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Spraying stain?

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Forum topic by deadherring posted 03-29-2017 04:59 PM 449 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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deadherring

59 posts in 1479 days


03-29-2017 04:59 PM

Hi all,

I’m a relative beginner to woodworking, I’ve built up a shop over the last few years and have successfully completed a number of projects. In terms of applying a finish, I’ve always wiped/brushed on stain and varnish/poly.

I’m in the middle of making three bookcases (46” long) and am looking into moving to a spray application to save time and effort. I’ve never used this method and had a few questions.

The videos/articles I’ve seen/read seem to talk about applying a finish (poly/varnish) but not the stain. Can I apply the stain via the spray gun too or is it only for poly/varnish?

I’m planning to use this early american stain from miniwax and this “polyurethane”: http://http://www.homedepot.com/p/Varathane-1-gal-Amber-Satin-Interior-Polyurethane-266253/203327928

I don’t have a dedicated room to apply the finish so I’d likely have to hang a tarp and cover my workbench.

Also, this is the compressor I have:

It is 5.5 gallon, 1HP. If anyone has any advice or recommendations on a quality spray gun to get that will not break the bank, I’d greatly appreciate it. Hoping that this approach will save me some time and effort manually applying multiple coats of finish, but I’ve got that assumption wrong, please let me know. Any additional tips on obtaining a quality finish are welcome.

Thanks!

Nathan


11 replies so far

View jbay's profile

jbay

1856 posts in 735 days


#1 posted 03-29-2017 05:12 PM

I spray stain all the time.

When I do, I usually spray the whole panel then wipe it off. If the panel is large I spray portions of it
(covering the whole length with the grain) and wipe sections as I go.

Sometimes when I want it darker I will turn up my pressure, turn down the material output, and do light “fog” coats until I get the color I want. When doing this you have to give it a lot of time to dry. This helps to get a nice uniform layer because you can hit the light spots a little more or skip the darker spots.

Also some tricks to doing inside corners (of a cabinet) that make it better. I do each side of the corner making sure stain gets into the corner then wipe it. then when I do the side I don’t go all the way into the corner.

You will get a lot of overspray and if your spraying into boxes it will come right back at your face.
Wear a good mask and cover everything in your shop…..
Just takes practice.

-- If anyone would like to see my Portfolio, PM me and I would be glad to send you the link.

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EarlS

602 posts in 2183 days


#2 posted 03-29-2017 05:18 PM

You need to wipe/rub a stain into the wood. Spraying would most likely result in a blotchy, thick stain that wouldn’t soak in. Also, with stain, you come back after a bit and wipe it off with a dry rag to get any excess off.

Finishes are an entirely different chemistry which can easily handle the spray application.

I’d suggest wiping on stain with a rag or applicator so the wood is well saturated and looks wet. Wait 15 minutes, wipe it off with a dry rag. Wait at least 24 hours, check the wood for nubs, sand very lightly with 400 grit and wipe clean, then spray or apply your first coat of finish. I wait 24 hours, lightly sand, wipe clean and repeat.

I’ve also found that Arm-R-Seal is a much better finish than Minwax polyurethane.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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EarlS

602 posts in 2183 days


#3 posted 03-29-2017 05:18 PM

For some reason it wanted to post my reply twice

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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jbay

1856 posts in 735 days


#4 posted 03-29-2017 05:34 PM


You need to wipe/rub a stain into the wood. Spraying would most likely result in a blotchy, thick stain that wouldn t soak in. Also, with stain, you come back after a bit and wipe it off with a dry rag to get any excess off.

Finishes are an entirely different chemistry which can easily handle the spray application.

I d suggest wiping on stain with a rag or applicator so the wood is well saturated and looks wet. Wait 15 minutes, wipe it off with a dry rag. Wait at least 24 hours, check the wood for nubs, sand very lightly with 400 grit and wipe clean, then spray or apply your first coat of finish. I wait 24 hours, lightly sand, wipe clean and repeat.

I ve also found that Arm-R-Seal is a much better finish than Minwax polyurethane.

