Whether you’re trying to get a vintage color onto a new carpentry project, or re-finishing your grandmother’s oak bureau from Italy, lacquer is your coating of choice! From furniture glosses to color undercoats, lacquer has a tactile sense and subtle texture that takes projects to the next level.
It’s challenging to spray, though, since it usually requires multiple coatings, careful application, and lots of control. You have to be super careful to create a consistent finish, since lacquers set so quickly. So, not just any paint sprayer will do!
This guide will introduce you to our favorite options for working with lacquers. We’ll also talk through what makes a given paint sprayer suitable for lacquer in our Buying Guide section, and help you sort out which of our recommendations belongs in your tool set at the end of the page!
Let’s get right into it with our Top Three paint sprayers for lacquer!
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We should start by clarifying that while we’re focusing on lacquers for carpentry and furniture projects we’re aware that lacquer paints and finishes have also been used in automotive applications, so some buyers might be after a sprayer to use in the garage. If so, don’t worry–all our recommendations will also work for auto-type lacquer coatings.
However, we’re not going to focus on how they perform on cars. Lacquer car paint hasn’t been widely used for several decades, and due to the overwhelming advantages of more modern paints, it’s only used today by purist folks restoring vintage cars with their original coating materials.
You can still get a lot out of our reviews, though! Both the Fuji Mini-Mite 4 and the Fuji Q5 Platinum systems are appropriate for professional-quality lacquer automotive coatings, as is the Fuji T75G gun when attached to a suitable turbine unit. Car folks can go ahead and skip to those reviews!
Best Lacquer Paint Sprayer Reviews:
- Campbell Hausfeld Gravity-Feed Spray Gun Kit (CHK005CCAV)
- PaintWIZ PW25150 Handheld Paint Sprayer PRO
- Fuji 5175G – T75G Gravity Spray Gun
- Fuji 2203G Semi-PRO 2 – Gravity HVLP Spray System
- Fuji 2904-T70 Mini-Mite 4 PLATINUM – T70 HVLP Spray System
- Fuji 2895-T75G Q5 Platinum Quiet HVLP Spray System
1. Campbell Hausfeld Gravity-Feed Spray Gun Kit (CHK005CCAV)
This Campbell-Hausfield set is a great bargain for entry-level folks or DIYer’s on a tight budget who want some all-purpose guns. Both of the two guns you get in this set work well with lacquers, and they can handle other paints and coatings equally well. As long as you have a decent air compressor around the house, they’ll serve you well and give you a wide range of capabilities for a low price!
The biggest reason to get this set isn’t any one of the components, in our book. They’re all quite good, but it’s the sheer amount of tools and accessories in the kit that really make the Campbell-Hausfield set worth your money. You get two solid guns and everything you need to use and maintain them for under $75!
The first of the two guns is a coverage tool, which is about normal size for a paint spray gun (if slightly smaller than a professional-grade tool). It’s equipped with a 550ml paint cup, enough to get lots of ground covered with either color or clear coats. We like the 550ml size because it gives you plenty to work with without being totally unergonomic for folks who don’t work professionally.
The smaller gun is ideal for small spaces, and for touching up old lacquer jobs when you don’t want to strip and completely refinish your surface. It has a smaller profile as well as a smaller (120ml) cup. This one’s great for smaller lacquer jobs, or for getting inside drawers or other tight spots without all the bulk of a larger gun. This is your fine detail gun for trim and molding, as well.
Out of the box, both guns are fitted with all-purpose spray tips, sized at 1.4mm. That’s suitable for most lacquers, though you may have to thin slightly. Other tip sizes are available relatively cheaply as well (we generally opt for 1.5mm’s or larger when working with lacquers, since they’re so viscous).
They’re well-made guns, too! Both are mostly constructed of metal, and they feel sturdy in hand. They’re a bit lighter and looser than professional-grade tools, but DIYer’s should have nothing to complain about! While they’re a bit no-frills, with bare handles and few adjustments, they cover all the basics well. Remember: it’s always better to have a few components that are made sturdily than to have lots of components which are flimsy and break! Most of the adjustment knobs are made of metal, and the plastic parts feel relatively sturdy as well.
While we’re specifically recommending them for use with lacquers, these guns are great all-purpose tools for DIYer’s to have on hand. With the right tips, you can spray latex, enamel, or even basic car coatings (though they won’t give you quite a professional finish on auto bodies)!
Via the knobs on the larger gun, you can adjust the width of the fan from 1.5”-9.0”. That’s a very impressive range, and the detail gun can be narrowed down even further, although its specs aren’t listed. The spray pattern adjustments are easy intuitive, and more precise than other budget guns.
These tools also boast very impressive spray tip quality for the price! They produce very little overspray, they’re tightly focused, and they hold their settings much steadier than other entry-level gun caps.
These are also gravity-fed, HVLP designs, which is a combination you don’t ordinarily get at this price:
Gravity-fed guns are better for lacquers, since suction models can sometimes struggle to get everything out of each cup. Plus, when you’re running off a small DIYer’s compressor, you don’t want to be wasting any air power drawing paint when you could be using it to spray!
The HVLP design features in the spray channel and tip set helps reduce overspray and bounceback. If you haven’t used HVLP sprayers before, they’re a really handy tech to have for lacquers. They give you smoother finish quality than airless or straight compressor systems, and prevent runs and drips nicely. Plus, you get more out of your coatings, since less more of what’s in your cup lands on your surface!
