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Spray Outfits for Solo Wood Workers – A Guide

If your a small solo woodworker, it can be challenging to find the right equipment as there are numerous options that you have when it comes to deciding on equipment. Between equipment for cutting and preparing the surface to equipment for applying the desire finishes to wood there’s a lot to consider. The goal of this guide, is to provide a general overview of things to consider when choosing your equipment for applying finishes to your wood products so you can choose application equipment that will meet your shops needs but at a reasonable cost.

Factor 1-The Volume of Work you Plan on Doing

With higher volumes of work, you will use higher volumes of coating. Coating is a high cost of your process of building a wood product, and being able to keep those costs to a minimum can be beneficial. The lower cost can help you be competitive in the marketplace. Additionally, the quality of equipment that you use will be critical in determining the length of time you can use your equipment potentially before needing replacements or rebuilds. By keeping replacement costs low, you can also help keep the cost of finishing wood products to a minimal. Essentially, if you plan on finishing multiple products a month it can often be wise to consider higher-end application equipment as you should save money on replacing parts. Additionally, you want to try to use a spray gun that is as efficient as possible so that you can keep coating waste to a minimum. Typically, this will mean an HVLP spray gun or maybe an LVMP spray gun depending on your state and any applicable emission regulations. If you will use a pressure fed spray gun you want to consider the pressure pot or cup size that will make the most sense for your application. Even if you are only spraying a quart or two at a time you can often place a 1 quart can in the bottom of a 2.8 Gallon Pressure Pot which will allow you to have additional volume for spraying if any large projects come up. Additionally, pressure pots are often packaged with top of the line spray guns and offer dual regulation like these tank outfits from Binks. However, if you know you will only be spraying small volumes at any given time then it can make sense to consider a small pressure cup for your spray gun.

Factor 2- The Variety of Finishes you will Apply or want to Apply

if you plan on applying everything from latex paints to stains to topcoats and sealers, you want to consider a spray gun that offers a lot of versatility. Higher-quality spray guns, offer the ability to spray in HVLP, LVMP, or Conventional by changing out air caps which you can learn more about each air cap type here..  The versatility of these guns will allow a solo wood worker to apply any coating that they may want to from glue to urethane to Latex paints. If you plan on very limited projects that will involve coating application a lower cost spray gun may make more sense. In addition to selecting a higher end gun to be able to apply a variety of coatings, you will want to consider the fluid delivery method to choose.  To be able to apply any wood coating you want, you want to consider a pressure feed spray gun. Pressure Fed Spray Guns will provide the greatest versatility of applying a coating. Gravity and Suction Feed Spray Guns will be able to apply similar coatings but have a lot of other factors to consider which you can read about here.

Factor 3 – The Quality of Finish You Want to Achieve

While one of the biggest factors in the quality of finish you achieve will be the preparation of the wood surface, the equipment you use to spray coatings will also have an impact on the quality of finish you achieve. In general, higher quality spray guns will atomize better than a lower cost spray gun. The better atomization that you achieve will result in a better appearing finish.

Factor 4 – Where you Plan on performing your work

If you plan on doing your coating strictly in the field you may want to consider a turbine driven HVLP spray gun system as it will provide the most portability.  However if you plan on building products and then finishing them it usually will make sense to consider a compressor driven spray gun as they will offer greater versatility. In fact, turbine driven HVLP spray outfits will typically not be able to handle coatings like adhesives well. To learn more about turbine vs compressor driven HVLP spray guns you can read this article.

Factor 5 – Replacement Part Availability

When selecting the equipment, you will use you want to consider the availability of replacement parts. If the manufacturer of the equipment you choose doesn’t have replacement parts you will have wasted a lot of money for a gun that will not last with you. In addition, does the equipment you want have someone you can easily get replacement parts from and assistance that you may need? You will also want to consider the individual spray gun you choose as different spray guns have different availability of replacement parts. Typically higher cost spray guns should have more parts available then lower cost spray guns.


By considering where your work will take place primarily, the volume of work you intend on performing, the variety of work you plan on performing, replacement part needs, and the quality of finish you want to achieve you can better match appropriate spray application equipment to your shop’s needs. If you have questions about application equipment that will be well suited for your project and your costs contact us today for a free consultation.
Photo Courtesy of Vermont Timber Works Inc. [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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