I bought a Gravity Feed HVLP spray gun from Harbor Freight.
The brand name is Central Pneumatic. It was their low end model, and
used to goes on sale for $40. Now, the same gun (or a very similar model)
is more expensive. There is no indication of who manufactured the spray
gun, and from the package I'm not sure where it was made. I'm pretty
sure it's was made in Taiwan or China.
Built quality is good to very good. I only found nearly
microscopic burrs inside the spray nozzle where the small nozzle hole
had been drilled. There are no rough edges. It works smoothly, and all
the adjustments are smooth. It includes a regulator. The handle is anodized
green. It includes a little regulator that attaches to the handle between
the gun and the air line.
Air use is a little high for my compressor, which is only
rated at about 3 SCFM. I have not timed the compressor cycles, but it
feels like I need to work slow in order not to exceed the 50% duty cycle
on the compressor motor (30 minutes running out of every hour). If you
are serious about painting, the smallest compressor you can use is probably
in the 9 SCFM range.
It's a nice tool, and works well. The instructions are
nearly useless. There is zero guidance on how to get fine spray at a
low pressure. I'm still experimenting around. I'm not sure I've tried
lowering the pressure and opening up the air flow valve. I tried a few
combinations. At low pressure I got a splatter of paint, not spray.
It is possible that the pressure was ok, but I need to open the air
valve more at these low pressures.
In any case, this is a good spray gun, and may or may
not be a true HVLP. It has far LESS overspray than a Devibliss Touch
Up gun that I bought from (and returned to) Lowes Building Supply. The
Harbor Freight HVLP gun has acceptable overspray. In contrast, the Devibliss
Touch Up gun made a cloud of high speed, fine paint mist that was probably
80% overspray (or more).
Even as inexperienced as I am, I can adjust the HVLP gun
to make a fine spray with probably less overspray than a spray can.
If I adjust it to a fan-shaped spray pattern the gun uses huge amounts
of air, so I use the round spray pattern.
At very low pressures, it doesn't atomize the paint well.
My guess is that there is a trade off between overspray and a fine spray
pattern. Still, remember that I'm going to try another adjustment next
time I paint.
Pouring paint is a real mess, and pouring reducer (what
the paint industry calls thinner) is even worse. Happily, I discovered
that plastic turkey basters (with a rubber bulb) work great for moving
small amounts of paint and reducer with minimal mess. It's great.
I've heard that using the same spray gun for primer and
paint can be a problem. Primer dries VERY fast, and could easily clog
the gun. The instant you are done with the primer (or if you take a
break), get some reducer or cleaning thinner into the gun. It only takes
a couple of table spoons. Don't spray your grass - it will kill the
lawn. I spray into a trash can, or onto some used Beetle body parts
near by. I swirl thinner around the paint cup, and pour it back into
my reduced-ready-to-spary jar of primer. The primer I use is reduced
with the same thinner used to clean up. I have also found that closing
the air valve will enable thinner to just run out the spray tip. This
seems to clean the gun without creating a cloud of thinner.
I keep a jar of not-so-clean thinner that has been used
to rinse the gun. I think this thinner can be used a couple of times
before being discarded. I suck a couple of table spoons of clean thinner
out of a jar with the turkey baster, and rinse the gun. It is essentially
impossible to pour thinner out of a 1/2 gallon can without making a
huge mess. Remember, most of this stuff causes cancer. Less mess is
good. I transfer some thinner to a clean jar.
I know I shouldn't use jars, but I don't have a stock
of clean cans. If you have a suggestion, please email me.
Harbor freight makes their money on the $5 handling charge,
and on the $5 shipping which takes 7 to 14 days. Orders over $50 have
no handling charge, so think of something else you need. Orders by phone
or online take 48 hours to process.
The big mystery to me is why Harbor Freight is the only
supplier with an HVLP spray gun for $40. The next least expensive HVLP
gun is well over $100. Devilbiss has a few Taiwan made non-HVLP spray
guns that start around $40 (and are probably junk). What gives? The
other products at Harbor Frieght seem to have normal prices. There's
something weird about the spray gun market, and HVLP guns in particular.
Clearly, to most manufacturers, HVLP = expensive. There is no magic
technology to HVLP, just improved design and air flow control.