. I also have a Lemmer and the other four are low quality Husky brand from Home Depot. All my guns are gravity fed and have 1/2 liter cup except for the Devilbiss.
I’m happy to have the two quality guns and they certainly make my job that much more fun but they certainly aren’t necessities. I do just fine with the 60 dollar Huskys. It’s hard to get replacement parts from Husky due to their brutal customer service.

6 of my guns

The outsides of the guns look pretty bad but the insides are spotless. I use a cone filter to catch debris and although I said earlier that I don’t use the little filter inserts for the gun I actually do for the clear coat.

I’ve heard some people say that they like to soak their guns in a solvent for awhile even over night. I can say from first hand experience that you will have to replace any plastic/rubber washers if they are soaked in a solvent. Also, some guns rust so it’s good to check if the metal is plated or made for water.

I use the cheap guns for none water based product like NGRs, oils, and lacquer based paints. The Lemmer is strictly clear coat because no matter how well a gun is cleaned it can still spit out the odd left over at a critical point. The Devilbiss is used for any main project requiring a water-based lacquer. It’s sprays like a dream but is heavy.

I keep a thick pin handy to keep the vent hole on the lid of the cup free of product. This hole allows solid flow and stops suction from happening which will eventually stop the flow of paint.

Here are the products I most use:

This is the primer.

The primer comes so thick that I can stand the metal stir tool that attaches to my drill up in it. This stuff will last quite awhile because it takes so much water to thin out.
When I prime I do one coat and it is almost always on MDF. I don’t put a lot of effort in the priming stage because it doesn’t make any difference to the final finish if I obsess over whether or not the primer is on even. It makes absolutely no difference. As long as it’s on the MDF it will do it’s job.
I sand my water-based primer with 220 all by hand because I want to avoid sanding circles transferring into the lacquer coats to come. It doesn’t take long and sands extremely easily. It almost falls off.

After the prime is done I use this tinted to whatever is needed:

Water-based lacquer

If by chance a very dark tint is needed like a dark blue or brown I have the clear lacquer tinted instead.

5 gallon clear coat

After the primer has been sanded I’m ready for the fun stuff. This is my favorite part. I really like to create a flow by organizing my racks so that I can move and work efficiently and without interruption. I have to walk about 15 feet to the wall rack and I make sure to keep it as unobstructed as possible, not always possible but worth the effort.
I was once told that preparation is 80 percent of the work the other 20 is the fun stuff. That was when I was doing restorations in Vancouver and that has always stuck with me. I had a good teacher (thanks Paul!)
It’s paid off since I work on contract and the faster I work the more I earn. But quality is very important and in the early days I had to repeat a project and actually earned very little. I never repeated that mistake again. Greed and quality don’t go well together. That’s my preaching for one night.

So, before I start spraying I check out the fan filters and make sure they can handle another project. The fans were built by me after a couple of years of dealing with my predecessor’s setup. A good suction is vital for avoiding over spray issues.
I made a 2×4 frame against the warehouse windows and inserted two explosion proof fans. The frames were dadoed on the front to accommodate 6 furnace filter of the cheapest variety.

I eventually added a strip of 5 1/2” MDF to the filter dadoes to accommodate varying size of filters.

So the spraying of lacquer incorporates the same sequence as the clear coat application describe before.

The last thing is a picture of the average fan of spray I like to work with. This fan spread is good for most situations. For some reason, it took me awhile to realize I could manually turn the fan nozzle during spraying to switch from horizontal to vertical surfaces. I won’t mention how long.

I’ve got some pictures of some processes that I’ll upload later.

3 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4709 days

#1 posted 02-13-2009 04:38 PM

You can turn the nozzle by hand! Now you tell me. I sure am a creature of habit. Most of my spraying is on a horizontal surface, so I’m still amazed at how much I end up spraying with the cup at a 3 o’clock position. I’m very happy with my Devilbiss gun. Yes I have three other cup guns of various quality.

View Scott Parsons's profile

Scott Parsons

38 posts in 3796 days

#2 posted 02-13-2009 05:35 PM

Haha! Yea, when I figured that out (purely by accident) I sorta did a Homer, doh!

View DocSavage45's profile


8816 posts in 3237 days

#3 posted 12-12-2012 05:05 PM


Not anywhere ready for finishing with a spray gun, athough it’s in my fantasy list. Bought some well rated cheappies guns hvlp type. Like your filter box with the quick change cheapie filters. Explosion proof fans?????

Inquiring minds and all that…LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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