For small- to medium-sized woodshops, the finishing equipment menu is expanding of late to include a host of new options such as phone apps for color matching, intelligent pump controls, portable drying racks and even some surprisingly inexpensive robots.
One factor that’s pushing trends at the lower end of the market is the huge upswing in DIY projects caused by Covid-related stay at home restrictions. People who used to commute to an office are spending a great deal of their week looking at woodwork and walls in their own homes, and when the weekend rolls around they’re sanding, staining and coating like never before. That’s benefitting small shops and woodworkers that finish onsite because the manufacturers of both coatings and equipment are focusing on this market. Many of the new technologies were in the works before the pandemic and have gained a lot of traction over the last year or so.
Start with an app
In February, Axalta (axaltawoodcoatings.com) announced the launch of its new Wood Coatings Pro mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The free app provides simple and quick access to product information, the latest industry color trends, and best practices for the wood coatings market. The product information can be searched by industry segment, region, technology type (conversion varnish, nitrocellulose lacquers, polyurethane, pre-catalyzed lacquers and waterborne) and coatings type (clear, opaque, colorant, stain, glaze and volatile organic compound levels). In addition, customers can access, print and share up-to-date information such as technical data sheets, product sell sheets, application best practice videos and color trends.
AkzoNobel’s Chemcraft division (chemcraft.com) has also launched a mobile app that delivers fast and detailed product information, plus an extensive troubleshooting guide and a library of how-to videos. The handy tool can provide a woodworker with everything from the latest VOC information for a project bid to a new coverage cost calculator for figuring out how much coating to buy.
A new Project Bidding tool in the Sherwin-Williams S-W PRO app is especially useful for shops that are doing renovations on cabinets or millwork. Users can enter project details including client information, areas being painted and the type of coating. Shops can price work by the hour, the square foot, linear foot or by the item. Recorded details are converted to a professional bid that is emailed to prospective customers.
More manufacturers are now providing small- to medium-sized woodshops with complete spray systems, so a woodworker doesn’t need to shop separately for a pump, gun, and hose, and try to match elements from different suppliers. For example, the new Precision-5 Pro LE turbine from Apollo Sprayers (hvlp.com) includes all the equipment a shop needs to spray the widest range of solvent or water base clear or pigmented coatings such as lacquers, varnish and urethane, as well as specialized materials such as faux paints, gelcoat, latex (emulsion) and multi-spec. There’s a 5-stage turbine that delivers 10 psi of sealed pressure for optimum atomization. The Pro LE delivers about 80 percent of the coating to the surface, which can mean significant savings in material over compressed air systems. It can also handle up to 2-1/2 quarts (compared to a standard 1-quart cup), which means less downtime.
The Spray Station 5500 from Wagner (wagnerspraytech.com) includes a gun and a turbine combination that was specifically designed for coating cabinets and furniture in smaller woodshops. The gun has three Push N Click spray patterns, a paint volume control dial, and a dynamic control action trigger. The system can spray thinned latex, lacquers, urethanes, varnishes, oils, shellacs, stains, sealers, enamels, glazes and more.
Fuji Spray (fujispraysystems.com) offers three spraying systems, the DIY-Pro, the Mini-Mite Platinum, and the Q5 Platimum. The latter is intended for medium to heavy painting projects, as well as finishing cabinets, furniture and trim and comes in different power packages. Fuji says the Q5 Platinum is the quietest operating turbine on the market. It has psi ranges from 6.5 with the 3-stage model to 9.5 with the 5-stage unit, and a metal turbine case with a quick-change friction fit filter. It comes with a choice of three different HVLP turbine spray guns (T70, T75G, G-XPC), all of which include non-bleed stainless steel needle, nozzle, and fluid passages. These easy to assemble guns have horizontal, vertical and circle fan patterns and two cup capacities.
Grizzly Industrial (grizzly.com) offers a 10-liter paint tank with a gun, 10’ hose and pressure regulator (H8225). One gallon of paint fits inside the tank for minimal waste and clean-up. Designed for larger projects, it will deliver medium to high solid fluids including lacquers, stains, primers, multicomponent paints, clear coats, acrylics and epoxies.
