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Thread: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

  1. #1

    Default Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    I've been taking a break from lutherie and completing some projects around the house. I just built a matching pair of bookcases--about five feet tall, foot-and-a-half wide with cabinet doors and multiple shelves.

    They're fairly sizeable, so I was thinking of buying a paint sprayer rather than painting them by hand. And I thought I might kill two birds with one stone.

    Are there any all-purpose sprayers that I could use on furniture projects like this that would also work well for finishing mandolins? Would a regular HVLP sprayer work? I have a pretty good air compressor already, so that's taken care of.

    Thanks for any recommendations you might have.

    -Mark

  2. #2
    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Yes, a regular HVLP sprayer works fine for paint. You have to thin it down though. And clean it very thoroughly if you intend on shooting clear coats at some point.Stay away from the cheap harbor freight type guns.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    An airbrush would be handy.
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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    I spray HVLP only. Have for about 30 years at least. If you're going to go that route, which I recommend, you're going to need a pretty heavy duty compressor with a large tank because the process uses a lot of air. I use a pressure pot for clear furniture lacquer. For instruments, I use hand held guns. I never put color in a gun that's going to be used for clear top coat. Never. One little uncleaned speck of color will cause gnashing of teeth when you're clear coating. Buy two guns. I use Accuspray, Sharpe, and Devilbliss (sp?) guns. Also a Sata. Most important: don't buy cheap guns. Never put color into a gun you're going to use to spray clear onto a musical instrument.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Dale covered the subject quite thoroughly. I have been spraying furniture for quite awhile and instruments for 10 years or so. A good source I found was Homestead Finishing. The have a mid-level line of Qualspray guns that are LVLP and require less CFM. They are Taiwan built and good quality. The cheaper Devilbliss gun I tried wanted 11cfm. Sata is top shelf German quality if it's in your budget. Investigate tip sizes for the finishes you'll be shooting. You'll love spraying once you get past the learning curve. BTW, a good respirator rated for solvent finishes is AN ABSOLUTE MUST.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    I’ve always used a badger airbrush for instrument and have always used lacquer. The setup is inexpensive. Some folks have said that the airbrush is too small but it totally suits my technique.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Hughes View Post
    ...Stay away from the cheap harbor freight type guns.
    I'm on my second Harbor Freight gun (dropped the first one, in landed on the tip on the concrete floor...) for around $30 each. I get fine results. At that kind of price, you can have 2 and dedicate a color gun and a clear finish gun.
    Cheap guns are capable of good spray patterns and good results, but it's the archer not the arrow, and we must have the requisite skills to get a good finish regardless of the equipment used.

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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Ditto to the Harbor freight. Get the small tip.Better on Mandos than my Sata
    Graham.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    X3 on the Harbor Freight. If you were painting pearls/micas on a car, I might opt for a Sata or equivalent. I will say that my favorite spraying gun on the planet is the Sata Jet 90. It’s not HVLP and personally I’m not a fan of HVLP. I like the Sata 5000 RP(stands for reduced pressure). I use a couple of them every day at my real job. Because I don’t have any real credentials around here:Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by Moretzmando View Post
    X3 on the Harbor Freight. If you were painting pearls/micas on a car, I might opt for a Sata or equivalent. I will say that my favorite spraying gun on the planet is the Sata Jet 90. It’s not HVLP and personally I’m not a fan of HVLP. I like the Sata 5000 RP(stands for reduced pressure). I use a couple of them every day at my real job. Because I don’t have any real credentials around here:Click image for larger version. 

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    1) Now I know who to call when my H-D needs a flame job. Beautiful work!

    2) The Harbor Freight "professional" gun (~$70) has proven good enough for about 98 percent of jobs in my shop. Like any gun, though, it must be meticulously clean and properly adjusted. My strategy is to buy an extra or two when they're occasionally deeply discounted.

    3) For instruments and other small jobs, I really like touch-up sized guns. They're lightweight, easy to maneuver, and work well with little coating batches.

    4) Big user endorsement for 3M 26689 High Power Spray Gun Cleaner. It will easily get your gun surgically clean, and can also bring a hopelessly funked-out gun back from the dead. And they even sell it at ... wait for it ... Harbor Freight.
    "And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations... Well, I have really good days."

    -Ray Wylie Hubbard

  13. #11

    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Anyone flame a mandolin?
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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Anyone flame a mandolin?
    No reason why not. I have an A5 wrapping up that's going to be black due to, uh, "cosmetic issues," so it's a good candidate. Always liked the flame design on the original 1980 Harley-Davidson Wide Glide (to the degree that I painted a custom that way about 30 years ago). It would certainly add to one's stage presence. Time tune up the airbrush.
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    "And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations... Well, I have really good days."

