When I was first learning woodworking, HVLP didn’t exist. That’s something I lament on occasion when I recall taking a deep breath (even with a face mask and decent air collection) before starting to spray a lacquer finish. The overspray cloud was amazing and there really wasn’t a way to avoid it – affecting my breathing and my ability to see what I was finishing! HVLP (high volume low pressure) has made the finishing process more user-friendly, more economical and just better.
There’s nothing wrong with brushing on a shellac finish, wiping on a couple of coats of poly or lacquer. But it will never build or level like a sprayed finish. Most woodworkers are slow to try spray finishing because of the equipment needs (some type of spray booth is a good recommendation), but HVLP – while not negating that need – has made it manageable to spray outdoor without having a cloud of lacquer redecorate your neighbor’s deck, and indoor with some type of decent air flow. The low pressure means that more of the finishing material ends up on the project and not in the air. I like that!
If you’ve been considering moving to spray finishing, take a look at the video below from professional woodworker Dale Barnard on HVLP systems.