HVLP - Gun Setup and Practice Paint Questions

Hey Everyone!

I just took the plunge on some Harbor Freight automotive HVLP guns, as well as a compressor, and OHW paint, to help paint our parts for a small commission based business. I thought I had done my homework with tutorial videos and reading, but my first attempt at painting this weekend left me feeling fairly disappointed.

My first attempt with OHW, I felt as if the gun was "splattering" large dots of paint, rather than atomizing and creating a "mist". I tried tweaking both paint flow and pressure (between 22 psi and 35 psi), but to be honest did not have enough OHW paint to truly dial everything in.

Do you have any suggestions on cheaper paint that I could pick up from Home Depot / Lowes, that I could guilt free run through some paint and attempt to get the gun spraying better?

Any input on the "splattering"? My initial impression is that I need to not let that valve needle be wide open, or perhaps need to use a different size?

Also, do you suggest following the paint directions (22 psi) vs the gun directions (30-35 psi)?

Thanks for any feedback!


  • DeviousDipsDeviousDips Posts: 1,868Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    @HiTops go to the video section and watch gun set up videos
  • HiTopsHiTops Posts: 4Member
    Thanks. Will check it out, I had watched several from these forums previously, will check them out again.

    Mostly looking for any input on a cheaper paint brand from a local store that I could utilize to get my gun spraying well before buying more from OHW.

    Think I just need to spend more more time tweaking gun settings.
  • PagesHydroDippingPagesHydroDipping Posts: 654Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    We use denatured alcohol when setting our guns. Then once you put paint in it's one or 2 little adjustments 
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 9,952Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    Harbor Freight Guns will Not give you acceptable results. They are just not the quality needed for quality paint jobs. Go for an Iwata Air gunsa minimum. We use Iwata LPH-400 or Iwata Supernova Guns, but they are more professional/everyday use guns. No need for something that high end, but for the hobbyist? I never recommend less than an Air Gunsa for anything in this process. 
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 9,952Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    And yes, use water, cheap home paint, or denatured alcohol for setting up your gun. And then write down your settings (“x” turns out). 
  • HiTopsHiTops Posts: 4Member
    Thank you all for the feedback, it is very much appreciated. I'll let you know the results of my tests tonight!

  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 6,956Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    Even water will get you started as a rough start. But you need to make sure that its all purged and dry before you add paint. As @MidOhioHydrographics said... you are working handicapped when you start with Harbor Freight guns. I have taught A LOT of guys how to paint, and I can tell you a $200 gun saves you $500 in training. (trainer, parts, wasted time, and frustration)
  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 13,861Administrator El Jefe
    Yea don't mean to bash you but those guns are the worst to try and get a good pattern out of...ask me how I know?...
  • loochlooch Posts: 1,866Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    Look on @K2Concepts webpage he has the ani and gunzas for sale 
  • HiTopsHiTops Posts: 4Member
    edited December 2018
    Thanks for all the feedback everyone!

    I tried using some water so I could spray guilt free to get things dialed in, and had much more success last night.

    The two main Culprits from my first session:
    1) I had the needle all the way out, with 1-2 turns in, so I was slinging way too much paint I believe. Tried the opposite approach, closed fully and opened 1-2 turns.
    2) This one is embarassing... but I didn’t realize I was targeting 20-25 psi with the trigger depressed. I had WAY too low of pressure in my first attempt.

    Will maybe take a video and post later this weekend for any additional feedback and input. 

    Post edited by HiTops on
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 9,952Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    Ah yes. I made that same mistake at first! I forgot about that. Trigger pulled to just air, then adjust the pressure.
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