    -Ray Wylie Hubbard

  15. #13

    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    mandos and harleys? Where else but on the cafe :-)

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Ward View Post
    Like any gun, though, it must be meticulously clean and properly adjusted.
    I have worked on so many industrial spray booths and I can say with absolute certainty that every time I had to rebuild a system it was for lack of maintenance, which includes cleaning, and lack of cleaning was by far the most common issue, by far. Literally! And I'm not talking strip it down every break and clean. All they have to do right before break and lunch is give a quick squirt of some simple green on the tip and brush it a couple of times with a toothbrush and the gun would work flawlessly all day long. The other is they don't like to wait and apply a finish correctly so they crank up the air pressure or flow because everyone knows the operator and manager know everything there is to know about good finishes, then complain about overspray runs and wasted finish. Don't get me started. I finally set down an ultimatum, if you want me to work on it no problem if it is because of improper pressures flow or lack of maintenance, I charge them. My company agreed. Doggone, you got me started on a pet peeve.

    Just remember to keep it clean and set up properly! And always use a clean dry air supply! One little drop of moisture can ruin the best finishes!


    What compressors are you all using?
    Last edited by John Bertotti; Oct-05-2019 at 10:33am.
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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    ...What compressors are you all using?
    Nothing special. Just a "garden variety" 60 gallon, upright, hardware store compressor, I think mine is made by Coleman. It sits in a small closet with air filters in the wall and door so it breaths filtered air. I wired it though a wall switch so that the switch on the compressor doesn't have to be turned on and off (I understand that the switch on this model is a weak link). It is plumbed to a manifold of schedule 40 pipe that runs throughout the shop, overhead above the ceiling, with drops at benches, each one with a moisture trap (the overhead runs of pipe are sloped to the drops). The petcock drain at the bottom of the tank, I replaced with a ball valve and enough plumbing to attach a length of vinyl tubing that I can unroll and place the end outside the shop door periodically to drain condensation from the tank.
    In the finish room, the air drop comes down from above, goes through a water trap, then a desiccant air dryer, then a pressure regulator, then to the gun. So far it has worked very well.

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  19. #16
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    In my shops, we have the air systems spec'd so that all drops pull from the top of the main and it is a closed-loop system but these shops are big industrial and doing more than just spraying they run entire sections of production so the dryers are all refrigerant. Over kill for my little shop. I do all my finishing on any project by hand but have thought about stepping up to a sprayer finish. Not sold on that yet.
    Last edited by John Bertotti; Oct-05-2019 at 5:13pm.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post

    What compressors are you all using?
    I mainly use a home-brew compressor, built on an 80-gallon tank with a big Baldor 5hp motor and a two-cylinder pump. It produces 16 SCFM at 90 PSI, which is sometimes needed to run a 1" impact gun. (Not for lutherie.) The tank is fitted with an automatic bleeder that connects to the unloader. Just off the tank output is a roughly 5-foot-tall vertical coil of 3/4" soft copper with a valve at the bottom for a condenser/precipitator. It looks like a moonshine still and works great. Also have filters at all the delivery points. Never a bit of trouble.

    I also have a Fuji HVLP turbine system that's been in service for close to 20 years. It works extremely well for anything from painting tractors down to fine instrument work. It was originally bought for shooting unthinned latex paint on interior trim and cabinetry. The guns can shoot whatever you want, depending on the needle and orifice you install. One nice thing about it is the turbine is a roughly 12" cube and weighs maybe 18 pounds, so it's extremely portable. It looks like these days you can get a new system for $800-$1,300 depending on the gun you specify.
    "And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations... Well, I have really good days."

    -Ray Wylie Hubbard

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  22. #18
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    In searching around there are some really low pressure guns out there that my small home set up could run. I need to research more but it may not be that expensive to get into spraying.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  23. #19

    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Lots of good advice. Only adding that furniture paints are generally thick except for lacquers, so a tiny gun will have problems unless you thin a lot, which will also make the paint coating poor. One ‘right’ size for bookshelves would be a so-called touchup gun, with a capacity of a few ounces. Even a cheap one will work well. For folks who haven’t much experience with any sprayers, there is a learning curve, lots of taking apart, cleaning and adjusting. In any event, don’t spray anything critical until you’ve got a good test spray on scrap first, and try to spray on horizontal surfaces to start with (no runs). It’s handy to have a swivel air joint at the gun and a short, very flexible hose there to give you better control inside and underneath stuff, like shelves. My Mustang fender awaits its bi-centennial spa treatment.

  24. #20

    Default Re: Best general purpose paint sprayer also for mandolin finishes

    Just remember folks, painters don't cause runs. It's a physics problem. Run: The inability for a viscous medium to adhere to a vertical surface.

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