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wintersedge

newbie HVLP question

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First off I have no spraying experience so this entire question may just be ignorance.

 

How much is it worth buying an HVLP? In that, will I see a better application vs using a brush? Is it exponentially faster? Are the results more consistent? What is a good price range to have to get a unit that is beginner friendly and give me lots of head room to grow into?

 

I have only used shellac and BLO to finish past projects but I am looking to try new finishes and might as well learn new techniques.

 

Cheers

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Great tool! Yes it will provide a much better finish! It is a lot faster unless you are doing something very small. I have a pro HVLP so no help on current models but I remember my first small turbine did a great job until it got dropped 4 ft while running. After that it sounded funny but still ran for a few weeks until it died. Now I tie a tether to the bench so if the hose snags I don't pull the turbine off the bench.

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HVLP made a huge difference in my finish projects! 

 

Is it faster?  Depends on size of the project and amount of clean up. 

Are the results more consistent?  Yes, but you do have to learn a little technique and practice a little.

What's a good price for a beginner?  Pretty much depends on your budget.  I will say that once you jump into this, you probably will not go back so, don't be too shy about spending a little more on the first one.

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I've been using Waterlox oil varnish for over 10 years and love the product, but some large projects last year made me dislike the long dry and cure times. My wife found a bathroom vanity renovation idea on Pinterest and no way 30 days of oil stinking up our bathroom was going to fly.

 

Last spring I bought an Earlex 5500 with a 1.5mm tip and just couldn't get it to spray consistently. My unit had several quality control issues, some functional and some cosmetic, so I ended up returning it. Earlex customer service was great and I know others like this unit, so maybe I just got a dud. 

 

I ended up replacing it with a Fuji Mini-Mite 4 bottom feed and it's a world of difference from the Earlex but so is the cost. I went back and forth on the 3 or 4 and decided for $130 get the bigger to make sure I had no regrets down the road. I think the Fuji turbine is rated at 10 years and that's if you use it several days per week. I have sprayed GF milk paint unthinned with a 1.8mm tip with my 4 and you might need to thin with the 3. I also have the 1.0mm tip which seems to atomize a little better than the 1.4mm tip with the waterborne topcoats. The Mini-Mite turbines are the same as their more expensive units just without the noise reduction. The Mini-Mite sounds like a shop vac which doesn't bother me at all. Fuji customer service is great and the guy loves talking spraying!

 

I will say that after dozens and test boards and spraying a few projects, I am not going back to oil. 1-2 hours between coats, dry to touch in 30 minutes, no smell after overspray settles, and a glass smooth finish that looks great. I thought that the waterborne poly would look the plastic like oil typically does but it doesn't. People love to touch the finish and oil's long dry time and dust nibs just won't ever be that way.

 

I've tested out several different finishes and would recommend Old Masters Water Poly if you can get it locally, otherwise General Finishes High Performance. I recently did a bunch of stain tests with waterbornes and here are the results:

 

 

Like others have said spraying does have a learning curve but it's fun. I would recommended Spray Finishing Made Simple book and DVD as it helped me a lot:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1600850928/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

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One thing I forgot to add is I got the 3M PPS system for mine. It's more of a luxury add-on but does have some nice features which are talked about in this thread. One downside is it's a little bigger than the stock bottom feed cup that comes with the Fuji.

 

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==> How much is it worth buying an HVLP?

It's a transformative acquisition -- a 'game-changer' if you will... It changes the way you approach finishing. Further, it unlocks an entire universe of finishes not suited for brushing...

 

==> I see a better application vs using a brush?

Interesting question -- yes, no and the ever popular, it depends... Some finishes lay-out just fine with a brush... A great deal depends on brushing technique -- my wife happens to be excellent with a brush... Her varnish, poly, shellac results look straight from the spray booth... If I tried that, it'd leave streaks, drag marks, drips, sags, etc... Before I got spray gear, we did a lot of pieces in French polish -- another great look...

 

That being said, now that I have spray gear, 90%+ of my work is sprayed. I'm a lazy sod looking to expend the least energy for the best outcome, so that tells you something... The only major exception are outdoor pieces -- high-solids varnish...

 

Modern finishes are going WB... I know the Earlex gets lots of favorable ink, but it's not going to shoot WB as well as a 4 or 5 stage unit... Not to say you can't shoot WB with a 3-stage, but the atomization with a 4-stage is so much better with WB... There are a couple of threads on this, but it boils-down-to: there's not much difference between 2/3 stage or 4/5 stage, but there's a huge jump from 3 to 4. It's a step function... The future is WB, so get the 4 stage and be done with it.

 

I've used Fuji and Apollo turbines/guns and can recommend both. There are several threads on both of these...

 

PPS is something to look into... Yes, it means more $$ up-front. But if I went PPS at the beginning, I would have saved a mint down the road -- I suspect a 1-year ROI for the active hobbyist... BTW: Jeff Jewitt used to sel Fuji XPC/gXPC guns already converted for PPS -- saving you the $50 for the stainless cup... http://www.homesteadfinishingproducts.com/htdocs/fuji_systems.htm

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I've been using an HVLP conversion gun and recently switched over to a Fuji Mini Mite 3 gravity gun . So far It does a great job , I do a lot of cabinets in paint . The setup lays a beautiful finish down .  I got my mine from these guys , they were great to deal with . Communication was very good , and shipping was fast .  Get the whip hose if you go with the fuji , it helps with flexibility at the gun end .  Watch the videos they have on the site , they're very helpful .

http://www.paintsprayersplus.com/category/02_hvlp_paint_sprayers/?gclid=CMLvu9Hf0bsCFXPNOgod31wAqA

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I was going for the Fuji as well, but I couldn't say no to the deal I got on the earlex 5500 spray station. I got it for 249.99 cdn, and it normally sells for 399.

I quite like the earlex, and it does a great job with the water Bourne finishes I have used (general high performance). I will never go back to brushing again.

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