Spraying varnish...

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Forum topic by RobH posted 10-24-2008 03:42 AM 6258 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RobH's profile


465 posts in 4896 days

10-24-2008 03:42 AM

Hey all,

A Harbor Freight recently opened up in town, and I stopped in to see what I could find. One thing I bought was a 20oz gravity feed spray gun. It came highly recommended on other forums, and from what I can tell so far (just shooting mineral spirits and water) it does a decent job.

The only thing I can find wrong so far is that is did not come with a viscosity cup. I have no way of knowing whether I need to thin stuff or not. The tip that came with it is 1.4mm.

Now, here is my question. Will I be able to spray Deft, or equivalent, lacquer directly from the can? If not, I guess I need to try to find a viscosity cup so I can know how to mix stuff.

Thanks ahead of time for the help,

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

5 replies so far

View lew's profile


13176 posts in 4602 days

#1 posted 10-24-2008 04:15 AM


Try the local auto body shops and ask if they have an old one or where they buy their paint and supplies. Most towns have at least one supply business and you could probably pick one up from them. I bought a similar spray gun from Harbor Freight and I use the cup from my old Wagner Power Sprayer. Seems to work OK. I thin stuff to drain in about 60 seconds for heavier material (latex paints). I think lacquer and water based polys could be sprayed out of the can. I have heard of folks adding a flowing agent to some types of finishes to help them level out but I am not experienced with them.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View SST's profile


790 posts in 5041 days

#2 posted 10-24-2008 04:40 AM

I’ve done a fair amount of auto painting and a bit of varnish spraying and I wouldn’t recommend spraying any varnish right from the can. While I’ve found that thinning is necessary, I also have found that the mix is somewhat forgiving. I’d try playing with some scrap wood and start with a 4:1 varnish to thinner mix. If that’s too thin try 6:1.
Thin with a compatible solvent. I have thinned with lacquer thinner & haven’t had any problems, but you want to do that outdoors or with a lot of ventilation. I like using a fast evaporating thinner because it flashes off quickly and you don’t get as many runs.
If anyone has had comparability problems with that, please chime in, as I’m not the expert on finishes. I only know from my limited experience.
You’ll need to play with air pressure, too as that will effect the result -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4770 days

#3 posted 10-24-2008 06:48 AM

Rob, try some “Floetrol” from the Borg 1:4 ratio is recommended “I use a little less in winter and more in summer”. If you are using hi-gloss it will dull a little which I like for my applications. Shoot some old scrap until you get the feel. I found cups and what have you only get you in the ball park and you need to adjust from there.

View Steve2's profile


75 posts in 4417 days

#4 posted 10-24-2008 07:24 AM

Spraying thinner or water is the most meaningless indication of the quality of any gun and bears no relation whatsoever to what you will eventually experience with a real finish.

Check the literature from the material for proper dilution.

1.4 is the norm for poly varnish – inherently thin lacquer should take very little thinning.

Yea – Great idea – stop in at a professional paint shop and ask for info on your gun from Harbor Freight :) – just be careful he doesn’t have one of his $700 guns within arms length. :)

-- Regards, Steve2

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4770 days

#5 posted 10-24-2008 05:26 PM

Im glad you pointed that out about Floetrol I should not have assumed he would know that. Water based products are all I use because of the flash point hazard.

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