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Stewmac Production Spray Gun - Any Good?


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Never used it personally, But at that price it seems pretty good. It's gonna make a huge difference from spray cans.

It all really boils down to how much your going to use it. If you want to do multiple guitars over the next few years It might be wiser to invest in a high quality professional gun. Although, If you just want to do one or two guitars and don't want to spend $400 on a top quality one, then I say go for the Stew Mac one!

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Ideally I would like somthing that with care, will last me some time. I dont plan on finishing guitars super often, but I want professional results when I do...

I will look into gravity feed guns, but what about HVLP guns? I read the LGM FAQ, and he states that they are not ideal as they are more suited to industrial use. Is this the case, as I have read contrastin opinions on the matter?

Finally, what size compressor is ideal? I am looking at around a 6-8 gallon compressor, but the last thing I want is to find out that I am not getting constant spray pressure.

Thanks for your input.

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I know lots of people that use HVLP but they are mostly furniture and cabinet folks.. Some folks love them, some don't. I think it depends on what you are spraying too. LGM sprays poly and maybe that doesn't work as well with HVLP.. A lot of nitro and waterbased folks like HVLP.

HOWEVER.. there is a far cry between a value gravity fed gun from Stew or Grizzly and the money you'll shell out on a good HVLP system. Even at grizzly, the nice SATA HVLP guns are 3, 4 upwards to 8 hundred bucks..

I would take the advice as "HVLP isn't as good a bang for the buck" if you're starting out. I would think a 6-8 gallon compressor would be ok, but it all depends on the specs. Just read it's though, it's max PSI and CFM at that level and match it to the gun's requirements. 6-8 is probably the low end.. Stay away from the little pancake compressors.. Mine can't blow for more than 2-3 minutes before kicking on.. Anyway, you can get a giant compressor for 300 bucks or so and spend another 100 or so on a gun and still have quite a bit less of an investment than with a good HVLP system. If money is no object then I would fully research HVLP and get other's opinions on it as well.

Ideally I would like somthing that with care, will last me some time.  I dont plan on finishing guitars super often, but I want professional results when I do...

I will look into gravity feed guns, but what about HVLP guns?  I read the LGM FAQ, and he states that they are not ideal as they are more suited to industrial use.  Is this the case, as I have read contrastin opinions on the matter?

Finally, what size compressor is ideal?  I am looking at around a 6-8 gallon compressor, but the last thing I want is to find out that I am not getting constant spray pressure.

Thanks for your input.

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I want a quality system with quality results, but I wasnt planning on spending over about $500.

I was looking into the Wagner HVLP systems, or purchasing a 6-8 gallon complressor with spray gun.

The Wagner 2600 HVLP system is $475. If purchase I $100 gun and $300 compressor, what other accessories would I need for good results? Only a regulator and moisture filter?

Are these setups would be comprable?

As far as what type of finish I would be spraying, probably lacquer, and thinking of trying KTM-9 from LMI.

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Do a search here on KTM9.. Bassman tried it and the jury is still out on how suitable it is. Doesn't get as hard as nitro. The most successful folks that use it have an infrared light bank to bake the finish with. Nitro is cheaper and will get harder. Other waterborn finishes have the same issues as KTM9 with hardness but a lot of folks feel that waterborn isn't as cristal clear as nitro. KTM9 is supposed to solve the clarity issue, but at 40 bucks a quart.. i think it's a big gamble. There are some other competitors like Crystalaq and seveal others that have the same claims as KTM9.

My gut would tell me to stay away from wagner products.. they are consumer oriented.. I may be dead wrong but I have never heard of a luth spraying with a wagner setup. Lowes and HD sell inexpensive HVLP setups.. Woodcraft sells the TurbinAire systems but they start at 6-700 and i gather these are still considered entry level.. I would stick with conventional and get a good compressor and the best gun you can afford. Someone else will have to answer the accessory questions. I have no idea. I would hate to be stuck with the wagner or something like that and not have a real compresser.. Keep in mind you might want to use other air tools.. grinders, sanders, etc..

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If you're willing to drop $500, I would get a Sata Minijet gun. They are HVLP but you can run them at a higher pressure for a closer to conventional gun feel. The biggest issue with HVLP is it does not atomize the paint as well so it doesn't flow out well. It will flow if you over reduce, but then you're wasting the purpose of the HVLP being able to put on a lot of product since you'll be very limited on your amount of paint applied without running. The minijet is a great little gun, big enough for guitars.

Personally, I wouldn't touch the stew mac gun, or any gun that isn't name brand. If and when you need parts, you will probably have a hell of a time finding them. That to me is worth a lot.

As for your compressor, even a 4 or 5 gallon tank is fine AS LONG AS the compressor has the HP to provide you with the CFM the gun requires, otherwise you're waiting for it to catch up in air pressure all the time.

One of the smaller pancake compressors will be ok with the minijet, it's pretty low on CFM at I believe 3.7 @ 29psi.