These guns both require relatively little air, compared to other HVLP-style models. The larger one uses 2.1 CFM at 40 psi, while the smaller one draws 0.7 CFM at the same pressure. With such low draws compared to other HVLP-type compressor guns, these are more usable to DIYer’s who have smaller air compressors to use for a power source!
They also come with valves to take the pressure down from your compressor output to an HVLP level. Those valves are essential if you want to use an HVLP-style gun like these on a standard compressor, so it’s nice to have them thrown in here!
It really does come with everything you need to start painting and finishing, aside from your compressor and hose.
The Campbell-Hausfield kit also comes with:
- 2 adjusting valves
- 5 in-line paint filters
- 10 paint filters
- 3 cleaning brushes
- a metal file
- a coupler
- PTFE thread tape
- an adjusting wrench
- a carrying case
It’s easy for weekend warriors to put away. Full HVLP systems can be tricky to store on a shelf once you collect the turbine, hose and gun. This set all fits into the carrying case and fits easily away in garage workshops and basements where you don’t have room to leave painting equipment out.
All the components are covered by a 1-year warranty.
It can’t quite get professional quality. That’s simply because the spray tips and channels aren’t machined as finely and precisely as you’d see on more expensive equipment. The adjustment knobs aren’t as good as pro-grade systems, either, which also limits your results. We’re recommending this set to budget-conscious DIYer’s who want to get lacquering without buying a big, expensive system. Just bear in mind that if you’re a passionate woodworker or home tinkerer, it probably won’t be your last!
There are several plastic components, such as the knobs and cups, which aren’t going to last nearly as long as metal components that you’ll find on more expensive models.
This set does a good job of integrating some HVLP aspects into a compressor-friendly spray setup, but it won’t match a true HVLP system in finish quality. This isn’t something we’d recommend to a professional or to an ardent DIYer aiming for pro results.
2. PaintWIZ PW25150 Handheld Paint Sprayer PRO
This PaintWIZ handheld unit is another inexpensive option, for folks who don’t have an air compressor to use as the base for their paint sprayer. While it’s only decent when it comes to working with household paints like latex materials, it’s a wonder when it comes to lacquers! The PaintWIZ is about the same price as the Campbell-Hausfield set, but you can use it without a compressor or any additional equipment. We recommend it to DIYer’s who want a convenient, all-in one solution for lacquers!
It’s an all-in-one handheld sprayer. While the Campbell-Hausfield’s are designed to be used with an air compressor and a hose, the PaintWIZ has everything you need integrated into a handheld gun. It has a 400w motor, which is much more powerful than other handheld machines, and it’s rated for indoor and outdoor use. That’s ideal for folks who don’t have good ventilation or a spray booth in the garage, as well as people who don’t use air tools (and therefore can’t provide a suitable compressor for painting).
While it doesn’t work well with latex paints unless you thin to an extreme, the motor on this unit is plenty powerful to spray lacquers and other thinner coatings with ease.
Like the Campbell-Hausfield guns, you can make a wide range of adjustments to the spray pattern that comes out of the PaintWIZ. By twisting the nozzle, you can widen or tighten the fan from a maximum 12” wide to less than 1”. It has easy, smooth adjustments which stay in place, and there are three spray patterns to choose from: vertical fan, horizontal fan, and a circular cone.
The standard setup includes a 2.6mm nozzle and a 800ml cup. 800ml is enough to cover a lot of ground, so you won’t have to refill very often. The 2.6mm fitting is more than large enough for lacquers (in fact, we’d suggest sticking with the extra 1.8mm nozzle that’s included with the set). The larger nozzle is better for latex paints, although as we mentioned, the system isn’t amazing with thick latex paints. It’s suction-fed, too, but so are all handheld units like this.
Like the Campbell-Hausfield guns, the PaintWIZ uses some HVLP aspects in its design. As a result, it produces relatively little overspray compared to other handhelds, which can be particularly messy. This one still makes more of a mess than an HVLP system or an HVLP-style compressor gun, but it’s the neatest handheld we’ve reviewed to date!
It comes with a extra 1.3L cup for projects where you’re laying one coating on a wide surface, like a big bookcase. There’s a viscosity cup, for making your thinning adjustments, and 3 mesh paint strainers to keep your materials clear. You also get a cleaning brush in the package.
As with the Campbell-Hausfield kit, this PaintWIZ unit is ideal for home woodworkers and DIY weekend warriors who need something that stores away easily. It’s compact enough to fit on a shelf, and it’s mostly self-contained. You’ll probably want a bag to keep the accessories in, though.
A lot of these handheld sprayers are built by companies which make a range of power tools, but which have no specific expertise with paint sprayers. Many of them run perfectly well, but they’re lacking in the precision and control department. So, they don’t actually produce good results.The PaintWIZ is sold under its own brand name, but it’s actually made by Fuji Spray, which is a Canadian company that also make premium, professional-grade HVLP spray systems. So, it’s no wonder that it performs better and leaves better results than the competition in its class!
The handheld format makes for easy cleanup: just run water through the system by refilling the cup from the tap, and then brush off anything that remains.
It has a better reliability record than other inexpensive handhelds, and it’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
Since this is a sprayer and gun combined, as opposed to a simple gun that hooks up to a hose, it’s a lot heavier in hand than either of the Campbell-Hausfield guns. This one’s a little over 4 pounds, where one of the Campbell-Hausfield’s is just over 1 pound.
It’s not especially good with latex paints or other very thick coatings, so we don’t recommend it for anything other than lacquers, varnishes, and stains. That obviously makes it a much less versatile tool than the Campbell-Hausfield guns.