- EarlS

Just curious how many projects you have sprayed stain on?

-- If anyone would like to see my Portfolio, PM me and I would be glad to send you the link.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5461 posts in 2649 days


#5 posted 03-29-2017 05:47 PM

Spraying stain works great to get in all the nooks and crannies of cabinets and case work. Actually I can’t imagine wiping stain on many of the projects I’ve done, it would just be too tedious.

The spray equipment for stain isn’t critical at all, because you’ll wipe off the excess with a rag. I dedicate a cheap gravity feed HVLP gun for oil based stains. You’ll spend somewhere between $10-50 for a basic gun. I have used WoodRiver, Harbor Freight, and other brand guns for spraying stains, and they all work fine. The 1.5-1.8 mm needle and nozzles that come with these basic guns work fine for spraying stains.

For case work, spray finishing works best if you leave the back panel off. That will give you better access to stain and finish the interior of the case. Trying to finish a case with the back panel already installed will give you a lot of blowback and overspray.

Just use some dropcloths and rosin paper rolls and you’ll be fine. Remember to ventilate the area with fans, and keep fire safety in mind.

Scuff sand between coats of poly (600-1000 grit soft sanding sponge works well). Clean well after scuff sanding with cheese cloth (not tack cloth) and compressed air.

Good luck!

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

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1423 posts in 1825 days


#6 posted 03-29-2017 08:39 PM

As others have said spraying stain is easy – I usually use a hand sprayer for dye only stain (no pigment to clog it up), but most any type sprayer works, unless you are trying to spray alcohol based dyes that flash quickly. For the hobbiest, a stain or dye that needs to be wiped off is the best/easiest approach.

Spraying finishes is a different story. I don’t spray OB poly because, while easy to spray, the overspray doesn’t dry before landing, and it turns every surface to sandpaper. I use WB poly where the overspray dries to dust, similar to shellac or solvent lacquer. In my experience, WB finishes require a better gun than the HF or box store types in order to get the required atomization without overly thinning the finish or using excessive spray pressure. Anyway, any gun that will spray a decent finish can be used to spray stain/dye, so focus on a gun for spray finishing.

If you are going to spray OB poly, shellac, solvent lacquer – the cheap guns will probably do just fine. You will most likely have to wait for your compressor to catch up, with only a 1 hp. It will be a bit slow, but should work.

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

745 posts in 330 days


#7 posted 03-29-2017 09:52 PM

Yep, spraying stain is the way to go. To avoid having the overspray blow back at you, leave the backs out of your bookcases and finish them separately, then install afterwards. Make sure the Varathane is suitable for spraying. I’ve not used it but a lot of the big box finishes are not suitable for spraying. Lacquer will be much more forgiving to spray, that is what I would recommend as a top coat.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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pintodeluxe

5461 posts in 2649 days


#8 posted 03-30-2017 12:17 AM

1+ on the Pre-Cat lacquer recommendation.

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

View deadherring's profile

deadherring

59 posts in 1479 days


#9 posted 03-30-2017 08:29 PM

Thanks for all the replies everyone. Looks like something of a split between those that recommend spraying the stain and those that recommend against it LOL.

Can anyone comment on whether this kit looks good? The product description focused mostly on paint spraying, wondering if it will work well for what I’m looking to do? Looks like you get a lot for the $, with tools to clean it etc.

@Tungoil—great idea on not attaching the backs before spraying, I can see how that would cause overspray blow back.

Thanks,

Nathan

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

602 posts in 2183 days


#10 posted 03-31-2017 12:26 AM

Pinto and Jbay – I prefer to wipe on stain and spray the finishes since I never had much luck on the few times I tried to spray stain so I quit trying and take the time to wipe the stain on since I know I can get a good result. Stick with what works I guess.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1423 posts in 1825 days


#11 posted 03-31-2017 03:27 PM

I think that kit will be ok for solvent based finishes – they can always be thinned enough to spray well, but I doubt it will work well for wb finishes.

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