Garage shaper airbrush setup

Airbrush kit

is that enough fire power for board sprays?

You don’t need much, this one is way cheaper and is relatively quiet: .  If you need complete quiet, get a portable tank and fill it from a compressor or at a gas station.  25-30 PSI will shoot most acrylics in the small craft bottles when thinned properly.

If noise isn’t an issue, you can just buy a small normal compressor and use a regulator for airbrushing. You can use that for a lot of other stuff including blowing out the airbrush after cleaning.  Get an adapter for the airbrush hose to a regular quick connect and use a filter.

True and if you are gonna spend extra $$ on anything, spend it on a higher quality airbrush.  The Japanese guns are the best for the $$ IMO.

So I don’t need a tank or extra horse power? Ive seen some big compressors after researching.

More knowledge begets more questions…


how much noise we talkin? More than a planer? I have a two year old.


i cant imagine a scenario at the moment where im doing back to back board sprays. Im probably going to use it then not touch it for another month.


i just want something that works and wont break.


do i need the 10 gallon tank and 3HP at 150psi?

The small airbrush kits as shown in the ads make almost no noise , the bigger you go the more noise .

If all I did was use an air brush;  a tankless compressor designed to be used with an airbrush would be fine.  When you talk about spraying a board though you may be mistaken in thinking that an air brush is the proper tool…  An airbrush is a detail tool used for art and detail work.  An automotive cup gun is used for larger areas.  A whole board, one side or stripes and panels.  They have the cup on top and are gravity fed.  You can buy one that is adequate for $20 at Habor Freight.  After years of doing this I would never buy less than a 10 gal. tank compressor and prefer a 20.  Buy one smaller than that and you will find out why.   You will be in the middle of a pass with the cup gun and you’re out of air.  Standing there waiting for your little compressor to catch up.  And if you don’t let the tank fill you won’t get thru the next pass.  Also you can quickly air up a tire or run a nail gun with a bigger compressor.    Unless you are going to do a lot of detailed art work;  You need a cup gun.  Keep it clean and blown out.  A cheap gun clean up kit is a good investment.   You are looking at a total investment of $200 — $250.

This is why I come here!

Yes, I’ve been putting an airbrushing and spray gun under the “airbrush” umbrella. I’ve never painted a thing yet, so the detailed stuff is not what I’m looking to get into yet.


Can the airbrushes be used on a larger compressor/tanks too or is it too much power? Can you turn the PSI down?


I understand that the following tanks are too small but I’m trying to educate myself:


Why is one $40 and the next $150? Going by specs there is not a ton of difference. But same brand and a large discrepency in price. What’s the reason?

No idea.  My Son bought a 20 gal. Oil less on sale for $149.  Uses it to run a die grinder to grind rust off Vintage Bicycles.  No problem, trouble free.  The cup gun is $20.  Add a hose and fittings.  You are talking less than $200

Lowel is absolutely correct about airbrushes and cup guns.  You just won’t get heavy or wide enough paint delivery from a brush.  For a general purpose compressor, this one is good and quieter than most: .  I wouldn’t go smaller than a 8 gal tank, the compressor will just run more and then more noise.  I have a 20 gal tank (for home) that I put a EPS box over (made from 2" insulation board) when the compressor is running.  20 gal still doesn’t last that long at 70 psi which is normally used for just blowing off dust.

I keep my eye out for those old 15–20 gal. Craftsman horizontal compressors.  The red ones.  I don’t know who made them for Sears, but they are bullet proof.  I bought one from a Lady whose husband had passed on last year for $50.  I won’t pay more than $100 for one.  They’re relatively quiet too.  They are not oiless so be careful.  I burned one up years ago.  Learned my lesson.

Could you run a spray gun off that harbor freight McGraw compressor?

Yes that compressor will handle brad nailers, staple guns, die grinders, cut-off tools.  But keep in mind that we’re talking about the small spray guns with the bottle on top, not the big metal ones with the container on the bottom.  The small ones are high volume low pressure (HVLP) so they don’t need more than 45 psi.  HF sells a number of small HLVP guns but I haven’t tried any yet.  If you do epoxy boards, this gun can be used to spray gloss finishes also. 

Whenever you replace a compressor or come across a dead one always keep the tank if it’s sound.  I manifold them together for more air storage which provides less wear on the compressor since it’s not running as much.  If you want it still portable, use a short hose with quick connects between the tanks.


I bought everything from Harbor Freight for $260 including tax.

I went with this compressor for the slightly larger tank and the better CFM specs:

This spray gun but I’m less convinced that this is what I need:


Then I bought misc. stuff: filters, strainers, hoses, blow gun, oil, etc.

Any tips on cleaning and maintaining the cup spray gun, my old man picked me up a cheap auto one from a garage sale that I haven’t used yet. But im keen to use it for clear coats and stuff. 

Make sure you put a liquid extracter inline. Those big tanks can generate a lot of condensation.

You need a gun for sprays (like the black background). A brush, small compressor for detail work like this eye:

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Disclaimer: My wife does wall hangers like this one from my old boards, not me.

Professional painters soak them in lacquer thinner and then use a tooth brush to clean them up.  Rinse in paint thinner.  It is usually necessary to take them apart to insure that all is clean.  When I’ve got them clean and rinsed I spray everything with WD-40, wrap it in a cotton cloth(diaper type material) and put it away in a Zip-lock bag.  Basic.  Fail to keep them clean and they will screw up a paint job.  Use gloves that are resistant to lacquer thinner.  Not all are and lacquer thinner penetrates flesh.   Lowel

Exactly!  That’s how they are intended to be used.   Background, large areas, panels, stripes etc.; Cup Gun and then the Air Brush for free hand detail.

thinners is different to acetone, would they do the same job.

For acrylics, I have a plastic container at hand with hot water and dish soap to wipe up drips and clean the brush/gun when changing colors.  Use a plastic siphon hose that fits the gun or brush paint feed (bottle or cup off) and shoot that soapy water through until it’s clear.  Clean like Lowel says when you’re done painting.   I use pipe cleaners and those tiny round brushes.  If that old gun has a lot of dried up paint inside, take apart and soak in a covered jar of lacquer thinner for a couple of days (metal parts only, especially not O-rings), then use the brushes and pipe cleaners as needed.  You can clean the plastic parts with window cleaner.   Fill the cup with water and test spray against paper.