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Why should I upgrade my HVLP?

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Forum topic by CharlesA posted 03-29-2016 11:19 AM 712 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CharlesA

3018 posts in 1258 days


03-29-2016 11:19 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question hvlp spraying

So, I’m a convert to spraying finishes, primarily spraying shellac followed by GF High Performance waterborne. I wanted to experiment without spending a ton, so I got the Summit system for $70 from Peachtree on sale (if I were doing it today, I’d get the entry-level Earlex from Lowe's on sale for $89).

If I were to spend $180-300 on an Earlex or Apollo HVLP system, what would I gain in spraying shellac and waterborne poly? What advantages with other finishes?

I can read the specs, but I’m looking for hands-on, practical differences.

Thanks, Charles

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson


14 replies so far

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DonB

489 posts in 2153 days


#1 posted 03-29-2016 11:45 AM

Charles – I have an Earlex 2901. I’ve used it for finishes on coffee tables/end tables, folding Adirondack chairs, putting stain on the shingles of a doll house. I cannot attest to the more expensive models as I have not used them. But the Earlex has more than satisfied me in its consistent performance, from full spray on a shed to very limited on the doll house shingles. Inexpensive – yes. Plastic – yes. (Except the needle and needle housing). However it has more than proven its worth to me anyway. I would guess the key is how well you clean it after use. So in summary, I would say that if you have the extra money drawing dust, then purchase a more expensive machine. But I think it is not necessary.

-- DonB

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CharlesA

3018 posts in 1258 days


#2 posted 03-29-2016 12:10 PM

Thanks, Don. Do you have a particular regimen for cleaning?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View ste6168's profile

ste6168

250 posts in 632 days


#3 posted 03-29-2016 12:38 PM

I am going to be building some low-end kitchen cabinets, poplar frames with MDF panels, so I am looking into spraying. I am looking forward to more responses on this thread, especially on that Earlex unit.

Thanks for starting this, Charles.

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Drew

304 posts in 2560 days


#4 posted 03-29-2016 02:22 PM

Is there something your current set up isn’t doing well?

-- TruCraftFurniture.com

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CharlesA

3018 posts in 1258 days


#5 posted 03-29-2016 04:12 PM

The cup doesn’t seal well against the gun, but that is something I can live with. I mostly wanted to understand what I was missing. For instance, when I upgraded my jig saw from a B&D to a Bosch, I was stunned by the difference in the quality of the cut—no comparison. By contrast, if I upgraded my table saw or drill press, I would get some capacity, features, and consistency I might not have now, but much of the time it would be an incremental improvement. I was wondering if a good HVLP system was more like my jigsaw or more like my drill press, so to speak.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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Pezking7p

3097 posts in 1112 days


#6 posted 03-29-2016 05:00 PM

Charles. I have the same gun as you. I will say that a nicer gun will have spot control, so you can make it a circle or a fan. It would also have more options for needles and higher air pressure so you can have better atomization and faster spraying.

I also hate how difficult it is to screw on the cup, but all in all it works well.

-- -Dan

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OSU55

1056 posts in 1450 days


#7 posted 03-29-2016 05:03 PM

It’s actually a difficult question to answer, because people have different measurements, expectations, etc. What I find good my not be acceptable to you, and vice versa. With spraying, atomization of the material, and fan and flow adjustment ranges/increments will improve with better equipment, and more needles, tips, and possibly aircaps are included or available to handle different viscosity material. Do you use different tips/needles for shellac vs WB poly?

If what you have works fairly well in your opinion, the biggest improvement may be in less work after the finish is laid down, or it might be no improvement to you at all. Do you need to do any post spray work? Do you have to level the whole thing off, or it’s ok as sprayed? More input on your level of satisfaction with the current equipment might help.

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hotbyte

841 posts in 2436 days


#8 posted 03-29-2016 05:09 PM

On the Earlex 5500, the cup is extremely easy to install/remove and seals tight…


Charles. I have the same gun as you. I will say that a nicer gun will have spot control, so you can make it a circle or a fan. It would also have more options for needles and higher air pressure so you can have better atomization and faster spraying.

I also hate how difficult it is to screw on the cup, but all in all it works well.

- Pezking7p


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CharlesA

3018 posts in 1258 days


#9 posted 03-29-2016 06:41 PM

OSU55,

The problem is that I’m not sure whether my issues are with my still new spraying technique or with my unit. I need to keep improving my technique, but right now I definitely need to knock down both with some bronze wool at the end. But with the poly, or instance, it takes very little work compared to when I was applying by hand. I need to work on less overlap with the shellac.

I was hoping that someone would have some concrete experience moving from a low end unit to a higher end unit and could express how much the better unit improved their spraying.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1450 days


#10 posted 03-29-2016 08:09 PM

I do, but with conversion (separate compressor) hvlp guns. Especially with higher viscosity WB finishes like poly, I got a big improvement with a better gun. I struggled with sputtering and good atomization with lower quality guns. The same may be true for the all-in-one.

I currently use a CA Technologies SPR-G gun. Below is Target EM9000 satin poly. It was stained with WB, then sealed and toned with shellac with TT dye. I did a light nib sand, and then did some polishing to get the gloss level desired.

Below is Target EM2000 satin wb varnish, similar to spraying the poly. Similar finish schedule, but only the top got any post spray attention.

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Pezking7p

3097 posts in 1112 days


#11 posted 03-29-2016 08:50 PM

OSU55, what kind of post spray attention are you talking about? Sanding? Buffing with steel wool? I’m definitely considering moving to more sprayed finishes as I hate spending 8-10 hours to put on 3 coats of poly.

-- -Dan

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CharlesA

3018 posts in 1258 days


#12 posted 03-29-2016 08:57 PM

I can’t believe how much faster spraying is. Way, way, way faster. I only go over the finish twice, once an the last coat of shellac and once on the last coat of poly. I am finishing a large bookcase, and I bet I cut out 10 hours of finishing time.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1450 days


#13 posted 03-29-2016 09:27 PM

Depends on the project and final finish. For all but the top of the buffet above, I might have spent 10-20 minutes with some 1000 gr paper smoothing some rougher spots, most of that just feeling the surface. The top got a bit of sanding, but was then buffed some with an electric buffer and different compounds. The shellac sealer/toner coat probably took 30 min with 600 grit. It can be a bit rough sometimes because I may spray very light in some areas to get the right blending, then need to knock the dry spray down some.

For a fully filled finish, especially with open grain like oak/ash, like below, it’s a whole different ballgame, but still far less time than doing it by brush. Anything larger than a breadbox, I’m spraying it, and many smaller items I do as well. Sometimes a very thin wipe on finish is all I want/need, so I’ll wipe on thinned poly. I don’t recommend spraying oil based poly – the overspray doesn’t dry before it lands, and turns everything into sandpaper, plus the open time is long and plenty of dust and bugs get trapped in it.

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CharlesA

3018 posts in 1258 days


#14 posted 05-01-2016 12:57 AM

I was getting close to pulling the trigger on an Earliex or Fuji, but I followed advice on this thread and paid more attention to which needle I was using and the fluid volume setting, and I am much more content with my cheapy Summit HVLP. I assumed the dripping I was getting (especially with shellac) from the gun was because the cup wasn’t sealing well to the gun, but since I fine-tuned it (using smaller needle and less fluid volume), I’m getting great results. I will definitely upgrade at some point, but I’m getting the most out of what I have now.

Thanks so much.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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