In this second of my two-part blog on producing quality finishes, I’ll cover the following:
- Environment set for success (continued from previous blog)
- Technique dialed in
- Learn and Apply Lessons
Let’s get at it!
Editor’s Note: if you haven’t yet read part 1, you may wish to do so before reading this one.
1. Environment set for success (continued from the previous blog).
A. Support Workpieces – While Spraying. Most pieces can be sprayed horizontally, which is the ideal arrangement, so the top of your work support should be oriented in that manner. The support should have a stable base and hold the work at a comfortable height, usually 650cm – 750cm (26” – 30”) for spraying. The top should ideally be rotatable and about 300mm (12”) square to limit bounceback on the underside of the work (caused when the spray bounces after hitting a support base wider than the workpiece then hits the underside). You should have a second workpiece support which may be wheeled in and out of the booth. To keep unwieldy pieces from falling off the support when moving them around the shop, mine allows me to also fasten work to the top. You can also hang large workpieces (e.g. doors and panels) from the ceiling or lean them against the wall; and
B. Support Workpieces – While Curing. To reduce the possibility of contaminating freshly coated pieces, the area you’ve set aside for curing should ideally be dust free and kept at the same temperature and humidity levels you were spraying in. A mobile drying rack is ideal for holding flatwork such as small doors and drawer fronts, while large doors and panels which had to be sprayed upright should be held in that same attitude. Plastic paint tins can also be pressed into duty for anything else.
2. Technique dialled in.
- Stir and strain finish prior to loading into a cup or pot.
- Ensure you leave about ¼ of the space in your gun’s reservoir to reduce the likelihood of gun air vent blockages (of course this isn’t applicable to pressure pots, as they don’t have air vents);
- Gun held perpendicular and at the correct distance.
- To maintain the correct delivery pattern, hold the gun perpendicular in both planes (up/down and left/right) to the surface. It should also be 180cm – 250cm (7” – 10”) from the surface. Too far away will result in a dusty surface due to some of the finish drying before hitting the surface. Too close and the finish may be applied too thickly; and
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidance on how thickly each coat should be when wet. If none is provided, use 3 – 4mils (1 mil = 1/1,000” or .001”), measured with a wet mil gauge. Also respect guidance on the number of coats, as some finishes have limits on how many you may apply.
3. Learn and apply lessons.
A. There are several resources you may lean on as you gain knowledge and skills. Having an experienced mentor is ideal, but not everyone lives close to an experienced spray finisher, or one willing to share their knowledge. Books, although not nearly as good as a mentor, as still a valuable source of information. My favourite is “Spray Finishing Made Simple” by Jeff Jewitt. Of course, there’s the internet. Just a word of caution about the internet, as not all the information therein is accurate nor very helpful. I would, therefore, recommend you first check out the websites of your spray finishing equipment or finishing material, as they will usually point you in the right direction. The same goes for your suppliers.
B. Keep track of what works – and doesn’t, and record your findings on a logbook such as the one provided here. Finally, be willing to share what you have learned with others. If you apply what you have learned, before long you will develop your own methods of work which will work best for you.
I hope that you’ve found this two-part series on “5 Steps to a Killer Finish” to be both helpful and interesting. Please let me know if you have any other helpful hints or suggestions to pass along because, no matter how long you’ve been spraying finishes, there’s always something new to learn.
All the best with your spray finishing,
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