Will a Rockler HVLP Spray Gun Work With My 0.8 HP Compressor?

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Forum topic by ajosephg posted 11-27-2013 04:30 AM 2731 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1880 posts in 3802 days

11-27-2013 04:30 AM

My inexpensive Campbell Hausfeld Compressor is speced at 3.5 cfm @ 40 psi. (It has an 8 gallon tank.) My question is will it run a spray gun like the Rockler that is speced at 7-9 cfm. Harbor Freight has a similar gun on sale for $12.00 that needs 6 cfm.

If this setup doesn’t have a high probability of success I’ll suck it up and get a low end spray system.

I’ve never used any HVLP sprayers, so I don’t know how critical they are on the amount of air required. Most of my projects are relatively small, i.e. never a set of kitchen cabinets, just a piece of furniture.

-- Joe

7 replies so far

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2866 days

#1 posted 11-27-2013 05:15 AM

look up the Critter on Amazon. I love my Critter. Quite a bit of overspray, but it does nice work.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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227 posts in 2091 days

#2 posted 11-27-2013 05:29 AM

My understanding is that a conversion type HVLP system, which gets its air from a compressor needs a lot of air. Unfortunately, I don’t think that your small compressor would be up to the task. I think that you’d probably do best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

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Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2772 days

#3 posted 11-27-2013 05:36 AM

Getting sufficient air pressure to properly atomize a given amount of material is fundamental to spray finishing. There are guns designed to work with that low pressure, but they are smaller in size and can’t spray as much material as larger guns designed for more air pressure. That means less material delivered in a smaller spray pattern leading to more passes needed to cover a given area. For small furniture projects, that’s probably not an issue.

Very, very low probability of success with that compressor and either gun mentioned. You might be able to make one spray pass before the compressor needs to recycle.

You want to look for something called a “detail” or “touch-up” gun. Smaller all around, including the needle/nozzle sizes and atomization chamber. Pay attention to specs, as even some detail guns need more air that what that compressor can supply. Rockler has one – – but 3.5 cfm is at the bottom of the spec range. It’d work, but be a bit fiddly and you’d be waiting for your compressor a lot. This one from HF ( might be a bit better as it uses a smaller needle/nozzle. By all reports, the QS-125WB from Homestead Finishing ( is a much better gun but is also considerably more money.

What are you wanting to spray?

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View pintodeluxe's profile


5820 posts in 3055 days

#4 posted 11-27-2013 06:18 AM

I spray with a mid sized 2 hp compressor and it runs almost constantly when spraying. I am sure it would atomize the finish, and should work for spraying small projects. You might have to wait for it catch up on larger projects.

Get the cheap gun, and if it doesn’t fly you haven’t lost much. You can always upgrade to a bigger compressor down the road.

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

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1880 posts in 3802 days

#5 posted 11-27-2013 02:34 PM

Thanks for your input.

My go to finish is oil based polyurethane whereby I put on several coats of gloss followed by a coat of semi-gloss.

After further consideration I’m leaning towards a system approach like this Earlex:, as I can buy that for a whole lot less than a new compressor. Besides, a new compressor brings a whole new set of problems with where to put it and power it. Somebody (in a different thread) said there is a deal on a Summit at Peachtree for $60.00.

-- Joe

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4460 days

#6 posted 11-27-2013 02:45 PM

Joe, I have a 1 HP 7-gal Sears compressor and it runs an HVLP spray gun just fine. The key is project size. Trying to spray a whole set of cabinet doors, or a large conference table, will burn up your compressor because it is going to be running constantly to try to keep up the pressure. The HV in HVLP stands for high volume, after all, so these guns use a lot of air. But if all you want to spray is a small project now and then, I’d buy an inexpensive gun and save my money on the Earlex. (Not that it isn’t a good machine…. it might just be something you don’t need.)

EDIT: Of course now that I look at your link, $129 isn’t all that big of an investment. I didn’t realize Earlex had an inexpensive little sprayer like that.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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Rex B

320 posts in 2492 days

#7 posted 11-27-2013 03:04 PM

If you have funds for an Earlex or similar system, that is probably the best way to go.

That said, if you want to do it as cheap as possible, I think you could make do with your compressor. Hooking up an inexpensive portable tank will give you more air to start out with. Also, the Harbor Freight gun isn’t just similar to the Rockler gun; it’s exactly the same gun. Actually a pretty nice gun for the price.

I don’t claim to know too much about this topic, but here is the setup that works well for me, just so you can compare specs: Makita MAC2400 compressor with a 10 gal auxilliary tank (linked above) and the Harbor Freight gun (linked above).

Like I said, I think it just depends how much you want to spend. Good luck!

-- Rex

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