Guns and controls
Anest Iwata USA (anestiwata.com) offers the new Wider1 and Wider2 spray guns that pay special attention to ergonomics, including a 5-gram weight reduction. Every adjustment knob is tapered with deeper grooves, providing a surer grip for easier fine adjustments. There’s a bushing built into the back of the needle valve spring to make paint output adjustment smoother. The tip of the trigger has a smoother shape, for easier operation when applying lower paint volumes. Maintenance has been made easier by changing the thread pitch of the cap from 1.0 mm to 1.5 mm, so it can be screwed on with just 1-1/2 turns (half as many as before). Also, the back end of the needle valve is reshaped to make it easier to remove and attach. Adding straight threadless sections to the air and fluid nipples makes it easier to attach the connectors. And a newly developed pattern adjustment set now provides around 35 percent with 1 turn, around 50 percent with 1-1/2 turns, and around 70 percent with 2 turns. This linear response to adjustment is intuitively easier to operate.
Carlisle FT’s spray gun and finishing technology brands include Binks, DeVilbiss, BGK and Ransburg (carlisleft.com). For a woodworker who is exploring finishing equipment options, a good place to start is the company’s wood page at carlisleft.com where there are links to the Ransburg R90 and R70 low pressure electrostatic guns. These guns charge the fluid as it passes through the nozzle and the droplets then repel each other and are attracted to the workpiece surface, where they can actually wrap around to coat edges.
New from Sames Kremlin (sames-kremlin.com) are the FStart P (pressure), S (suction) and G (gravity) spray guns. The P is for spraying low to medium viscosity materials, while the S is a conventional spray gun for hard to atomize coatings, and the G is easy to use and ‘guarantees’ a high-quality finish. All three are priced for entry-level users.
Offering an easier choice in spray patterns is becoming more common. For example, SATA’s newest gun, the SATAjet X 5500, has been on the market for more than a year now and it incorporates the company’s SATA X-nozzle system that’s based on two distinct spray fan shapes for each nozzle size – parallel and oval-shaped. It’s also very quiet, and it doesn’t use a separate air distribution insert so it’s fast and easy to clean. Shops can choose between HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) and the RP (Reduced Pressure) options. Learn more at sata.com.
Improving ergonomics is a long-term trend in spray equipment, as guns keep getting lighter and hoses more manageable. On a more finite scale, Grex (grexusa.com) has recently added a couple of new solutions for woodworkers who use airbrushes for touchups. The Genesis.XDi is a gravity fed brush, while the Genesis.XSi is a side-fed model. The defining design element with these brushes, the company notes, is the patent pending hand grip that provides improved comfort and handling.
Technology is moving right along in larger shops where controls such as Minneapolis-based Graco’s Intelligent Paint Kitchen (IPK, graco.com) are helping pump, measure, dispense and spray fluids more efficiently. Launched in January, IPK is a control system for pneumatic pumps and agitators that brings remote management to paint supply and circulation systems for both electric and pneumatic equipment. It’s a smart set of sensors, actuators and control modules that communicate with each other to optimize factory paint circulation and supply. IPK allows the shop to control pump pressure and flow rates, tank levels and agitator speeds, and even do so remotely. It delivers closed loop pressure, flow mode and a new hybrid mode to Graco’s Endura-Flo, Glutton and High-Flo (with NXT/XL motor) pneumatic pumps.
SCM Group (scmgroup.com) offers state-of-the-art automatic or robotized spraying lines, flat dryers, vertical dryers, UV and UV led curing systems, complete roller coating and curtain coating lines, printing machines, robots and 3D lines for doors, window frames and three-dimensional panels.
Paintline (thepaintline.com) carries an expandable, heavy-duty door drying rack called the PDREX-Plus. It has 15 removable shelves and can be configured with up to four towers which delivers a weight capacity of up to 1,800 lbs. Each tower includes 6” locking casters and anti-torque stabilizers for rolling the entire rack to the desired shop area, even under load.
Smartech (smartechonline.com) offers the Easy|Axis, a foot rotated turntable that allows for hands-free turning of parts being sprayed. A tube-shaped column eliminates blow-back to the operator and multiple top plate sizes and configurations are available for various applications.
The new Smart Grip from Trimaco (trimaco.com) is a drop cloth featuring an absorbent top and a grippy backing. It’s made to protect flooring and furniture from all paints and stains.
This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue.