Chicago Electric Power Tools - HVLP Complete Spray Kit, Item #44677 (Rating: 4)

When my wife asked me to upcycle a dresser for our daughter, I told her that I needed a new tool to get it done. After doing my research and agonizing if I wanted to get the Earlex Spray Station 5500 as my first HVLP or go for the HF/Rockler HVLP. I eventually settled on this one, figuring I can learn from the experience and go for a 3 or 4 stage after I finally wear it out.

I've had and used the unit for almost a year now. The HVLP comes with 3 tips, that at best I can figure is 1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.8mm. I find that the 1.5mm (shellac) and 1.8mm (waterborne poly and paint) are my my used tips. It does earn a reputation as a HF gem, and does the job I need it to do. At $90+tax ($120 - HF 25% off), it was by far the lowest price I could find, shy of a large compressor and HVLP conversion. With this HVLP, I can get a nice flat finish in 10 minutes on projects that could easily top 2+ hours if done by hand, timed by my experience putting on each layer of polyurethane making storage crates.

So with everything going for it, I couldn't bring myself to give it a 5 star rating, despite the low price point. Some things are forgive-able for the price point, like the almost all plastic construction. Here are a list of my dislikes:
  1. The HF and Rockler manuals independently are incomplete. If you get this HVLP, make sure you have both manuals for reference as they seem to each have some of the information you need. Notably missing from the HF manual is instructions on how to measure viscosity for your finishes.
  2. Multiple cups are needed to efficiently. I bought 2 more from Rockler and have devoted two of them for storing solvent for cleaning.
  3. The unit isn't too strong, and you need to make sure your finish is a fairly low viscosity.
  4. There is a considerable amount of over spray. The second picture is the lovely outcome of the dresser project, where a nice sheen of pink (coral) over sprayed over my turbine.
  5. Overspray = waste of finish. I find that I use more finish to cover the same surface area with this HVLP.

A few experiences using this HVLP:
  • With latex paint from the big box store, a lot of Floetrol and water was needed. I suspect I over-thinned the paint, but the outcome was good and the paint hasn't chipped.
  • All of the General Finishes "milk" paint sprays with little to no thinning required.
  • General Finishes High Performance sprayed with no problems straight from the can.
  • Rustoleum Ultimate Polyurethane sprayed with no problems straight from the can.

Combine the overspray and the need for low viscosity finish means your finishing cost will be higher. I've ruled out spraying GF High Performance given that it is a very costly proposition with this HVLP. I'm loving the results with the Rustoleum Ultimate Polyurethane and will happily spray with this stuff. You will have to decide if the time savings is worth the finish cost. For me, the 8x time saves is generally worth it.