Reply by Mark A. DeCou

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Posted on HVLP guns

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Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4583 days

#1 posted 07-19-2007 01:32 PM

Tom: I also have an HVLP Cup gun. I suppose it is probably the same as Dennis’. Mine is a Porter-Cable brand that I have used for about 5 years, paid something like $80 for it. I use 40-50 lbs of air, and enjoy the gun, although it does require that I thin my finish before I spray, typically 40-50% thinner. I recently added a Puma inline air/water filter, and a regulator to the gun, and it is has greatly improved my finish quality. Clean-up of a cup gun is a breeze, even when I have accidently left lacquer in it for a few days. I like it much better than the three siphon spray guns I have, and so none of them ever get used anymore.

This past April I had a bad chemical exposure allergic reaction with either Deft Lacquer of Zinsser Shellac, and so I have become very careful when using any chemical. Due to my health problem, I have looked around for alternatives to what I am doing. I have a friend who lives close that builds kitchen cabinets, and has a 2-stage turbine Apollo HVLP sprayer, so I went to his place after my incident to see if using one of the Apollo’s would reduce the amount of airborn exposure.

Since then, I have been helping him catch up on his kitchen cabinet backlog which was stressing him out. His wife asked me to help him, as he was afraid to ask. So, I have been helping him out on Saturdays and a few evenings over at his shop this summer. I think we about have him caught up now.

During my time at his shop, I have been using, and watching him use, the Apollo gun to spray Lacquer. I have been impressed with the Apollo. The facts from him is that he uses 50-60% less lacquer, and has used the Apollo for about 10 years now with no problems. He is very happy with the results. In about 4 coats of spraying, he has a nice looking finish. I think my lacquer finish is just as smooth, just as beautiful, and gives a comparable finish, but it takes me more coats to get the same result. The Apollo uses less lacquer during the process of spraying a project.

Also, as the turbine runs it heats the air running through the spray gun. This has the effect of producing something on the range of 110 degree air that sprays the finish. My friend says that this is helpful when the temperature of the room is not ideal to spray. He also says that he tucks the extra hose in the front of his jacket during the winter which keeps him warmer. We all have our tricks, huh?

Ok, now here goes my lose-the-Apollo-sponsorship opinion:
The Apollo is a great tool, although noisy to use. It is also very expensive, something in the $500-$900 range depending on what you get. From what I have seen first hand, is that it is a good tool for a person that sprays a lot of finish. My friend uses about 3 gallons of Sherwin Williams’ Lacquer on each cabinet project, and so the reduced volume of finish cuts his cost pretty good on each project. However, there is still enough overspray to require the use of a canister mask, and a spray room would be recommended. I had hoped it would reduce the overspray enough as to not need either, but it didn’t. I think for someone that sprays a lot of finish, where the reduced cost of finish will be captured over the years to justify the Apollo machine, then it would be a good investment. For folks like myself that don’t use that much finish on smaller projects, I think it is too expensive of a tool. I will continue to use use my Porter-Cable HVLP cup gun, and just buy a little more lacquer over the years. If money were no object, then I would also own an Apollo. Or, if Apollo gave me one, I would definitely use it, and blog about it!

I have no experience with any water-based finishes. It is something I will try to use some time. It is hard for me to switch when I have become so efficient and experienced with lacquer. I can tell exactly what it will do in any situation of wood type, humidity, temperature, etc., and I would have to start my learning-curve over with another style of finish. With that said, after working with my friend, I am about to leave the Deft brand, and switch over to Sherwin Williams stain and lacquer. I really like their stain much better than the Minwax stuff I have used for several years, and their lacquer is just as good as the Deft. Their stain can be added to their lacquer to use as a tinted clear finish, which is helpful when trying to blend a few boards that have odd coloring after the staining process. So, if I have to stop at their store to get stain, why not also get their lacquer? For a harder finish, their catalyzed lacquer works well also. The switch is something I will be doing in the future. I have also had a hard time finding a retail store that carries more than a gallon of semi-gloss Deft at any one time, so switching to Sherwin Williams will also help with finding something to buy when I make the trip to town (35 miles).

glad you asked, I have been wanting to blog my experiences with the Apollo, and this will suffice, so I can move on now to something else.
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

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