I would recommend buying a good gun first and then in the future if you need to upgrade your compressor that's fine. A good gun is most important, when spraying guitars, one coat doesn't take long to spray, even a small compressor will keep up with that for a guitar. Learning the feel of your gun is the biggest trick to nice paint.

If you don't want to go with Sata as they can be a little expensive, look at brand name guns, devilbiss, sharpe, binks, etc, stay away from Walcom, Star, and some of the other euro guns if you are in north america as many of them are very hard to get parts for.

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I'm one of the guys who come from the furniture side.

I've used HVLP's for years and hardly ever use my old Bink's No7 or No69 anymore.

I mostly shoot nitrocellulose and don't ever shoot urethane because of toxixcity issues.

I disagree that the purpose of HVLP is simply to put out more finish faster. It can but that's not the whole deal.

!) You get lots less overspray with HVLP. This means less on small areas like guitars but it still does help.

2) You put more of the finish on the wood and less in the air and on the floor so you do spend less over the long haul on finish. When I switched over I was shooting about 25 gallons of lacquer on a light week. We figured at the end of a year we saved about 15% on finish even figuring in the extra thinner and retarder that you wind up using toget it to lay out. In aprodiuction setting thats real money.

3) You don't have condensation problems if you use a turbine setup.

I'm not sure that $500 buys you everything. I think that you need a fairly big tank (10 gal min) and at least a 1.5 hp compressor or you work it to death.

You also need a moisture trap. No way to avoid it. I'm not sure why no one else seems to mention these. I'm in Richmond, Va where the humidity is so high all year that an untrapped gun starts spitting water after a half a day of shooting. Once you get water in the lines it's the devil to get out all the way. Nothing messes your day up worse than little water filled blisters in the last coat of finish.

Stay away from Wagner. Not a terrible gun but not the best for the buck. Check out Fine Woodworking magazine. They had a really good review of turbine Hvlp guns a couple months back.

If I had to buy one today I'd check out American Turbine. They use a simple basic Sicmo type gun. Which took me no time to get used to and I've had that typt of gun for almost twenty years.. Has all the adjustments that anyone needs and is durable as a tank. They sell 'em occasionally on ebay as a promo. Graco also makes really nice setups for a little more. They come with a variety of setups and will shoot pretty much anything.

If your gonna shoot the real exotic finishes a lot you probably need to go conventional, but a small production shop can do very high quality work with a turbine HVLP setup. I used to keep two men busy all day every day shooting furniture and we used both types. When I went back to working mostly by myself I almost exclusively use HVLP turbine for evrything from epoxy to nitro.

Hope this helps and doesn't confuse.

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Thanks for all the input Doc and LGM, but I am unfortunately very confused heheh.

But seriously, from all this advice I am receiving, it seems that I cannot get a quality setup in this price range. Since I only plan on finishing a couple of guitars per year (maybe even less), it doesnt make sense for me to spend more than $5000. Say I finish 4 guitars a year, which I think is a good estimate for what I have planned. I dont think more than that is worth it

Let me give you all an idea of what I am thinking of purchasing based on your advice.

Conventional Setup:

SATA minijet 4

Air Compressor - I would purchase the first one on this list.

Along with this, I would purchase a filter and maybe some extra lines. I think that would be in my $500 price range.

And comprable to this, I think, would be this unit from Accuspray:

Accuspray 22sp

I like the idea of the HPLV units being compact and portable. I think that they might be what I am looking for considering the volume of guitars I plan on finishing. I am sorry to seem so wishywashy on this issue, but I cant find any definitive sources of information on spraying systems.

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My thoughts on HVLP. First of all, when they were first coming out, I bought a turbine unit, paid $1800 for it, yup, way less overspray, and finishes that I guess were ok for furniture. Hated the system. Todays HVLP guns work just as well with regular compressors. The problem with the turbine systems is you've now limited yourself to that style of gun. If you ever decide you want an airbrush, maybe a different type of gun for other finishes, now you have to buy a compressor again.

HVLP is designed to lay more product on the surface vs in the air. This is fine except for a fine finish like a guitar, motorcycle tank etc, it leaves a rougher finish. I don't know a single automotive painter who sprays their clear with HVLP anymore. HVLP has it's place, in furniture where you are typically spraying a protective coating over raw wood it's great. In guitars where you want a dead smooth mirror finish, it will work, but it will leave you with much more sanding to do to acheive the perfect finish. Also, the turbine HVLP guns IMO spray a way bigger pattern than is desirable for guitars. You'll still waste paint due to the size of pattern.

Moisture traps are needed, but for the amount you'll be spraying you can buy the in line disposable ones, they're like $7 for one and they'll last a while. If you want to spend some money you can use a moisture trap regulator system. To be honest, I don't have problems very often with water in my lines, I drain my tank after a day of spraying, my hoses are all hung (hoses on the floor will get much more condensation than if they are all hung) and I run air through the lines for a few minutes before I spray just to make sure they're clean, it's rare I ever have water in my trap, but it's still a safety precaution.

