Paint Can Shakers

Advice on choosing an air-powered paint can shaker, and a warning to keep the lid clamped down when shaking lacquer. October 26, 2011

I'm looking for help selecting a paint can shaker. Something simple, reasonably priced, for occasional use. Gallon cans are the most often used. Lacquer, primer and topcoat paints that often settle after sitting on the shelf of the finish room for a month or two.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
Reasonably priced for a gallon can is a scrap stick. :)

I think Harbor Freight has some cheap ones.

From contributor K:
Lacquer builds up pressure when you shake it. Get something with a clamp that holds the lid on when shaking. An old Red Devil works good for this.

From contributor C:
I use a paint shaker from Harbor Freight to shake up cans of stain and it works great.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I looked at that. Does it require a lot of air? I have a 25 hp 9 cfm unit. I like the price, especially for how little I plan to use it. Also air driven should be better for the explosive nature of lacquer, right? Does this Harbor Freight unit have an adequate clamp?

From contributor C:
I run mine on a 60 gallon compressor that is rated at about 12 cfm. It's basically an air motor like an air sander or drill, so it does use some air. I think it uses less air than my air sander but I run the shaker at 40 - 60 psi. I shake the can of stain for about 5 minutes depending on how much has settled.

Yes, air motors are generally better when working with solvent based materials.

I used a Red Devil shaker at a place I once worked and the clamp is basically the same in comparison to the Harbor Freight one.

From contributor K:
The Harbor Freight one holds half of the top on instead of a full top clamp. It would work okay for stain, but for lacquer products it will blow the top loose.

From the original questioner:
I can see what you mean from the picture of the product. That would be messy. Is the lacquer apt to explode in a situation like shaking?

From contributor T:
Lacquer is not some alchemist's miracle blend of unstable chemicals. If it were axiomatic that shaking the container could cause it to explode (blow the lid off during shaking) how would it then not explode immediately after shaking when removed from the shaker? That said, I have experienced "fermentation" in an opened and reclosed can that generated enough gas pressure that when I pried the lid rim, it popped like a champagne cork.

From contributor K:
I like to leave the lacquer in the clamp for a little while after shaking. When the can looks like it's fixing to give birth, you have to use common sense. Sometimes taking the clamp loose on the shaker is all that is needed for the lid to pop. I'm okay with that, but having it pop while the shaking is going on will be messy and dangerous.

I have one. I use it daily to shake lacquer products. I don't have a chemist's degree or care to know all of the reasons why. I just know in my shop, I would not use a shaker without a full lid clamp.