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Affordable HVLP Spray Finishing?
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hvlp spray gunHVLP sprayers are arguably the preferred means of applying wood finish among serious amateurs and professionals alike. And there’s good reason for that: HVLP sprayers deliver in the neighborhood of four times the “material transfer efficiency” of a conventional spray gun. In other words, they put a whole lot more of the finish that comes out of the gun onto the desired target. Instead of the clouds of overspray that conventional high pressure sprayers generate, HVLP (high volume low pressure) guns produces a polite, relatively self-contained stream of spray that lands with 60 to more than 80 percent efficiency in the intended location - and they do it without sacrificing the high degree of finish atomization required for acceptable results.

HVLP sprayers come in two basic forms: “conversion” spray guns set up pretty much like conventional sprayers, using an air compressor as the source of the sometimes vast volumes they require. Turbine driven systems, on the other hand, are self-sufficient and come with the gun, the hose and a turbine unit to supply the stream of air.

At first glance, a conversion gun might seem like the answer – after all, many woodworkers already have a compressor and plenty of air hose around the shop. But before you invest in a gun, remember that HVLP sprayers can draw lots and lots of air, and can run a small-capacity compressor down to nothing in short order. Remember too, that the air coming out of a typical compressor is often loaded with moisture and other contaminants that have to be filtered out in order to avoid spoiling the finish.

By contrast, turbine HVLP systems supply a steady, consistent stream of bone dry air that’s filtered and in sync with what the gun requires to do a good job blasting the finish into tiny particles and delivering it at a decent rate. That makes turbine systems the more attractive option for many hobbyists and smaller operations. But there is a catch – or at least there might be: turbine systems can be fairly expensive. In fact, most reviews that you’ll find in woodworking magazines only give serious consideration to guns costing at least $500, and top honors to guns costing much more.

hvlp spray gunDoes that price you out? We’re guessing that most hobbyists and DIYers would have a hard time justifying the expense of a professional class turbine system. But there are more affordable alternatives. Here, for example, is an  HVLP Spray Gun for around $100 that works on the very same principle as more costly guns. True, it isn’t designed to satisfy the demands of a busy production shop, but that may not be what you’re after. In fact, if you simply want an efficient, reliable means for applying most common wood finishes with smooth, professional-looking results, it could be just the answer. But instead of taking our word for that, find out how this modestly priced HVLP system handles common finishing tasks in Rockler customer reviews like these:

"I truly must admit that I wasn't expecting too much for the price, especially after receiving it and I saw how compact it was. I must tell you in all honesty that I've used a top brand and just knew that this wouldn't perform like them. But I was wrong. After making all adjustments this machine really impressed the heck out of me. I applaud Rockler for having such a fine machine at a very reasonable price. I will tell others about this machine. A lot of bang for your buck. Thanks again ROCKLER."

Ronald Willis Sr., from Raleigh, NC

"I have to say this is a fantastic system for the price. I have basic needs and wasn't expecting much for the price but honestly I am continually impressed by the results from this system. It's dead simple and does a great job at spraying everything from acrylic's to my water poly I finish most of my projects with. Great investment."

Paul Van Lierop, from Woodinville, WA

"I have sprayed both latex (properly thinned) and oil based polyurethane with very good results. For my home based shop, for the money it can't beat. Thanks Rockler."

Gale Deane, from Perrysville, OHIO

"I almost didn't buy this unit when the cashier said it wouldn't spray latex paint. And it was on closeout - my presumption was that perhaps it is being discontinued. But I was pleasantly surprised - it sprayed my Benjamin Moore latex just fine (thinned just slightly with water). This is a great buy."

Nick Hodapp, from Seattle, WA

"The system is a very good basic system for home use. I get good results spraying polyurethane un-thinned."

Arden Young, from Woodbine, MD

"… Using this gun is dynamite! TNT! (Taint Nothing To it!) Thanks Rockler for offering this unit! And thanks to all the users who gave reviews! I'll certainly recommend it to anyone needing a HVLP sprayer. I don't know that anyone could get more value from an HVLP that cost 3 or 4 times more.

"The blower unit is compact, light weight and well designed. The power switch is placed in a handy place. Even has a built in storage spot for the gun. An extra needle valve and a small wrench are also included.

"Most likely, all of my future stain and finish will be applied with this unit."

CHUCK WRIGHT, from Lancaster, CA

(Read more HVLP Spray Gun reviews)

posted on December 14, 2007 by Rockler
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12 thoughts on “Affordable HVLP Spray Finishing?”

  • How about making a seperate dept. for festool so I don't have to waste so much time going through the new products section.

  • Blog Editor

    Mike,<br /><br />All Festool tools and accessories can be found in our <a href="" rel="nofollow">Festool categories</a>. The navigation sequence is: Tools > Power Tools and Accessories > Festool. Sorry you've had trouble finding them.

  • Jerry Hyatt

    I'm starting a wooden toy shop & need finishes, stain & paint, that carry No warning labels.<br /><br />Can you help me?<br /><br />Thank you,<br />Jerry Hyatt

  • Blog Editor

    Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, it may be impossible to find any finishing product that carries no warning label whatsoever. However, most of the warnings that you will find have more to do with the finish before it is fully cured. <br /><br />General Finishes <a href="" rel="nofollow">Toymaker's Finish</a> has been on the market for a long time, and used by many in the craft. Here is the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Material Safety Data Sheet</a> that goes with the product. If you decide to use it, be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions on proper drying/curing times - of course.

  • L. Hansen

    The unit works fine when new but requires the air filter to be changed after using oil based finishes. I have not been able to locate any source for the filters. Does anyone have any source identified?

  • Blog Editor

    Thanks for the question. Air filters or other replacements parts for this spayer can ordered through Rockler tech support via phone at 800-260-9663 mon-fri 8:00 to 4:30 central.

  • ed hyde

    when i use laquor the finished look like orange peal or will not pick up the laquor

  • Rockler Blog Team
    Rockler Blog Team March 8, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Sorry you're having trouble, Ed. Orange peel can be caused by a number of factors: pressure, finish viscosity or technique. If you haven't already, you could try thinning the lacquer little by little to see if that helps. Also try a few different spray patterns / pass speeds. Typically, an HVLP gun is held less than 8' from the surface of the work. Holding the gun too far from the surface could be causing problems. It may take a little experimentation before you get the right combination. Let us know if you're still having trouble after more tries.

  • rich slazinski

    I have the Rockler HVLP system for several years and have not been able to spray water base paint. What is the viscosity for using water base latex paints

  • Jeanette M. Criss
    Jeanette M. Criss April 18, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Can you get replacement spray guns for these HVLP systems from Rockler? If so, how much?
    Thank you.

  • Jeanette M. Criss
    Jeanette M. Criss April 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Can you order a replacement gun just like the one it comes with or do you need to get a gravity feed type?

  • Robert Montes

    Most finishing products have MSDS and spec data by going to the manufacturer website.

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