Like the Campbell-Hausfield guns, this PaintWIZ isn’t a tool we’d recommend to pros or DIYer’s who are aiming for pro-grade results. It has much less overspray than other handhelds, but much more than a full HVLP system. You also can’t adjust as precisely as you could with a full-size system. It’s not very industrial, either, given the plastic housing and knobs. This is definitely a DIYer’s tool.
While the PaintWIZ label is owned by a Canadian company, the machine is still made in China.
3. Fuji 5175G – T75G Gravity Spray Gun
This Fuji gun is our all-time favorite HVLP tool for folks with a good turbine system already to hand. It’s incredibly ergonomic, as precise as you could want, and built like a tank. This is a tool which really suits a professional who expects absolute control with their spray pattern, and for those who require the absolute best in finish consistency. It sprays lacquers with impeccable smoothness, and is versatile enough to work with basically any known coatings as well. If you’re looking for the best gun on the market for lacquers, we think this is it!
It’s professional-grade. So far, we’ve looked only at DIYer-grade solutions for lacquer. This Fuji gun is a top-of-the-line finish gun that’s designed for people who make their living with fine woodworking and trim projects. It’s built very solidly, and it has a level of control and consistency that can’t be beat.
There are a lot of features which set the T-75G apart from the competition:
It has a convenient side knob for controlling the spray pattern. By contrast, most other guns have in-line adjustment knobs which are awkward to use when you’re in the middle of a project. This one is easy to tweak mid-spray, without contorting your arms. It’s a small adjustment, but if you work with these tools regularly, you’ll really appreciate it.
It’s a non-bleed design, which means that when the trigger isn’t pulled, nothing comes out of the end of the nozzle. So, there’s a lot less blowing around in your work space, and less dust ends up in your lacquer. Again, while casual users might not appreciate that feature, full-time pros and high-end DIYer’s certainly will!
It’s very lightweight, especially given the build quality. This one’s under 2 pounds all told! For a solid metal gun, that’s particularly impressive. All the fluid components are 100% stainless steel, and they feel both rugged and tightly-machined. Even better, it sports all-metal knobs and fittings, made with CNC-machining–the top-of-the-line manufacturing process. It’s that machine quality which translates directly into the Fuji’s fantastic finish results.
The two components that aren’t metal are made of nylon as opposed to plastic, and they’re there for good reasons beside cost-cutting. The paint cup is nylon, to save weight. The grip is also nylon, to keep your hands cool for longer spray jobs or shifts in a full-time furniture shop. Nylon is much stronger than plastic, and it’s actually shatter-proof! There’s nothing to sniff about here!
The new Fuji high-efficiency spray cap used on the T-series guns has next to no overspray once you fiddle with the settings, and it atomizes phenomenally well. The consistency of its output is far and above better than other high-end HVLP gun we’ve reviewed, even some more expensive options! This gun lays clear coats like glass, and if you’ve got the technique to master a perfect lacquer finish, it won’t let you down.
There’s a 1.3mm spray cap included standard with the T-75G. Even though that’s smaller than we’d ordinarily recommend for use with lacquers, it actually does really well with lacquers out of the box! Of course, your results will depend on the power and range of your HVLP turbine. In any case, replacement caps are very inexpensive compared to other high-end guns. That’s a nice surprise for a gun of this class, since it allows you to make your setup more versatile at a low cost!
In addition to being extremely well-made, the T-75G is simply a joy to use. That’s because it has so many smart ergonomic features which solve annoyances that are common with other guns, even at the top of the market. It has an easy-pull trigger, backed by a stainless spring which prevents rust and stiffening. The whole thing is nicely balanced, too.
There’s a rear rotating nipple so you can work with pressure tubes, if you prefer a pressure-fed cup. We generally choose gravity-fed setups for working with lacquers, but depending on the other materials you work with, it’s nice to be able to switch back and forth relatively easily.
It’s pretty easy to clean, though you’ll need to grab a brush separately.
It’s covered by a 2-year warranty, and it’s made by a Canadian company that actually does most of their manufacturing in Canada! That’s a rarity these days, and Fuji also have a great reputation for customer service and troubleshooting if you run into issues.
It’s a pricey tool. You’ll be spending more than $300 to get one of these, which is more than most DIYer’s should be paying for a gun. This is for pros who make their money from finish work, or for the most passionate and skilled DIYer’s.
You’ll need to have a good turbine system already on hand. This one won’t run on a standard air compressor, and unless you have a high-end DIYer’s or midrange pro-grade turbine, you might not be able to get perfect atomization with all your coatings. We recommend something with at least three motor stages to go with this one, so that you can really get your money’s worth out of it.
You’ll probably want to grab an extra cap set when you buy your gun, since the 1.3mm standard cap is on the smaller end of what we’d use for lacquers. It works pretty well, but depending on your turbine, you may end up with better results using a 1.5mm cap.
4. Fuji 2203G Semi-PRO 2 – Gravity HVLP Spray System
This Fuji set is a complete HVLP turbine system with a gun for under $500. It’s remarkably good for the price, and it’s a smart buy for DIYer’s who want to get excellent finish quality with lacquers without spending $1000 on a professional-grade model. This is a versatile, well-equipped paint sprayer that can give your DIY projects excellent lacquer colors and clear coats.
Even though it’s not quite professional-grade, it looks and feels pretty similar to Fuji’s professional systems. The Semi-Pro 2 has a metal-encased turbine unit, a 25’ hose, and a professional-grade, non-bleed spray gun at the end of it.
