Recommend a HVLP sprayer?

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Forum topic by ADHDan posted 01-17-2014 04:42 PM 1968 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2137 days

01-17-2014 04:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’ve applied all my finishes exclusively by hand, but I’d like to start using an HVLP sprayer for bigger projects. I only have a pancake P-C compressor, which I doubt can hold/move enough air for a compressor-based sprayer. Are there any good HVLP sprayers that don’t require a compressor for under $100? Thanks!

Edit: this is my compressor: If there are any guns that would work with this, I’d be open to suggestions. I’m not painting a house or anything, but I’d like to use a HVLP sprayer for things like end tables, chairs, etc. So really, small-to-medium size projects.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

11 replies so far

View CharlesNeil's profile


2411 posts in 3899 days

#1 posted 01-17-2014 08:07 PM


Hate to tell you but 100.00 sprayers ( turbine) don’t exist, that will work well. The cheap ones are just that “CHEAP” .. save your $ . About the cheapest Unit you want is an Earlex 5500… that will actually give you a decent finish.

Harbor Freight sells some compressed air gravity fed HVLP guns pretty cheap. As well Woodcraft has the Wood River guns , pretty reasonable. They actually do pretty well . Your compressor will run one, just not for very long, the pressure will be fine, it just doesn’t have much air storage , so it will not sustain the pressure. If your doing some small things you might get buy .

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#2 posted 01-17-2014 08:11 PM

your compressor is OK for pressure, but it has too small of a tank to be able to sustain an HVLP sprayer properly. short sprays and long waiting time for air to refill tank will result in anything less than appealing finish on your projects. if you want to use air compressor sprayers, you should invest in a larger compressor (tank).

I have a dedicated CH sprayer (can be found in my blogs) which I had pretty good results with. I bought it used for ~100 and change. buying new I wouldn’t buy anything less than that (comparable to the earlex 5000) in terms of specs which puts the price upward a ‘tad’ bit.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View katilicous's profile


42 posts in 2433 days

#3 posted 01-17-2014 08:37 PM

I believe 2 things… usually…
Harbor Freight tools are crappy (almost always) and you get what you pay for when you buy a tool.
BUT when I was broke and needed to spray a clear gloss finish for the first time, I picked up a High Volume, Low Pressure Spray Gun Kit that looks like the unit Campbell Hausfield makes that is a single turbine.
I used water based General Finishes Enduro Var gloss and sprayed in a near clean room environment in optimal 70-75 degree air. There isn’t in my opinion a machine that could have done a better job bc it came out flawless. Was it the machine or the finish or the prep or a combination of all? Dunno, I know that the cheap sprayer didn’t prevent the job from finishing perfect. Maybe other machines would feel better or work better with other finishes but it was perfect for water based urethane and didn’t cost me the price of the entire job.

-- If you fall, I'll be there. -Floor

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 2439 days

#4 posted 01-17-2014 08:40 PM

An HVLP gun needs to match the compressor.

Your compressor puts out 2.6 cfm of air. I’m not aware of any HVLP guns that get by on that small an amount of air. Many require at least 4-5, and some require 7 or more.

If your compressor’s cfm is too small (and yours is), you can make up for that to some extent with a large tank. The tank allows you to build up a reserve of compressed air that will keep your gun going even though the compressor itself can’t keep up. As long as you finish spraying before the tank gets low, you’re OK. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the compressor to refill the tank, and then you can spray again.

But your tank is small too. Small cfm and small tank mean that you’ll be doing a lot of standing around waiting for the compressor to catch up, no matter what gun you get.

-- Kelby

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10547 posts in 3457 days

#5 posted 01-17-2014 08:42 PM

I have this one. It’s the Summit sprayer at the bottom of the page.
It works very well and I have no complaints. It’s definitely NOT commercial grade, but it gets the job done.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2137 days

#6 posted 01-17-2014 09:32 PM

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I’ve heard that the HF spray gun kit isn’t bad for the price, and with a 20% or 25% off coupon it might be worth checking out. Otherwise, do you think I might get ok results if I use a HVLP gun with my admittedly lackluster compressor, and break down larger pieces into small chunks that can be finished more quickly (e.g., pre-finishing panels before glue up)?

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2277 days

#7 posted 01-17-2014 09:39 PM

No. Your compressor doesn’t move enough air. As Kelby stated it puts out 2.6CFM. That is half of what is required by even the smallish guns.

Compressors are a dime a dozen on craigslist most of the time. A decent 20 gallon would serve you pretty well for shooting small projects


View chazmclean's profile


50 posts in 2359 days

#8 posted 01-17-2014 09:44 PM

The Harbor Freight HVLP gun is pretty good for the price. I have a 60 Gallon single stage compressor (about 13 CFM @ 40 psig) and together they work well. Your little pancake compressor will die if you try to make it keep up with an HVLP gun. Unless you want to upgrade your compressor, you would be better off buying a turbine type HVLP. Harbor Freight sells one, Rockler has one and Earlex makes a pretty good one, Fuji makes some excellent ones. I messed around with many different types of HVLP setups over the years, and I finally spent the money and got a CAT Jaguar HVLP gun that i use with my 60 gallon Compressor. This was like an epiphany. I did not realize i could get such a quality finish, regardless of what i am spraying. It is all in how often you spray, how much you want to spend and the quality of finish you are expecting.

-- Charlie

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2605 days

#9 posted 01-17-2014 09:44 PM

This will work so long as you’re not spraying constantly.

I used to use a compressor setup and when I needed to go bigger, I skipped the bigger compressor and more expensive gun and instead went with a turbine unit (fuji mini mite 4).

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View SuperCubber's profile


1028 posts in 2313 days

#10 posted 01-18-2014 01:33 AM

I know some people haven’t had great luck with it, but I use the Wagner Control Spray Max. It’s about $110, and it has worked great for me. I should mention that I only spray water-based stains, dyes and finishes. Everything I’ve sprayed has come out very smooth. In my opinion, you can’t beat it for $110.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View keninblaine's profile


130 posts in 1630 days

#11 posted 01-18-2014 02:51 AM

I bought an HVLP gun at HF last week for $30. It comes with a 1.4mm nozzle and a regulator. I wanted a small nozzle since I was going to spray toner and stain thinned with lacquer thinner. I did borrow a larger air compressor since my pancake only supports 2.6 cfm. The gun worked great once I got it set up properly with the help of others on this forum. I also picked up a HF airbrush kit for $10 on sale, and used it successfully to touch up a couple of areas that needed a little more toner.

-- Ken, Blaine Washington

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