spray gun, paint vs shellac

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Forum topic by airman posted 09-27-2010 02:02 PM 3322 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View airman's profile


51 posts in 3213 days

09-27-2010 02:02 PM

Is there a difference between spraying paint vs spraying shellac besides technique? I have a spray gun I got from good old HF years ago and never used. I am thinking about trying to spray some finishes and thought I would practice with the HF gun before I bought a “good” gun. Anybody have and thoughts or opinons on this?

6 replies so far

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2980 days

#1 posted 09-27-2010 06:00 PM

A lot will depend on how much your gun will adjust for air and finish flow. I had a HF gun I got rid of and bought a Kobalt gravity feed that allowed me to adjust the finish flow and air flow to spray different finishes. Can’t speak for spraying shellac, but for polyurethane I thin it by about 15% to spray with. I like to test my gun on cardboard while adjusting my gun till I get it where I want to spray with. Don’t know if this helps you any.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View wisno's profile


88 posts in 3008 days

#2 posted 09-28-2010 11:34 PM

Mostly is about he same.
But you must considered that the shellac is rather slow drying then paint. It is designed to be applied by wiping. Just avoid to spray too wet coat for shellac.

Good luck


View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2920 days

#3 posted 09-29-2010 01:58 AM

I agree with JM. I live in Florida and if you are using shellac you better not be dillydallying around. It drys quick.

-- Life is good.

View MOJOE's profile


548 posts in 3266 days

#4 posted 09-29-2010 04:24 AM

Here in KC, shellac also flashes off pretty quick….I suggest starting with shellac, as it goes on fairly easily, then thin down your paint some and give it a try.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

View Ken Fitzpatrick's profile

Ken Fitzpatrick

376 posts in 4021 days

#5 posted 09-29-2010 08:56 AM

I live in Massachusetts and shellac dries extremely fast up here. Took a class in padding shellac and one of the issues is how fast it dries. Spraying a thinned coat will dry even quicker. Most early 1900’s furniture is finished in shellac which is great if you want to touch up, as the alcohol will let the new coat become part of the original. My personal pref is to pad on shellac and leave the spray gun for other finishes.


-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


404 posts in 3019 days

#6 posted 09-29-2010 12:38 PM

I have pretty much transitioned to spraying all my finishes just because of the time it saves but there are a couple of notable points that have to be taken into consideration (some already alluded to).

You mention spraying shellac and paint which are almost at opposite ends of the spectrum. Thin bodied finishes (lacquers and thin cut shellac) require a small diameter needle and sprayed at the lowest possible pressure with high air flow (often requiring a high CFM compressor). Heavy bodied finishes like paint require a larger diameter needle and often more air to move them. Both gun and compressor limitations might dictate how effectively you can spray any given finish.

Drying times on finishes is a function of the solvent. Shellac dissolved in alcohol will dry quickly (unless your shellac is old and esterified) because alcohol evaporates quickly. Conversely, oil-based finishes dry slowly because oil evaporates slowly. When spraying, some finishes like lacquer can actually dry before the spray finish hits your project if you spray at too high a velocity.

The good thing though about practicing with lacquer or shellac is that additional layers will melt into existing layers making it a pretty forgiving finish if you make mistakes on the first attempt. Each gun and compressor set up is a little bit difference so likely it will take a certain amount of trial and error before you find your sweet spot. Good luck and don’t forget to wear a mask….shellac and lacquer coated sinuses lungs are not a good thing.

-- Greg, Severn MD

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