Harbor Freight HVLP with small compressor

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Blog entry by bigfoot11 posted 06-19-2015 08:22 PM 1814 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Every second week, Harbor Freight has their standard HVLP (purple) gun on sale for $15 or sometimes even $10 but the box warns you that you need “X” amount of air to operate it. I say fooey! My small Craftsman pancake compressor advertises 2.7 CFM at 40PSI which is far below the advertised 6 CFM that the gun requires. Perhaps the HVLP gun has a similar “over-specification” as their 2HP dust collector?

With the tank full and the regulator set at 50 PSI (while holding the gun wide open), I get approximately 40 seconds of non-stop spraying before the regulator shows the pressure dropping below 50 PSI. Of course, no one ever holds a gun open this long spraying.

Of course, the compressor is going to run quite a bit to provide you with enough air but I’m writing this to let those know who otherwise wouldn’t even try it that it does work and it worked perfectly for my outfeed/assembly table using Varathane water-based varnish.

I wouldn’t suggest trying to paint a car like this but for various small projects, there is no need to get a bigger compressor right off the bat.

4 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


4825 posts in 2234 days

#1 posted 06-19-2015 08:32 PM

yeah 6 cfm may be a stretch.

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

View Notw's profile


442 posts in 1175 days

#2 posted 06-22-2015 02:21 PM

I have an 8gal Husky compressor rated at 4.0 SCFM and I use my purple Harbor Freight HVLP spray gun all the time with it. I do feel bad for the compressor though, at only 8 gal it cycles on an off frequently.

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 598 days

#3 posted 06-22-2015 02:34 PM

Thanks for the info. I have a small HF compressor and have shied away from an HVLP gun over concerns for pressure and continuous cycling of the compressor. I doubt that the continuous cycling is good for it.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View bigfoot11's profile


80 posts in 1103 days

#4 posted 06-22-2015 02:38 PM

I completely agree that using this as a permanent solution would be a very bad decision. I might use the gun twice a month and even then it’s only a couple minutes at a time.

When I look at it, it’s probably no more labor than when I’m blowing out my vac’s air filters or spraying grass clippings from around the garage door.

I always have a box fan sitting in front of the compressor when I do this. I’m not sure if it helps but occasional use doesn’t seem to have hurt it. After all this compressor has lived a hard life; twice its been floating upside down in flood water for several hours. I’ve got my use out of it and would be hard pressed not to buy another craftsman compressor!

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