That's just my 2cents, HVLP's seem to be a love/hate relationship, I don't know anyone in the automotive industry who uses HVLP for anything but primer and base. The furniture industry is the only place I know of using HVLP consistently, and as I say, it's rare you find a piece of furniture with a perfect mirror finish, lets face it, there is no point, tabls, counters, chairs etc all get used and abused enough that really there is no point in having a perfect finish on them.

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I disagree that the purpose of HVLP is simply to put out more finish faster. It can but that's not the whole deal.

Why disagree? That is the design of an HVLP, high volume. One of the reasons they put out much less overspray is you can spray a heavier (thicker) finish with them. The way the paint atomizes in an HVLP is also so that more product ends up on the surface. If you thin your paint to much with HVLP you'll still get a lot of overspray plus runs in the finish. HVLP does put out more finish faster, that's why so many like it, you can acheive in 5 coats what would take you 15 coats with a conventional gun, but you have to be spraying a thicker finish to do this without sags and runs.

I'm not knocking HVLP, I have a couple of them, one being a minijet 3, the other being a 2000HVLP digital. They're great for their intended purpose, but they suck for clear. If I want to reduce my sanding and buffing time I have to way over reduce my finish, then I'm ended up with overspray and runs anyway so really the HVLP has lost it's value there. The benefit to HVLP is heavy application of product with the lower air pressure to keep it from being blown out of the way, and the ability to spray a much thicker finish to allow more product to be applied at once.

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Also you may look at places like "Autobodydepot.com, Eastwood.com, Bearair.com" that sell airbrush supplies. I just recieved my Devilbliss HVLP spray gun kit whick comes with a larg HVLP gun with 1.3mm fluid tip for top coats and extra, 1.8mm fluid tip for primers and heavier materials such as metallics. Also it comes with a mini spry gun with 0.8mm fluid tip for detailing, a 20oz and 5oz gravity cup, tool kit and accesories with its own case. Now i paid 100.00 for the kit ans i used it yesterday on a helmet and a RC helicopter and you notice a world of difference from the spray can method. Not sure what your budget is but like the rest have said it can get expencive properly setting up for airbrushing, It just depends on your preferance. Good luck

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Thanks LGM.

I especially like your point on their lack of versatility in the HVLP systems.

Now my next question is, would a compressor such as the one listed be large enough for me. I see all these spray guns are rated at CFM's much great than compressors in my price range (they seem to hover around 7CFM@40 PSI).

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when getting a compressor its all about the CFM the gun is going to need. If you use a profesional gun they usually draw upwards of 11CFM meaning your going to need to spend like 800$++ on a compressor that will provide this, if your going for a "mini" spray gun your only going to need to supply 5 or so cfm so you can get away with a 300$ compressor. It sounds like something cheap would be good enough for you, but dont get a gun with any plastic parts, you'll be sorry in the end. Like LGM said, replacement parts are good, because you dont want to have to replace the whole gun because one of the pins is no good, or something stupid like that. All in all its going to be more affected by how good you are at painting than how good the gun you bought is

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Guys my final comment on this or any other discussion of spray equipment is

1) Unusual 71 is dead right. It's more in the skill and experience of the user than the equipment if you have at least decent equipment. Every guy I know who sprays has their own way of getting to the same end. What works for you may not work for me.

2) I was assuming that we were working with about a $500 budget. For that you are going to get far more bang for the buck with your Accuspray than with a conventional setup. If you add up all of the goodies discussed throughout this thread a good versitle conventional setup will run you about double that.

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Guitman32, i have a 4 gal. air compressor and i hav it on 60 psi. with a filter on it and a line fliter and i have a little 1/8 horsepower compressor w/fliter for my airbrush. Doc hit the nail on the head. Everyone is going to be different in their ways of airbrushing skills, im kinda still in the beginners phase where Jeremy (LGM) is light years ahead of me. I guess like stated before if your looking at airbrushing every once in a while then its really not necessary to go out and buy the high dollar equipment. Basicaly thats where im at right now until my skills improove and im in a place that can do bigger projects then i'll start looking at getting high dollar equiment. Just do some reserch on what you can buy thats not cheap but not gonna break the bank either Ex. i would love to have some of the high dollar Iwata airbrushes but i got a Iwata Revolution duel action airbrush for about $65 and i can get pencil thin to about a 3 to 4 inch spray area outta it. If you have a art store near you that sells airbrush supplies get to know the sales person their he/she usualy will give you good advice...iv also done that, In fact the sales guy directed me to the Iwata Revolution as a good starter airbrush. Again just grab all the info you can on airbrushing and don't get yourself in a money pit and eventualy get frustrated over it all....like i was told "main thing is to have fun and let your personal creativity flow" Again i wish you the best!!!!

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