Have HF hvlp, gifted compressor, what to do?

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Forum topic by mcg1990 posted 12-25-2015 11:19 PM 1613 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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159 posts in 2173 days

12-25-2015 11:19 PM

I recently bought the Harbor Freight HVLP system – and LOVE it – and for Christmas my wife bought me the Porter Cable pancake compressor + 1 nail gun combo.

In my eyes, the money for the compressor is only really worth it if I use it for both nail gunning and spraying.

In my position – would you keep the HVLP and return the compressor (and buy HF dust collector instead!) or keep the compressor, sell the HVLP to father-in-law, and buy a spray gun to use with the compressor.

I’m concerned that with going the route of buying a spray gun for the compressor I’ll be getting into the messy business of what gun, what tank size, what cfm, blah blah.. whereas the harbor freight hvlp system just.. works. And it keeps tanking through a whole project no matter how long your finger is on the trigger.

So – I’m leaning towards returning the compressor, but am I missing out on some potential in the compressor that I just can’t appreciate because I’ve never before used one?

I’m mostly a hobbyist, but do sell within our small town. Mostly using construction or reclaimed lumber. No 20ft conference tables here..

Thank you!

15 replies so far

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3674 days

#1 posted 12-26-2015 12:25 AM

I’d keep both. A lot of uses for the compressor other than spraying. I use a nailer a lot and use a narrow crown stapler for cabinets and casework. And inflating a tire as well as a host of other things. I have a compressor and a couple of hvlp turbines.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View cracknpop's profile


451 posts in 3230 days

#2 posted 12-26-2015 12:52 AM

I have a small pancake type compressor and use it more than I expected around the house…. air nailers, pin nailer, stapler (don’t think I will ever use a Stanley squeeze stapler ever again), etc. I like to portability and fairly quiet.

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3177 days

#3 posted 12-26-2015 01:39 AM

I love my Porter Cable pancake. It’s one of the few small, LIGHTWEIGHT, inexpensive compressors that will power a framing nailer. You have no need to shoot staples, trim or framing nails or air up tires?

View waho6o9's profile


8946 posts in 3458 days

#4 posted 12-26-2015 02:01 AM

Keep both

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3852 days

#5 posted 12-26-2015 02:06 AM

I have both. And I have no intention of getting rid of either.
An air compressor is so useful for things other than spraying I never even considered that function as a reason for buying the compressor.

View sawdustdad's profile


379 posts in 1766 days

#6 posted 12-26-2015 04:20 AM

Yep. keep both. Once you use a pneumatic nailer, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View Tenfingers58's profile


96 posts in 3559 days

#7 posted 12-26-2015 06:48 AM

I never thought I would use a air pinner until I received one as a gift. Now I don’t know how I got along without one.

View TheFridge's profile


10861 posts in 2367 days

#8 posted 12-26-2015 06:58 AM


-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6210 posts in 3694 days

#9 posted 12-26-2015 06:59 AM

I wouldn’t try to run a spray gun off a pancake compressor. It would work for boxes and picture frames, but if you try spraying dressers and coffee tables you will constantly be waiting for the compressor to recharge.

Nail guns are low air consumption tools, and any compressor will run them. Sprayers need at least a mid-sized 2hp 20+ gallon tank to be very effective.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View alittleoff's profile


548 posts in 2157 days

#10 posted 12-26-2015 11:35 AM

I was in HF awhile back and saw one of their little pancake compressors. The thing looked pretty good so I forked out 34.00 I believe it was and bought it. I figured I’d use it for something and 34.00 is not a lot. I brought it home and after a couple of weeks put it together. The thing is a little noisy but most compressors are. I’ve got to say it’s one of the handiest tools I have. I use it all the time since I hooked it up. I especially when I want to work outside. I’m well satisfied with mine and would keep it.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6108 posts in 3190 days

#11 posted 12-26-2015 08:19 PM

A woodworking shop with out a decent compressor is nuts. No way I could get by without one.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View MrUnix's profile


8238 posts in 3080 days

#12 posted 12-26-2015 08:22 PM

A woodworking shop with out a decent compressor is nuts. No way I could by without one.
- AlaskaGuy

Me either… although a small pancake compressor is rather limited in what it can do – but I guess it’s better than no compressor at all!


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View bigblockyeti's profile


6785 posts in 2601 days

#13 posted 12-27-2015 01:39 PM

If you were to return the HVLP system, you’d likely be disappointed with the ability to spray with the pancake compressor if using it to drive another HVLP system. Porter Cable hasn’t made any pancake compressors with anything even close to high volume. I would agree with what others have said, keep both.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3395 days

#14 posted 12-27-2015 01:44 PM

Definitely keep both. My old 1998 Coleman compressor, (5HP, 30 Gallon), has been a real trooper. i dread the day I might have to replace it. And once I got into nail guns, whoo boy!!

Once you see the real value of even a HF 23 gauge brad nailer, you will love it and all the other ones you buy, possibly all the way to 16 ga., which is my biggest. And two of my most used air tools are my HF staple/nail combos. I have two, one for 18 ga. staples, one set up to do 18 ga. nails. The ultimate hand savers…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3177 days

#15 posted 12-27-2015 02:57 PM

....and you should be bowing down and kissing the ground your wife walks on. Most of us aren’t so fortunate to have a partner who buys us good tools.

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