You've given up on the idea of spray-finishing projects because you think it's too messy, too complicated, and too costly for your small and medium-size projects, maybe you're thinking too big. Airbrushes and some small spray guns cost less than HVLP systems and some full-size spray guns. They reduce overspray and vapor problems when finishing small and medium-size projects, and require only a small compressor or just canned compressed air.
Small sprayers come in three types:
- Airbrushes, such as the Badger Model 350-4, have nozzles and fluid jars large enough to handle small spray-finishing jobs like jewelry boxes. (See Sources.)
- Small spray guns, such as the Paasche Model 62-2-3 and the K-Grip Siphon Gun sprayer, hold and spray more finish than airbrushes, but less than most intermediate spray guns.
- Touch-up spray guns, such as the Speedaire 4RR06 (Sources), handle large projects, such as cabinets and furniture, but they still require less air than full-size spray guns.
Airbrush small projects
Airbrushes may seem too small to be practical, but they have advantages. There's less overspray waste on small projects or projects with narrow parts, as shown above. Despite their diminutive size, airbrushes can shoot light-body stains, thinned and some unthinned lacquers, shellac, thinned varnishes, plus water-based finishes. The material needs to be the consistency of skim milk or thinner.
To handle these finishes, select an airbrush with the largest available nozzle and a container that holds 3/4 to 2 oz of material. Choose an external-mix, single-action airbrush that mixes the finish and air outside the body of the airbrush and on which the trigger controls just the release of finish, not finish and air flow.
Next, choose an air source that suits your spraying plans. An airbrush can operate off air sources as simple as a compressed air tank you can refill at a gas station. A light-weight tankless inflater provides a constant air supply, as will portable tank-type air compressors sold at home centers for powering pneumatic nailers.
Airbrushes: Badger 350-4 set with three nozzles, hose, and two jars, from webairbrushes.com, 888-499-6996. Badger Air-Brush Co., 800-247-2787 or badgerairbrush.com. H-Card model set, from Paasche Airbrush, 773-867-9191 or paascheairbrush.com.
Small sprayers: K-Grip Siphon Gun sprayer, from Woodcraft Supply (no. 149425), 800-225-1153 or woodcraft.com. Model 62-2-3, from Paasche Airbrush.
Touch-up spray gun: Speedaire 4RR06, from Grainger, 800-323-0620, grainger.com.