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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Savannah GA
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    12

    Default Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Hey everyone,

    So I'm about to build a a few TriTrix sealed and ported MTM's and I'm planning ahead to the finishing stages. My goal is to achieve a high gloss lacquer finish over a black enamel base. I've read all around and was set on the the process of 50/50 wood glue and water seal, kilz original primer, rattle can rustelum enamel, brushing minwax lacquer, and plenty of sanding and polishing. I know an HPLV spray method is optimal but the cost for gun, compressor, hosing, regulator, and fittings is just too much for a small project like this.

    Today, while at Harbor Freight, I ran into a interesting unit. It's a super cheap, self contained turbine HPLV system (LINK). I've searched around and it looks like people are painting their cars with it with success (after proper thinning).

    So I ask this: Would you reccomend this unit over the previous method of rattle can enamel, and brushed lacquer?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Savannah GA
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Ok, so I caved and I bought the last one, 5 mineuts before the local Savannah Harbor Freight closed. Brought it back, mixed some about a 50/50 kilz primer/paint thinner and sprayed it on a small text piece which was already treated with a 50/50 woodglue/water seal. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed so far. Went on quick and no noticeable orange peel so far. I'm waiting to hit it with another coat of primer then I have a quart of rustoleum enamel that I will thin with acetone.

    After that step I have a problem. I currently have a quart of minwax "brushing" lacquer and lacquer thinner but the label specificly says not to thin. Has anyone used "brushing" lacquer in a spray gun? Is there a reason I shouldn't? And if I should not use it, where can I find non "brushing" lacquer? Should I stop obsession over lacquer? (I love how fast I can recoat, the luster of a final rubbed out lacquer finish, and that it doesn't amber like poly)

    Thanks everyone,
    -Craig Chupinsky

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Malvern, Ohio
    Posts
    3,430

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Quote Originally Posted by chupinsky27 View Post
    Ok, so I caved and I bought the last one, 5 mineuts before the local Savannah Harbor Freight closed. Brought it back, mixed some about a 50/50 kilz primer/paint thinner and sprayed it on a small text piece which was already treated with a 50/50 woodglue/water seal. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed so far. Went on quick and no noticeable orange peel so far. I'm waiting to hit it with another coat of primer then I have a quart of rustoleum enamel that I will thin with acetone.

    After that step I have a problem. I currently have a quart of minwax "brushing" lacquer and lacquer thinner but the label specificly says not to thin. Has anyone used "brushing" lacquer in a spray gun? Is there a reason I shouldn't? And if I should not use it, where can I find non "brushing" lacquer? Should I stop obsession over lacquer? (I love how fast I can recoat, the luster of a final rubbed out lacquer finish, and that it doesn't amber like poly)

    Thanks everyone,
    -Craig Chupinsky
    Your rustoleum is an oil base product. You can thin it with lacquer thinner or acetone and it will work fine. It will just set up quicker. Which will not let the paint flow out as smooth or it could also prevent it from running or sagging. Just depends how heavy you put it on. The problem you are going to have is you can NOT spray lacquer base products over the oil based rustoleum. It is to hot of a product and will wrinkle the finish. Basically strip the oil back off. If you used the oil based primer, sounds like you did if you thinned with paint thinner, I would be leery about putting lacquer on top of that also.
    I would stick with the oil based rustoleum at this point. Just get several coats on so you have a nice build up and wet sand/ buff that to a gloss finish. I would let the rustoleum set for at least two days before sanding then probably another day or two before buffing.
    If you like using lacquer base products you will either have to go to an auto paint store or use rattle cans to get your color on, flat is fine. Then I am pretty sure you can buy gloss lacquer from HD to get your build up of clear coat.