The whole thing is DIY-size! The turbine casing measures just 16 x 9.5 x 12.5 inches, a convenient box that stows easily on shelves. The gun has a slightly compact profile as well, and since the turbine has a holder built in, the system fits together in a package that’s easy for weekenders to put away in garages and basement shops.
It’s not lacking in the power department, though! At this price range, most HVLP turbines are woefully underpowered, which means that no matter how nice the gun is, you won’t get the kind of atomization you need to lay smooth, consistent lacquer coats. This one has the most powerful 2-stage motor on the market: 1400 watts! That gives you lots of oomph for atomizing your coatings, and with less thinning to do! It also means you have the versatility to work with thicker coatings like latex paints, as well as your lacquer materials!
The turbine is housed in a metal crate, which is also a lot more rugged than other DIY options. It’s lighter than the professional-grade Fuji’s, but it’s a sturdy metal casing which protects the motor and internal components around the shop. As with the professional models, this one has a carrying handle and a gun holder mounted on the top!
The Semi-Pro 2 has a professional-grade gun, for a DIYer price! It’s Fuji’s M-series, which is a couple notches below the T-75G above. However, it’s still made from mostly metal parts, with a gravity-fed aluminum cup. The gun features the same non-bleed spray cap (1.3mm) design as the more expensive (top-of-the-line) T-series tools, too. Unlike other DIYer-class tools, there’s no blowing around at the tip, and no buildup on the cap when you’re not spraying.
The M-series gun is a very solid performer in the hands of a DIYer, even if we wouldn’t recommend it to most professionals. The spray cap atomizes very well, and the control knobs feel more assured and precise than other plastic knobs we’ve seen.
It produces very low overspray, and minimal bounce back compared to other DIY models (and even some “pro” systems we’ve seen)! If you’re coming from an older HVLP or from an airless system, you’ll be surprised how much material you save! In terms of finish quality, the Semi-Pro 2 can take you to the high end of the DIY spectrum, and pass for professional with enough skill.
One other key feature that improves your finish quality comes unexpectedly from the hose (a 25-foot length. That’s right–what’s usually simply an air channel has been fitted on this model with an air control valve which you can adjust to minimize overspray and bounceback. When you’re working with materials as finicky as lacquers, you want all the adjustments you can get. This extra valve is a good way to add an extra element of precision to a system that doesn’t have as many adjustments on the gun or the turbine as the professional options.
It’s made in Canada, and covered by a 2-year warranty. And as we mentioned in our review of the T-75G, it’s backed by a company with an excellent track record for both durability and customer service.
Between the motor and the gun, you can’t quite get professional results from this one. You can get pretty darn close, but the less powerful motor and less precise gun don’t give you as fine an atomization quality or as specific a control as you could achieve with a pro-grade Fuji. Especially when it comes to glossier coats like lacquer, you can tell the subtle differences between a system like this, and a pro-grade setup.
The Semi-Pro 2 isn’t rugged enough for professional work. Both the turbine and gun are made with sturdy metal, but the components–especially the turbine casing–are of lighter build, and wouldn’t stand up well to daily use in a professional furniture shop. We’d recommend that frequent pro users spend a bit more for one of the professional-grade Fuji’s below. The additional casing strength and metal adjustment knobs on the gun will pay off in long term reliability.
This system also doesn’t have some of the smart features and amenities you’ll find on the professional models:
It lacks Fuji’s proprietary heat dissipation box, for one thing. While not an absolutely essential feature, it’s an important addition for professional users. The heat dissipation box on the pro models moves heat away from the motor block and out the back of the turbine casing. That gives you cooler running temps, and therefore a longer working life from your motor. So, if you’re going to be using your system every day, that’s a good reason to skip to one of the more expensive Fuji’s below.
Likewise, the noise-reduction mufflers you find on pro Fuji’s aren’t on the Semi-Pro 2. They’re not essential, since it’s no louder than your average HVLP turbine. For frequent users, though, it could be worth it to spend a bit more for a quieter unit that’ll be more pleasant to use for hours at a time.
The gun isn’t as good as a T-series, either. There are some objective differences, like less precision in the spray pattern and slightly worse atomization. The key difference is subjective, though, and it’s that this gun simply feels less sure and precise to use. For professionals, those subjective factors translate into concrete work results!
If you want to use this for latex and other thicker paints, you’re going to need to thin. The Fuji’s below are much more powerful, so they can blast out thick coatings with no issues. However, the 2-stage motor in this one is better suited to lacquers and other thinner materials. It can handle thicker materials, but only with a decent amount of thinning.
5. Fuji 2904-T70 Mini-Mite 4 PLATINUM – T70 HVLP Spray System
The Fuji Mini-Mite 4 is our midrange recommendation for a complete HVLP system. It’s a professional-grade, 4-stage turbine system with a top-notch gun to match. While it’s not quite as sophisticated or powerful as the Q5 below, this is a very reasonably-priced choice for budget-minded pros or for the most ardent DIYer’s. It’s quieter, more versatile, and better at atomizing fine finishes than the Semi-Pro 2, and it’s still under $1000! If you need professional lacquer results without spending too much money, go for this system.
It’s a souped-up version of one of the best-rated models on the market. The Mini-Mite 3 has won top honors in Wood Magazine, Fine Woodworking Magazine, and other periodicals in 2017. That model is identical to this one, except that the Mini-Mite 4 comes with a more powerful, 4-stage turbine. We think that given the minimal price difference and the additional finish quality you can get with that extra stage, it’s worth spending a bit more for the 4.
