Spray Finish Equipment

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by Defyantly, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. Defyantly

    Defyantly Aspiring Builder

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    Hey guys, so I was looking into starting to learn how to do spray finishes on my guitars. Where do I need to start. I basically have zero equipment for this task or knowledge. Impart on me your wisdom and experience. The one question I do have in regards to equipment is. Is it necessary to have an air compressor sprayer set up or can I use one of the airless spray guns, like the ones from Graco?
     
  2. dmlinger

    dmlinger SS.org Regular

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    I started with the ReRanch rattle cans. It's an easy way to ease into the finishing process without dropping a fortune on a HVLP setup. If you go this route, I'd recommend their sanding sealer, white primer (if needed), whatever color you choose, and 1-2 cans of clear (for a body). ReRanch has a "101" portion of their site and the TDPRI forum also has a "DIY Finishing" sub that is really helpful.

    After ReRanch, I splurged and got a Fuji Spray Semi Pro 2 HVLP turbine system. It's amazing. Takes 15 minutes to set up, 30 seconds to spray, and 2 minutes to clean. This system is very small and is easily stored away when not in use. I spray Mohawk stuff (vinyl sealer and nitrocellulose lacquer) and tint with Mixol and the StewMac tints for lacquer. You can run any kind of guitar finishing material (nitro, poly, water based, etc) through this rig with the proper sized tip.

    If you don't want to go HVLP turbine, you can get a compressor and what is called a Conversion Gun. You'll also need a hose, oil/water separator (or 2), and regulator. The real thing that makes this setup debatable is the compressor. Many use a small (5-6 gallon) pancake compressor, but many also recommend you run one that has a 20+ gallon tank so that the motor doesn't have to run while you're spraying. These large compressors are expensive and take up a lot of room. Another alternative is to have an aux tank that your small compressor could fill up. This also takes up space in the shop and more money.

    And you thought the woodworking part of guitar building opened up a rabbit hole :) Finishing takes this to a whole new level and is a completely different skill set.

    I probably missed something but hope this helps.
     
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  3. KR250

    KR250 Build addict

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    Echoing what dmlinger said, spraying gets into a whole new ball game. I started with Minwax oil based poly "rattle cans" and had good results. I tried a full 30 gallon compressor and HVLP setup with water based and did not get the results I wanted.

    What is your goal for a finish? I'm trying something now I like much better, which is UV curing epoxy as grain filler and oil based finish over the top of it. Really easy and fast. So far the satin test pieces surpass any spray attempt I've done so far.
     
  4. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire Pointy Gang

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    depends on what you're trying to spray. Spraying poly or auto poly is different from lacquer/nitrocellulose, which is different from spraying paint/colors. In terms of cost, it's cheaper in the long run to just buy a half decent compressor and spray gun than trying to do rattle cans. I know in my case at least, I could have bought a cheap harbor freight setup by now with all the experimenting I've done with crystalac/automotive poly/tru oil, etc
    If you know you're going to be building more than a few guitars , check out a pawn shop or craigslist for compressors. There's typically a good amount floating around, or at least there is in my area. Harbor freight guns are more than decent enough for learning with. The big thing with either clear coat or painting is working in very fine mist coats that overlap, and learning NOT TO OVERDO IT. Seriously, I cannot stress that enough. I've had to redo so many paint jobs simply because I went way too heavy with the paint.

    If you don't want to get into anything fancy yet, try a water based high solids poly like the crystalac brite tone through something like a Preval sprayer (you can get them at home depot in the paint section for like 5$).
     
  5. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    If I were going to paint a color (like pink, for instance) can I just use a regular spray paint, and then put one of these hard top coil gloss sealers on it? I don’t see any pink paints in the brands you guys mentioned. (And I only one to paint one or two guitars).
     
  6. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire Pointy Gang

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    you can definitely do regular spray paint. that's what I did for my black beauty jazzmaster
     
  7. Adieu

    Adieu SS.org Regular

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    Depends

    Gotta know your spray paints

    Many don't last for sh!t even in near-ideal conditions (dry indoor storage, no sun no humidity), and add some direct sunlight and MOST will get real hideous, real quick....


    PS otoh, "vintage white" is very achievable quite quickly
     
  8. dmlinger

    dmlinger SS.org Regular

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    Personally, I would never recommend using a true "spray paint." Even if you put a clear coat over it, the two may not be compatible. I don't think you'd be able to sand and buff a spray paint finish.

    I'm coming at this from the perspective of achieving as close to a pro finish as you can. Disregard if that isn't what you're after.
     
  9. KR250

    KR250 Build addict

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    I think enamals are safe, that's what I used for a black color coat with oil based finish over it and looked great. Will see how it holds up!
     
  10. Defyantly

    Defyantly Aspiring Builder

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    I'm gonna try and finish my current refinish project with rattle cans and see how that works then I guess for my next full build I will dive into the world of spray finishing. Thanks for all the replies and advice.
     
  11. aesthyrian

    aesthyrian SS.org Regular

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    You can achieve a very professional finish with automotive spray paint. I've had great results using duplicolor paints. The quality of the job is dependent on the prep work, and the user of the can and their knowledge and patience. It's very doable, I've done it plenty, and others even more so. It's not hard at all, and it's very common.

    And buffing is not rocket science.. you wet sand with a flat block increasing grit size as you go to remove scratches from the previous grit, and then polish with compounds and buffing wheel.
     
  12. dmlinger

    dmlinger SS.org Regular

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    True. By "spray paint" I was more referring to your typical stuff like Krylon.
     
  13. Bobo

    Bobo SS.org Regular

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    Have you tried any other products to compare to the Mohawk stuff? Have you only used the nitro? Looks like their poly's are listed as "wipe on".

    I read some so-so reviews of the Mixol stuff. What's your take?
     
  14. dmlinger

    dmlinger SS.org Regular

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    No, I've only used their nitro. No experience with any polys or wipe on finishes.

    The Mixol stuff is great, but so are the StewMac tints in my experience.
     
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  15. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    I use cheap hvlp guns with my little pancake compressor and they work great. A lot of forums will say a pancake compressor isn't big enough for hvlp spraying but guitar coats go on pretty quick.

    I really want to spray automotive paint or nitro but I really don't want to deal with the nasty chemicals so I stick to water based paints and shellac.
     

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