    Dave

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Lewes, DE
    Posts
    144

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Spraying is great once you get the hang of it and find the right products. I do agree that it's best to make sure the primer you use and the topcoat are compatible. A lot of people use the brushing lacquer in their spray guns. I have not. I use a water based lacquer from General finishes and love it. It dries super fast, sands easily, and gives a great finish. The only disadvantage is the fact it doesn't "cut in" to the previous coat, so you do need to scuff between coats with synthetic steel wool. The advantage of almost no odor makes the trade off worth it for me. I don't have a fancy spray booth. I can spray the water based finishes in the basement and the smell is barely noticed on the first floor.
    enduro water based lacquer
    Good luck on your new spray rig! Most of my spraying gear is harbor freight and I haven't had any problems with quality.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Chicagoland
    Posts
    4,671

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Is this a new Harbor Freight product? The price is very attractive.

    How do you clean one of these things? That's my sticking point with guns vs. rattle can. With a rattle can, there's no cleanup, aside from holding the can upside down and spraying for a few seconds. But with an HVLP system, how much effort and time is required to clean it? Do you have to clean between coats? What's the window of time that you can leave it full of paint that it hardens and becomes unusable?
    No one is listening to your band. Maybe you should be LOUDER!

    Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
    Oh no, I'm tweeting now: @undefinition1

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Malvern, Ohio
    Posts
    3,430

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Quote Originally Posted by marlowe View Post
    Spraying is great once you get the hang of it and find the right products. I do agree that it's best to make sure the primer you use and the topcoat are compatible. A lot of people use the brushing lacquer in their spray guns. I have not. I use a water based lacquer from General finishes and love it. It dries super fast, sands easily, and gives a great finish. The only disadvantage is the fact it doesn't "cut in" to the previous coat, so you do need to scuff between coats with synthetic steel wool. The advantage of almost no odor makes the trade off worth it for me. I don't have a fancy spray booth. I can spray the water based finishes in the basement and the smell is barely noticed on the first floor.
    enduro water based lacquer
    Good luck on your new spray rig! Most of my spraying gear is harbor freight and I haven't had any problems with quality.
    That's interesting. I've never heard of water based lacquer. I thought lacquer was lacquer based how is it still lacquer if its water based. So is there water based shellac? Geez just when I thought I new everthing
    Dave

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Malvern, Ohio
    Posts
    3,430

    Talking Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Carmody View Post
    Is this a new Harbor Freight product? The price is very attractive.

    How do you clean one of these things? That's my sticking point with guns vs. rattle can. With a rattle can, there's no cleanup, aside from holding the can upside down and spraying for a few seconds. But with an HVLP system, how much effort and time is required to clean it? Do you have to clean between coats? What's the window of time that you can leave it full of paint that it hardens and becomes unusable?
    It's just a compact set up same as a compressor, air hose and spray gun. You still have to clean out the gun and pot. As far as set up time. I shot a coat of paint on some parts this morning. left the paint in the gun and will shoot another coat when I get home tonight. Not a smart thing to do but sometimes you gotta. I may have to clean up the tip a little before I shoot. I really wouldn't let it sit more than a couple hours. More then likely doing this very often will result in having to tear the gun down sooner then normal and soak everything. Not a bad idea to do once in a while anyway.
    I guess you could compare rattle cans/ spay guns to using published measurement/ measuring. You can get a better job and be able to do a lot more when you learn how to do it. Is it worth setting up all that measurement gear when you can just use published?


    Dave

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Chicagoland
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    4,671

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Quote Originally Posted by davepellegrene View Post
    I may have to clean up the tip a little before I shoot. I really wouldn't let it sit more than a couple hours. More then likely doing this very often will result in having to tear the gun down sooner then normal and soak everything. Not a bad idea to do once in a while anyway.
    I guess you could compare rattle cans/ spay guns to using published measurement/ measuring. You can get a better job and be able to do a lot more when you learn how to do it. Is it worth setting up all that measurement gear when you can just use published?
    Good analogy, Dave. So here's a follow-up question, one that weighs heavily on my desire to be environmentally conscious...
    What do you do with the mineral spirits/lacquer thinner/etc after you've let the gun and its parts soak? Also, what kind of container is good to let them soak?
    No one is listening to your band. Maybe you should be LOUDER!

    Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
    Oh no, I'm tweeting now: @undefinition1

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Malvern, Ohio
    Posts
    3,430

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Carmody View Post
    Good analogy, Dave. So here's a follow-up question, one that weighs heavily on my desire to be environmentally conscious...
    What do you do with the mineral spirits/lacquer thinner/etc after you've let the gun and its parts soak? Also, what kind of container is good to let them soak?
    I recycle the thinners as much as I can. I drink Folgers coffee that comes in the red plastic container and I find these work great for painting, mixing and putting thinner in.
    I always leave thinner in the gun when storing. I have two containers, one for thinner I will reuse and one for thinner that sits and dissipates into the air. The thinner in the gun goes into a container while I'm using the gun. When I'm done I clean the gun first with half the amount of the thinner in the container. Pour it in shack the gun good then pour that into the dissipating container. I pour the rest of the recycled thinner into the gun. This time I spray it though the gun until its gone. I then pour fresh thinner into the gun dip a clean rag into it wipe off the rim were the pot connects then spray about half through the gun the the rest sits in the gun until I use it again. When I get it out to use it I spray some through then pour the rest into the container for reuse. The only bad thing about this system is I have an open container of used thinner dissipating so I have to be careful. Most of the time I pour used water into the mix as well so it's not real flammable. I am slowly working towards the waterborne paints and so far really like them. It's just a different mind set so if it's something I have to make look nice I go with what I know. If I were you starting out I would go straight to waterborne and not look back. I believe all the thinner based products will be phased out in time. Lacquer looks to be the first product that is going. It may already be phased out in California. The thinners are supposedly hard on the ozone layer from what I remember. Oil base paints are on their way also. It's already hard to get in gallon size.
    I have sprayed the Mini wax Polycrylic and find it easy to spray, flows out nice and you could virtually spray it in your basement.
    Hope that gives you a little to think about.
    Dave

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Chicagoland
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    4,671

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Wow! That's very helpful. I'm very glad I asked.

    I think you may be right about water-based finishes. I can't stand lacquer fumes. They make me want to puke. (on the other hand, I actually kind of like the smell of polyurethane--reminds me of art class as a kid.)

    But in the end, I'm doing this in my own house, and putting my family through toxic odors just ain't cool. So maybe if I do go down the HVLP trail, I'll just start with the water-based finishes.
    No one is listening to your band. Maybe you should be LOUDER!

    Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
    Oh no, I'm tweeting now: @undefinition1

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    SW MI
    Posts
    284

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    I'll be experimenting my my new HVLP gun on my current project myself . In the instruction manual, it states to use oil based paint--any reason to not use water based? It sure would make painting a whole lot easier if I could just stick with water-based all the way through--especially because I'll be working in my basement (yes, with a NIOSH respirator).

    I have a can of the Polycrylic I'm hoping to spray with it as well to finish it off .

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Carmody View Post
    I can't stand lacquer fumes. They make me want to puke. (on the other hand, I actually kind of like the smell of polyurethane--reminds me of art class as a kid.)
    If you can strongly smell the fumes, you're wearing the wrong type of mask.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Malvern, Ohio
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    3,430

    Default Re: Finishing: Harbor Freight's cheap HVLP system

    Quote Originally Posted by Starkiller4299 View Post
    I'll be experimenting my my new HVLP gun on my current project myself . In the instruction manual, it states to use oil based paint--any reason to not use water based? It sure would make painting a whole lot easier if I could just stick with water-based all the way through--especially because I'll be working in my basement (yes, with a NIOSH respirator).

    I have a can of the Polycrylic I'm hoping to spray with it as well to finish it off .
    Not sure why they would say that other than the less expensive guns will oxidize or rust from water. Even when I do spray waterborne products, after cleaning with water, I empty the gun, wipe it out and run either enamel reducer or lacquer through the gun to get the water out. Also do it the other way around. If you have thinner in your gun and are going to spray waterborne empty the gun, wipe it out and run water through the gun.

    Dave

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