With so much oomph in the motor, the Mini-Mite 4 can crank out up to 9 psi, which is very impressive for such a small, lightweight turbine unit. That’s at the top of the spectrum in terms of HVLP’s on the market today, and it’s only beat by the Q5 below. Since it’s much more powerful than the Semi-Pro 2, it can give you finer atomization with your thinner coatings, and better performance with less thinning when you work with thicker materials. Unlike the Semi-Pro 2, this system is actually quite good with latex and other thick coatings, albeit with some thinning.
In addition to being more powerful, the turbine unit on this system is also much more sophisticated than that of the Semi-Pro 2:
It’s quieter, for a start. That’s because there are some basic mufflers around the motor (although there aren’t any specific noise reduction features onboard). Between the mufflers and the thicker casing on the turbine, it puts out noise comparable to a shop vac. Given that it’s more powerful than the Semi-Pro 2, the noise level is a real boon.
The Mini-Mite 4 also has the proprietary heat dissipation box that’s only featured on Fuji’s professional HVLP systems. It redirects heat away from the motor and out through a ventilation panel at the back of the turbine. That gives you lower running temps and a longer motor life as a result. It’s an important upgrade to make for frequent pro users!
All that power and all those features fit into a quieter, smaller package than other HVLP systems. This is one of the smallest, most space-efficient systems out there for the professional fine finisher. If you’re coming from an older pro unit, you’ll be surprised how much more performance you get from this than from bulky, loud sprayers of the past.
The Mini-Mite 4 also has a much better gun than the Semi-Pro 2, to go with its superior turbine unit. The T-70 is part of the top-of-the-line T-series from Fuji, specifically the suction-fed model. It sports all-metal construction, as opposed to the M-model on the Semi-Pro 2, which is partly plastic. Absolutely everything on this is made from metal and rock solid–even the knobs and springs are stainless!
As well as having the additional sturdiness that comes with all-metal construction, the T-70 is improved by its superior machining quality. All the components on this gun fit incredibly tightly, and the adjustments move smoothly and surely. It’s an overall improvement in precision engineering which translates directly into control and precision when you’re spraying–especially with lacquers!
It’s also a more enjoyable tool to work with professionally. There’s a nylon stay-cool grip, which is shatterproof and comfortable in hand. The whole thing is also more ergonomic than the M-model, with a lighter, more balanced feel. Since the adjustments are more tightly-machined, you also have more consistent control over your settings, and they stay in place better once you set them. The trigger is the real highlight. It’s effortlessly easy to pull, but never feels loose.
We also love that the pattern adjustment knob is side-mounted, so it’s easy to tweak while you work. In-line adjustments like you’d find on most spray guns are annoying and inconvenient to use mid-spray, which means lots of stops and starts. That’s an approach that doesn’t serve you well with lacquers. The T-series solves that problem!
The T-70 comes with an all-purpose, fine-finishing 1.3mm spray cap out of the box, just like the Semi-Pro 2’s M-model gun.
Between the Mini-Mite 4’s power and gun, this system can take your finish quality to the next level. While you can come very close to professional results using something like the Semi-Pro 2, it takes a lot of technique and patience to get there. This system makes it easier to get professional results, especially on finish work. It offers tighter control over your spray pattern and finer atomization with all your coatings, especially lacquers.
The difference is particularly apparent in the context of lacquer, since you end up with better control for tight edges, even less overspray, and a system which is better overall to spray thin coats without runs. That’s important for jobs where you’re spraying several coats and trying to prevent runs that can accumulate fast.
In short, the Mini-Mite 4 is a big step up for cabinet and molding finish projects where lacquer is the name of the game! The extra power makes for an even glassier finish, and the gun lets you direct your materials much more precisely.
Aside from its pro-grade upgrades, it shares a lot of the same great features as the Semi-Pro 2:
- sturdy metal casing, with a carrying handle and gun holder built in
- a 25-foot hose with an air control valve
- non-bleed cap design
It’s pretty close to the same size and weight, too! Even with the 4-stage motor, the Mini-Mite 4 is only about 29 pounds, and still fits easily on a shelf.
Everything’s made in Canada, and covered by a 2-year warranty.
While it’s certainly professional-grade, the Mini-Mite 4 isn’t quite as robust as the Q5 in the power department. So, if you work with a lot of thicker coatings in addition to lacquers, you may find that the thinning required to use things like latex with this system is tedious. In that case, the Q5 is worth the extra money. If you only work with lacquers, you can do very well with this model.
The one other big difference between this model and the Q5 is the lack of a master speed control on the Mini-Mite 4’s turbine. The Q5 has a knob on the turbine casing, for direct motor adjustments. That gives you more precision than fiddling with the hose valve on the Mini-Mite 4. Combined with the extra motor stage, it’s that master control which gives the Q5 an even better finish quality. So, if you can afford to spend a bit more, go for the Q5. If you can’t, rest assured that you can do nearly as well using the Mini-Mite 4.
While this model is quieter than a lot of other HVLP turbines, it’s still twice as loud as the Q5. That’s because the Q-series features actual noise-dampening components as well as thick casing. If you’re going to be finishing all day, all week, it may be worth the investment to get the quieter model.
At close to $1000, it’s not exactly a casual purchase. That’s why we don’t recommend it to most DIYer’s–only folks who are sure they’ll get their money’s worth from the system. However, it’s still less expensive than the Q5, by several hundred dollars.
