Chris Schwarz's Blog

Spray Finishing: Siphon Feed or Gravity Feed?


What kind of sprayer do you recommend for applying a lacquer finish: gravity or siphon feed? Could you use the same sprayer for applying a stain? Thanks for your time and keep up the outstanding work on the Woodworking Magazine and blog.

- Andrew Craig, Portland, Oregon

I use a siphon-feed cup-gun sprayer, which has the material cup below the trigger. However, it seems that the world prefers the gravity-feed guns, which have the cup on top of the spray gun. Gravity guns are supposed to be more efficient because you don’t need to use air to pressurize the cup below (gravity does all the work). And some people say they are more balanced.

I, however, find them personally awkward. I think they are top-heavy when fully loaded and I seem to ram the cup into everything as I maneuver around the workpiece.

My favorite set-up is what we called a “pressure pot,” which is where the material is stored in a remote pressurized drum. Our Binks-brand pressure pot used to hold two gallons, which was really nice for big jobs. Plus the gun could go into really tight spaces because you didn’t have any cup to swing around.

Of course, the seals on that pressure pot were kinda bad , it would lose pressure on occasion. We gave up the pressure pot when we moved into our new offices a few years ago and got rid of our spray booth.

And you can apply stain using a spray gun, as long as it’s pretty thin (dyes spray quite well). It takes practice and you need to wipe things down pretty quickly after spraying. Perhaps that’s why I’ve stuck with applying color by hand.

- Christopher Schwarz

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