Shellacking Setup for Light Use

Advice on choosing a spray system for occasional use with shellac and waterborne coatings. September 14, 2006

I make primarily period replicas and do quite a bit of antique repair/restoration - no cabinets and no millwork. The majority of my finish work is shellac, padded. If I need something more durable, I use a full time finisher. I have a job coming in, a large set of chairs that my finisher does not want to get involved in. He has too much work and it is a large job. So, I need to get set up to spray them. I have a small shop with no large compressor and really no room for one. I have been looking into the turbine systems, such as Accuspray, Fuji, etc. I am not sure how much I will use the system after this job, maybe more than I think, but what ever I purchase I want to be able to handle shellac and up to possible latex and waterbornes. What do you suggest and what has been your experience with turbines, particularly with shellac?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
I spray shellac, mostly as a sealcoat, with a Turbinaire turbine system. It sprays fine. Get a small nozzle (1.0). I spray lots of waterborne lacquers (clear and pigmented) and poly with no problem. Latex can be tough to atomize because it's so thick. A 4-stage turbine and a big nozzle would help. I've had decent success thinning it and using Floetrol. Look for a turbine gun with stainless steel or plastic fluid path - waterborne will corrode an aluminum gun.

From contributor B:
I spray shellac and water base finishes through my Accuspray all the time. Unless you are a full time pro finisher do not spend the extra for stainless parts. I have sprayed a couple hundred gallons through mine (aluminum) over the last two years with no problems yet. Zinsser's dewaxed shellac is a two pound cut and thinner than most of my water base finishes. It sprays very easily. You'll want a smaller needle/nozzle setup for the shellac and waterbornes than you have for the latex.

From contributor A:
Aren't the Accuspray guns plastic? Mine is aluminum, and the corrosion can be a problem.

From contributor C:
If this is just an occasional thing then you might want to consider just renting a good 4 stage turbine or AAA gun when you need it for a couple of days. Fuji and Accuspray are good as are Kremlin, Titan, Graco and any of the other higher end commercial units. This would also give you a good idea as to how a professional turbine works. Just make sure you get a 4 stage. For AAA guns most all are good but some have big clunky guns that I personally don't like. There are a lot of good waterborne products out there. I use strictly waterbornes in my shop including waterborne shellacs with fantastic results.

From contributor B:
The bodies of the Accuspray guns are indeed plastic (delrin). They are very tough though, and the internal fluid passages are metal tubing. Accuspray makes guns with stainless passages but they are significantly more costly. For an occasional user there is not going to be any payback for spending the extra money on stainless. Water based products do vary in corrosive effects but my suppliers didn't think I'd need the stainless gun based on their experience and I have found that to be realistic. I spray both water and oil based products through my guns but I use a lot more water base than oil. A little shellac here and there too and have noticed only very minor corrosion over the past three years. At this rate I won't have serious corrosion issues for at least 5 more years, and I hope my new Kremlin will be in service by then. Not all aluminum alloys are equal either and the Accuspray material may be superior to that found on some bargain imports. What corrosion has occurred seemed to happen right away and now there is very little happening so perhaps the aluminum has achieved a protective patina, although I keep it pretty clean.