6. Fuji 2895-T75G Q5 Platinum Quiet HVLP Spray System
Our ultimate recommendation for a paint sprayer to tackle lacquer work is the Fuji Q5. It’s a top-of-the-line, premier HVLP system with all the power and precision you could ask for. If you’re a professional working on finishing high-end furniture projects, we think this is the best tool on the market right now. It’ll give you flawless lacquer results, and the versatility to handle any latex or enamel jobs you have as well!
It’s even more powerful than the Mini-Mite 4! As you can guess from its name, the Q5’s turbine has a whopping 5 motor stages. Firing at full-bore, it can produce up to 9.5 psi, which is astronomical in HVLP terms. Without sacrificing your finish quality like an airless system would, it gives you the best atomization on the market right now with lacquers, and makes for very little thinning needed with any thicker materials.
It’s also quieter. In fact, it’s the quietest 5-stage system on the market! Thanks to the mufflers inside the casing, this beast of a turbine only produces 63 db at 15ft, and 60db at 20 feet, a noise level that’s generally considered to be about equal to your average conversation. For perspective, it’s a heck of a lot quieter than a shop vac. The kicker is that it’s more powerful than the Mini-Mite 4, but makes less noise!
While the noise difference between the Mini-Mite 4 and the Q5 might not make a noticeable difference in your lacquer work, it will certainly make a big difference in how you feel at the end of a work day. In shops where spraying happens for hours at a time or on a daily basis, it’s a very worthwhile upgrade. You should still wear ear protection when you’re using this system all day, but it’s well below workplace noise guidelines.
It’s the same size as the Mini-Mite 4, and only a couple pounds heavier, too! That’s the kind of design and engineering that makes tool nerds like us giddy. The casing dimensions are exactly the same, and you’ll have less than a 5-pound difference to contend with. This is an incredibly powerful spray system that’s still easy to move and store as needed!
It has the sturdiest casing of the bunch. It’s noticeably thicker than the turbine housing on the Semi-Pro 2, and given the mufflers, the whole thing feels more dense and robust than the Mini-Mite 4. This is a system that can take the rough and tumble of daily shop use without any issues.
It has a nearly identical gun to the T-70 that’s packaged with the Mini-Mite 4–the T-75G. It’s a slightly modified model that’s gravity-fed, instead of suction-fed like the T-70. Gravity vs. suction feed options are mainly a matter of individual preference, and in any case, this particular model can be switched between the two by rotating a nipple. It’s as easy as owning an alternate cup, and reattaching things in the opposite position!
Aside from the cup position, the T-75G shares nearly every aspect and feature with the T-70:
- solid metal construction, including knobs and fittings
- tight, smooth machining quality for extra precision
- a stay-cool, shatterproof nylon grip
- balanced, lightweight, and ergonomic design
- non-bleed spray cap
- side adjustment knob for the spray fan
Like the other Fuji’s we’ve included in this guide, the T-75G sold with the Q5 comes equipped with a 1.3mm spray cap for all-purpose finishing. While we’ve noted before that that’s on the small end of the scale for lacquers, we think it’s actually ideal for lacquers in this case, because you have the power to atomize so much better than with the weaker turbines above!
The biggest difference between the Q5 and the other Fuji systems we’re recommending is the master speed control knob on the turbine unit. It’s a direct way to control the speed of the motor. With the other systems, you have to make all your adjustments further down the line, at the hose valve, and at the gun itself. That’s less precise, and gives you less room to maneuver.
On the Q5, you can turn the motor itself up for thick coatings and turn it down for thinner coatings, with perfect precision to control overspray and bounce-back. It’s a smart way to manage the brute force of a 5-stage turbine, and it makes very noticeable differences in all your lacquer coats. Having that extra control makes for spectacular atomization, so you get the glassiest finishes possible. Plus, since you can refine things to almost eliminate overspray and bounce-back, you can work with far less possibility of getting a drip or a run on your workpiece (ergo, less sanding to do between coats).
In addition to improving your coating results and consistency, the speed control feature simply gives you more refinement, since you can make the big adjustments at the turbine, and then tweak precisely at the gun. It’s incredibly easy to lay thin, even coats, or get a perfectly tight pattern for narrow pieces.
The speed control also pairs nicely with the refined spray cap, making for absolutely no dust interference as you work.
Overall, we think the Q5 has the best range of adjustments on an HVLP system today. That makes for the highest-quality lacquer results out there, since you can get exactly the consistency, texture, and pattern you want for each job. Additionally, between the power and precision of the Q5, it’s the most versatile system here for folks who work with more than lacquers in the shop! It can spray absolutely anything, and tackle most coatings without much thinning at all.
It includes a lot of the same features as the Mini-Mite 4:
- a 25-foot hose with adjustment valve
- sturdy metal casing
- a turbine unit carrying handle
- a turbine-mounted gun holder
- heat dissipation box for extended motor life
- Canadian build quality and 2-year warranty
One thing that makes the extra cost of the Q5 more palatable is that it comes with an additional accessory kit as well as the basic cleaning brush and viscosity cup you get with the other Fuji systems. This one has:
- an extra 6’ whip hose
- a wet film gauge
- 19-piece cleaning kit with lubricant
- extra turbine filter
- a note-keeping booklet which helps you track your thinning ratios and results, so you can be as consistent as possible when you’re working with different lacquers and layering schemes
It’s very expensive. This one will cost you upwards of $1300, plus any extra spray tips you might need. We don’t think you’ll need any extra parts or spray tips for working with lacquers, but you would certainly want larger spray caps for something like latex paint. In any case, this is a premium system that’s not easy for DIYer’s to justify. We recommend it only to folks who make their living doing woodworking and lacquer finishing.
