Let’s talk some more this week about applying color. Please refer back to last week’s article to see the previous segment of this discussion. Here we go!

All that I can do in the course of an article is point out the issues to you. It’s up to you to practice diligently to improve your skills with a spray gun. It takes time. It takes experience. Don’t gamble a project on an “I think I can” that may end up an “I wish I hadn’t.” As you have heard me say before, there is nothing more expensive than regret.

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If your background includes automotive body repair and the blending and shading in of color to repair a ding in a car’s exterior, then you probably get the approach that I am suggesting. I find that car painters, as a group, catch on to gun technique as it applies to shaders and spray stains faster than most. That’s because their gun technique has to be flawless to get a whole car…or just a fender repainted without stripes and other obvious issues. It’s that mastery of gun technique that gives them a leg up on us guys who have only applied a clear to wood.

My most often repeated “Bernie-ism” is speed and distance are your friends when applying color with a spray gun. Right after that, my next bit of advice is that you must sneak up on the intensity of color that you want without blowing past the intensity of color that you need.

What do I mean by that? Well, when you pick up a gun and go to work for the first time, it won’t take long for you to figure out that I’m right. I can safely suggest that your initial results will be to get too intense a colorand that rather quickly.

  • Turn down the atomization air pressure.
  • Turn down the amount of fluid coming from the nozzle.
  • Experiment with several needle/nozzle sets (go smaller) to find the one that gives the most even pattern within the parameters of lower atomization pressure and reduced fluid delivery.
  • Don’t be afraid to dilute the pigment load in your coating. Less strength will make it easier for you to be “sneaky.”
  • The higher you are off of the surface you are coloring, the more gently the spray will land on the surface and
  • The more diffused the intensity will be.
  • The faster that you move the gun over the surface, the less color you impart on that surface per pass.
  • The more gentle the spray, the less haloing in inside corners.
  • Put some mineral spirits in your gun and practice on some corrugated cardboard or some brown paper to test your setup and your skills.
  • AAA units are known for their gentle spray. That’s why my colleague suggests them for coloring.

A footnote to the AAA statement above. Another colleague was bound and determined to prove that AAA was the best method to apply automotive clears to cars. He did a LOT of sanding off clearcoats before he proved that it could, indeed, work. I would suggest that you better have some skills to bring to the party if you’re out to prove that AAA is the way to apply color!

We are going to end here and take up the next phase of this next week. I hope that you have found this useful.

Until next time…spray on!

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