While it has a superb track record for reliability, the warranty period isn’t any longer than you get with the other Fuji’s. That’s not a big miss for the Q5, but with something so expensive, we think it’s wise to go with extra coverage at the checkout if you can get it!
So, which of these paint sprayers should you buy for your lacquer projects?
The Campbell Hausfeld spray gun kit is the obvious choice for DIYer’s who have a decent air compressor on hand. One of these guns on a compressor feed will do a better job than a handheld all-in-one, and you get a lot of value for your money with this set. This is also a more versatile budget solution than the PaintWIZ, as these guns can be used for all sorts of coatings. However, since it’s not a true HVLP system, and since the guns aren’t as rugged or tightly-machined as more expensive options, you can’t expect professional lacquer finishes from this one.
The PaintWIZ handheld paint sprayer is our recommendation to DIY folks who don’t have an air compressor to use as a power source. It’s around the same price as the Campbell-Hausfield set, and can give you fairly comparable results. This is a very intuitive, user-friendly tool for DIYer’s who don’t have much experience spraying and finishing. On the downside, it’s not a great performer on latex and other thick household paints unless you thin down to an extreme. As with the Campbell-Hausfield guns, you also won’t be able to expect a professional finish quality with this one.
The FujiT75G gun is our suggestion for any professionals or passionate DIYer’s who have an HVLP turbine already, and want to upgrade it for fine finish work. It’s our absolute favorite gun on the market right now when it comes to lacquer, as well as other finish materials. It’s rugged, ergonomic, intuitive to use, and has the ultimate in precision control. There’s really no downside aside from the price, which is over $300. We only recommend it to folks who can get their money out of it.
The Fuji 2203G Semi-PRO 2 system is what we recommend to DIYer’s who want a complete HVLP setup to do lacquers and finish work. It’s not as great with latexes and other thick coatings as the pro-grade Fuji’s, but it has more than enough power to give you excellent lacquer results. This is as close to professional-quality as you can get without spending an extra $500 for the Mini-Mite 4.
The most passionate DIYer’s among you, as well as budget-conscious pros, should look at the Fuji Mini-Mite 4. It’s a sizable upgrade from the Semi-Pro 2, but it’s still reasonably-priced at less than $1000. This system has the power to give you much better atomization than the Mini-Mite 4, and that translates directly to smoother lacquer finishes and more even coats. This one is also more versatile, since it can handle thicker coatings than the Semi-Pro 2 is really meant for. You should have no issues getting pro-grade results with this system. However, it’s not quite as powerful, adjustable, or versatile as the Q5. It’s also a bit less pleasant to use, since it doesn’t have noise-dampening features built in.
If you’re a professional who can afford it, we think the Fuji Q5 is the best system on the market for lacquers right now. It’s amazingly quiet for a 5-stage turbine, and it has so much power that it can blast through the thickest coatings without having to thin excessively. More than any other feature, we love having the master speed control on the turbine motor, which helps you refine your settings more than you can on any other system available today. When it comes to high-end lacquer work, that kind of control is invaluable. The big downside here is the price–this can cost nearly $1500. That’s not the kind of money we think DIYer’s should be throwing around, so we only recommend this to pros.
Spraying lacquer well is a tricky business, so you need to know exactly what you’re looking for in a paint sprayer. Here’s our handy buying guide, which will help you narrow down the characteristics of a paint sprayer that’s suitable for lacquer color and clear coats!
- stay away from suction-fed guns unless you have plenty of power, since it will sacrifice your atomization. With at least 4 motor stages, the difference is negligible, and both pressure and gravity-fed guns will serve you well.
- stay away from airless sprayers. You’ll notice we didn’t recommend a single airless system here. That’s because they’re far too messy to use with lacquers. You end up with lots of wasteful, messy overspray, and too much bounce back to achieve a glass-like finish. Stick to handhelds, compressor guns that use HVLP technology, and complete HVLP turbine systems. You’ll also find that a lot of cordless handhelds are marketed for lacquers. They do well, but they’re not very reliable, so we haven’t included any here. If you’re dead-set on finding out more or buying one of them, check out our dedicated guide to cordless paint sprayers!
- think carefully about tip sizes. Lacquer coatings are relatively thin materials, but they’re also quite viscous. To get them to atomize well, you need a bit more power behind a small tip than you would with thin coatings that dry more slowly. Most compressor guns can be used with slightly smaller tips, while HVLP systems with motors that have less than 3 stages don’t usually have the power to force the viscous material through a 1.3mm, for example.
Generally, lacquers are best-served by a spray tip in the 1.3mm range. However, you may find that you need a larger one for HVLP’s, since they don’t have as much pressure to force the coating through. That’s why we suggest something around 1.5mm or so on less powerful HVLP turbine systems. If your turbine has more than 3 stages, or is exceptionally efficient for its size and class, you may be able to do fine with a 1.3mm. In any case, you can always tweak your thinning ratios accordingly!
- While airless sprayer systems are far too powerful for fine finish work such as lacquer coatings, you still need some power behind your spray! Lacquer doesn’t need as much grunt power as something thick like latex, but to get a truly smooth, glass-like finish demands the atomization that only power can provide. While you can certainly spray lacquers with handhelds and DIYer-grade HVLP systems, professional results require ample power behind your gun for great atomization, and to reduce thinning needs.
- Control is equally important as power when working with finish materials such as lacquers. You want as much control as possible, because being able to refine your spray pattern and flow settings is how you’ll cut down on bounce-back and overspray which can ruin your projects.
- Lastly, you should spend more on a lacquer gun than you would on your average paint spray gun. Lacquer coatings require precision machining, and precise adjustments at the business end, so you can lay exactly the consistent layers you want. That’s an area where you really do get what you pay for, so don’t skimp on your gun and spray cap set!
Remember that getting great lacquer results isn’t all about the sprayer!
Sanding finely between coats is essential, and you’ll need to work on your technique to lay thin, consistent coats every time. When you’re working with lacquer, it’s always better to have more fine coats than one thick one.
We suggest starting thin, and laying a grip coat, whether you’re working with colors or clears. That’s helpful to prevent the second running or dripping, and as long as you sand between color and clear coats, you should be good as gold once you’ve got a grip layer. Think of it like a lacquer version of primer!
- Lacquer is meant to dry very quickly, and it’s best to work with lacquer materials in dry areas with low humidity. Otherwise, you could end up with a hazy “blush” look
- Bear in mind that lacquers are also high in VOC’s, or volatile organic compounds. That’s longhand for flammable, harmful vapors, so ventilation is a safety necessity. Make sure there are absolutely no heat or spark hazards around your work area, and if you don’t have a spray booth or good ventilation system, you should definitely wear a mask as you work to prevent fume inhalation.
- Above all, keep moving! It’s harder to get an even finish with lacquers, but when you’re working with multiple layers, even small imperfections can get out of hand quickly. So, be sure not to stop in one spot, and always remember that it’s better to sand and move to the next coat than to keep trying to even out a coat and end up with a patchy look!
Let’s learn about lacquers!
- Lacquers vs. varnishes
A lot of people use the terms “lacquer” and “varnish” interchangeably, and that’s because to the casual eye, they can look fairly similar. However, they have some important differences which we want to cover, so we’re on the same page with you!
A varnish is a clear coating which forms a hard, transparent, and glossy film on top of a surface. They have three main components: a resin, a drying oil, and a solvent. Unlike lacquers, varnishes are never colored. They’re always a clear finish coat. They’re most often used on things like wood stain where you want the color to remain the same under your gloss finish.
Lacquers are also solvent-based products, but they’re made slightly differently. These are a mix of dissolved nitrocellulose, plasticizers, bonding agents, and and pigments, as well as various VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). They also have a shellac substance in the mix, which is what gives that high sheen in the finish.
The big difference is that lacquers, as we mentioned, can contain pigments! That means you can use lacquers to give color to natural wood pieces without losing the grain and character as much as you would with a thick paint. Varnishes, on the other hand, are rarely if ever given color.
The other key thing is that varnishes are usually semi-gloss to a low sheen, while lacquers can be made as glossy as you like. Since you can adjust the amount of shellac in the mix, they’re very easy to customize for a specific project. In fact, you can get lacquers in anything from ultra-sheer gloss finish to an ultra-matte finish!
Lacquer’s big advantage over varnish is its durability. That’s thanks to the plasticizers in the compound. They create a much harder, more resilient coating which stands up to both abrasion and damage from water, alkaline, or acid materials. They’re also the key thing which sets lacquers apart from pure shellac, which isn’t nearly as durable.
- Which type of lacquers should you use?
Urushiol lacquers are a naturally-based type of finish made from a type of tree sap, usually imported from China or Japan. Highly resilient to abrasions and substances, but they’re very difficult to work with. You need warmth and humidity to set the finish, and they take a long time to cure. They’re water-based, though, which makes them safer than more modern types. They’re good for interior projects in cars, or anywhere you need something very durable and low-emission.
Nitrocellulose lacquers are quick-drying, solvent-based coatings. They’re the opposite of a natural, water-based coating like urishiol’s. They’ve been popular since the 1920’s because they dry fast, cure easily, and have brighter colors than other (flatter) lacquer color coats. If you’re going to work quickly, they’re relatively easy to use. However, they dry so quickly that newcomers might struggle to keep ahead. These are also some of the most dangerous coatings to use, since they have high VOC content and are highly flammable.
Acrylic lacquers are quite similar to nitrocellulose lacquers. They’re synthetic compounds, with fast drying times and relatively bright color options. Like acrylic paints, though, they don’t tend to last a long time. They’re mainly used as a non-toxic alternative to nitrocellulose lacquers, in applications where durability isn’t a huge priority.
Water-based lacquers are the latest type of coating, and they’re the most popular these days because of their safety and low emissions. They’re great all-around coatings, and each new generation of materials gets better. These materials have low VOC content, so they’re less dangerous in the shop, and less toxic as they off-gas. Generally, they’re as durable as nitrocellulose coatings, but not quite as hardy as urushiol.
Pro tip: working on guitars or other furniture which will see lots of temperature changes? Go for an automotive-type lacquer! Even nitrocellulose furniture lacquer will get that alligator skin look in no time if you use it for things that travel deal with environmental changes, but lacquer developed for cars is a lot hardier.
If you’ve seen a paint sprayer in this guide that meets your lacquer needs and budget, go ahead and click on any of the links in its review to find out more on Amazon! Or, head to our homepage to see the rest of our recommendations for paint sprayers of all shapes and sizes.